The Kiwanis Club of Alexandria was founded in 1921. For over nine decades, the Alexandria Club has focused on the city's most important resource—its youth. Below are some highlights from the nearly 100 year history of the club. A more complete account can be found on the Capital District website.
In the early 1920s, there was no luncheon service club in Alexandria. The Kiwanis Club of Washington, DC sponsored our club's formation. Their Inter-City Relations Committee, led by Roe Fulkerson and Claude Woodward, came to Alexandria to assist with our club's founding. Some of the city's most progressive businessmen formed together here and shortly thereafter visited the Washington Club at one of their weekly luncheons, learning about the spirit and merit of Kiwanis. The Alexandria club was formally organized on May 9, 1921.
The following gentlemen served as the first officers of the club: George Warfield, Cashier of the First National Bank, President; Julian Y. Williams, General Manager of the Alexandria Fertilizer and Chemical Company, First Vice-President; and Urban Lambert, President of the Alexandria Water Company, Second Vice-President.
The club's official charter was presented on June 16, 1921. Under the leadership of George Warfield, the club prospered and grew in the esteem of the community. Alexandria Kiwanis's first real service project consisted of raising $1,000 for the Playground Association of Alexandria. By this charity, a trained instructor was secured to direct the play of the children for a full six months.
Alexandria Kiwanis has always dedicated itself to serving students within the city. Beginning in 1923, the club recognized the best students at Alexandria high school, awarding medals and entertaining them at our luncheon. The club continued to reward scholastic excellence for decades, and continues to do so today. Our club currently sponsors Key Clubs at local high schools and awards over $30,000 per year in college scholarships.
In 1924 our club held its first clinic for crippled children. Doctor William Tate Graham and nurses were brought in to help needy children, and the club paid for a number of kids to be sent to Richmond for surgery. Dr. Graham continued to work with Kiwanis through the 1920s, assisting many more children.
In the 1930s the club sponsored a Baby Clinic, in the care of Kiwanian Dr. William Lewis Schafer. In its first year the club conducted two clinics and provided for a nurse to staff the clinic, which was turned over to the city (as the Potomac Clinic). Evidence of our baby clinic work was presented to the club when twelve clinic babies, accompanied by their mothers, attended a regular meeting. The clinic nurse described each case in detail and showed the actual improvements.
The club later supported various individual children in need of medical care, and continued to sponsor medical and dental clinics for the city's needy youth. In conjunction with the club's summer camp in 1938, a Kiwanis clinic treated 600 children and performed 70 operations.
To this day the Alexandria Kiwanis Club continues to support children's health initiatives, whether it be through donations to the Washington Children's Hospital, fundraising for Spina Bifida, or direct financial support for individual needy children.
Alexandria Kiwanis has always taken pride in our efforts to brighten the lives of the city's children, especially the less fortunate ones. From our earliest days, we hosted a Christmas party for underprivileged children, providing them presents and yuletide cheer. Today this tradition continues with our annual stocking stuffer event, which provides Christmas stockings to over 400 children in the city.
In the past we have arranged for children to attend movies free of charge. We have also taken children on field trips, put on carnivals, held pet shows, bike rodeos, and marble & kite tournaments. Our members today host an annual fishing event for local youth, put on a youth music concert, and entertain children at local events such as First Thursdays in Del Ray.
At one time the Alexandria Kiwanis Club was renowned for some of its annual fundraisers. The most well known of which was the annual horse show--most popular in the 1940s.
The club partnered with other service clubs in the city, such as Rotary, in conducting sports leagues and sporting events. In addition to a bowling league and annual fundraising baseball game, the clubs competed in Donkey baseball games. People came from far and wide to watch the spectacle.
In the 1920s and '30s, we hosted annual farmers' days. Local farmers from the surrounding community were invited to dine with the club. This tradition has obviously gone by the wayside as Northern Virginia has become more urban.
As our club was sponsored by the Washington, DC club, we have also sponsored new clubs that have grown into thriving clubs of their own. Since our founding we have sponsored five Kiwanis clubs in the northern Virginia area, four of which still operate today.
In 1924, we sponsored the Manassas Kiwanis Club. Members of our club travelled to Manassas and started them off with a fine meeting on October 24, 1924. Merle E. Towner, District Governor, and a committee from the Alexandria Club visited the Manassas Club on Ladies' Night, December 4, 1924, and presented them with their charter and a beautiful Kiwanis banner from our club.
The Arlington Kiwanis Club was formed through the sponsorship of our club and the organizational work of Randall Caton, Past District Governor and Past President of the Alexandria club. Arlington's charter night was held on August 12. Delegations were present from Alexandria, Washington, Manassas and other clubs. During the first year, their club received frequent visits from us, Washington, and Manassas, its nearest neighbors, who put on a number of programs.
Along with the Washington and Arlington clubs, we co-sponsored the Prince Georges County club in 1934. Thirteen years later, in 1947, we co-sponsored the Woodbridge club with Manassas. We sponsored the Landmark Club, which was chartered in 1969 (but lasted until only 1973).
Many representatives of the Alexandria Kiwanis Club have served in posts outside of the club. Primarily, our service has been to the Capital District of Kiwanis International, which is composed of all the clubs in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The Capital District was organized in 1918 with only two clubs. (Alexandria was the 17th club established in the district.) Today the district remains active with 6 regions, 17 divisions, and 155 clubs. The Alexandria club is a member of Division 2 of the National Capital Region.
Since the club's founding, 96 different people have served as president. Three presidents have served two terms, and Dr. Stephen Blood served four terms as president. Current club presidents serve a two year term. For a complete list of past presidents, click here.