Kiwanis Clubs of Downers Grove

The men of the Kiwanis Club of LaGrange originally started the Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove March 25, 1947. That year the village enjoyed its first Fall Festival, organized by the newly-formed Kiwanis Club. The Festival was held at the high school, to benefit the youth of the community and feature their talent. Often celebrities, such as  Mahalia Jackson and Harry Belafonte, appeared on the program.

That first club met in the evening and grew and prospered until it was decided that to better serve the needs of the community, a second club which would meet in the morning would be needed. At this time there was a small core of younger members who found that a morning schedule was better for them and allowed them more time with their families. The original Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove was renamed the "Evening" club while the new club which was chartered in April of 1978 was called the "Breakfast" club.

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The first president of the Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove/Breakfast was Barry Crawley, a general contractor who was instrumental in making the club a success from the beginning. Barry went on to be Lieutenant governor of Division Nine of the Eastern Illinois-Iowa District in 1981. During this time, our secretary W. Lockwood Martling, Jr., who served as architectural consultant for the Downers Grove Historical Society, completed work on the "Maple Avenue Historic Walk" booklet.

In 1985, Bob Jacobs of the evening club contacted the assistant mayor of a small southern Germany town with an excellent band to formulate an exchange visit program which would afford their students the opportunity to see our great city and our students the opportunity to see Germany.  For the next three years the evening club sponsored this great activity which is now an on going activity with our high school bands and orchestras.

The Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove/Breakfast achieved many 'firsts'. In 1987, in conjunction with SEASPAR, the club was instrumental in starting a Boy Scout Troop for boys with special needs. For that achievement, Curtis Frank and the breakfast club received Special recognition from Illinois Bell Telephone, for outstanding Social Service, in 1988 . We continue to support Troop 84 which is still strong today, providing scouting experiences to young men from Downers Grove and surrounding communities. Also in 1988, the first member of the breakfast club to be honored as Downers Grove's Citizen of the Year was our treasurer, Jim Stahl. 
Our club set a precedent when our first female member (1988), Gloria Scigousky, was also the first woman to join Kiwanis in the
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entire Eastern Illinois-Iowa District. Ron and Barbara Holous joined as a husband and wife team and Frank and Gloria Caracello formed a father and daughter team. We were innovators with the concept of collecting scrap metal for ecology recycling as a fund raiser. We used Barry Crawley's equipment and held annual scrap metal drives, collecting scrap metal from around the village. Our community activities included the annual fishing derby, the Easter egg hunt and a pumpkin carving contest. We were involved with anti-drug awareness with the "Know to Say No" program. Tom Michael became the breakfast club's second Division Nine Lieutenant Governor in 1989. Agnes Burman was elected as our first female Club President in 1991 and Boneta Morris, after two presidential terms, went on to become the third Lieutenant Governor to come from our club, in 1995. Tim McJoynt who served as president in 1983 also received the village's Citizen of the Year award (1998) and in 2003 the first woman from the breakfast club to be elected Citizen of the Year was Lisa Rasin, a Past President. Today, our members continue to receive recognition from various organizations: Bob Jacobs was recently honored as Outstanding Citizen by school district 58.

The evening and breakfast club continued to team together in serving Downers Grove and vicinity in our combined fund raising and community activities. A notable join club and individual member effort was building Santa's house in 1998. When the evening club membership began to dwindle, it was decided that the needs of the people of the Downers Grove area would best be served by one strong club. The two Kiwanis Clubs were then combined to be the Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove in 2003. The original charter of the first Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove was preserved in order to maintain the rich heritage Kiwanis has stood for in Downers Grove since 1947. The strength of this new union was apply demonstrated when Kiwanis hosted the successful Bone Marrow Drive which earned the Governor's Award for Downers Grove in 2003. Raising our sights still further in 2005, the Downers Grove and Lombard Kiwanis Clubs jointly started a Kiwanis "AKTION" Club for challenged young adults. Recent down turn in membership has required a rebuild of the club in 2018.The Kiwanis Club of Downers Grove - Evening now once again has continued to grow with an active, involved group of people, dedicated to serving the Downers Grove community.