The C-U Noon Kiwanis Club, now one of the larger membership clubs in Kiwanis International, had its official beginning when its charter was issued May 18, 1921. Kiwanis International was just six years old at that time.
The charter was not quite the start. Our coming into the world of Kiwanis resulted from the efforts of a member of the Decatur Kiwanis Club, who was also a Lieutenant Governor of the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District. He contacted three good friends in Champaign-Urbana and arranged a luncheon with them at the Inman Hotel April 14, 1921. This small group grew to around 50 who then met May 12, 1921, at the Inman Hotel. The organizational meeting followed shortly thereafter May 18, 1921, followed by the charter banquet June 2, 1921 at the Beardsley Hotel.
During our many years of existence, our meeting places have also included the Tilden Hall Hotel, the Moose Club, the Urbana-Lincoln Hotel, Ramada Inn and the Chancellor Hotel.
Our history has been an eventful one. Our club has produced one International President, four District Governors, and 15 Lieutenant Governors. Our earliest project, starting in 1922, still continues: C-U Kiwanis annually honors the University of Illinois basketball team in what is believed to be the longest-running annual collegiate honors banquet.
Another milestone in Kiwanis history occurred in 1987 when Kiwanis International voted to admit women to Kiwanis membership. Since that time many women have assumed leadership roles in our club.
The welfare of our young people is not only a goal but also a reality for those we serve. Over fifty years ago, early in the history of Little League baseball nationally, Champaign-Urbana Kiwanis introduced Little League to the twin cities and continues to be its sponsor today.
In 1990, a new league, the Peanut League, was added to the program. The innovative Challenger League baseball program, serving those youngsters who are physically and/or mentally challenged, has been a rewarding opportunity for our members to serve the community since 1997.
Young Children, Priority One has been an important local effort in carrying out a Kiwanis International program. Club activities include a child identification/safety program at Day in the Park, Spinoza Bears for chronically and critically ill children, Champaign Pre-K Program, Washington School Partner program, and Swann School.
C-U Kiwanis helped establish an Arrowhead Council Boy Scout camp, which was named after a club member. The club also purchased land near Lake of the Woods for a Girl Scout camp, which bears the name Camp Kiwanis. The club has continued to offer money and volunteer hours for development and upkeep of the camp.
Our sponsorship of Circle K at the college level, Key Clubs in the high schools, and Builders Clubs in the middle schools has been a continuing project.
Among our many long-standing traditions is the honoring of outstanding 4-H members in the area, the recognition of retiring teachers in the Champaign-Urbana schools, and the presentation of college scholarships to outstanding high school graduates. Of at least equal, and probably more importance than these publicized projects, is the help we have given to thousands of individuals. Food and clothing have been sent to flood and other disaster areas, radio headsets were provided for TB patients, clothes and books have been given to children in need, a refrigerator secured for a needy family, hospitalization costs paid for a baby, school lunches made available for needy children. The list goes on and on. This is Kiwanis at work.
This club is one of the great ones and fortunate ones. In our university community, it has had many talented people among its members. There have been mayors, publishers, coaches, prominent attorneys, musicians, legislators, leaders in business, humorists, and of course, world respected educators.
This is, of necessity, a capsule history, leaving out many, many important parts and events. Purposely, no names have been used. We are a team, and by working together, we hope to make the world a better place tomorrow for today's children.