Local Kiwanis Club President Tom Stahlheber exudes enthusiasm when he talks about projects that invest in children, both locally and globally.
After a recent meeting, he said, “I love that all of our efforts are going to help children. I am a kid-advocate. Everything we do pours into the lives of kids in one form or another.”
Kiwanis International is a global organization whose members of all ages are dedicated to “changing the world, one child and one community at a time.”
Kiwanis is always looking for new volunteers. The local (Belden Village) Chapter meets every Thursday from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the in North Canton. Membership is open to anyone 18 years and older. Dues are $25 a quarter. Members pay for their own lunch each week, plus throw a “happy dollar” into the club collection, sharing what they’re happy about as they give.
Recently, the club hosted members of the Players Guild Theatre, who spoke about the Page-to-Stage programs and the benefits of the arts in schools. Children and adults performed scenes from Annie Jr. and the traveling, interactive school production James and the Giant Peach. Members encouraged the children in their involvement in theater arts.
Stahlheber shared that globally, Kiwanis is working to improve the lives of children through projects like “Eliminate,” seeking to wipe out Maternal and Neonatal Tetnus (MNT), which kills one baby every four minutes, especially in impoverished countries. Because MNT is highly preventable (three doses of a vaccine can protect mothers and babies) Kiwanis has a vision to end the deadly disease.
Locally, Kiwanis members are investing in the lives of children, ages birth through 18, by funding projects like Canton Teen Court, a program for first-time juvenile offenders where teens are judged and prosecuted by their peers. If they serve the sentence required, their record is cleared.
Statistics show that teens who complete the program rarely become repeat offenders. The club also awards college scholarships to Stark-area graduates, is involved with Stark Parks and invests in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through its "Aktion" programs.
Kiwanis sponsors programs in local schools, such as BUGS (Bringing up Grades in elementary Schools), Builders’ Club (in junior highs), Key Club (in high schools) and Circle K (post-secondary). Stahlheber talked about area clubs at Jackson, GlenOak and , and he hopes to find sponsors for clubs this coming year in the North Canton school system.
To get involved in Kiwanis, attend a Thursday luncheon, or contact Tom Stahlheber at firstname.lastname@example.org.