Kiwanis Club History

The Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor was organized on May 13, 1921, and was chartered on June 13, 1921, with 60 charter members. As of December 8, 2011, our club had 176members, making it the largest Kiwanis club in Michigan. Since its founding, the club has inducted 1,187 members.

In 1922, the club began working with the University of Michigan Hospital to provide recreation and education for children staying there. In 1934, the work was adopted as a Michigan District project and named for Forney W. Clement, a former Kiwanis District Secretary and member of our club. The project was extended to the Mary Free Bed Hospital in Grand Rapids in 1961, to Northern Michigan Hospitals, Inc. in Petoskey in 1977, and to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit in the 1980s. Our club members contribute monthly to the Mott Pot, whose contents are donated to the children’s education program at the U-M’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The club began raising money through thrift sales in 1927. Sales were held mostly at the National Guard Armory until 1968, when the club bought the building now known as the Kiwanis Activity Center (KAC). On May 19, 1984, the club celebrated the burning of the building’s mortgage note. Proceeds raised from thrift sales and other fund-raising efforts have enabled the club to fund activities of many charitable organizations and to carry out several special projects.

Periodically, the club has made substantial gifts (up to $25,000) to various community organizations as part of their capital campaigns (e.g., buildings that house the Ann Arbor YMCA, Red Cross, and Salvation Army; and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Greenhouse Project) or to projects that significantly enhance the community (e.g., Ann Arbor Public Library Bookmobile, Ann Arbor Fire Department Smoke House, “Neutral Zone” center for teenagers, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Dawn Farm, Washtenaw Area Council for Children, Peace Neighborhood Center, and Hope Dental Clinic).

The club celebrated its 90th anniversary in June 2011. Through all those years it has been blessed with excellent leadership, steadfast participation by its members and volunteers, and support from the community members.