President-elect, Kiwanis International
Editor’s note: Peter Mancuso is the president-elect for Kiwanis International, the global nonprofit that governs Kiwanis clubs across the world. He is also an active member and past president of the East Meadow Kiwanis club.
Throughout the pandemic, Kiwanis International has encouraged clubs that couldn’t meet in person to meet over virtual platforms, with Zoom being the most favored. The pandemic created many opportunities for services going back to March, and Kiwanis clubs all over remained active. We have an Italy-San Marino district, which began raising money for ventilators when Italy was in the throes of the virus in mid-March. In East Meadow, the Kiwanis club teamed up with [Borrelli’s Italian Restaurant] and raised thousands of dollars to cook meals for first responders.
We also have leadership service clubs in schools, and we’ve been helping them continue to provide services when schools were closed or extracurricular clubs couldn’t meet. We’ve created web-based kits to allow school clubs to function virtually. We just launched the Youth Leadership Development curriculum, which allows students to learn youth leadership skills for college credit. There are all kinds of courses kids could attend from home and add to their transcript.
Some clubs have started meeting in person, and some also stream their meetings on Facebook live for those who aren’t comfortable being there in person. So many have moved to a hybrid model.
Challenges always bring about new opportunities. While we couldn’t be in person, we could attend meetings and conference with people when we wouldn’t normally think about doing that. I recently attended a meeting of a Colorado Kiwanis club and another of a club in Nepal before that.