Years of supporting Sequim’s children is coming to an end for the Kiwanis Club of Sequim-Dungeness.
The handful of remaining members recently voted to disband. Their last meeting begins at noon, Thursday, June 13, at the Paradise Restaurant, 703 N. Sequim Ave.
Shell McGuire, club treasurer, said late last year after celebrating the club’s 40th year, they tried to recruit new members but not many joined.
They contacted former Kiwanis members to rejoin, other clubs to do joint activities and even tried setting up an Internet club through the Sequim School District with little success.
“It’s not as if we just rolled over and played dead,” McGuire said. “The efforts we tried were just not successful.”
Gil Oldenkamp, a member with different Kiwanis clubs — including Sequim’s — for 45 years, said with only a few members left it was hard to operate like in the past.
“It’s kind of sad, but by the same token reality takes over,” he said.
The Kiwanis’ membership peaked from the 1980s to the 1990s around 30-plus people. They’ve fronted big fundraisers such as their annual Christmas tree sale in the JCPenney parking lot and hung patriotic bunting around town.
But declining membership led to the bunting being put on hold for a year and eventually turned over to KSQM Radio as a new fundraiser. A Scout group is in discussions to take over the tree project, which has been going as long as the Kiwanis club.
Oldenkamp is happy that the banners and trees are being turned over to new groups.
Last Christmas season, he spent more than 150 hours selling trees. Approaching 80, Oldenkamp said that he’s too old to do it anymore and has confidence the Scouts will do well with the Christmas tree program.
The club also dropped out of refurbishing donated computers and finding those in need with the Sequim PC Users Group. McGuire joined the PC group and plans to help them receive and disperse computers on his own.
McGuire said he’s disappointed that the Kiwanis is disbanding but he and the others have their limitations.
“I’ve committed 22-plus years to Kiwanis and I’m fairly flexible but I can still serve the community in a different way,” he said.
Oldenkamp said he remains proud of his years of service as a member, too.
McGuire said he and the members are grateful to the community for its support of their many projects through the years.
The Kiwanians have supported Camp Beausite, a summer camp near Chimacum for people with special needs, books for elementary students, college scholarships, various school projects, a middle school poetry contest, yearbooks for foster children and extra funds for other service organizations. This year, the club gave $4,000 in college scholarships to Sequim students.
The club is in the process of dispersing the last of its funds and maintains a nonprofit scholastic foundation. McGuire said the foundation was started to support children who couldn’t afford school sports but it was converted to helping children pay for school field trips. Leftover funds are likely to go to college or technical school scholarships unless one of the local Kiwanis clubs takes it on, McGuire said.
Kiwanis Club of Sequim-Dungeness belongs to the Kiwanis International, which is dedicated to “changing the world, one child and one community at a time.” The local club has donated to the international project of eliminating natal tetanus; the inoculations are 10 cents a shot.
New Kiwanis group forms
While the Kiwanis Club of Sequim-Dungeness is ending, another group of former members is trying to establish the Sequim Dungeness Kiwanis Club.
Janice Teeter, club secretary, said she was with the original group for a number of years and that they did well with projects but once membership went down to mostly older members it became harder to do things.
She said they considered continuing with the existing club but members decided to disband instead. So far, the new club has only three members and meets at 7 a.m. each Tuesday at The Black Bear Diner, 1471 E. Washington St., Sequim.
Teeter said the Kiwanis International would like the club to obtain 25 members to start and they won’t determine what projects they’ll do until the group is officially formed.
She, like the original members, said it’s been hard to find new members.
For more information on the new Kiwanis Club, call 683-6128 or 808-0172.
For more information on the Sequim PC Users Group’s computer donations, call McGuire at 681-0805.