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Santa Monica Kiwanis to Install 97th President

 

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 29, 2017 -- When the Kiwanis Club took root in Santa Monica almost a century ago, The Great War had ended but, even in an era of post-war prosperity, families in the tiny seaside community still needed help and healing.

For Phil Brock, who takes the reins on Sunday of the local club in the international service organization, time has not changed the mission.
Phil Brock
Phil Brock

From bike helmets for first graders to collecting local donations for storm-devastated families in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, the needs -- locally and beyond -- are still many.

“We roll up our sleeves and help,” said Brock, who will be the 96th president of the all-volunteer organization when he is installed on Sunday. “We do anything we can to help children have better lives.”

During the ceremonies, which will also feature a “California Sunday Backyard Dinner,” the Kiwanis will honor Maryanne LaGuardia, a City Recreation and Parks Commissioner, as a “community hero.”

LaGuardia has volunteered a quarter of a century to protecting “our children's right to have open space, parks and playgrounds in Santa Monica,” Brock said.

She has been the President of American Youth Soccer Association and spent years as chair for the City’s Field Sports Committee.

Brock said the Santa Monica Kiwanis raised $150,000 this year for a wide variety of causes, distributing the money for local youth scholarships and grants for academics, visual arts and music.

The Kiwanis also is partnering with a local nonprofit organization to provide swimming lessons to children, Brock said.

In 2015, Kiwanis played a crucial role in the renovation of Ozone Park. But members also raise money to buy and plant trees and even help clean beach areas.

The organization currently has about 45 members, but recently slashed membership dues to $60 a month and, in a bow to busy working parents, reorganized to reduce the number of meetings.

“This group of volunteers built playgrounds, donated buildings and (has) given thousands of scholarships to our local youth,” said Brock, who is a member of the Arts Commission.

Kiwanis was founded in 1915 by two Detroit businessmen to serve the poor and help young professional men network.

It took off quickly and became international the next year, when a club was opened in Canada.

Shortly before Santa Monica Kiwanis opened its doors, the overall organization decided to focus on helping the poor, especially children.

Sunday’s installation is at the Santa Monica Elks Lodge on 1040 Pico Boulevard from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $55 per person and can be purchased at kiwaniscelebration.brownpapertickets.com.

 


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