Kiwanis Looks to Draw Its Next Generation Into Service

Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader
Newly sworn-in Kiwanis Club of Burbank President Kelly Peña (center) with First Vice President Douglas Chadwick (left) and Second Vice President Bryan Snodgrass at last week’s reorganization ceremony, which fellow club members saw via Zoom.

This past week, for the 99th time, members and supporters of the Kiwanis Club of Burbank gathered to swear in the organization’s new president and board of directors.
While the event included all of the traditional components of a Kiwanian reorganization, it was also very different from the previous 98 ceremonies. Instead of a gathering at a local restaurant or event facility, the service club’s 2020-21 reorganization was physically attended only by the group’s board members, who wore masks and maintained a social distance while convening at the Magnolia Park home of incoming President Kelly Peña.
As preparations were finalized by the evening’s hostess, Charissa Wheeler, to “go live” via Zoom and bring in a screen-ful of fellow Kiwanians and local dignitaries, Peña shared some insight on what the organization will look like under her leadership.
“My theme will be ‘Creating the Leaders of Today and Tomorrow,’ and we will be making that happen by what I am calling the ‘Three M’s’ — membership, marketing and mentoring,” Peña revealed.

“To boost and retain our membership, we will be building on the various tiers we have established for corporate membership, spouses, other family members and people under 30. We will be reaching out to people from all over Burbank, letting them know who we are, what we do, and asking them to join. That’s where marketing comes in. I have worked as a marketing manager and I’ll be using those skills to get the word out to the community.”
Peña said the organization’s desire to engage those under 30 is most vital in that it provides local Kiwanians the opportunity to build a better community and the club’s future.
“Mentoring is an extremely important component in what we do,” said Peña. “We will be creating new programs that, along with those that are already in place, will pair our members up with the local Key Clubs and mentor young people on life skills, work skills and networking skills. It is through those programs we can help our next generation of members to expand their knowledge of the community and the career and volunteer opportunities that are available for them. We will also be teaching ethics, respect for others and public speaking to help them feel more confident about job-seeking and taking on leadership roles in our community.”
Along with the local Kiwanians’ work with the Key Clubs, their signature programs are presenting an annual Speech Contest and the Burbank Singing Star program, an “American Idol”-like contest for children that doubles as a fundraiser that provides thousands of dollars for art, music and drama education in Burbank schools.
The Kiwanis Club of Burbank also sponsors the local Boy Scout program and implements various volunteer projects that support many nonprofit organizations serving thousands of residents including the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, the Burbank YMCA and the Kids’ Community Dental Clinic.
During last week’s live reorganization ceremony on Zoom that included remarks by local dignitaries including Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer, Peña was sworn in by Valarie Brown-Klingelhoefer, a four-term lieutenant governor of the Kiwanis California-Nevada-Hawaii District.
The evening also included tributes to outgoing president Luis Centeno and the swearing-in of Douglas Chadwick as first vice president, Bryan Snodgrass as second vice president, Tom Engman and Cathy Hutt as treasurers, David Harris as secretary, and board members Wheeler, Anna Luke, Linda Wiggins, Diane Cripe, Paul McKenna, Juan Guillen, Eddie Arnold and Arabo Sarkisian.
Along with being elevated to president, Peña was also presented with the district’s Distinguished Service Award while Ron Rothacher was named Burbank’s Kiwanian of the Year. Rothacher was recognized for his work with the group’s “Fill the Truck” program that collects clothing from the La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital Thrift Shop to give to local charities. He was also lauded for his service with the club’s community outreach program and work on the Kiwanis Foundation board.
For more information about the Kiwanis Club of Burbank and membership opportunities, visit burbankkiwanis.org.

David Laurell may be reached at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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