The following article was taken from a special newspaper edition, created by Kentucky New Era staff, celebrating the Hopkinsville Kiwanis Club's 75th Anniversary on October 2, 1997.
The Kiwanis Club of Hopkinsville, KY was organized on December 6, 1921 with Alvan Clark as its first president. The Clarksville, TN Kiwanis Club was the sponsoring club. On the evening of January 24, 1922 the charter was presented at Hotel Latham. The charter roster was composed of fifty-six men, the cream of the business and agriculture community. The population of Hopkinsville at that time was 9,700. The Hopkinsville club is the fifth oldest club in Kentucky, the oldest being Louisville which was organized in 1916.
Luncheon meetings were held on Thursday at noon each week and have continued to meet at that time even until today. Hotel Latham served as the site of the meetings until it burned on August 4, 1940. Since then Webb's Café, the First Christian Church, USOBuilding, FirstMethodistChurch, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and finally the WarMemorialBuilding have all since served as the weekly meeting site. The WarMemorialBuilding was acquired by the city of Hopkinsville in 1948 and it has served as the meeting place continuously from then until the present time.
A list of all the ways Kiwanis has impacted the community would be virtually inexhaustible. Kiwanis has always placed its emphasis on children and youth. As early as 1926, the Hopkinsville Club has been identified with Boy Scouts. In 1930, a cabin was constructed on Huffman's Mill Road at a cost of $1,000 for Hopkinsville Boy Scouts. In 1944, the club added the sponsorship of Girl Scouts. Recreation programs for all youth during the summer months became a club project in 1939.
In 1945 Citizenship Awards were given to leading students in the graduating classes of the seven schools in the city and county. This program has continued each year since.
In 1951, Little League Football and Baseball came into existence in Hopkinsville, mainly through the efforts of H.E. "Bud" Hudson, our local postmaster. Bud trained the boys not only in how to play ball but also how to be a good sport in the game of life itself. The club continued to underwrite all the expensed of the football program until 1995 when the local Eagles Club became a cosponsor. Up until that time, no child was asked to pay anything. The emphasis has been on learning the game and team play rather than on winning. The Hopkinsville Club dedicated a new scoreboard at the Stadium of Champions to Bud Hudson on August 24, 1991; the scoreboard is still used for high school games today.
In 1957, the Kiwanis Club built and opened the first public swimming pool in Hopkinsville. It was located in KiwanisPark, next to the West Kentucky Fairgrounds. It remained open offering public swimming and Red Cross lessons until it closed in 1989.
In 1960, the club was honored to have William A. "Bill" Schmidt elected to serve as the K-T District Governor. To this date, Governor Schmidt is the only person to serve as governor from K-T Division 14.
Kiwanis has promoted and sustained Key Clubs in all local high schools even before consolidation. Presently, Key Clubs are active at Christian CountyHigh, HeritageChristianAcademy, Hopkinsville High and University HeightsAcademy.
In 1961, a Circle K Club was formed at BethelCollege (no longer in existence). In 1965, Circle K was organized at HopkinsvilleCommunity College; however, the club is inactive at this time.
For many years Kiwanis has manned the kettles at Christmas time for the Salvation Army, leading all clubs and organizations each year in money collected.
Christmas gifts and Christmas programs have been a project since 1951 and continue today for patients at WesternStateHospital.
In 1995, the Hopkinsville Club partnered with the Kentucky New Era and the Salvation Army to sponsor the "Warm the Children" Project. The Kentucky New Era and Kiwanians kick off combined fund raising efforts each October to finance the project. Every dollar raised is spent to buy new winter clothing for needy children. Kiwanians have been enthusiastic volunteers in taking the children shopping and have devoted thousands of hours of service time to the effort. To date, over $126,000 has been raised and 1,450 kids have been outfitted with new clothes.
In 2006, the club ventured into new and exciting territory with the advent of the Kiwanis Soap Box Derby. Some 32 drivers participated in the first event held on May 13, 2006 on Bethel Street in downtown Hopkinsville. Racers participate in soap box derby car kits built by the youngsters in the stock or super stock divisions.
Through the years, Kiwanis has been able to support their many projects by means of a variety of fund raising activities, some of which were very unique. For instance, for 13 years beginning in 1949, Kiwanis presented a vaudeville-type minstrel show utilizing the "talents" of its members. Later, for several years the Kiwanians staged "The Womanless Wedding", providing a great deal of fun for the community as well as good hearted fun for members.
Of course, Kiwanians have taken advantage of the public's desire to eat for many of its fund raisers. Peanuts have been hawked at the county fairs and at the Christmas Parade. Food booths were set up at Little River Day and at the Indian Pow-Wow, the annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfasts (held in February and July) and the annual Fish Fry (held in November). Over the past several years the club has successfully sold Christmas ornaments featuring prominent and historic buildings and places in Hopkinsville. A most popular fund raiser in recent years has been the sale of vacuum packed mixed gourmet nuts, especially around the holidays and special occasions.