Jacksonville Kiwanis Club celebrates 85 years in community

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WITN) - For nearly a century, one local organization in Jacksonville has been doing its part to support children in the community.

While they play a small role in a much larger worldwide mission, the Kiwanis Club of Jacksonville plays a big part in the lives of youth in the area.

For other organizations that reap the benefits of their efforts, it's clubs like Kiwanis that make their work possible.

"We couldn't do it without them," said New River YMCA Director Jane Schirmer.

Less than a month after opening, Schirmer says it's their shared mission that brings them together.

"Groups like the Kiwanis Club and other people and entities that believe in the health of Onslow County and Jacksonville, need the embrace and positivity and the belief in the community entities that we are bringing an asset," added Schirmer.

Joined by members and supporters of other clubs across the East, the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club celebrated its 85th anniversary on Tuesday.

The club's longest-serving member of 51 years talked about the joy of giving back.

"You have a lot of pride in that as you do other things. You feel a part of it, you feel like you have shared what you have and how you have been blessed and you pass that along to the next generation," explained Paul Metters.

The Jacksonville club raises more than $15,000 each year to help the children of Onslow County.

In addition to supporting organizations like the YMCA, money contributes to programs at the Children's Museum of Jacksonville, the Onslow Pines Park, and pediatric care at the Onslow Memorial Hospital, among others.

"Anything to help take care of the children," says club Secretary Steve Stevens.

Kiwanis is found in more than 80 nations and geographic regions across the world.

"It makes me proud first of all to be a Kiwanian, but it also makes me sad because the need is still so great," Stevens adds.

And after 85 years, members say they keep working for children because children who have been helped in the past, are their success stories of the future.

"Those kids coming back to let us know how we affected them when they were kids," explains Stevens.