Kiwanis funds community aid through Salmon Days dinners

September 27, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Key and Builders club members were among those helping out at last year’s Kiwanis Salmon Days booth. Contributed

Thanks to the great weather during last year’s celebration, the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah sold 2,500 pounds of salmon in the course of the city’s annual Salmon Days Festival event.

The community service club even ran out at about 3 p.m. the second day of the festival, according to incoming Kiwanis President Glenn Hall, who is running the group’s booth at this year’s Salmon Days.

Hall said all that fish translates to volunteers having served up about 2,200 dinners at the 2010 Kiwanis booth. Complete with coleslaw and a drink, over the years, the dinners have helped the Kiwanis raise an average of about $17,000 annually.

Hall said he believes the local Kiwanis have offered dinners every year since the inception of Salmon Days. Kiwanis organizers hope the weather this year again will be of the sunny, dry variety and they have upped their usual Salmon Day fish order to 2,500 pounds.

In past years, the Kiwanis ordered 2,000 pounds of fish and then bought more on Saturday depending on sales. The fish is grilled over alder.

“We sort of emulate how the Indians used to cook it,” Hall said.

About 100 volunteers from the Kiwanis and its youth groups man the booth, handling sales and cooking chores. There’s also a separate fundraising beverage tent for the Issaquah High School Key Club, said Becky Wilder, a Key Club administrator for various clubs around the Puget Sound.

“Our Key Clubs don’t build keys and our Builders Clubs don’t build houses,” Wilder wrote in an email. “We build leaders.”

Key Clubs are high school groups, while Builders Clubs are for middle school students. Hall said those clubs are doing well.

For example, about 100 students showed up for an initial Key Club meeting recently held at Issaquah High School. While Hall said he doesn’t believe all of those students will end up joining, he said the attendance shows a healthy degree of interest.

The Kiwanis Club of Issaquah also sponsors a Key Club at Liberty High School and a Builders Club at Pacific Cascade Middle School. The separate Issaquah Valley Kiwanis Club runs the Key Club at Skyline.

While the Salmon Days sales are important for the Issaquah Kiwanis, they represent the group’s second biggest fundraiser of the year. The top spot goes to the organization’s annual auction, which brings in about $30,000. All in all, Hall said the Issaquah Kiwanis operates on a budget of about $100,000 a year supporting five main categories of activities.

Those categories are youth services; community services; a separate category for services aimed at children younger than school age; environmental issues; and spiritual aims.

Under those headings, Kiwanis members help support, through donations of their time as well as money, a large variety of social and community organizations. Under the umbrella of community services, Hall said the group supports the local food bank, adopts families for Christmas and sells concessions at the local version of the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life.

In the interest of spiritual aims, Kiwanis time and money goes to Compassion House, Jewish Family Services and Issaquah Community Services. All in all, Wilder’s list of organizations supported in one way or another by the Issaquah Kiwanis reaches about 50.

Oh, and the Kiwanis also sponsor a local Boy Scout troop and offer four scholarships every year.

The adult Kiwanis group has about 70 members. The group meets at noon every Wednesday at Gibson Hall, 105 Newport Way S.W. Potential new members or visitors are always welcome.

“If somebody wants to come and check us out, we’ll be glad to buy them lunch,” Hall said. “And we have a great caterer.”

Recognizing they could use some younger members who might not be able to make the noon meetings, the Issaquah Kiwanis founded a Young Professionals Club that meets once a month.

Hall said he initially got involved with Kiwanis through a reading program at Issaquah Valley Elementary School. He said he’s made a lot of good friends through the group.

“I have found it a very rewarding experience,” he said.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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