A local chapter of the Kiwanis Club is officially changing its name. Formerly known as the Kiwanis Club of Sun City Center, the club will now be the Kiwanis Club of SouthShore, Sun City Center.
Three years in the making, the name change will help broaden the group’s appeal, according to club members.
The club’s mission will remain the same, though, said Denny Groves, club secretary.
“Our priority is children. Children are priority one,” he said.
The club sponsors Terrific Kids programs in all 11 elementary schools across South County and also has programs in local high schools as well as Hillsborough Community College’s South Shore campus.
The name change comes as Kiwanis celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Club members voted on the name change in January after three years of research and debate.
“Nobody knew how to do it,” Groves said. “Nobody knew the legal ramifications. Nobody knew how to register with the state of Florida or how to register us with Internal Revenue, so it’s taken a while to put all that in place.”
The club was looking for a new place to meet in 2012 when the idea surfaced to not only move to a new meeting place but also change the name of the club.
“Our intent at the time was that we needed to try and broaden our horizons,” said Groves. “So we felt we should move away from the center of Sun City Center. We chose Cypress Creek Golf Club [as a meeting place] to broaden our horizons and to get exposure away from Sun City Center. So, we chose to change our name and, in the middle of that, it took about three years, and that’s why it just happened, because there were bylaw changes that were dictated to us, we had to change the bylaws to our foundation and that took a while.”
Founded in Detroit as one of the first business networking groups, Kiwanis drew businessmen who wanted to give back to the community.
”So when you get to Sun City Center, you really don’t have a lot of businesses; you have retired people,” said Groves, who, like many members of the club, was a Kiwanian before moving to Sun City Center.
“This little club has grown,” said Groves, who joined the local chapter in 2011.
“When I joined, there probably were about 30 members on the books, but … only about 12 people filling up the meetings.”
The club currently boasts more than 40 members and Groves hopes to see that grow. “It’s a terrific way to give back to the community.”
The club awards 12 scholarships; six to seniors at Lennard High School and six to students at East Bay High School. Kiwanians also sponsor a K Kids in elementary schools along with the Terrific Kids program. Once students leave elementary school, they can also join a Kiwanis Builder’s Club.
“We have one at Eisenhower Middle School, and it’s our intention to start a Builder’s Club at Beth Shields Middle School,” Groves said.
At the high-school level, the clubs are called Key Clubs. Lennard and East Bay both host Key clubs. The club also has a Circle K Club at Hillsborough Community College.
The local Kiwanis club, which was founded in Sun City Center in 1971 and has 41 members, meets every Tuesday at Cypress Creek Golf Club from noon to 1 p.m. For more information, call 813-633-3937.
The club will install new officers in August.