CELEBRATING PEOPLE, CELEBRATING SERVICE!
CONGRATULATIONS "TRAVIS DENNING"
For Completing First Year at Cyber Kiwanis!
1. Cyber Kiwanis: Congratulations on completing your first year at the club. How do you feel about it?
Travis Denning: It feels great to have completed my first year of being in the Central Valley Cyber Kiwanis club. I like the club and I hope to be able to continue being in this club.
2. C.K : Kiwanis is not new for you as you have already been a member of a Key club, but still, what has been your inspiration behind joining Cyber Kiwanis?
T.D : I was inspired to join this club because of the Key Club. I liked all of the community service projects that our Key Club was involved in and I wanted to continue to be involved within my community through Kiwanis. Central Valley Cyber Kiwanis allows me to still be a part of this organization while going to college.
3. C.K : What is your favorite service that you enjoy doing?
T.D : I like all of the community service projects but my favorite project is going to the Kiwanis Family House. The last time I went I helped plant trees at the Kiwanis Family House. It felt great to be able to beautify the place and hopefully make the families living there feel like they are at home.
4. C.K: Is there any service that you hold near your heart, that you wish to accomplish in the future as a Kiwanian?
T.D : In the future I wish to be able to host a blood drive.
5. C.K : What are you up to nowadays? What are your personal goals/aim in life?
T.D: I am currently in my second year as an engineering major at West Hills College Lemoore. I hope to transfer to California State University, Fresno next year and major in Electrical Engineering. My goal in life is to help as many people as I can. Electrical Engineering can help me fulfill this goal whether it be creating electrical circuits for certain life support systems or transporting electricity to our hospitals and homes.
6. C.K: People say it's hard to take out time to volunteer, how do you manage, with your studies and all?
T.D: It is hard to take out time to volunteer but if you balance your schedule you can still fit in some community service projects into your life. If I have homework I need to do I will sometimes attend half of the event and then go home and work on my homework.
7. C.K : Where do you see yourself and the club in next 5 years?
T.D : In the next five years I hope to see our club size larger and I hope our club has more members located outside of Kings County, California.
8. C.K : Two new former key club members are joining us this year, what would your advice be to them?
T.D : My advice to them is to continue to be involved within the community and get your friends to become members of the club. If you have a new idea for a community service project do not be afraid to speak up about your ideas to the club.
9. C.K : As you know, we have members and are looking forward to recruiting more, who are outside Kings County, California, who are unable to participate physically in a lot of Cyber Kiwanis sponsored service activities based in and around Hanford, what is your take on that?
T.D : I think that it is great that we have new people who want to join our club that do not live in Kings County, California. Even though they cannot participate in our events they can participate in events around their community that support what we stand up for. There are some events that we do in Kings County, California that they could possibly do at their own hometown. These events could be Relay for Life or the river cleanup.
10. C.K : Well, congratulations again! We hope you are able to accomplish everything you wish for in life and continue giving back to the community that has made you what you are! Anything you want to say in the end...
T.D: I want to thank all of the members of this club for everything they do and I hope they all continue to be a part of the club.
VP Karachi club of Kiwanis and founder of KDSP
We had the honor of interviewing Mr. Ali Allawala, a Kiwanian at heart, VP of Karachi club of Kiwanis (in Pakistan) and founder of Karachi Down Syndrome Program (KDSP) who tells us about his life changing moment :
"On 12th January, 2011, my wife and I were gifted with a baby girl. She was born six weeks premature and although there were suspicions that she may not be “normal”, it was confirmed after her birth, that she has a genetic condition known as Down syndrome.
It took us a few months to get over the “trauma” mostly because of the way the news was delivered to us. After it sunk in, we got to know our daughter for who she was. Instead of just focusing on the Down Syndrome, we realized that she was very much like any other child. Yes, there are differences in terms of the time she took to achieve certain milestones as well as other health challenges, but for the most part, she is a happy, kind, mischievous, music-loving and sometimes very stubborn 3 year old.
When Alaiyah was born, we started to look for resources in our city. We were unable to locate or connect with any institution that could guide us as to what to expect and how to better prepare for it. We immediately identified that as a gap that needed to be filled and as we started to connect with other parents having children with Down Syndrome, we started to realize that almost every parent went through the same feeling of helplessness due to the lack of institutional help available. We knew then that this organization needed to be in place.
'Karachi Down Syndrome Program (KDSP) is an organization formed by a group of affected parents and passionate individuals advocating the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome living in Karachi and to provide them with the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.'
That’s our vision. We intend to undertake programs such as setting up a Parent Support Group, provide Early Childhood Intervention services, spread awareness for the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome into our society and develop strategic affiliations between clinics, therapy centers and hospitals. Since we are a new organization, we are not pursuing all our goals immediately but with the help and support of the people around us, we should get there with time.
A very kind person, and now, a very dear friend, and our current president, Dr. Jamal Ara introduced me to the Karachi club of Kiwanis. The club has been working on providing support to children with Down Syndrome and she proposed we come together on the Kiwanis platform to take the cause forward. Working for the benefit of children is very high on my list of priorities. Working for the children means working for a better future and that is what inspires me to be a Kiwanian.
I am hopeful that both organizations will serve their communities well in the years to come. Karachi constitutes of approximately 20 million people with around 40% under the age of 18. That’s a large number. As far as people with Down Syndrome are concerned, considering the average 1 in 1000 people having Down Syndrome, statistic that holds true internationally, Karachi would have approximately 20,000 people with Down Syndrome. That’s a pretty large number of people that have no representation whatsoever. KDSP intends to fill that gap."
We truly appreciate his efforts and hope he is able to achieve the best for his community. Individuals, like him, who take initiatives to help themselves and their communities, are truly a star. You can follow the activities of KDSP on Facebook here.
A Kiwanian for Life shares his journey with us!
I joined Kiwanis because I was asked to join…numerous times!
I officially joined Kiwanis on October 6,1986, after an active Kiwanian insisted that I attend a meeting with him at 6:30 A.M , on a Monday morning. He had been asking me for several years to go to a Kiwanis meeting, and I always had the excuse of being too busy. The club meeting I attended that morning had 46 members present, and I discovered that I knew many of them. After attending two meetings (a club requirement at the time), I joined.
I soon found out that a person gets out of Kiwanis, what they put into it, and a busy individual can still make time for Kiwanis fellowship and community service. The club I joined was made up of enthusiastic individuals (many busier than I was) who met every Monday morning for breakfast. The meetings were well run, members insisted on a reasonable level of professionalism, Kiwanis etiquette and protocol, and they wasted no time in getting me involved in club activities.
Within a few years, I had served on and chaired several committees, worked my way through club offices and became club president in 1991, just five years after joining. It was an exciting time to be a Kiwanian, and, still is. I was a Kiwanis Lieutenant governor in 1995, district governor in 1999, and have been a certified Kiwanis trainer since then.
Along the way, and by choice, I have obtained Kiwanis Life Membership, Hixson Fellowship, Bartlett Fellowship (district), Legion of Honor, Tablet of Honor, Ruby K Award, and a Presidential Zeller. But, a person does not need these to be a good and valuable member of Kiwanis.
In addition to serving in Kiwanis leadership roles, some of the community projects in which I participated over the years have included community clean up every spring (walking road ditches and picking up trash), reading books to grade school children, taking kids and families Christmas shopping, supporting Special Olympics, and volunteering for numerous fundraising activities for which the proceeds help to benefit Kiwanis at the local, state and global levels.
The major fundraiser for the local Kiwanis club in Iowa, of which I am a member, is operating a restaurant at an annual 9-day regional Fair. It’s a lot of work shared by many, and the profits support our service activities for 12 months.
In addition to being an active member of a traditional Kiwanis club, I also joined Cyber Kiwanis, an online club in 2012. My reason for wanting to be involved in an active and growing Kiwanis internet club is simple, I pledged years ago to be a “Kiwanian for life” , and I believe in the values of the organization, and while I may not always be able to participate in a local (traditional) club I should be able to access an online club from anywhere. Sure, I will have to pay dues and follow a few guidelines, but I can do some good things in the name of Kiwanis, at my own pace, wherever I may be.
As for service projects in an internet club, everyone can do something. If you live in close proximity to other club members, team up with them once in a while. If there are other service clubs or organizations where you live, volunteer to help them at times, in the name of Kiwanis. If you are the only internet Kiwanis member in your state or country, do something locally on your own and in the name of Kiwanis.
Currently, I choose to involve myself in some random acts of kindness and help others less fortunate. I help solicit food items (even buy some to donate) for a local food pantry. I also mentor a group of 34 retired older citizens (several are former Kiwanians) who do not want the boundaries and obligations of a chartered service club, but who do want weekly opportunities for fellowship and service. I provide some leadership, recruit some guest speakers, and help them raise some money for community needs.
Lessons I have learned from Kiwanis! I have received more from Kiwanis than I have given. I have developed leadership skills, made some lifelong friends and met people I would have never known (and some I have never seen face-to-face), and been part of a group effort to help others and even though some of what I do is on my own but still it's a part of a bigger picture.
A person is never too busy to be in a service club. Never. You do what you can, when you can. Volunteers aren’t worthless, they are priceless, and being part of a global organization can make a major difference in the lives of many.
People have to be asked to join Kiwanis.
Think outside the box. Kiwanis has some tried and true service projects and fundraisers, but there are many things one member can do. Do things you like, and find ways in which those things can help others.
Meet our first 'Community Friend'
CK : Congratulations! You have been chosen as 'Community Friend', how do you feel about it?
AA : I feel very excited to be acknowledged by the community for the job that I feel lucky to have. To be in a position to help a child learn, grow, and develop is a blessing. Through UCP, an organization that supports not only children with special needs but also their families, I have had the opportunity to influence families in a very positive manner and that to me is priceless.
CK : Tell us, what do you do for the children of your community?
AA : As an interventionist, I wear many hats. I am a service provider, a child and/or parent advocate. But one of my main roles is to promote that parents "play" with their children. Play is important because it is through play that a child's' development is stimulated while promoting growth in areas of development such as language, motor, and social skills. Ultimately, I will work on anything that will fulfill our mission statement which is to advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of individuals with disabilities.
CK : What is the inspiration behind what you do?
AA : My kids and family. I feel the need to say that being a parent of a young adult with special needs myself, has given me the insight of what it is like to get excellent intervention and I want to give those I care for the same, well-rounded support.
CK : If you could change anything, what would that be?
AA : I would like to go back in time and apply all that I have learned during my employment as well as my school years to my own children in their early years. I feel that I gave my kids the best that I had to offer, but age does bring some amount of knowledge along with it, and I am always super excited to share what I have learned with the families I serve.
CK : Based on your experience, what is your opinion about how our system treats the children/teens of our community?
AA : I do feel that both children and teens have a great advantage to succeed educationally because there are free and available community supports. For example, First 5 services in most if not all counties offer early childhood enrichment programs to families and their children up to five years old. Similarly, teens have the option to excel in school and benefit from the option of receiving accelerated classes or even free classes at the high school level if they are willing to sacrifice a little of their time.
CK : Where do you see yourself in next ten years?
AA : In a decade, I hope to be serving the special needs population still. I feel there is no better place out there than early start! I have been able to explore other age groups and even though rewarding, serving the very youngest is where I feel my heart is.
CK : Any advice/suggestion to parents, caregivers, teachers?
AA : Time devoted to any child is the best investment anyone can make to ensure they will maximize a child's potential. In the early years, the role of the teacher should be to empower the parent as they are their child's first teacher. As an interventionist, I have had the pleasure to do this for parents and hope to continue to earn their trusting relationship for many years to come.
We are truly inspired by your motivation and dedication towards serving the children of your community. You bring smile to the face of many parents and children alike. Thank you for your service!