The Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. has a long and storied history in the District of Columbia and the Kiwanis International organization. It was the first club established in the District of Columbia, inspired by a visit to the Kiwanis Club of Buffalo, New York in 1916.
The first meeting was held in February 1917 at the Burlington Hotel, which was located at 1120 Vermont Ave NW (Thomas Circle). Other early meetings were held at The Ebbitt (now the Old Ebbitt Grill) and the Cochran Hotel (now the site of DC Coast at 14th & K Streets NW).
On January 16, 1918, International President George M. Hixson delivered the charter, which bears the date May 19, 1917.
The first President of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. was Roe Fulkerson. He was also the first editor of the Kiwanis International magazine. He was known as "the Kiwanis scribe" and a bust of Mr. Fulkerson is on display at the Kiwanis International office in Indianapolis.
In 1923, Franc E. Sheiry sent out a newsletter called Kiwanisgrams to the members. Franc was appointed the official editor with great support from the membership. The name was shortened to Kigrams. The club still uses the name KI-Grams as the membership newsletter.
It was also in 1923 that the club began donating funds towards children with orthopedic issues. In 1962, a clinic was established by Kiwanis at Sibley Hospital in D.C. for children with orthopedic needs. The Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. continued this work until 2013, when changes to national health care and expansion of services did not necessitate a Kiwanis clinic.
The club urged the creation of a public school in D.C. for children with disabilities. This effort began in 1928, with the school groundbreaking in 1957 with the opening of Sharpe Health School in northwest Washington, D.C. Since the school's opening, Kiwanis has organized special events including a school carnival and holiday party for the students.
The Foundation of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. was founded in 1943.
In 1948, the "KI-Wives" branch of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. was established (and was active until 1998). At a time when women were not permitted to join the club, many members' wives joined the KI-Wives to raise funds and contribute to the club's service and social activities.
In 1951, a Key Club was organized at Wilson High School.
A 50th Anniversary black tie gala was held in 1967 at the Mayflower Hotel under Club President Joe Riley.
The Circle K International Club (CKI) at the George Washington University was established in 1970.
Club member Conrad Reid established the Pet-A-Pet project in 1987 for blind children, which included a picnic, games, and a petting zoo. This project continued until 2012.
In 1987, the Kiwanis International Convention was held in Washington, D.C. and President Ronald Reagan spoke. The delegates voted to allow women to join Kiwanis in 1988.
In 1996, club members elected the first female President of the club, Virginia ("Jenny") Cooper. Jenny was also the catalyst for establishing the Joe Riley Youth Leadership Awards in 1997, a scholarship program for D.C. high school seniors to attend college.
A 75th Anniversary celebration was held in 1991 under Club President Richard Marsh and a 90th Anniversary celebration was held in 2007 at the Hotel Washington under Club President Peter Deede.
The Field Day project at Kelly Miller Middle School in northeast D.C. was established in 2009 by members Brian Egger, Darren Page and Serena Bell. In 2012, Field Day expanded to nearby Aiton Elementary school.
In 2014, club President Serena Bell appointed a committee to select the next large scale service partner, under the leadership of co-chairs and Past Presidents Dick Jeurgens and Brian Egger. Bright Beginnings, Inc. was selected as the new partner and announced in April 2015.
Kiwanis International celebrates its 100th anniversary as an organization in 2015. Kiwanis was established in Detroit, Michigan in January 1915. Several members of the club attended a 100th Anniversary celebration in Detroit in January 2015 and the International Convention held in Indianapolis, IN in June 2015.
The Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. looks forward to celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2017.
Some information for this page was adapted from the Kiwanis Capital District Website, http://history.capitaldistrictkiwanis.org/clubs/washington.html