Mount Shasta All Women's Kiwanis Club
By Gary Vandewalker
It’s said “the third time’s a charm,” and in this case, the third time is a community changing experience. In 2010, the Mount Shasta 5-Star Kiwanis Club began as the first all-women club chartered in the United States. After two failed attempts to establish a club in the community, the 5-Star Club continues to excel and serve the children of south Siskiyou County with a passion.
Kiwanis International roots reach back to 1915 in Detroit, Mich. The intention to create a business network gave way to an emphasis on service, specifically focusing on children, holding to their slogan: “Serve the children of the world.” Women were admitted to the clubs in 1987.
Under the leadership of its first president, Karen Pautz, the Mount Shasta Club is determined to give 5-Star service to the area. Bringing up students’ grades, developing a strong membership of women, establishing youth leadership clubs, sponsoring programs to aid children’s health and forming a charitable foundation became the goals.
The BUG (Bring Up Grades) program impacted 20 students in the first year. The program challenges students to raise their grades, and those who do can receive bookstore gift certificates, with the top 20 being honored at a luncheon. The organization then helped sponsor “Climb Against the Odds,” a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. The club’s first climber was its own president; Pautz raised more than $19,000 with her efforts.
The second year, Elizabeth Mitchell Collard took leadership. Her experience as executive director of Community Health Plan of the Siskiyous gave her unique insight to the health needs of children. In collaboration with Klamath Health Services, the club helped fund a dental van service to work with the Siskiyou County Department of Health and bring much-needed services to low-income children. Other health and safety works went forward with purchasing helmets for the Sisson Ski Club and uniforms for the girls’ basketball team, and plans started for a dinner honoring first responders at the Mount Shasta Resort.
Most Kiwanis Clubs are tested in their third year. Those making it past this milestone continue to grow, while others languish and disappear. With the installation of Matilde de Franchis Unruh as president, the Mount Shasta Club pushed on toward a greater summit. The Builder’s Club began at the elementary school to match the existing Key Club program at Mount Shasta High School. These organizations develop youth leadership while giving the students the opportunity to lead their own organizations, raising money and impacting their region through service. Also, efforts are underway to establish “sister city” status with another all-female club in New Delhi, India.
The club is a regional effort. In 1939, the Shasta Dam Kiwanis of Shasta Lake City club started. They sponsored the Mount Shasta venture, seeing the potential of key career women to change the fabric of their community. This group of women continues to dream, pursue, and bring to reality a spirit of service which makes a difference. This month they take a new turn; with the installation of Stacey Mack, a senior paralegal, as the new president, the club will challenge men to join their ranks.
The heart of Kiwanis is serving its community. As Abigail Adams once noted, “If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom shall we serve?”For information about the club, contact: Cheryl Sanchez, (530) 905-0040.