Special Kiwanis gathering welcomes special leader to June 14 luncheon
WEIRTON — A special guest made it a special occasion when the Weirton Kiwanis Club held its June 14 meeting at Undo’s in the Holiday Inn in Weirton.
Dennis B. Baugh, immediate past governor of the Capital District, made the local stop as part of a visit to the northern clubs of Division 18 — Weirton, Wellsburg and Wheeling, with representatives of all three groups in attendance. As of Oct. 1, 2021, the West Virginia District merged into the Capital District, which has seven regions, 20 divisions and more than 170 clubs.
Baugh lives in Virginia, which is part of the Capital District, too, along with the District of Columbia, Delaware and Maryland.
Weirton Kiwanis Club President Ernie Nicholas called the meeting to order, while Barbara Lohr of the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling and Division 18 director of the Capital Foundation, led in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Duke Horstemeyer, who serves on the Weirton Kiwanis board of directors, led in the singing of “America.”
Eric Fithyan, president of the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club and immediate past governor of the West Virginia District, gave the invocation before lunch and later would take a moment to express appreciation to his fellow Kiwanians.
“We had a tremendous couple of years going in as governor elect, governor and now immediate past governor, and I appreciate everyone’s support,” he began, noting it became evident early on that “our district was on a pathway downward, and we needed to find other ways to have a successful membership and continue what we do in each community.”
Through the merging process, Fithyan said, “We had some bumps and bruises along the way as any big transition would be, but I feel like we’ve made a successful transition to the Capital District where we’ve provided our clubs and our divisions with more resources, more opportunities, and not a better way of doing things, but just a different way of doing things, and what it comes back down to is the children in our communities.”
Kiwanis clubs have a youth-oriented emphasis.
Weirton Kiwanian Mary Kay Olashuk, lieutenant governor-elect of Division 18 of the Capital District, introduced Baugh and later made a check presentation on behalf of the club to him in his capacity as Capital District chair of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.
Baugh touched on what that is and encouraged support of what helps children of the world through such avenues as access to nutrient-rich food, books and prenatal care and vaccines, according to the Kiwanis website.
Baugh said he and Fithyan got to know each other in 2019 at the Kiwanis governor’s class and by March 2020 helped put together a transition team for the merger. The two would later be recognized for their work related to that.
“We studied it, we looked at it, we wanted to figure out what would be best from a financial standpoint, the Capital District decided that three divisions versus the six or seven that were here already would be best for management style and for lieutenant governor as well,” Baugh commented. “I think it’ll work well — I think putting the two groups together has proved very satisfactory. The clubs that were struggling before the merger are still having a little bit of difficulty, although some of them are advancing,” he said.
He thanked the West Virginia clubs for their support of Fithyan in the past year.
Baugh also mentioned the Capital District Kiwanis Foundation.
“Our foundation is our bread and butter for helping the district’s different clubs and the different divisions as we can,” Baugh said, noting each division has a representative on it.
It awards scholarships to Key Clubs, about five annually, and makes grants available to clubs for community service projects, for example.
Proceeds from the foundation’s Ducky Derby and a silent auction at district convention go to 11 perdiatric trauama centers “and that’s about a $3,000 donation that goes to each one of them.”
He applauded the clubs for their work.
“You’re doing well — I see what you do on Facebook.”
Founded in 1928, the Weirton Kiwanis Club meets every Tuesday at the Holiday Inn with a luncheon meeting from noon to 1 p.m. It has approximately 30 members. It is a Key Club sponsor and Terrific Kids program for elementary students.
Olashuk introduced Brad Shaffer, the Weirton club’s new secretary who is filling the position formerly held by the late Catherine Ann “Kitty” Kochman who died March 11.
The luncheon program included an “In Memoriam” to Kochman, described as “a selfless servant with a beautiful spirit.”
It read in part that “Kitty dedicated many tireless hours to Kiwanis projects with her goal of profits to benefit the Weirton Christian Center, the Mario Pipinos Head Start Program, Hancock County Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish, the newborns at Weirton Medical Center and Terrific Kids programs. Kitty’s dedication to Kiwanis and her community exemplified ‘Serving the children of the World.'”
The Wellsburg Kiwanis Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at noon at the Brooke County Public Library in Wellsburg.
A signature project of the club is the fundraiser chicken barbecue dinner, which this year was held June 23 at the Wellsburg Fire Hall.
A new project is the duck derby set for July 3 at 6 p.m.
People can purchase ducks for $10 with a chance to win five top prizes — $1,000 for first prize and several prizes after that, including pizza for a year from Domino’s; $500; a Big Mac for a year from McDonald’s; and $100.”We’re limiting it to 1,200 ducks so it’s first come, first served.
For information, contact Fithyan at (304) 737-3551 or visit the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club on Facebook.
The Wheeling Kiwanis Club, founded around 1918, has 38 members and meets every Thursday for a luncheon meeting at Nail City.
“We have a speaker and we also have something new — a cocktail meeting, going to different restaurants at 5 p.m. and then we have a meeting and in that way we get to visit with the people, give them all of our information and try to get new members,” Lohr said.