Kiwanis Club of Wheeling Marks 100th Anniversary

Officials attend luncheon at WesBanco Arena

Photo by Linda Comins Celebrating the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling’s 100th anniversary Thursday are, from left, Corey Albers, vice president; Tammy Kruse, immediate past president; Mayor Glenn Elliott; Alex Coogan, president; Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio; and Eric Fithyan, lieutenant governor.

Continuing a mission to serve children in the community, the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling celebrated its 100th anniversary Thursday and installed officers for the coming year.

As part of the celebration, Mayor Glenn Elliott delivered a proclamation declaring Thursday as Kiwanis Club Day in the city. Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, read a citation honoring the club that she and Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

The club held a luncheon at WesBanco Arena to mark the milestone. Guests included members of the Wheeling Lions Club, Rotary Club of Wheeling and from Kiwanis clubs in Wellsburg and Weirton.

Nathaniel Kyle, past district governor of Kiwanis, said that reaching a 100th anniversary is “quite a feat.” He said only three centennial clubs exist in West Virginia.

Kyle said Kiwanis has experienced a turnaround, going from 698 members statewide last year to 765 as of Oct. 1. In addition, he said five new clubs have been formed in the district.

Eric Fithyan, Kiwanis lieutenant governor from Wellsburg, challenged the club to increase its membership from 60 to 100 by next October. Offering encouragement, he said the Wellsburg club doubled its membership from 15 to 30 last year.

Fithyan installed the Wheeling club’s officers for 2918-19: Alex Coogan, president; Corey Albers, vice president; Tammy Kruse, immediate past president; Jan Shelburne, secretary; and Janet Roset, treasurer. Also installed were board members Michelle Dougherty, David Ellwood, Wilkes Kinney, Mike Taylor, Chris Wilson, Nick Kadylak, Tim Reed and Lisa Schmitt.

As president, Coogan said, “I do aim to increase membership for this club, and I’m willing to help expand membership for all service clubs.”

He also expressed willingness to work on joint projects with other service clubs in the city.

Coogan, who became a Kiwanis member 10 years ago, recalled that his job required him to join a service club.

“I’m so glad I was forced to do so because I do not know where I would be without this club,” he said.

Discussing club projects, Coogan said, “The Fresh Air Farm is under-utilized. We want to get that out there.”

He said the club’s Fresh Air Farm, on 39 acres of wooded land in Ohio County, is available for use, free of charge, by nonprofit organizations to operate camps for children. The facilities are used for several summer camps.

Kruse, the outgoing president, cited the many projects undertaken by Kiwanis and the resulting impact on lives in the community. For instance, she said members pack food bags for weekend backpacks given to Madison Elementary School students; provide bags of toys to the Salvation Army at Christmas; present special youth awards to Ohio County students; and give four scholarships annually.

She said the club also assists with programs at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, Youth Services System, the House of the Carpenter, Special Olympics at Wheeling Jesuit University and coordinates Sunday free lunches served at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The club is the sponsor of Key Club chapters at Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling Central Catholic High School and The Linsly School.

The Kiwanis Club of Wheeling donated the Mingo Indian statue, atop Wheeling Hill, to the city in 1928. The club spearheaded the statue’s restoration in 2011 and continues to perform maintenance on the landmark.

The Wheeling club, formed Sept. 24, 1918, was the first club in the West Virginia district. The next two clubs were Charleston and Huntington, both established in 1919.