Supporting Our Youth
Plainfield Kiwanis Club Cares for Kids in Hendricks County & Indianapolis
Writer / Jamie Hergott
When Lori Hiatt joined the Plainfield Kiwanis Club two years ago there were only seven members. She decided to take on the challenge of growing the group by making it more accessible to the community. Her passion for sharing the mission paid off. The club now boasts nearly 40 members between the ages of 18 and 86 and is still growing.
In fact, at the Kiwanis Indiana District Convention in August, the Plainfield Kiwanis Club won an award for membership, having the most increased membership of any group.
“All the other clubs are taking notes,” Hiatt says. “They’re sending people to our meetings. We’ve quadrupled since that first meeting I went to.”
Kiwanis is a national nonprofit organization that empowers and enables members to reach out to serve the needs of children in their community and around the world. There is also a high school chapter, called the Key Club, and an elementary school chapter called the K Club. Plainfield Kiwanis is currently working on several projects, all benefiting children in Plainfield and Indianapolis. At each meeting, they continue to drum up new ways to support local children.
Hiatt loves the involvement of students in the club. The Key Club and K Club groups not only help get students involved in the community, but they provide an opportunity for students to come up with their own ideas.
Hiatt recently arranged for the Plainfield Key Club to visit with residents at Cumberland Trace Senior Living Center. The students play bingo and euchre with residents, but they also came up with their own idea: hosting a tech night to help residents navigate their electronics.
“The students came up with that themselves,” Hiatt says. “It’s really wonderful. The residents are so lonely over there.”
The Kiwanis Club raises funds in a variety of ways. Currently, they sell local honey at the Plainfield Farmer’s Market, operating solely on volunteers. Over the years, one of their most popular fundraisers has been pictures with Santa Claus at Plainfield Plaza each Christmas season.
The club also reaches out to individuals and businesses in the county to collect tangible donations, such as items for Riley care carts to support parents of patients at Riley Hospital.
The Plainfield Kiwanis Club gives out two $1,000 scholarships each year to high school students. They’ve recently donated money to Family Promise of Hendricks County and regularly donate to other local non-profits. Kiwanis Club Members get to vote on where funds are donated each month.
They also support Riley Hospital in several aspects, one being the autism program. The Kiwanis club recently hosted an autism panel for Riley Hospital at the Plainfield Rec Center.
The club recently held a meeting and had lunch at the new Imagination Lab in Plainfield, where members will soon have a chance to volunteer.
The Plainfield Kiwanis Club has been in existence in Plainfield since 1974. Frank E. Davis, a Plainfield resident, has been a member of Kiwanis for 44 years, which makes him the longest running member. He still has his original member card.
“I just wanted to find a service club,” Davis says. “I have four children so I am very much in favor of helping all children.”
Of all the projects the Plainfield Kiwanis Club has taken part in over the years, Davis’ favorite is pictures with Santa Claus the club hosts with the support of Ace Hardware. Kiwanis asks for a $7 donation, and all funds raised are given to Riley Hospital for Children.
“It goes back more than 35 years,” Davis says. “We have people coming back now who came as children. It goes back at least two generations, very likely even three.”
The club is always looking for more members and meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays at Chicago’s Pizza in Plainfield. The meeting consists of many warm handshakes, introductions and a pizza lunch buffet. Members network, go over current volunteer projects, discuss potential projects and sometimes hear a local speaker. In August, Plainfield Town Manager Andrew Klinger spoke, giving a detailed update on the town’s projects and developments. He shared some ways the Kiwanis members can help, such as volunteering with a Youth Assistance Project or helping raise funds for a new performing arts space.
“If you’re in Kiwanis, you’re going to be active,” Davis says. “So if you join, just accept the fact you’ll be helping us with our projects. If people are happy in the community or want to make it a better community, just come to our meetings.”
The Kiwanis recently held its chili cook-off hosted in conjunction with the Plainfield Fire Territory on November 3. The funds raised provide scholarships for local high school students to go to college while also supporting local Key Club members. You can stay up to date on the Plainfield Kiwanis Club by visiting their Facebook page.