By Dan Rankin
For anyone interested in learning more about the St. Marys Kinsmen Club’s nearly 60 year history of ‘serving the community’s greatest need,’ or the many local initiatives that have been carried out by the St. Marys Kinette Club for nearly 50 years, a social “Friday After Five” event is planned for Friday, Oct. 14 at the Westover Inn (300 Thomas Street, St. Marys) from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Anyone interested in giving back to the community, meeting new people and having fun – whether new to the community or a long-time Stonetown resident – is invited to come out and learn more about the two clubs.
“This is the first time to my knowledge that the clubs have held an event like this,” said Kinsmen Club president Chris Swarthout. “We haven’t actually tried recruiting any new members in this format for as long as I’ve been in the club, since 2007. This is an opportunity for people to come in and find out what we’re all about in a non-committal environment.”
The St. Marys Kinsmen Club was first chartered back in 1957, 37 years after Hal Rogers started Kin Canada in Hamilton, Ontario in February 1920. It’s part of a national organization of service clubs organized around the commitment to serve the greatest needs in a community.
Locally, that has included a $25,000 contribution to the St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Someone I Know capital campaign, $5,000 to the St. Marys tennis courts, ongoing support to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, the St. Marys Mobility Bus, Friends of the Library, St. Marys minor sports and DCVI student bursaries.
“Our biggest donation to date was $100,000 to the Pyramid Centre,” Swarthout said.
Other events run by the group include Kin Summerfest, the Santa Claus Parade (which is right around the corner, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18), an annual bottle drive in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada (which is also happening within the next month or two), a popular fruit sale that takes place in December, and the St. Marys Christmas Tree pickup in early January.
“The Christmas Tree pickup is actually my favourite project of all of them,” Swarthout said. “It’s good for camaraderie and everything. That’s what the Kinsmen focuses on. It’s a very rewarding experience, especially if you stick with it.”
The St. Marys Kinette Club is approaching its 50th anniversary, which will take place in 2019, said club president Wanda Mossey.
On Oct. 14, the Kinettes and Kinsmen will also have their old scrapbooks out for those interested in local history.
“There are no speeches, and you don’t have to stay for the whole night,” Swarthout said. “It’s basically a meet-and-greet to see what the clubs are all about.”
Currently composed of just 17 members, Swarthout said that, “with more manpower, there’s more the Kinsmen will be able to do here in St. Marys.
For more information about the local Kinsmen club or the national organization, visit StMarysKinsmen.com and KinCanada.ca. Find the Kinette Club of St. Marys on Facebook, or visit StMarysKinetteClub.wixsite.com.