Kiwanis president hopes to boost interest in civic work

Published 5:01 pm Friday, August 16, 2013

Members of the Clanton Kiwanis Club are busily preparing for the 2013 Chilton County Fair and club President Dan Nolen hopes everything will be a success.

“We are actively working for the fair,” Nolen said. “It is a one-week event for the public but it takes months to put it together.”

As Nolen enters his third term as club president, one of the priorities is to encourage more people to become interested in civic work and join the club that started in 1928.

“People don’t seem to appreciate the work of civic clubs like they used to,” Nolen said. “It is hard work but it is rewarding work.”

Although membership levels have decreased for the Clanton Kiwanis Club over the years from 50 members to 30 members, Nolen and others in the club try to encourage people throughout the community to join and learn the values of civic work.

One of the largest fundraisers for the club is sponsoring the Chilton County Fair that the Kiwanis Club has sponsored for 10 years.

This year is a bit more sentimental for club members than most, due to the location of the fair changing in 2014.

“This will be the last time we will hold the fair in the location we have had it for all of these years,” Nolen said.

Typically, the fair has been held near the Chilton County Airport, but the fair posed safety issues with the airport that receives grants from the FAA and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Avionics Division due to having a lit up Ferris wheel that is considered an obstruction near the airport’s runway.

Nolen said plans are underway for a new location near the old Henry M. Adair School located at 102 First St. S. in Clanton.

Although the new location would not be equipped with some of the amenities of the current location, including buildings with exhibit halls, the club is actively figuring out creative ways to use the new location.

The money raised at the fair goes to local elementary schools to help children in need at Christmastime.

The club donates money to different organizations throughout the year as well as five $1,200 scholarships to students. Another organization the club raises money for is The Eliminate Project, a Kiwanis International project that helps eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Nolen has been a member of the Clanton Kiwanis Club since 1974 and enjoys seeing the club raise money each year to donate to different organizations in the community.

“Kiwanis is a great organization,” Nolen said. “The largest Kiwanis Club in the world is in Birmingham and the second largest is in Montgomery.”

Nolen said he originally joined the club after being asked by a friend and Clanton Kiwanian if he would like to attend a meeting.

What struck Nolen the most about the club was how all of the men (women were later allowed to join the club in the late 1990s) were community-minded citizens.

“I was asked to attend a meeting which is the way most people are asked to a civic club,” Nolen said. “It is like church. Most of the time you don’t go unless someone asks you. The men in the club when I joined were wonderful. I would watch them and notice how hard they worked and had their community at heart.”

Nolen said some of fundraisers the Clanton Kiwanis Club did in the early 1970s included peanut sales and a radio day where club members would sell $5 dollar spot ads for the radio.

“We have had all kinds of fundraisers like golf tournaments and radio ads,” Nolen said. “Nothing has been quite as successful as the fair.”