(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Kiwanis members from Blytheville, Wynne, Kennett and Osceola were on hand at the charter night celebration to welcome the newly formed Manila Kiwanis Club. Charter night was held Monday, Jan. 22, at the Manila Airport Center. Manila Kiwanis Club joins the Missouri-Arkansas District Kiwanis International as part of Division 16.
Jeremy Bennett, president of Manila Kiwanis, welcomed guests and thanked everyone for coming.
Following a barbecue dinner, Bennett invited the guests to participate in a silent auction and drawings.
"We are excited to have a club starting out with 40 members," Bennett said. Manila is a town growing. Our members are passionate about projects for the children and young people of our community. We've accomplished a lot in a short time and look forward to the future."
Bennett introduced guests Jerry Martin, Missouri-Arkansas District governor-elect from Springdale and David Green, Missouri-Arkansas District secretary/treasurer of Bentonville. He also recognized Kiwanis members from other towns and expressed Manila's appreciation for their support.
Kiwanis Governor Garry Warner was scheduled to speak and preside at the installation ceremony but was unable to attend.
Governor-Elect Martin expressed his appreciation and welcomed the newest Kiwanis Club and members into the family.
"Your names will go down in history of this charter," Martin said.
He praised the members for the work they have done and Lavella Williams (formerly of Manila) of the Blytheville Kiwanis for being instrumental in getting the Manila club started. He also recognized the Gamble family for the work they have done.
"Our organization is changing and changing for the better," Martin said. "We are glad to have your club join us. Kiwanis is worldwide. It is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. Our emphasis is children. Our motto is serving the children of the world."
Martin told of some of the projects he has been involved in during his 32 years as part of the Kiwanis Club.
"The big winners will be the kids in Manila," he said.
Martin introduced David A. Green, secretary/treasurer, who spoke briefly and conducted the installation of officers ceremony.
Green also expressed his congratulations to the Manila club on behalf of the District.
"I did not expect to be part of the program, but I am honored," Green said. "I want to congratulate you on building a club and starting with 40 members. I don't think we have ever started a club with 40 members. It is outstanding."
Green said Manila Kiwanis is joining a two state district with 6,800 members in 208 clubs.
Board members include Jeremy Gamble, Mary Jon Ashley, Pam Castor, Larry and Kellye Brown. Officers are Wanda Gamble, secretary; Faith Moore, treasurer; J.P. Baugher, vice president; Jeremy Bennett, president.
In addition to officers and board members, charter members are Sonny Ashley, Christie Baugher, Julie Bennett, Caroline Brymer, Roy Brymer, Corey Craine, Tamra Crowell, Dana Davis, Jessica Donner, Greg Douglas, Janiece Flannigan, Molly Ann Fulkerson, Rodney Fulkerson, Chris Gamble, Dan Gamble, Sarah Gamble, Angie Gibson, Tony Hawkins, Jackie Hill, Donna Jackson, Star Kiel, Monte Middleton, Don Orr, Jared Stutts, Kristen Stutts, Teresa Thomas, Dana Towel, Elisha Towel, Tommy Wagner, Amy Wallis and Scott Wallis.
Bennett closed the program inviting anyone considering becoming a member to join.
"We are laying a foundation and want to leave our mark on something that will be going on for another 100 years," Bennett said. "Garry Warner caught me as I was getting off work and invited me to come to an organizational meeting. That was all it took. I want to invite everyone out there to take a part. Again, we are excited."
Several in attendance joined the Manila Kiwanis at the end of the evening.
Jeremy Gamble thanked everyone for donations for the silent auction and announced the top bidders.
As a fundraiser members had been taking donations for a Paslode cordless nail gun to be given away on charter night. Betty Vandivor won the drawing. A 50/50 drawing was also held with Tim Long from Osceola holding the winning ticket.