Kiwanis Club of Poway is Proud to Celebrate 100 Years of Kiwanis International

kiwanis_1Q&A with President Joyce Handa

Kiwanis International is celebrating 100 years of service to help children around world, from promoting literacy to fighting to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus. Kiwanis Club of Poway has been supporting international efforts as well as serving local communities since 1973. The club sponsors a number of other Kiwanis service clubs for students of all ages and developmentally disabled adults, allowing members to develop their own leadership skills while working to improve the lives of others. 92064 Magazine spoke with President Joyce Handa about Kiwanis Club of Poway’s broad range of service opportunities and its positive impact on communities and individuals.

For those who might not know, what is a Kiwanis Club? What does the name mean?
Kiwanis Club is a global volunteer organization that is home to the largest youth service program in the world with approximately 680,000 members worldwide. The Kiwanis raise more than $100 million and report over 18 million volunteer hours to strengthen communities and serve children. Our local clubs support programs that empower youth with leadership skills and serve those from underprivileged backgrounds.

The word Kiwanis originated from a Ojibwe phrase – “Nunkee-wan-is” – which was originally translated as, “We trade.” A more thorough check by early Kiwanis members later revealed that a truer meaning is, “We have a good time – we make noise.”

Can you tell us a bit about the origin of Kiwanis? When was it founded, who were the founders, and what was their inspiration?
Two natives of Detroit, MI, Allen S. Browne and Joseph C. Prance, founded Kiwanis as a fraternal organization that focused on business networking and fellowship solely for young professional businessmen (the corporate charter was returned by the State of Michigan, dated Jan. 21, 1915). However in 1919 the organization changed its focus to service; in 1987, women were officially allowed into the membership.

At-a-Glance Kiwanis Club of Poway

President: Joyce Handa

kiwanis_2What is the club’s mission?
Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.

Can you tell us about the history behind Kiwanis Club of Poway? Who were the founders of the local chapter, and what was their inspiration?
Our Poway Club was chartered in 1973 and was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Los Rancheros, also known as the Kiwanis Club of Rancho Bernardo. The inspiration for the formation of our club was the desire to expand service within our community.

How has the club changed over the years?
Our club has gone through several changes since its inception. In 1987 Kiwanis International officially allowed women to join the organization. Our Poway club continues to transition to meet the needs of attracting a younger membership base. Recently we designated one evening meeting a month to encourage prospective members who work full-time to join our service organization. Additionally our club goes above and beyond from just providing pancake breakfasts, as we recently made a commitment to sponsor an Aktion Club for developmentally disabled young adults residing in the communities of Poway and Rancho Bernardo. We are the second club in the Southern California region to do this. Our members have great pride in taking an active role to help mentor and volunteer alongside with student members from our Service Leadership Programs (SLP): Circle K Club, Key Club, Builder’s Club, K-Kids Club, and now the Aktion Club!

What communities does Kiwanis Club of Poway work with? What are the most gratifying aspects of working with those communities?
Our club’s primary focus is to work with underprivileged children; however we also help the local senior centers in Poway and Rancho Bernardo upon request. On a global level, our club supports Kiwanis International’s worldwide efforts with the Eliminate Project. Kiwanis International has once again established a partnership with UNICEF (the prior project involved the campaign against Iodine Deficiency Disorder) to help eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus in developing countries, since it strikes babies and mothers who have little or no access to healthcare.

How did you first become involved with Kiwanis? What appealed to you about the organization?
I became involved with Kiwanis as a result of my twin daughters having been elected as President (Ellen) and Treasurer (Sara) of the Poway High School Key Club in 2010. The most appealing aspect of the Kiwanis Club is that we are a service organization rather than a philanthropic organization, which means that everyone in our community has the ability to set aside time to roll up their sleeves and volunteer by making a difference within our communities.

At-a-Glance Club President

Name: Joyce Handa
Community: Poway
Education: B.A. Foster School of Business, University of Washington; Certified Public Accountant
Family: Husband – Douglas; Daughters – Ellen and Sara
Interests: Spending time with my family, hiking along local trails in Poway, meeting new people, and helping those who are underprivileged
Memorable Kiwanis Moment: In 2010, before I became an official member, my daughter Ellen was newly elected as Key Club President and her twin sister Sara was elected as Key Club Treasurer at Poway High. I recall their tenacity, commitment, and passion to help organize meaningful events for Key Club members that would touch the lives of others and make a difference in our community.

kiwanis_3What is your current role within the club? What are your duties in that role?
As president of the Kiwanis Club of Poway, my duties include managing and leading our 75-plus member club and establishing service-related goals that are aligned with Kiwanis International’s overall objectives. Additionally I am humbled to have the opportunity to work with a phenomenal team of dedicated volunteers, especially with members who have stepped up to become officers and board members, who share a sincere passion to help youth, since they are our future generation.

Can you tell us a bit about the other current officers and any other key players in the club?
This year I’ve implemented a program to recognize outstanding members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty as a Kiwanian. These members include the following individuals:
Andy Bleakley, Barb Van Heyningen, Bob Krans, Cal Pancheri, Dave Grosch, Dave Mckenzie, Frank Kenny, Fred Sampson, Gina Sheehan, Jeff Wilson, Jim Crute, Jim Cunningham, John Riley, Liz Carlson, Marjorie Howard, Marty Harris, Neil Tarzy, Patti Ryder, Sandy Paesel, Steve Behringer, Steve Dreyer, and Thelma Fisher.

Do you have any upcoming projects or fundraisers that the community should be aware of?
Service Events: Our City of Poway was selected as one of 80 cities nationwide to host athletes and their coaches participating in the Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Our Kiwanis Club and Kiwanis family of clubs volunteered to serve the needs of our guests from the countries of Togo and Ecuador in July.
Fundraisers: Keg & Cork (beer and wine tasting) on Saturday, Aug. 22. Tickets can be purchased for $50, and funds will be raised to support the Holidays with the Heroes program where 150 low-income elementary age children will holiday shop for their families. Our Kiwanis Club donates a $100 gift card and the child is paired with a local hero (i.e., law enforcement, military personnel, or local community leaders). Our volunteers help wrap gifts while children are served a hot meal, assist with cookie decorating and other craft activities, and distribute reading books to take home. Children also get their photo taken with Santa before selecting a special handmade fleece blanket made by our Twin Peaks Middle School Builder’s Club and Painted Rock Elementary K-Kids members. For details please contact Cody Trotter at

Can you describe what Key Clubs are? Which youth clubs does Kiwanis Club of Poway sponsor, and how do you support them?
Kiwanis Clubs focus on changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time. To do this our Poway Club sponsors several Kiwanis family clubs – we are the only club in San Diego County that sponsors a Service Leadership Program at every level as a means to reach more people and have a greater service impact on our communities. Our major fundraiser, the Padres Spring Training Kickoff Luncheon, occurs annually in February. Funds generated at this event are used to support our SLP, which allow student members to attend leadership conferences such as the Kiwanis Key Leader Conference and District Conventions where members share concepts and ideas to better their service projects at their home club. Additionally we sponsor scholarships for high school graduates that will continue their education beyond high school. We currently sponsor recipients from Poway High School, Abraxas High School, and San Pasqual Academy.

Does Kiwanis Club of Poway have any big plans for the 100th Anniversary of Kiwanis?
In commemoration of the Kiwanis organization’s 100th year of service, our Poway Club has donated materials to build a kiosk which will be designed and built by Jens Hartvig, a Poway High student who is earning his Eagle Scout Merit Badge. When this project is completed in September, the kiosk will be located within Old Poway Park to be used as a service announcement board for City of Poway civic events.

kiwanis_ladiesWhat are your short-term and long term-goals for the club?
My long-term goals are to increase our membership base by continuing to reach out to the Gen X population, since they are our future generation of volunteers, and to recruit dedicated new volunteers of all ages. We have been successful in achieving both objectives since many of our members from the younger generation are parents of our SLP members. Our most recently recruited members have been absolutely outstanding in their volunteer efforts; hence the phrase: “Proud to be a Poway Kiwanian.” We have a membership base that consists of totally amazing volunteers!

My short-term goals are to encourage members to think outside the box and to take a little risk to explore beyond their comfort zone. Upon becoming president I distributed an organizational flowchart listing the name, position, email address, and phone number of volunteers responsible for a specific service project, fundraiser, and social event. Members were at first shocked but then realized the flowchart helped direct questions to the appropriate member heading that committee. Secondly this year’s board has stepped it up a notch since we ventured beyond our traditional Kiwanis programs and took on several new projects. Lastly, I would like to have a better presence among our SLP members.

While we work hard in our volunteer efforts, we dedicate time for fellowship. I welcome you to join us for a breakfast or dinner meeting at the Hamburger Factory!

How many members does your club currently have?
As of the publication of this August/September issue we will have 75 members!

When and where does the club meet? Can you describe a typical meeting?
The Poway Kiwanis Club meets weekly for breakfast on Thursdays from 7 to 8 a.m., and the first Thursday of the month in the evening for dinner (in lieu of the morning meeting) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Both meetings are held at the Hamburger Factory, 14122 Midland Rd., Poway.

We welcome all individuals who are committed to helping those less fortunate in our communities.

Does Kiwanis host any social activities for members? What have been some of your favorite social events?
This year our club organized a minimum of one social event a quarter, which included Progressive Dinner, Super Bowl Party, Beer Tasting Social at Lightning Brewery in the South Poway Business Park, and a Road Rally; the latter event is a traditional activity for our club.

How would someone join the Kiwanis Club?
Membership in the Poway Kiwanis Club is open to any person 18 years of age or older who enjoys community service and the fellowship of other service-minded individuals. Prospective members are invited to attend three club meetings as our guest. Contact Past President Steve Dreyer at or 760-805-9100 for more information.

What’s the most exciting aspect of being a Kiwanian?
Volunteering at a service event and watching a child’s eyes light up, coupled with an unexpected smile or laughter because they are so excited and happy to receive individual attention from one of our valued volunteers. Whether it is listening to a child read aloud, helping a student solve a math equation, or seeing them learn to be creative, it is all a part of what we do to make the world a better place for children. The ultimate reward for a job well done is when our club receives a handwritten thank you note from past high school scholarship recipients to acknowledge how the Kiwanis scholarship has helped them transition from high school to college as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

At-a-Glance K-Kids Club

Club Name: Kiwanis K-Kids Club
Community: Painted Rock Elementary School
Past Parent Advisors: Hillary Pollard and Stacy Linder
Parent Club Advisors: Shinobu Horne and Nicole Saeger
Year Founded: 2010
Number of Members: 60
Recent Project: K-Kids organized a fundraising program called “Coins for a Cause” to raise money to host their own school-wide Friends, Family, & Community Connection food packaging event. The group packed 36,000 meals to send to families who were affected by the earthquakes in Nepal.

At-a-Glance Aktion Club

Club Name: Abraxas Aktion Club
Community: Developmentally disabled adults
Club President: Josue Casique
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Members: 20
Recent Project: Although the Aktion Club is Poway Kiwanis’ newest service leadership program, members have already begun to serve the community with their participation in our Kiwanis One Day annual event. The club was officially chartered on May 30 and its mission is to provide adults living with disabilities an opportunity to develop leadership skills and serve their community.

At-a-Glance Builders Club

kiwanis_msClub Name: Builders Club
Community: Twin Peaks Middle School
Past Club President: Erin Matsuoka
Year Founded: 2010
Number of Members: 90
Recent Project: Builders Club supports important projects throughout the year, such as assembling snack bags for servicemen and women at the Wounded Warriors Tennis Camp, assembling personal care bags for parents at the Ronald McDonald House, decorating the Ronald McDonald House main dining hall for Valentine’s Day, and making seasonal gifts for the teachers at Twin Peaks Middle School.

At-a-Glance Key Club

kiwanis_hsClub Name: Key Club
Community: Poway High School
Past President: Michelle Sun
Club President: Bianca Mose
Year Founded: 1968
Number of Members: 100
Recent Project: Throughout the year members participate in various service events which include decorating Rose Bowl Floats with live flowers in Pasadena as part of the Kiwanis family. They volunteer time through City of Poway-sponsored events such as Movies in the Park and Kids Night Out, and also serve as mentors for the Twin Peaks Middle School Builders Club!

At-a-Glance Circle K Club

Club Name: Circle K Club
Community: California State University, San Marcos
Club President: Nicolet Ramirez
Year Founded: 2010
Number of Members: 15
Recent Project: The club began the year by partnering with UCSD’s Circle K Club, including a service project to help maintain the San Dieguito River Park walking trail. Members also organized the Cougars Rock for Hunger event by collecting canned food for the San Diego Food Bank. They ended the year by participating in the Cesar Chavez Day of Service, organizing books and cleaning the playground area at the North County Lifeline facility.

kiwanis_logoKiwanis Club of Poway Programs

Literacy Program: We sponsor the collection of children’s books which are delivered in a handcrafted treasure chest to designated low-income elementary schools in Poway.
Red Shoe Day: Collecting funds at designated intersections on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House; our club collected the most funds in San Diego County during the June 2014 campaign!
Cell Phones for Soldiers: Collection of gently used cell phones that are recycled for the purpose of issuing prepaid international calling cards to our servicemen and women stationed overseas. Our club has collected over 3,400 phones.
Miracle Miles of Quarters: Funds raised through our annual Padres Spring Training Luncheon are used to support a donation of $1,000 in quarters to the Rady Children’s Hospital, which encourages a friendly competition of the ‘best service design’ using the quarters donated by each Kiwanis Club.
Camp Beyond the Scars: Sponsored by the Burn Institute in Ramona, where children ages five to 17 with severe burn injuries have a chance to make friends with other burn survivors. Our members cook breakfast or grill burgers for the children.
Camp Reach for the Sky: Balboa Park day camp attended by children ages four to eight who have or had cancer. At camp they meet other kids who are also dealing with cancer in a supportive environment. Kiwanis grill burgers and hot dogs for the camp attendees.
Kiwanis One Day: Volunteers cleared away brush and debris at a vacant lot, the future site of Neighborhood Healthcare.
High School Scholarships: For Poway High School, Abraxas High School, and San Pasqual Academy.
NEW – Valley Elementary After School Homework Club: Members tutor disadvantaged students in reading, math, or art.
NEW – Pomerado Elementary After School Enrichment: We donated $3,000 for ukulele music and chess lessons.
NEW – Special Olympics World Games: Our club hosted a send-off breakfast before the athletes and coaches departed for the Los Angeles games.
NEW – Miss Poway Pageant: Kiwanis sponsors the pageant for young women interested in gaining poise, confidence, knowledge of formal etiquette, and the potential to earn scholarships.
NEW – Prevention of Pediatric Trauma SAFE KIDS Event: Co-partnered with the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District, community service informational booths were set up to teach kids and parents about pediatric safety. Programs were distributed in English and translated to Spanish and included raffling 12 new bikes during a four-hour period. Free bike helmets and shirts were also given to children, while parents and older siblings enjoyed a grilled hot dog lunch prepared by Kiwanis members, with chips to boot!