Honored community group Claremont Kiwanis: 100 years of serving others

Claremont Kiwanis 100th anniversary photo taken May 9, 2024 Front row: Raul Rodriguez, Jim Wylie, Greg “Shappy” Shapton, Linda Olin, Pat Lee, Leah Moreno, John Thompson, Mason Prophet, Jim Kohnman Second row: Dennis Bauman, Paul Wheeler, Arny Bloom, Sue Keith, Ed Leavell, Carl Herbold, Jess Swick, Pat Henny Third row: Bob Fagg, Mary Paine, Peggy Constantine, Mike Conley, Barbara Rugeley, Jerry Feingold, Barbara Jefferson, Laura Bollinger, Ralph Patterson, Lena Serrato Back row: Brian Moraga, Steven Llanusa, John Townswick, Ted Wootton, Greg Negrete, Melody Batchelor, Julie Martin, Laura Bray, Larry Horowitz, Cass Armstrong, Joel Haber, Yuri Ruvalcaba, Al Villanueva

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

The honored community group for Claremont’s Fourth of July celebration is an organization ubiquitous to the City of Trees: Claremont Kiwanis. And the designation is especially appropriate, as the Claremont Kiwanis will mark its 100th year serving others on September 21. But the club has plenty to do beforehand, like serving pancake breakfasts to hundreds of people ready to start the party on Independence Day at Memorial Park.

What makes Claremont Kiwanis unique is its longstanding simple approach of getting out into the community and reaching out. It’s primary fundraisers are two annual pancake breakfasts, food sales at the Fourth of July fireworks and concerts at Memorial Park, the annual Route 66 party, and for the past 30 years selling See’s Candies during the holiday season. When the entire club is involved, that’s up to 50 Kiwanians connecting with the public.

“Each month club members assist at the senior citizen lunch at the Joselyn Senior Center,” wrote Jim Wylie, who along with with Raul Rodriguez and Pat Lee responded via email to questions from the Courier. “The club promotes youth leadership by sponsoring a Builders Club at El Roble, Key Clubs at both Claremont High School and San Antonio High School, and a Circle K club at the Claremont Colleges. Kiwanis members have been seen planting trees, reading to children, painting walls and providing a wealth of service to the community.”

The club has also provided donations to numerous local organizations, and gives about $17,000 each year in scholarships to graduating seniors from Claremont’s two high schools.

The Kiwanis Club of Claremont received its charter lead by founding President Frank C. Peirsol in 1924. It is one of 7,700 clubs worldwide in over 80 countries with a motto of “Serving the children of the world.” The club began admitting women in 1987.

“Our club is diverse in terms of membership and why they join and stay,” wrote Rodriguez and Lee. “The age range is about 40 to 82. Some members are employed. Some have been retired for many years. Some joined with a desire to serve. Some joined for social connection and friendships. Most remain for those very same reasons.”


Jess Swick, in red, and Ed Leavell flip hotcakes last year during the Kiwanis Club’s Fourth of July pancake breakfast. Courier photo/Peter Weinberger


Don’t be surprised if you see Claremont Kiwanis members serving others during the city’s Fourth of July celebration.

The group will be honored by the City of Claremont following the 9 a.m. flag raising ceremony at Memorial Park. They also will be cruising in the parade which begins at 10 a.m. at 10th Street and Indian Hill Boulevard.

“Why do we stay?  For me, it’s the fellowship created by men and women who have a common goal of serving the residents of Claremont,” Rodriguez wrote.

More information about this year’s Fourth of July festivities is at claremont4th.org. For more on the Claremont Kiwanis, go to claremontkiwanis.org.


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