History of Cheyenne Kiwanis Club 2

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The Agriculture and Conservation Committee of Kiwanis works closely with the Future Farmers of America in Laramie County High Schools. In 1965, this committee undertook the sponsorship and promotion of the Annual FFA Livestock Sale of Champions to help achieve a good turn out of buyers, thus securing better prices for the prize winning animals raised by the FFA boys. Kiwanis also bought animals to be raised and bred by FFA chapters as part of their training. In the past, the Future Farmers of America have been especially helpful with other Kiwanis projects as an expression of their appreciation for the support they received from the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club.


Kiwanis continued to hold their meetings and social functions in the Plains Hotel for forty-seven years, but the increasing size of the club and changing circumstances at the hotel prompted a move, in 1969, to the Hitching Post Inn.


The fiftieth anniversary year of 1972 was a busy one for the Cheyenne Kiwanians in many different ways. It was apparent that time had only increased the variety of interests and activities within the club. Much of the club's participation in the mainstream of community affairs consisted of help and financial assistance to the projects of other civic groups or clubs. Little notice is taken of these many outside contributions, except as they appear in the Kiwanis Club's minutes and financial statements.


Kiwanis International had grown to more than five thousand eight hundred clubs by 1972. In that year, the Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne was the twenty-ninth largest club in the world. Only four years later, in the Kiwanis census of 1976, Cheyenne had become the fifth largest club of more than six thousand two hundred clubs.


Club rosters, from the files and the bulletin collections, reveal the progression of club's phenomenal growth. The original group boasted sixty-five members on charter night in 1922. In 1928, the roster was a typewritten sheet of only forty names. The 1940 roster of seventy-five names was distributed as a printed folder, and in 1955, the one hundred and two name roster began to appear on the back of the weekly Telstar


There was no longer enough space on the back of the bulletin to list the two hundred and fourteen members in 1972. A loose leaf directory with a separate sheet devoted to each member of the club was introduced. The 1977 annual bound copy of the directory includes pages for three hundred and twenty-seven members. Enrollment exceeded four hundred members for the first time in 1988, making this the world's second largest Kiwanis Club.


When the membership count had increased to four hundred and thirty-two in 1994, the task of issuing an individual directory page for each new or revised entry had become too cumbersome to be practical. Some members had given up maintenance of their personal copy of the directory altogether. The first issue of the new version of the directory format, condensed from four hundred and forty sheets to only eighteen sheets, was issued in October 1994. Since then, directory revisions have been issued in their entirety semiannually.


Early in the 1970s, an article about the Cheyenne club appeared in the Rocky Mountain District Bulletin with a headline, which referred to an activity of "The Great Cheyenne Kiwanis Club". Cheyenne 's Telstar seized upon the thought and immodestly adopted the label as an unofficial nickname in local publications. The name stuck, and it appears it will endure, for as long as the club remains "Great".


The increasing size of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club has made it possible to participate financially, as well as with manpower, to an even greater extent in community activities. A single donation as large as than $3800 was made for the first time in 1976, when the local school district needed some special teaching aids.


On September 24, 1971 , the Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne officially formed the nonprofit, tax exempt Cheyenne Kiwanis Club Foundation. Although all members of the local Kiwanis Club are also members of the Foundation, the Foundation exists as a separate entity from the Kiwanis Club for the purpose of supporting the philanthropic works of Kiwanis and others.


The first major project of the Foundation was the sponsorship of the Magic City Enterprises work activity center, opened on February 7, 1972 in rented quarters on South Central Avenue . Here, developmentally disabled youths and adults could be given gainful employment under professional supervision.


The activity center was later moved into the new Kiwanis building as part of an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The company leased the building to Kiwanis for one dollar per year, with the understanding that the work activities center would occupy space in the building. In December 1979, the Union Pacific donated the property (retaining the occupancy restriction) to the Kiwanis Club. Then, in March of 1996, the Kiwanis Club sold the building to The Cheyenne Kiwanis Club Foundation. In October of that year, Union Pacific released the occupancy use restriction by quitclaim deed.


Another major undertaking, before Kiwanis could occupy the newly acquired premises, was the matter of restoring the property to a usable state. The cement block building and adjoining steel warehouse were in a state of ruin, and were surrounded by an abandoned commercial junkyard. Club members volunteered heavy equipment, dump trucks, and a massive force of manpower to clear the grounds and repair the buildings. The Foundation has continued to maintain the building and grounds in respectable condition.


The club made donations in excess of $10,000 to the Kiwanis Club Foundation for the benefit of Magic City Enterprises in its early days. The scope of Magic City Enterprises was extended to include living skills to be learned at group homes for the clients of the work activities center in 1975.


By the end of 1976, Magic City Enterprises had become self supporting with assets of almost $107,000 and an operating budget of more than $350,000. Eventually it became an autonomous institution, independent from the Kiwanis Club and the Foundation. However, in 1983 the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club Foundation advanced the down payment and guaranteed the loan on another building, at 301 Deming Boulevard , for new Magic City Enterprises shops. Along with serving the developmentally disabled clients, and screening clients for referral to other agencies, Magic City Enterprises has expanded into a wide variety of community services. Its operations brought nearly $5,700,000 directly into Cheyenne 's economy during the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2001


Between 1972 and 1984, the Foundation had contributed more that $303,000 in grants in the Cheyenne area. A plan was initiated to build a permanent endowment fund for the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club Foundation in 1980. The income from the endowment fund investments would allow the Foundation to make even more significant grants. The goal for the endowment fund, first set at $250,000, was increased to $300,000 in 2001. At the end of the 2001 calendar year, during a period of recession, the value of the fund was at $207,500.


Dwight Bonham, who died in 1984, just after completing his term as Rocky Mountain District Governor, had proposed appeals for financial support of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club Foundation by the Kiwanis members as early as 1974. After his death, gifts to the Foundation from the Bonham family and others, led to establishment of the Foundation's Bonham Fellow program which awards Bonham Fellowships or Bonham Life Memberships to donors whose gifts, spontaneous or over a period of time, exceed established levels.


As the World Wide Service Project of Kiwanis International, devoted to elimination of Iodine Deficiency Syndrome throughout the world, was drawing to a close in 2001, the Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne and its Foundation led the Kiwanis Clubs in the Rocky Mountain District with contributions totaling more than $125,000.00.


The Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne sponsored the formation of the Golden-K Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne in 1984. Earlier, the Cheyenne Club had established clubs at Jackson Hole (1966), and at Wheatland (1977).


Mrs. Alice Ross served for many years as pianist at all Kiwanis meetings and social functions. When she retired, at more than ninety years of age, in 1988, she became the first woman to be accepted into the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club as an honorary member. On December first the same year, Terri Lorenzon and Julie Robinson, daughter of Past District Governor, Ralph T. Robinson, were the first lady candidates accepted into membership as full fledged, dues paying Kiwanians. Terri Lorenzon became the first woman to serve as President of the Kiwanis Club of Cheyenne in the year of 1995-96. Dixie Roberts followed her example in 1998-99, and Jane Eickbush was club president in 2000-2001.


The Chocolate Indulgence fundraiser was introduced in 1997, featuring assorted donated chocolate treats and a silent auction for the enjoyment and amusement of ticket buyers.


Kiwanis International invited the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club to bring a crew and their now famous mobile kitchen to the International Convention at Denver in 1999. They would demonstrate their capabilities by serving conventioneers a chuck wagon breakfast in the open courtyard in front of the Convention Center. As a result of features about the Frontier Days breakfasts, which had appeared in Kiwanis International publications over the years, delegates and visitors from around the world eagerly anticipated the highly publicized event. Many of them mentioned that they had partaken of the breakfasts at Cheyenne Frontier Days in past years.


The following year, the Kiwanis mass feeding unit was asked to appear in New York City on the Today Show, a daily morning television talk show. Selected equipment from the mobile kitchens was freighted to the Big Apple. A nucleus of volunteers from the club flew out to set it up on the street outside of the television studio, and to prepare and serve pancakes breakfasts. The venture was not successful as a fundraiser, but some value was derived for the Club, the City of Cheyenne , and for Cheyenne Frontier Days as a result of nationwide publicity associated with the appearance.


The Kiwanis Club administration for the 1999-2000 year established a goal of selecting a major community services project to be undertaken by the club. The project selected was the support of the City Parks Department in the construction of a new Community House to replace the outdated meeting place in the City Park . Kiwanians promoted public participation in the project, and actively solicited donations of cash, labor and materials to assure prompt completion of this attractive new facility overlooking Sloan's Lake .


The municipal golf course has been built on the sites of the old Kiwanis and Rotary Parks since the City of Cheyenne first solicited the help of the local service clubs to build parks in the vicinity of the city's lakes in 1922. The Governor's Residence now occupies the site of the American Legion Park of the 1920s. The old Beach House on Kiwanis Lake and the Sea Scouts House on Sloan's Lake will not stand forever as remnants of the Kiwanis presence in the City Park system. In view of all of this, it seems especially appropriate that the Kiwanis Club will maintain a current presence in the remaining portion of Cheyenne 's park system as a result of its role in development of the new Community House.


By end of the year 2002, many members were surprised to learn that more than ninety percent of the club's members have direct access to computer technology, including email and the world wide web. The Telstar is already being distributed to most of the members through email. It is hoped that the printed Illustrated Membership Directory may be replaced by an on-line version, generated directly from the club's current centralized database, by the end of the year 2003. The club's web site, originated by President Bill Parker in 1999, is being maintained to allow bookkeeping, organizational and committee reporting functions, as the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club takes a leading role in the Rocky Mountain District and in Kiwanis International, bringing Information Technology into the future of the organization.


Continued on History on Cheyenne Kiwanis Club 3