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We meet every Monday from 11:45 to 1:00
in the basement of the Coldwater Elks Bldg, 47 Division St..


Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.
The History of the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater
Current projects of the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater
How to become a member of the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater


On March 26, 1935 several noteworthy events, locally and nationally, were noticed in the Branch County News, later to be called the Daily Reporter. Sir John Simon and Captain Anthony Eden of England had just returned from a meeting with Adolph Hitler in Europe over Germany’s right to rearm. Jay Crow, a local farmer in Branch County, was acquitted by a jury for stealing three heifers after a 7 day trial, and the Coldwater Kiwanis came into being as an organization.

The formation of the Coldwater Kiwanis did not just happen overnight. Several meetings of local professional and business men were needed before the club was officially started on March 26, 1935, with 30 business and civic leaders meeting at St. Marks Parish in Coldwater. Under the guidance of Kiwanis International and sponsorship of the Hillsdale Kiwanis Club, the Coldwater Kiwanis Club adopted bylaws and elected Dr. Lemuel I. Gist its first president.

On May 8, 1935, the club was officially presented with the Kiwanis Charter and a dinner dance was held in celebration of its formation. The Club had 28 charter members. One was Rolph Carlisle who was an active member for over 65 years. Weekly meetings of the Club were held Wednesday evenings, a practice that continued until 1980, when the Club switched to noon meetings.
Under the Kiwanis motto “We build”, adopted by the International Organization in 1920, the Club soon developed altruistic programs to benefit the community. One of the first projects of the Club was to purchase eye glasses for a high school boy who was planning on dropping out of school and then persuading the young man to return to school. A few other projects of the pre-World War II era included the construction and maintenance of a City Tourist Camp, sponsorship of the Coldwater Senior Class annual outing, sponsorship of the President’s Ball, promotion of amateur radio, providing milk for the needy children in the First and Third Wards in Coldwater, and the donation of crutches to both children and adults of Coldwater.

On January 12, 1940, the Club sponsored a new Club in Sturgis with the assistance of Kiwanis International. Although many of the prewar projects of Kiwanis did not continue in postwar Coldwater due to the changing society, several Kiwanis projects remained that had their beginning in the prewar period. In 1936, the Christmas parties for local children were started and these parties continued for many years. As many as 185 people attended some of these parties.

In February of 1937, Fielding H. Yost, Director of Athletics at the University of Michigan, was the speaker at the first boy’s basketball banquet. The Club no longer sponsors boys’ basketball banquets, however, the Club has provided an annual banquet for the Lady Cardinal basketball team for over 30 years.
During the war years, local and U.S Kiwanis Clubs suspended their normal projects and devoted their time and effort to raising funds and supporting the troops in Europe and the Pacific. Some of the fund raising projects during this period included rummage sales, scrap metal drives, the sale of War Bonds, Red Cross drives and USO drives. As before World War II, the local Club continued its interest in youth when a Youth Center was operated by the Club on West Chicago in Coldwater for a short period of time.
Between 1945 and 1965, the local Club continued its involvement in community affairs by making donations of money as well as personal participation. By 1959, the membership had increased and there were 56 regular members and 6 privileged members in the Club.

Shortly after the end of World War II, the Club became involved with a game of chance known as Spin the Wheel at the Branch County 4-H Fair. If your name came up on the wheel, you won a blanket. The game proved to be quite lucrative for the Club and some years the Club earned between $3-5,000.00. The game came to an abrupt halt in 1950 when Kiwanis International prohibited all games of chance for local clubs.

Several recognizable fund raising activities also came into being between 1945 and 1964. The Coldwater Kiwanis Club started selling ”delicious” peanuts in Coldwater in 1949 and continues. In 1957, Kiwanis began sponsorship of a travelogue series at the Tibbits Opera House for 45 years. An annual Pancake Day at the Masonic Temple was begun in 1954. One of the largest fund raising projects ever promoted by Kiwanis from a financial standpoint occurred in the late 40’s and early 50’s. The Club raised approximately $65,000.00 for a high school farm shop. Soon after the funds were raised, there was a consolidation of schools in the greater Coldwater area with an increased millage. The school shop was no longer needed. The project was abandoned and all funds were returned to the donors.
In 1965, the local club, with a good crowd in attendance, held its 30th anniversary at the Elks Temple. The main speaker for the evening was International Trustee, Robert F. Weber, who emphasized the importance of bringing free men into global understanding.

Starting in 1965, the Club participated in the Youth for Understanding program for several years. A scholarship was provided to qualified students of the Coldwater area to assist them in their travel and other expenses to countries extending from Australia to Germany.
The Kiwanis Club has furnished labor for the building and furnishing of Chapels at Maple Lawn Medical Care Facility and the Community Health Center of Branch County. With help from 4H members a community garden area was established.

In May of 1974, the Club chose to paint and repair the house of an elderly widow who was nearly blind and living on a limited income. Although she was living in virtual poverty, she was too proud to ask for charity and it took some persuasion by Kiwanis members to convince her that she did not have to pay anything towards the repairs. The entire club took part in the painting and repair work and the job was completed in one day with approximately 120 man hours involved in the work.
In 1978 and 1979, the Club participated in the enormous preservation job of the Wing House in Coldwater. The Music Room was slated as top priority on the list of work to be done. A substantial number of members pitched in and after approximately 210 man hours, the Music Room was completed. The room was ready for the Branch County Historical Society’s 1979 tour of Historical Homes.
In June of 1985 the Club became the sponsor of Boy Scouts of America Troup 433. The Club has continued its sponsorship to the present time.

In 1987, delegates at the Kiwanis International convention in Washington D.C., approved the admission of women to Kiwanis membership. Soon after, the membership of the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater included women which ended its 52 year designation as a men’s club.
In 1991, the Club was a joint sponsor, along with the other Kiwanis Clubs of Division 12, for the Kiwanis Club of Colon.

In 1991, Kiwanis International, under the leadership of International President Wil Blechman M.D., made the decision to emphasize projects to benefit children in the age range of pre-natal to five. Because a high percentage of a person’s development occurs by age five, we believe that it is important to concentrate on that age range. Kiwanis labeled this project area Young Children: Priority One. the Coldwater club has had numerous projects to benefit children in this age range. Most recently, we have provided CHC and Beginnings Care for Life with items collected through our annual baby shower. We also provide new mothers, who are Medicaid eligible, with infant car seats and cribs. We have also become a major partner with the Branch Great Start Collaborative. BGSC is comprised of 22 local partnerships working to assure that children in Branch County will start school healthy, safe and ready to succeed.

Starting in the mid-nineties, Kiwanis International partnered with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to eliminate Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) world wide over an eight-ten year period. IDD was the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in developing countries. It also resulted in many other health maladies to include goiter. Kiwanis Clubs and individual members raised $100 million for this project. The Coldwater club and members supported this world wide project with contributions in excess of $35,000.

To help fund our contribution to the IDD project and other projects, the Club promoted and made up reflective house numbers. Many of the green backed house numbers seen attached to mail boxes and steel posts around rural Branch County were distributed by our Kiwanis Club.
At the 2005 International Convention in Honolulu Hawaii, delegates approved a change in the 85 year old motto “We Build” to “Serving the Children of the World”. Serving children is the primary focus of Kiwanis and it was believed that the new motto was more appropriate.

Our “Flags Across Coldwater” project was started in 2006. On five patriotic holidays throughout the year, Kiwanis members, along with members and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 433, set out flags early in the morning and remove them just before dark.

A great deal of change has occurred in the last seventy five years, not only in our general society, but in Kiwanis as well. Based on the past, we might anticipate that change will occur at an even faster pace in the next seventy five years. Despite change, we believe that there will always be ways to improve our community and human needs that we can help to meet. As members of the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater, we embrace change and look forward to playing an active role in the life of our community.

Coming Soon!

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