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Kiwanis  (with permission of the Queens Chronicle)

Cambria Heights Kiwanis Get Kudos For Membership Growth

By DANIEL HENDRICK, Assistant Editor, Queens Chronicle

The Kiwanis Club of Cambria Heights got some well deserved recognition last weekend. After accepting a challenge by the president of the Kiwanis International organization to increase membership, the Cambria Heights group nearly quintupled its membership, rising from 15 as of last October to 71 at present.

 “We were number two in terms of growth in the entire Kiwanis organization,” said St. Albans resident C. Janet Banks, who is president of the local Kiwanis. In return for posting such a steep boost, Nettles Brown, the president of Kiwanis International, bestowed special honors on the Cambria Heights group at a reception at the Sheraton Hotel in Jamaica on Saturday night.
   Banks, who has led the local Kiwanis for five years, received a Tablet of Honor, which is the organization’s highest award, for her community service. Two other members, Cambria Heights residents Lloyd Hicks and Morris Lee, received the George Hickson award for their years of service to the Kiwanis. Hicks has been a member for 25 years and Lee has been a member since the local group’s inception 30 years ago.    The group additionally extended honorary memberships to 11 sponsors and community luminaries, including recently elected State Senator Malcolm Smith.
   The Kiwanis is one of the largest service organizations in the world, with over 300,000 members from 8,000 local clubs in 79 countries. The organization’s name translates as “express ourselves” in a Native American tongue. The group’s mission is to render service to the needy and elderly, and especially to children, around the world.
   On a local level, the Kiwanis Club of Cambria Heights focuses its efforts on fund raising to treat iodine deficiency disease and on encouraging academic performance. The group sponsors a Builders Club, based at I.S. 238 in Hollis, which rewards students who have shown improvements at school. The Builders Club has also shown a remarkable increase in membership, with the current number at 227.
   The Cambria Heights Kiwanis also organizes two high-school-level Key Clubs, based at Hillcrest High School and the School For Humanities Magnet School, both located in Jamaica. Through these and other initiatives, Banks said that the local Kiwanis have made a tangible difference to the East and Southeast Queens communities.
   “It is so important to create a world where people are aware of each other’s problems, their needs and conditions,” she said. “We give our young people leadership opportunities, too, where otherwise they might be involved with crime.”
   Banks added that while she was pleased with the awards her group received, she said she was optimistic that the group could continue to grow. “We are at the silver level, but we want to make it to the gold, which means we would have 100 members.”
   The Kiwanis Club of Cambria Heights welcomes new members every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel, located at 151-20 Baisley Boulevard in Jamaica.

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Last modified: May 01, 2008