Welcome to the website of the oldest community service organization in Kennewick, Washington. Kiwanis Club of Kennewick
On Dec. 16, 1926 the Kennewick Courier Reporter newspaper announced on its front page that a Kiwanis Club was to be formed. "The club has for its purpose the instilling of friendliness, the active participation in all civic betterment affairs and the daily application of the Golden Rule in all things,” the article said. The article also reported that "A temporary organization was formed this evening and as soon as a sufficient number have applied for membership applications will be made for a charter from the national council. . .”
After several preliminary meetings, the Kiwanis Club of Kennewick was formally chartered on May 9, 1927, 11 years after Kiwanis International was founded. The Club is Kennewick's oldest service organization. With its rich and illustrious history, no other organization has been so closely aligned with Kennewick as Kiwanis. Its ranks have included over the years the leaders, movers and doers of the community. From the beginning, the club had lofty civic goals that continue today, with Kennewick Kiwanians dedicated to helping improve the community with projects like the Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo, Family Fishing Pond, Camp Kiwanis, youth scholarships and charities.
In 1948, Kennewick Kiwanis played a key role in launching the Benton County Fair, which has evolved into the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo. The first fair was held in the fields across from the park where the city hall is now located. There were tent barns and show rings for animal displays along with a variety of agricultural booths. A fair parade along Kennewick Avenue started a tradition that carries over until today. After 1948, the fair relocated to the current fair grounds and grew rapidly. Over the years, the Kennewick Kiwanis has continued to be responsible for selling tickets and operating the fair parking lot. It is the largest single source of funds raised by the Club for community service projects.
Kennewick Kiwanis was also the driving force behind the creation of Camp Kiwanis in Columbia Park, a major asset for youth and community activities. When Benton County extablished the 417-acre park in 1954, an existing farmstead was made available to any non-profit corporation to establish a youth camp. Kennewick Kiwanis answered the challenge, and formed a foundation to facilitate creating the camp. The new foundation leased some 40 acres from the Benton County Park Department and started clearing the land and creating Camp Kiwanis. The main component of Camp Kiwanis is a large club building, a solid structure of concrete blocks and sweeping exposed beams. It was built by volunteer labor led by Kennewick Kiwanis. Soon after completion, the facility was being used by Campfire Girls, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the YMCA, and other youth groups. Eventually, oversight of the Camp was turned over to a foundation formed by all Tri-City Kiwanis Clubs.
The Kennewick Kiwanis Foundation, created in 1997 by Red Rutherford and Dick Petersen, awards scholarships to Tri-City high school students for university study. The Club sponsors a Circle K service club at Columbia Basin College, and Key Clubs at Kennewick High School and Riverview High School. Hopefully, some of these members of the Kiwanis family will carry on the fine traditions of service of the Club well into the future. Kennewick Kiwanis from its inception to today, it is one of the largest and most vibrant civic organizations in Eastern Washington. The Club has a rich heritage, especially in its members where sons have followed fathers and with the enrollment of women in the organization in 1987 daughters have followed fathers and sons have followed mothers as members.