KIWANIS HISTORY & EASTON KIWANIS HISTORY
Two men, both natives of Detroit, MI, Allen Browne, a professional organizer, and Joseph Prance, a tailor, had an idea one day in August of 1914. A concept, rather, to develop an organization that provides not only fellowship, but one that provides insurance features as well. The original name of the organization was “The Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order of Brothers,” also know as BOB. Within a year the name was changed to “Kiwanis,” taken from an Indian term, which loosely translated as “We trade.” The Kiwanis Club of Detroit, Michigan, the number one club, was founded and chartered January 21, 1915. Three years later Easton was a vigorous city then of 34,328 and in view of the busy war economy, local leaders agreed that a Kiwanis club could be supported. The first person who signed was Raymond Carty on April sixth, 1918 and Easton Kiwanis Club was founded July 18, 1918 at Seip’s Café.
Charter membership included a future judge of Northampton County, heads of local industrial companies, leading merchants, physicians, bankers, city councilmen, county commissioners, three mayors, seven members of the Lafayette College staff, and a future chief surgeon of Easton Hospital. Truly Easton Kiwanis would represent “We Build.”
D. Vogel would continue as Club Secretary with his store as the unofficial club headquarters; John R. Winter, also a founder director, would be club treasurer for many years and would leave a substantial bequest to the club. Clair E. Churchman, a generation later, long-time secretary and bulletin editor, would bequeath funds to support, in the name of Kiwanis, the YMCA Day Camp. The club later was beneficiary of a bequest by James R. Roberts for educational purposes.
Following several happy years at Seip’s Cafe, until the onset of prohibition, Easton Kiwanis held its weekly luncheon meetings at the historic Karldon Hotel (formerly The United States Hotel) located at Third and spring Garden Streets, until the completion of the new Hotel Easton. Easton Kiwanis meetings had become famous not only for the cuisine furnished at Seip’s, but also because of the fellowship and entertainment enjoyed. Club singing was led by Bill (Wm. M.) Titus, who would become president in 1927. A talented leader, Bill spotted any reluctant member and would call on him for a solo to the delight of the other members.
The Easton Club was the 99th club chartered. Easton Kiwanians gave leadership to ongoing community activities, including campaigns that produced the new YMCA in 1921; Easton’s large, new hospital in 1930; and the first Community Chest in 1922 (now the United Way). Lafayette College educational opportunities for worthy Easton young men would become a major activity of the Club through the Kiwanis Club Scholarship Program, funded by an initial gift of $1000 from Robert S. Gerstell. April 12th, 1963 the Kiwanis Foundation of Easton was incorporated. The Foundation would become the charitable arm of the Easton Kiwanis Club.
In 1920 Roe Fulkerson, the gifted editor of the Kiwanis magazine, proposed two simple words, “We Build” as the Kiwanis motto. These two words,”We Build,” became the guiding force and inspiration for the important work of Kiwanis. We are not a social club or sacred or political society, membership is open to anyone of good character … the cost is small but the rewards in personal satisfaction are great. We are a service club dedicated to, “Serving the children of the world.”. Over the many years our club has been responsible for the forming of several other Kiwanis clubs. The Easton Kiwanis Club has been recognized many times by Kiwanis International at the National and State level for service to mankind. In 1992 our club was awarded the Easton Sales and Marketing Executives Award for Service Organizations. In 2012 the club received the Martin Zippel Award from the Easton Boys & Girls Club. The award is presented to individuals and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional integrity, leadership and consistency in improving the quality of life for disadvantaged youth in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Over the years many fundraising events provided the funds to do this community service. For several years we held a Kiwanis Travelogue at Easton High School as a fundraiser. In the 1950’s we held an Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Breakfast at the old Easton Moose on Fourth Street. We held a Gas-O-Rama Day where several gas stations in the area had the pumps operated by Kiwanians that day. Gas coupons were sold for two dollars and long lines were stretching into the street at Jack Anderson’s Sinclair station at Seventeenth and Northampton Streets. That was long before self-service pumps and gasoline was probably forty cents per gallon. For your two bucks you got five gallons.
Contributions and donations are given to many non-profit community organizations such as Boys & Girls Club of Easton, Third Street Alliance, Children’s Home of Easton, YMCA Camp, Minsi Trails Boy Scouts, Canal Boat at Hugh Moore Park, State Theatre, Special Olympics and many others over the past 100 years. We sponsor and hosts Police Officer Of The Year and Firefighter of the Award in conjunction with the City of Easton. We host a Children’s December Christmas-Holiday Party for Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 students. We offer a yearly scholarship to 2 students of Career Institute of Technology and a yearly scholarship to a Lafayette College student. We have provided learning materials for the Family YMCA Pre K-Counts school program in Easton and several other pre-kindergarten organizations. We help with community projects such as, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, provided funds for the Third Street Alliance S.T.E.M. Lab., provided funds for the Reading Oasis at the Easton Boys & Girls Club and their scoreboard. We sponsor several “youth clubs” at the Easton School District: 4 K-Kids, 1 Builders Club. In the past we have worked with other statewide Kiwanis Clubs to raise funds to develop the Children’s Hospital wing at Geisinger Hospital in Danville, PA. We have worked with over 600,000 K-Family members of Kiwanis Clubs in 96 countries on our worldwide service project to help eradicate Iodine Deficiency Disorder in underdeveloped nations worldwide and currently the EliMiNaTe project for neo-natal tetanus eradication. Service projects are often are linked to the Kiwanis International program, Young Children: Priority One. This initiative places continuing focus on the needs of children of all ages and races.
“Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time”