While trudging through Glendale the other day, I encountered something I haven’t seen yet in Queens: a Lions Club and a Kiwanis Club sign on the same pole, this one at the busy intersection of Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard. Both service organizations have erected signs with some frequency around the city, especially in Queens, which must have a number of meeting places for both organization.
The Kiwanis Club was organized in Detroit in 1914 by Allen S. Browne and Joseph G. Prance, who began an organization for professionals and businessmen to pool their assets to form a fund for health benefits. Kiwanis soon became an organization for member sto promote businesses — the LinkedIn of its day — and also to organize and promote charitable giving. Kiwanis gained enough members for not-for-profit tax status and within a decade boasted 100,000 members. After decades as an auxiliary, women were allowed to join as full members in 1987.
The name “Kiwanis” was adapted from the expression “Nunc Kee-wanis” in the Otchipew (Native American) language, meaning “We have a good time,” “We make a noise,” or, under another construction, “We trade or advertise.” Some persons prefer to pronounce the word “k-eye”; others, “kee.” The organization adopted the name Kiwanis in its second year of existence.
The Lions Club is a similar service organization founded by Melvin Jones in Chicago in 1917. The Lions presently have over one million members worldwide. Its charter states its goals:
- Organize, charter and supervise service clubs to be known as Lions clubs.
- Coordinate the activities and standardize the administration of Lions clubs.
- Create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world.
- Promote the principles of good government and good citizenship.
- Take an active interest in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the community.
- Unite the clubs in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding.
- Provide a forum for the open discussion of all matters of public interest; provided, however, that partisan politics andsectarian religion shall not be debated by club members.
- Encourage service-minded people to serve their community without personal financial reward, and to encourage efficiency and promote high ethical standards in commerce, industry, professions, public works and private endeavors.
Both organizations boast distinctive shields with the first letter featured prominently. The signs are in place to notify meeting places, the Lions at Durow’s Restaurant and Kiwanis at Zum Stammtisch. No one has looked after these signs for some time, though, because Durow’s closed in 2005. A similar situation exists in Little Neck, where a Lions Club sign directs members to the Scobee Diner, which closed in 2010 and was razed in 2013.