Kiwanis celebrate birthday

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Joe Garlitz of the Kiwanis Club, right, presents a check to YMCA representatives Rick Matthews, center, and Mario Faulk at the Kiwanis meeting at Fire Mountain on Monday. The club raises money by selling peanuts and gives it to local organizations.

The Kiwanis Club of Suffolk celebrated its 65th birthday during its regular meeting on Monday.

The members celebrated by having cake and ice cream, reflecting on community service projects the club has done and sharing stories about why they joined Kiwanis.

“I joined because of the things the Kiwanis does in the community,” said Fritz Skeeter, a club member.


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The Kiwanis mission is to serve children and young adults throughout the world through a variety of projects, including a worldwide Kiwanis project aimed at preventing iodine deficiencies in children. Local service projects have included supporting the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the March of Dimes, the Children’s Hospital for the King’s Daughters, early recycling programs and more.

Representatives from the YMCA were at the meeting on Monday to share about their latest project, Camp Arrowhead. The new regional summer camp is being constructed on Kenyon Road and will open this summer.

“Camp is all about those life-long friendships,” said Mario Faulk, senior child care director.

Like most YMCA programs, scholarships will be offered for children who cannot afford to pay. The Kiwanis Club has supported that effort for many years, said Rick Matthews, YMCA district vice president.

“The Kiwanis Club has been very generous in helping us with our We Build People program,” Matthews said. “We can’t thank you enough. You have been a fantastic partner.”

Member Andy Damiani said the Kiwanis began the first recycling program in Suffolk about 20 years ago by purchasing the “igloo” recycling containers and placing them around Suffolk.

“We were one of the pioneers,” Damiani said. “We were the only ones, in the beginning.”

Club president Joe Garlitz said the club’s service has affected the community positively in many ways.

“We can make a difference in our local area,” he said.

Also at the meeting, nine members of the club were recognized for years-of-service milestones. They were:

  • 25 years — Charles O’Dea, Nils Melkerson, Herbert Miller, Joe Garlitz and Robert Reilly
  • 35 years — J. Lee Bowman
  • 40 years — Gerry Zekert
  • 45 years — Andy Damiani
  • 50 years — Harry Leggett

The club meets at Fire Mountain, 1202 N. Main St., every Monday at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit