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What Kiwanis Has Done For Me...

Story ID:7476
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Year:2011
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I have been a member of Kiwanis International for almost 35 years and I would like to share how it has changed my life.

What Kiwanis has done for me…

By Chuck Dishno

In 1977 I had my own printing business in Fresno, California. I had opened this shop in 1975 after working for Fresno County Dept. of Education, operating an in house printing shop.

Little did I know how many hours would be required to successfully run your own business. It was not uncommon for me to put in 12 to 15 hours, 6 to 7 days a week. This was a far cry from the 8 to 5 job I had at the Dept. of Education making a guaranteed existence. I figured that the only way I was going to get ahead in the world was to hoist myself by my boot straps and buckle right in.

After a couple of years of this seemingly endless work schedule, I needed a break, even for just a few hours. About this time a friend, John Roberto, came by my shop and invited me to attend a Kiwanis meeting. I had heard of Kiwanis but didn’t know a lot of what they were all about. John said that they were a service organization that was primarily youth orientated. They sponsored, a Circle K, Key Club and many other youth groups. This was before Builders Clubs, Terrific Kids, and Bring Up Grades. The Kiwanis motto was “We Build”, with emphasis on “Young Children Priority One”.

The Fresno club met at noon on Wednesdays at a Hilton Hotel in downtown Fresno and was called the Downtown Kiwanis Club. I should point out that at that time Kiwanis was strictly a male organization as women were not allowed to join although I think they did most of the work behind their spouses.

I agreed to attend with John the next meeting which happened to be on November 7, 1977. I was so impressed by the caliber of men there and the fact that I was so welcomed I immediately joined. These were a good cross section of men of prominent status in Fresno including the Mayor and several doctors and other professionals. I couldn’t believe that they would want me, a grubby old printer with overalls and ink stained hands to join their ranks.

I attended quite regularly for a month or so but soon my work began to catch up on me and I started to miss a few meetings. The second year I belonged to that club, I never missed a meeting and was awarded a 1 year perfect attendance pin. I was really impressed until the next pin awarded was to a Dr. Vin Bragg and it was for 42 years perfect attendance. This got my brain thinking that here I was 42 years old at the time and Dr. Bragg got his first year attendance pin the year I was born. I told myself, that if Vin Bragg can do it then so can I. From that point on I strived for that attendance award each year. For those of you who don’t know you can attain perfect attendance by doing make-ups such as visiting another club or a board meeting, so it isn’t too hard to do.

One of the first jobs that I was assigned to was the Gum Ball fundraising project. Our club had over 600 Gum Ball machines throughout the city and County that were maintained by and individual. He gave our club 12% of the take and this netted the club about $300 dollars per month. My job was to procure new locations for the machines. I enjoyed my challenge but secretly think that the reason they selected me for the chairman was that I had a physique that most resembled a gum ball.

I really enjoyed my years with the Fresno club and participated in most all projects. In 1987 I was asked to serve as president but by that time, Roz and I had decided we wanted to move to Dillon, Montana.

I had attended the Dillon Kiwanis Club several times when we visited in the summers and knew that I would join as soon as I moved. We bought a house in 1988 and moved here in 1989.

I was very impressed with the Dillon club albeit a lot smaller than the one in Fresno. Since I have been with this club I have seen it grow and make a very strong impact on the community. I served as president, Lt. Governor of our division and Governor of the Montana District in 1995-96. I also served as the club secretary for about 3 years and editor of the newsletter for over 5 years.

I am most proud of being named Distinguished Lt. Governor and Distinguished Governor. The Distinguished Governor Award was a real honor and represented a lot of hard work, not so much by me, but my Lt. Governors. Together we built the Montana District to over 2200 members and were named number 1 in North America and number 3 in the world. I got the credit but they did the work. I also ran for International Trustee two times but, thank goodness I was defeated both times. I don’t think I could have handled the stress and travel that came with the 3 year job.

I backed off Kiwanis for a little as my health and also Roz’s health became an issue. We are slowly getting back though and hopefully we can participate for many more years.

Incidentally, The Dillon Kiwanis Club was an all male organization until I served as Lt. Governor. Toward the end of my year, I needed one more member to show a net gain of 1 during the year. I broke with tradition and asked Roz to join. She said she might as well since she had been doing much work for Kiwanis for years. The year was 1994 when my lovely China Doll became the first woman in the history of The Dillon Kiwanis Club and what an asset she has been. During my year as Governor she initiated the Baby K Trauma Doll Project as a First Lady Project, now called the Roz Dishno Trauma Doll Project in the Montana District. Over the years she has made hundreds of Trauma Dolls and distributed them to Barrett Hospital emergency to be given to any young person who comes in to help them overcome the trauma that is associated with being a patient.

Roz has also volunteered many other projects such as Health Fair, Christmas Lighting, Pot Luck Fundraisers, etc. I am proud of my Rosalind and her 17 years as a member.

In closing, I encourage all members to volunteer whenever you can. I realize that our mean age is getting older but is still lots we can do. I also challenge each of you to bring in a new member, preferably a younger one who can do the physical work that is needed. We are a great club and have a fantastic membership and all need to pull together. Remember “service is our commitment to the community”.

Gail Koonts said it best when she said, “Service is the price we pay for the space we take up”.