Kiwanis International Celebrates 100th Anniversary


In 1915 in Detroit, Michigan, a group of business-minded men got together and started a business networking organization.  Soon after, they changed their focus to community service, helping children.  That is when the first Kiwanis Club was established in the US.  

The name Kiwanis is borrowed from a Native American phrase, “Nunc Kee-wanis”, meaning, “we trade” or “we trade our talents”.  This year Kiwanis International celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

Throughout the years, there have been many changes to the organization:  

1916 – Kiwanis became an international organization with the chartering of Hamilton, Ontario.
1918 – Kiwanis reached 10,000 members
1925 – The first Key Club for high school boys was sponsored in Sacramento CA.
1940 – Walter Zeller was responsible for starting Kiwanis International Foundation
1947 – Circle K International for college boys was formed in Pullman WA
1952 – Key Club hits the 1,000 mark
1961 – Kiwanis was 5,000 clubs strong
1968 – Kiwanis Europe is formed
1973 – Circle K opens membership to woman
1975 – Builders Club becomes an official Kiwanis sponsored program for middle school teens 
1977 – Key Clubs open membership to women
July 7, 1987 – Kiwanis welcomes female members to their club.  More than 3,000 women joined within the first 6 months.
1994 – Kiwanis officially kicks off the Worldwide Service Project, resolving to raise $75 million to help eliminate iodine deficiency disorders
1999 – K-Kids club officially joins the Kiwanis family as a service club for elementary school students.
2000- AKTION Club, a program for adults living with disabilities, is sponsored by Kiwanis
2005 – “Serving the Children of the World” became the new Kiwanis motto.
2010 – Kiwanis pledges to raise $110 million and joins UNICEF in the effort to eliminate maternal & neonatal tetanus from countries still effect by the disease.
2015 – In October, Sue Petrisin will become the first female Kiwanis International President.

Kiwanis International now has more than 8,400 clubs in 96 countries and membership has grown to more than 600,000.

To commemorate this 100th year milestone, Dr. John Button – current Kiwanis International President – will kick off his worldwide tour in Seattle at a gala event being held at the Double Tree Hotel in SeaTac.  In addition to guest speakers, performers and other entertainment, the Kiwanis Club of Kirkland’s very own “K-Band” has been asked to perform.

As he continues his tour, Dr. Button will visit 11 more districts in the US and Internationally.  The Kiwanis Centennial Tour is intended to raise awareness of Kiwanis International and its commitment to children.

If you would like to know more about Kiwanis International, please visit their website at

Kirkland is fortunate to have two Kiwanis clubs, and if you would like to learn more about what your local Kiwanis Clubs are doing in your community, contact Matt Gregory at (425) 828-0231 or visit our website at

Bonni Sundberg
Marketing Chairperson
Kiwanis Club of Kirkland