The founding of the Kiwanis Club of Flint officially took place April 20, 1917 with 36 charter members. It was the sixth Kiwanis Club organized in Michigan and 42nd in the United States. The first Kiwanis Club was founded in Detroit in January, 1915. Many of the great names in the auto industry, education, business and the professions, as well as community leaders have been and are members of the Flint Kiwanis Club.
The name “Kiwanis” comes from the Indian word “Kee-wan-is.” The spelling was changed at an early State Convention so that a club would have a spellable, euphoric, interesting name. Our motto, “We Build,” became a guiding force and inspiration for building a better world. The custom of using the Pledge of Allegiance in opening a meeting was introduced by resolution in the Detroit Convention of 1917, an expression of patriotic feelings associated with the War that has been used ever since.
Our founders recognized the importance of closer social and business relations among the business and professional men. The idea of a Club rendering service to the Community was appealing in a time of rapid growth and expansion during industrialization and build up for World War I. A surge in factory orders for war material, along with the departure of men to the services contributed to the many needs for assistance.
Among the leaders in the early federation of the Michigan Clubs were Reverend J. P. Pengelly,Vice-President, and Forrest W. Boswell, Secretary, both of Flint. Throughout the years, the Kiwanis Club of Flint has participated in and supported other Kiwanis activities. It has provided organizational leadership with three District Governors, 13 Lt. Governors, several members of International Committees and a past International Trustee; organizational growth chartering the Fenton and West Flint Clubs; and meaningful interclub dialogue by organizing two State Conventions in Flint, supporting Divisional Meetings and sponsoring Interclub meetings.
In Flint, members of the Club have provided leadership through the Board of Education, City Offices, Mayor, City Celebrations, Chamber of Commerce, Media and other Civic Positions. One Kiwanian, Arthur E. Summerfield, Sr., chaired the Republican party during the Eisenhower election and was subsequently appointed Postmaster General.
Throughout the past 100 years, members of the Flint Club have been active in many service projects that have enhanced the community of Flint and Genesee County.
This is a brief overview from a 100-year history compiled by Sally Jaeger. See the links page under more information for a pdf of the 100th Anniversary Program.