Kiwanis In The Community: People, Programs And Projects

Fireworks over White Rock. Photo by Jim Stein

Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos

Kiwanis has been active in Los Alamos for 75 years. A culture of community service has run through the people, programs, and projects that are the core of Kiwanis. 

Some people you may know or have heard of include some notable names who served as presidents of the clubs: Jim Loucks, Alvin Van Vessem, Steve Stoddard, Bob Emigh, Ted Cole, Bill Valigura, Gordan Spingler, Lloyd Rasmussen, Jack Gehre, Alan Kirk, Stan Primak, Morrie Pongratz, Steve Boerigter and MANY more. Kiwanis International allowed induction of women in 1987 and Lorraine Hartway, Ann Pendegrass, Cheryl Pongratz and Linda Daly have been some of the women presidents. But new names and faces continually fill out our membership and help preserve the legacy of Kiwanis in Los Alamos. 

Ongoing Kiwanis programs focus on youth leadership development. While Key Club, the high school level of Service Leadership Programs (SLP) is the oldest and largest program, there are also programs offered at every school level.  Karin Church currently is District Administrator for all the regional Key Club programs. Her region includes New Mexico, Arizona and El Paso with 126 Clubs and over 3500 Key Club members. In Los Alamos, our Key Club supports many non-profit organizations including Family Strengths Network, Family Council, Visiting Nurses as well as many individual school and community fund raising efforts -really anyone who asks for help. 

Local projects, over the years, have been building Entry Park, remodeling Dinosaur Park on Barranca Mesa, a collaboration with the Lab Community Partnerships Office providing clothing for the homeless shelters of Northern New Mexico, collecting Bikes for the Free Bikes for Kids Program that repairs/refurbishes bikes for needy youth. Additionally, our local club awards multiple prizes for the annual school science fair and makes about a dozen annual scholarships with a focus on community service.  But the biggest project of the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos has been decades of sponsoring the annual 4th of July fireworks celebration.

Frustrating changes in the 4th of July Celebration have been its interruption by Covid 19, forest fires and dry weather. Last year the fireworks were around Halloween—better late than never!  But that frustration has been offset by an exciting change last year that includes a contract with Los Alamos County that allows Kiwanis to purchase and shoot off the fireworks through a county contract without having to collect any entry fee from those attending the event. This stabilizes both the fireworks event and Kiwanis ability to use proceeds to continue local community projects. We’re all hoping for fireworks on the 4th of July this year!