Our Purpose
Kiwanis - Our Purpose
The official statement of purpose is: “Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.”  Using this sentence to explain what our Club does isn’t adequate, at least not by itself.  No, our Club is preparing children for life success, especially children who otherwise might not reach their potential.  Kids Need Kiwanis.
Our Club’s Approach
About half the children in Sarasota County schools qualify for reduced fee or free lunch, a reflection of family income.  For a good number of these children there are needs with a fit, to Kiwanis programs - largely the things we’ve been doing.  Some examples:
Children, from infancy to adulthood, require healthy food; infants and toddlers for brain development, pre-school and school children to learn.  A speaker at this year’s Sarasota “Hunger Summit” made the point that “Hunger is an education issue.”  This is a different perspective on the topic.  Thinking back, we had a speaker at a meeting early this year describing why she founded an in-school food pantry program.  Her motto, “Tummies First,” was grounded in her experience that hungry children do not learn.  There is also evidence that hungry children are more likely to have behavioral issues.  Given this we’ve concluded that our support for All Faith Food Bank’s "Campaign Against Summer Hunger" and their "School Back Pack" programs are perfectly aligned with our efforts to prepare children for life success. 
If children aren’t hungry, can they learn?  For many pre-schoolers, the Early Learning Coalition's "Literacy Buddies" program is the first rung on the success ladder because it introduces them to books, words and how books work.  Many children in low income demographics do not have books at home.  In an ideal world, parents read to their children, explain the words, discuss the stories, talk about the illustrations and so build their child’s vocabularies.  Literacy Buddies helps fill the gap between this ideal and each child’s reality.  Pre-K book experiences and socialization  prepare youngsters for Kindergarten and the early grades.  Studies show quite conclusively that children who do not read at grade level by 3rd grade are at increased risk to fail academically.  That is because reading is a life skill that supports learning from 3rd grade into adulthood.  Literacy Buddies then is an early rung on the life success ladder. 
Continuing the ladder analogy, our "Bringing Up Grades" program (BUGS) is the next set of rungs – providing encouragement and recognition for successful academic effort in grades 1 through 5.  It’s a fact that not every child will make Honor Roll, but that doesn’t mean that hard work and improvement cannot be encouraged and recognized.  BUGS does just that.
"Hope Kids School Readiness" is a clear fit to our purpose by ensuring that students with the greatest need begin the school year equipped and ready for the school year.
The jewel in our crown, (if we had a crown… and it had a jewel) would be our "Service Leadership Program" (SLP) Clubs.  SLP Clubs prepare kids at every grade level for life success by building confidence; by teaching team work, goal setting, planning, and leadership skills in the context of community service.  SLP clubs give students an opportunity to see what they can do, to test themselves and learn, in a low risk environment.  We sponsor two Builders Clubs and two Key Clubs.  This past year we found that Pine View has a K-Kids Club in the early grades without apparent sponsorship so we will co-sponsor the K-Kids club with the Pine View Key Club.  When done, our SLP Clubs will cover all grades.
By itself the Kiwanis Club of Siesta Key does not have the capability to prepare all of Sarasota’s children for life success, nor would we ever claim we could.  What we can claim is that we improve the lives of as many children as possible with the resources we have.  Partnerships with All Faiths Food Bank, Wilkinson Elementary, Hope Kids, and our SLP schools (Sarasota Middle School, Riverview, Pine View) amplifies our capabilities.
That’s our purpose, our approach, and our reason for being Kiwanians.