After being officially chartered in January by Kiwanis International, the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland (KCK) is pleased to announce the formation of the Kirkland Aktion Club. The purpose of the club is to help young adults with disabilities between the ages of 18-40. It enables them to participate directly in community service projects, gain leadership skills, become more involved in their community and to have some fun!
This Kirkland group of disabled adults was started about 12 years ago as an informal get together where several parents of these adults with disabilities agreed to meet periodically in order to give them the opportunity to socialize. This had become increasingly difficult once they left school. Each time the group met, a different parent would take the lead in deciding what sort of activity they would do the next time -- in other words, "what's next?” The sister of one of the group members decided to make this group her high school service project, and helped schedule and organize their monthly events. Since bowling was so popular, the group decided to make it their monthly activity and named themselves the “What's Next Bowlers”. There are 23 bowlers in the group. They began meeting one Saturday a monthl at Tech City Bowl (www.techcitybowl.com) in Kirkland. It was a much needed time of bowling, relaxation and socializing -- something these young adults as well as their parents would look forward to each month. One staff member at Tech City Bowl said, “The entire bowling alley loves having them around.”
Several years ago, one of the parents heard about Kiwanis International Aktion Clubs and contacted the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland for information about forming a local Aktion Club to sponsor the bowlers. Even though the Aktion Club was not yet formed, it was at this point that KCK members Charlie Chavez and Matt Gregory became involved followed later by members Darcie Cailao, Tish Evora, and Bill Ward. Chavez took the lead and “got the ball rolling” for the bowlers.
Sadly, Charlie Chavez unexpectedly passed away in 2013. Darcie Cailao took over as the lead for the group. In order to ensure that the group would continue to get the level of support they needed, the decision was made to try again to convert the ”What's Next Bowlers” into a Kiwanis Aktion Club sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland. The Aktion Club was officially chartered on January 9, 2015. As an official Aktion Club, these young adults will continue to bowl monthly and will also have the opportunity to give back to the community that has supported them in the past.
The Mission of Aktion Clubs is:
•To provide adults living with disabilities an opportunity to develop initiative and leadership skills
•To serve their community
•To be integrated into society
•To demonstrate the dignity and value of citizens living with disabilities
Each month, the bowling group has a service project. This month they brought pet food to support the Seattle Humane Society. Last month it was the Ronald McDonald House. The members brought activity books, coloring books and crayons, story books and other things to be used by families of children being treated at Children’s Hospital. Other projects include collecting food for Hopelink Food Bank, a baby item drive for families in need, and making and sending cards to local military personnel. Cailao, KCK leader of the group, says “Everything about working with these young adults is very rewarding and a great experience in my life.”
The April bowling get-together was a special day for the bowlers. They each received an Aktion Club tee shirt and were able to proudly display their official Aktion Club banner.
Each time when the bowling festivities are over, the whole group heads over to the Bridal Trails Dairy Queen adjacent to the bowling alley. Because the bowlers and their caregivers almost fill the place, Darcie contacts them prior to the event and Dairy Queen graciously brings on extra staff to accommodate the group. She says, “The folks at Dairy Queen have been great and we are lucky to have such a welcoming establishment so close to the bowling alley”. A short business meeting is conducted when they first arrive and then they get down to real business – that of having fun!! The once a month event is a great time for these young adults from start to finish. Many of them have friendships that started years ago and are still going strong.
The Kiwanis International Aktion Clubs give an estimated 92,484 hours of service each year performing a variety of community services such as environmental projects, park beautification, food drives, nursing home visitations and assisting Kiwanis clubs with their projects.
If you also have a desire to help the kids in our community and you would like to join in making Kirkland a better place, please come by and check out the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland for lunch at Hector's in downtown Kirkland. They will buy you lunch! Their meetings are held every Wednesday at 11:45. If you would like more information about the club visit our website at www.kirkland.kiwanis.org or contact Matt Gregory at (425) 828-0231.