At 78 years old, Perry Kiwanis Club seeks fresh funds, members

Nineteen-year member of the Perry Kiwanis Club Secretary Kendall Rathje updated the membership Tuesday on the financial state of the Perry club, founded in 1939. Photograph by Perry Kiwanis Club Secretary Doug Wood

An organization needs to receive a periodic update on its health and functioning, and the Perry Kiwanis Club heard the results of its latest checkup at its Tuesday meeting.

Nineteen-year Perry Kiwanian and 18-year Kiwanis Club Secretary Kendall Rathje dug deep into his recently renovated basement vault to access the secured and classified financial and Pancake Festival records in order to share them with the membership.

The Perry Kiwanis Club was founded Dec. 14, 1939, just as the nation was emerging from the Great Depression and not long before it entered World World II. On a lighter note, the classic film “Gone With the Wind,” which romanticized the white paternalism of the slaveholding South, premiered the day following the founding of the Perry civic club.

The Perry Kiwanis Club has been holding its annual Pancake Festival since 1954. It has traditionally been the club’s largest fundraiser and has allowed the Kiwanians to contribute to many causes.

Since 2007, the club has donated more than $77,200 to 58 separate community-related and Kiwanis-related causes. Events supported by Kiwanis Club donations include scholarships, DMACC at Perry, Fourth of July fireworks, New Opportunities, Kiwanis Miracle League, Perry PACES, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Chamber of Commerce Friday Fests.

The club has also supported the Perry High School Homecoming, Perry Elementary School Chorus, Perry Community Theater, Perry Swim Team, Perry Press Box Renovation, Perry Child Development Center, Perry Little League, Habitat for Humanity, Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church Sleep Space, Kiwanis Eliminate Project, the Alzheimer’s Association, Destination Imagination, Kids against Hunger, Hispanics United for Perry, DARE and several other projects.

Kiwanians Jeremy Winter and Matt Crooks will present $5,000 in scholarships on behalf of the club to graduating Perry High School seniors at the May 17 PHS awards ceremony. According to Matt Lincoln, a 39-year member and the club’s International Liaison, the Kiwanis Club has been awarding scholarships since 1958.

Although still an excellent fundraiser, the annual Pancake Festival has shown a steady decline in attendance since 2009. The board is discussing ways to increase attendance.

A membership drive will be held this coming September.


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