A Publication of WTVP

Introducing Peoria Kiwanis Club

by Karen Holmes |
Peoria Kiwanis Club

‘Kiwanis is … a global organization of volunteers, dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.”

There are many reasons to be intrigued by Peoria Kiwanis Club, but at the heart of the matter is our mission. Kiwanis International was founded in 1915. Initially, the clubs existed in just the U.S. and Canada, but worldwide expansion was approved in the 1960s. Today, Kiwanis helps children in 80 nations around the world. Peoria Kiwanis Club is among the oldest of clubs, started in 1917.

The members are Kiwanis’ heart and soul, as they choose to volunteer in the service of others. Clubs are self-governed, members elect their own officers, and they choose the community service projects they want to pursue.

Peoria Kiwanis is very proud of its Teacher of the Year program, where teachers are honored at an annual banquet. These teachers are nominated by their coworkers for their outstanding work with students. This year, 14 exceptional teachers were recognized from eight elementary and six high schools in the Peoria area.

This past 4th of July, Peoria Kiwanis agreed to help the Boys and Girls Clubs by volunteering at their annual fundraising event at the Carle Health Red, White and Boom event. Meanwhile, “snack-packing” has been an ongoing service project that allows some 200 children to get nutritious snacks each week during the school year. Peoria Kiwanis also teams up with the Peoria Christian High School Key Club for its outreach program.

Key Clubs are student-led high school organizations that promote leadership and advocate for making the world a better place through community service. Peoria Kiwanis proudly sponsors Key Clubs at Peoria Christian, Richwoods, Peoria and Notre Dame high schools. College scholarships are awarded each year to two outstanding Key Club members.

Club meetings are held at the Lariat Steakhouse in Peoria the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at noon and can be attended via Zoom, a holdover from the pandemic, which presented many challenges to service organizations. The public is welcome to visit and enjoy the program of speakers, which have included Peoria Fire Chief Shawn Sollberger, Peoria Friendship House CEO Marcellus Sommerville, WMBD TV Sports Anchor Kurt Pegler, Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp founder and Director Marylee Nunley, Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank founder Lee Ann Porter, W.D. Boyce Council Development Director Viki Burnett, Southside Community Center Director Irene Lewis-Wimbley, Phoenix Community Services Resource Development Manager Jolene Whisler, Youth Music Illinois Executive Director Lidia Riley, and more. 

Kiwanis Peoria Club maintains a wonderful balance of history while keeping its finger on the pulse of what’s new in the Peoria community. Individual clubs —  including South-West Kiwanis Club of Peoria and other clubs in Peoria Heights, Pekin, Elmwood, Bartonville, Canton, Eureka, Metamora, Creve Coeur and Washington — are given the freedom to create their own unique identity, within the solid framework of many generations of tradition. Please feel free to visit us online at

Karen Holmes

is a member of Peoria Kiwanis Club and is a retired licensed clinical social worker