Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast P.O. Box 6381 | Vero Beach, Florida 32961
The Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast held its 50th Anniversary Celebration on October 25 and it was a smashing success. Taking up two large meeting rooms at the Vero Beach Yacht Club, more than 100 current and former Kiwanians with spouses, school advisors and guests gathered to first enjoy the social hour, where we renewed friendships and, in many cases, met for the first time, six of the earliest club members. That included charter members Sam Block, Gene Waddell, and first Kiwanis president, Bob Grice.
Past presidents attending the Banquet included Bob Grice ( 1973-74), Sam Block (1975-76), Karl Zimmermann (1976-77), Gene Waddell (1977-78), Dean Luethje (1978-79), Tom Dickens (1987-88), Jeff Meyer (1992-93 and 2011-12), Randy Riley (1993-94 and Lt. Governor 1994-95)), Milt Thomas (1996-97 and 2008-09), Adam Bolinger (2000-01), Lou Aprile (2001-02 and 2009-10), Paul Williamson (2002-03), Kevin Brown (2013-14 and 2016-17), Richard Schlitt (2017-18 and Lt. Governor 2018-19), Tom Maher (2019-20), Al Sammartino (2020-21 and two terms as Lt. Governor), Doug Vitunac (2021-22 and 2022-23).
The meeting was brought to order by outgoing president, Doug Vitunac, with a prayer and pledge offered by long-time club Spiritual Aims Chairman, Rev. Michael Ward. A unique and well-received buffet dinner followed, featuring five food stations, each representing a different ethnic cuisine and dessert – Mediterranean, French, Italian, Mexican and Asian.
The program followed, beginning with a presentation of highlights from our club’s history presented by Milt Thomas. A more detailed history was included as part of the Banquet’s printed program and is reproduced below. A short video was then shown about current Kiwanis community projects. Al Sammartino then gave a presentation about the club’s youth-oriented community activities including Kiwanis Youth in Action, school, and scholarship programs.
Doug Vitunac returned to the podium to present this year’s awards: “Hit the Ground Running”
award to members who went above and beyond – Martin Gonzalez, Cindi Shelbourne, Mark Sammartino, Jessica Hernstadt; “Perfect Attendance” award – Bob Marshbanks (for the 45th years in a row); “Key Member” award - Milt Thomas; “Kiwanian of the Year” award – Bill Cala.
Doug then introduced Prairy Riehl, Florida Kiwanis Governor, to install our new officers and directors for 2023-24, including new president, Jessica Hernstadt, who then gave her vision for the year ahead.
With business completed, Jessica introduced our entertainer for the evening, Impressionist Anna Faris. Faris came onstage as Joan Rivers, then moved on to comedic impression of several
entertainers that involved costume changes, members of the audience and lots of laughter to finish off our 50th Anniversary Celebration.
The Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast was sponsored on September 17, 1973, by the existing Kiwanis Club of Vero Beach, founded in 1935. Many younger members of the senior club were starting out in business and found it a hardship to attend weekly noon meetings that often lasted well beyond lunchtime. So, Bob Grice recommended, and the club agreed, to start a morning club meeting on Tuesdays from 7:30- 8:30am. Twenty-one members agreed to join the new Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast.
One of our first major fundraising projects was a joint effort with the senior club to conduct the Kiwanis Christmas Radio Auction. It transitioned to a TV auction in the 1990s and involved nearly every member of both clubs calling on businesses for merchandise or cash donations, setting up a television studio with a bank of telephone operators, on-screen interviews, and performances. Money raised from the auction sponsored creation of what is now the Riverside Children’s Theatre. We did the same for ARC of Indian River County.
Our Club also sponsored the Children’s Art Festival for many years, SafeSpace, Youth Guidance, and many other worthwhile projects. Club members also performed hands-on work projects, including
construction of pavilions, docks, handicap ramps, creating bike paths and more. Those community efforts led to the creation of Kiwanis Youth in Action, started by members Al Sammartino and Richard Schlitt. KYIA provided adult-supervised teenage volunteers for Saturday projects including painting and repairs for disadvantaged people’s homes or non-profits needing assistance, gardening, beach, and spoil island clean-ups.
We have always been active in the School District of Indian River County, starting with conducting practice job interviews. That led to our adoption of the Junior Achievement program, providing high school seniors with an education in the private enterprise system. Our Club raised funds for the high school to purchase textbooks and teaching materials as well as providing “visiting professors,” Club members who would share our business experiences with the students. This became a required program for senior students. We also started the first Key Club at St. Edward’s School, later at the Indian River County Charter High School and Vero Beach High School, where they thrive today, teaching students the value of community service.
Submitted by Milt Thomas
For over 100 years, Kiwanis International has been an organization of members dedicated to serving children. Today, there are nearly 600,000 members in 80 countries, and members have made a positive impact in millions of lives. Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan, and became an international organization with the creation of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, the following year. Kiwanis members stage nearly 150,000 service projects, devote more than 6 million hours of service, and raise nearly $100 million every year for communities, families and projects.
For more information on Kiwanis visit Kiwanis International
ABOUT OUR CLUB
The Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast was founded in 1973. Our club raises funds through many projects to provide financial assistance and manpower for those organizations that serve children. Examples of Kiwanis projects that have helped the local area include:
Construction of the building foundations for ARC and Riverside Children’s Theatre and the outdoor stage at Riverside Theatre
Bicycle paths for local schools
Assistance with the Annual Children’s Art Festival in Vero Beach
The Annual Kiwanis Radio and Television Auction to secure funds to help children
Volunteer work for Youth Guidance
Construction of the Head Start Playground
Construction of pavilions at Hibiscus
Children’s Center and the Homeless Family Center
The Annual Take a Kid Fishing Tournament est. 1992 serving over 300 children annually
Painting homes for needy families through the Youth in Action Program
Serving Indian River County since 1973
Kiwanis seeks major sponsors for the
Kiwanis Youth in Action Program.
To learn more about the program needs and costs
Kiwanis Youth in Action engages youth in helping community members in need.
Kiwanis is an approved 501 (c) 3.
Content copyright 2015. Kiwanis Club of Vero-Treasure Coast. All rights reserved.