Original article published in the Mower County Independent, Thursday, October 6, 2022. Reprinted with permission and gratitude.
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
“Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.” So, believe the members of Kiwanis International right here in Hometown Minnesota, Spring Valley, though they do have a village within a village.
“It takes a village to raise a child,’” quoted outgoing Spring Valley Kiwanis Club President Paula Ruesink, addressing the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club’s members gathered before her last Wednesday evening during the club’s annual meeting. Held at Some Like It Hot Cakes & Catering in downtown Spring Valley, the event is meant to honor members and recognize the club’s accomplishments of the past year and goals for the coming year.
Ruesink went on to cite that her father, the late Ray Beving, was a Kiwanian for as long as she could remember and that “my dad loved children,” as evidenced by his dedication to anything that had to do with Kiwanis’s mission to support children, be they in a village around the world or right here in Spring Valley and its surrounding area, and by his work to refurbish toys and collect new ones in the former Masonic Lodge building just off Highway 63. She pointed out that she waited for years to be able to become a Kiwanian and that when the opportunity presented itself, she took it proudly because she witnessed how Beving carried the responsibility and wore the Kiwanis pin to share about his membership with people he met along the way. “I’m wearing my Kiwanis pin tonight, but I’m also wearing my dad’s Kiwanis pins… we are Kiwanians…we should be proud of our community.”
As president, her year in that office was ending, and she therefore was to invite longtime Kiwanian David Phillips to be installed as the local club’s new president. Former Spring Valley Kiwanis Club member Jack Zierdt, who served as Spring Valley’s elementary principal and who is now a member of a Rochester Kiwanis club, represented the MN-DAK Kiwanis district as he stood to place a president’s pin on Phillips’s lapel.
Zierdt said, “Greetings from the district and the district education foundation. I bring an award for a Century Club membership for this past 2021-2022 year. I’m pleased to say how I’m starting 52 years of membership, and those were very good years in Kiwanis. Many of those were right here in this club. It’s always a pleasure to come back and introduce your new officers.”
New officers are Phillips, Denis Cornell as secretary, Tyler Himle as treasurer, and Ruesink as immediate past president. The new board of directors includes Jay Webster, Rita Bezdicek, Gene Halverson, Sharon Jahn, Mark Woodward and Pam Phillips. Outgoing board members are Rita Hartert and Kelly Nelson. The 2022-2023 Kingsland Key Club advisors are Kiwanians Mark Marburger and Pam Phillips, and Key Club student officers are President Josh Meskill, Vice President Jenna Stearns, Secretary Reilly Lawson, Treasurer Anika Reiland, and Lily Freet, editor and publicist. The Key Club’s faculty advisor is Aaron Thauwald. Also, members were recognized for their years of service during the evening’s proceedings, including Red Essig’s 39 years, Hartert’s 21 years, Jim Hindt’s 26 years, Bill Rowen and Penny Solberg for their respective two decades, Marburger for his quarter-century, Jahn for her 29 years, Bill Mettler for 28 years of membership, Phillips for his 34 years of membership, and Jeffrey Thauwald is rounding out an admirable 44 years as a Kiwanian
The Spring Valley Kiwanis Club “was chartered in 1939 and has a long history of service.” Its committees include administration and policy, budget and finance, community service, human and spiritual aims, membership growth and education, Young Children Priority One, and youth services and sponsored youth. Its service projects number high and include the high school Kiwanis Academic Students of the Month; college scholarships; sponsoring Key Club; participating in the annual Read Around the World classroom reading event; contributing to Food for Kidz, observing Faith Recognition Day and Farmer Recognition Day; offering the Handy Man Assistance program; honoring a local resident as the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club Citizen of the Year; hosting or assisting with the Spring Valley Ag Days celebration and community Halloween party; compiling gifts for Christmas in Fillmore County; ringing bells for the Salvation Army; lending a hand with Supper with Santa during Christmas on Historic Broadway, participating in the MN-DAK book project; honoring cancer patients and loved ones with the Love Lights a Tree Christmas luminarias; raising awareness and contributing food items to the Kingsland Backpack Food Program; holding a cancer telethon breakfast to benefit the Eagles’ Cancer Telethon each January, and joining in numerous community projects. The club raises funds through its annual rose sales to benefit college scholarships, its Ag Days breakfast served with the Spring Valley American Legion Auxiliary, and through its Four Daughters soup supper that garners monies for Food for Kidz.
The Spring Valley Kiwanis Club meets on Wednesdays at noon at the Spring Valley Community Center in downtown Spring Valley. New members are always welcome to join.
Courtesy of the Mower County Independent, 135 E Main St. LeRoy, MN 55951, (507)-324-5325