By Jesse Wood
Nearly 200 delegates attended the Carolinas District of Kiwanis convention in North Charleston this month to elect officers, including Mary Jo Brubaker of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk as the district’s governor for the 2017-18 year.
For the past year, Brubaker served as the Governor-Elect and the remaining preparation for this office included two years as Lt. Governor, three years as a trustee and two additional years of related education within the Kiwanis organization.
“I am so excited. There are so many wonderful people in the Carolinas and our resources are so vast. Here we are in the mountains, you can almost reach out and touch Tennessee, and all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and the coast,” Brubaker said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Kiwanis International’s mission is to serve children. An exhaustive list of service projects sponsored by the Banner Elk organization includes Avery High School Key Club; Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a book distribution project for all of Avery County Schools elementary schools, Grandfather Academy and Crossnore School; Trunk or Treat; Woolly Worm Festival Mini Grants; Kiwanis One-Day Projects, past annual projects include purchasing playground equipment for toddlers at Wildcat Lake, hospital baskets for kids and Grandfather Home Centennial Cross landscaping; Christmas food drives; Fourth of July Celebration at Tate-Evans Park; sponsorship of local scouts; grants to local schools and organizations working for the greater good; and more.
The Carolinas District of Kiwanis International features at least 175 clubs and more than 6,000 members in North Carolina and South Carolina, and Brubaker said one of the goals for her term as governor, is to build 8 to 13 new clubs in the Carolinas District.
In fact, the newest club within the Carolinas District is being chartered on Sept. 28 by the Blue Ridge Young Professionals. Aimed at younger people in their 20s and 30s who want to be part of a service organization but don’t have time to meet for the weekly lunches, this group already has 22 members and is still accepting new members who want to focus on helping children.
Her two other goals include increasing the number of service leadership programs and to complete a database of signature projects across the Kiwanis organization, so other clubs can brainstorm a new project without starting from scratch.
“They don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They can contact the local club doing that project and replicate it. Maybe what’s being done in Boone and Asheville might do well in Charleston and Summersville,” Brubaker said.
Brubaker’s term officially begins in October and will run through the ’17-18 year. During this time, she’ll be visiting other clubs, training them on how to improve their organizations or grow their membership. She’ll also be attending all the different activities within the district, the conventions and helping out Kiwanis clubs out of district, too.
“It’s going to be a busy year,” Brubaker said.