Members of the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston-Auburn stand Wednesday outside 84 Court Street Restaurant in Auburn where they meet twice each month. The club is finalizing plans for the 100th anniversary dinner, open to the public, Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, 588 Minot Ave. From left are Ruby Bean, Josh Little, Karen Choate, Andy Choate, Dan Malpass, Cody Malpass, Julie Gile and Sarah Glynn. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston-Auburn is celebrating 100 years of supporting local youth through scholarships, mentorship programs, funds for underprivileged children and more Thursday.

Organized by businessmen on May 19, 1922, Lewiston-Auburn’s club was the second to be created in Maine. The New England district Kiwanis Club governor traveled all the way from Brockton, Massachusetts, to present the newly-formed club with its charter in the Auburn YMCA two weeks later.

In their first 30 years, the club was known to have dug swimming pools, bought glasses, and held picnics and Christmas parties for children in need, funding their activities through donations, auctions, benefit dinners and rummage sales.

In 1952, The Lewiston Evening Journal noted that the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston-Auburn was rated one of the finest in New England, with an enviable attendance rate of over 90%.

The club was also known to have sponsored a fund at Central Maine General Hospital, now Central Maine Medical Center, which covered medical costs for many children for decades.

Once boasting 100 members, largely from the Twin Cities’ business community, the club’s membership has dwindled in recent years like many other volunteer-based organizations.


But their passion for improving the lives of local children and teens remains just as strong as it was decades before.

A member since 1983, Andy Choate said it’s the friendships he’s made within the club and its continued service to the community which has kept him involved for nearly 40 years.

“In order to make our world a better place, we just have to step up and do things on our own time and not simply because someone’s going to pay us to do it, or because we get patted on the back,” he said. “We do it because it needs to be done.”

The club is distributing infant safety kits to parents with information about the perils of shaking children, information stickers for car seats in case of accidents, rubber ducks with thermometers to test the temperature of bath water, and electric outlet covers.

This fall, the group will approach hundreds of businesses in the Lewiston-Auburn area, asking them to hang up pictures and descriptions of foster children waiting for adoption. The initiative is a partnership with A Family for ME, an adoption advocacy program run by the Department of Health and Human Services and Spurwink Services.

They hope to connect children in need with families able to take them in, while also increasing awareness of Mane’s foster care program.


A similar program organized by the now-defunct Norway-Paris Kiwanis Club resulted in more than a dozen adoptions, according to Sarah Glynn, a former member.

Now involved with the Lewiston-Auburn chapter, Glynn said she was struck by its deep roots in the community.

Several years ago, the club held a pancake breakfast fundraiser at St. Dominic Academy in Auburn. It’s an event that’s been held many times over the past several decades.

“We’re a small club, numbers-wise, but we needed like 80 volunteers, and the community came out,” Glynn said. “We had people from law firms, from Rose’s Cleaning Service, from L-A (Harley-Davidson).”

Even the mayors of Lewiston and Auburn volunteered, she said.

“It seems like that’s a real tradition in the Lewiston-Auburn area,” she said.

The club also sponsors Key Clubs – the high school equivalent of Kiwanis Club – at Lewiston, Turner and Lisbon high schools, as well as St. Dominic Academy, building leadership skills and instilling a passion for community service into local teens.

On Saturday, the club will host a public dinner at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, 588 Minot Ave, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets are 25$ each.

The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston-Auburn is actively seeking members and invites anyone who may be interested in supporting local youth to join them at 84 Court Street Restaurant on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

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