Each week, in a classroom at the Eisenhower Center in Lansing, a group of seniors gets together. They plan fundraisers and carry out business and “then sit and have coffee and talk about solving the problems of the world,” according to Mel DeVries, president of the Lansing Golden K Kiwanis Club.
It’s in that room that you’ll find some of the most service-minded, caring, generous people in town. The group’s focus is doing volunteer work in the community and finding ways to pitch in and help when they recognize a need.
One of my first encounters with the group was about a decade ago when I went in to the school library at my sons’ school and saw a couple of the members who I knew and started chatting with them. It turned out they were there to tutor students who needed extra help. I also ran into them later in the year as they visited the school to hand out BUG awards. The awards are handed out to students as a reward for bringing up their grades.
I was impressed by their presence in the school and warmed by the fact that it was something so needed and so beneficial to both groups. The kids were getting help that they truly needed by someone in the community who was there just to help them, and the Golden K members were fulfilled by providing this service and seeing that they were making a difference.
I am often saddened when I come across seniors who seem lonely and feel like they don’t have much of a purpose and spend most of their time confined to the walls of their home. If there’s a desire to be active, there are so many places and organizations that can use help. The Golden K Kiwanis Club is a great place to not only provide assistance through worthwhile projects, but where there’s a weekly opportunity for fellowship.
Some of the other projects the club has been involved with include reading to kindergarten classes and donating books to the students, helping to distribute food to the Lansing Food Pantry, ringing bells for Salvation Army and serving meals at St. Joseph’s soup kitchen in Hammond. Projects of Kiwanis International the club has supported are raising funds to help eliminate lockjaw, to provide tetanus shots to individuals in third world countries and working in conjunction with UNICEF to help decrease iodine deficiencies around the world. Several members of the group are also active in other volunteer capacities in the community.
The group is open to seniors, both male and female, in the area. Members don’t have to live in Lansing. They meet weekly at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays for about an hour. At some meetings, they invite speakers and I was lucky enough to visit recently to talk to the group of about 14 members about my new book and about Lansing history. I felt so welcomed and at home and was so touched at how they end their meetings by standing and singing “God Bless America” together. It brought me to tears.
New members are always welcome. DeVries said individuals may attend a meeting to learn more and there’s no pressure.
“We would like to welcome anyone who wants to be part of the group,” he said. “The thing that makes people happy about our group is that we are positive and just like being together.” For more information, call (708) 331-2473.