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A welcome change Richard Peña | Sat, Apr 05 2014 12:00 PM

Community institutions, such as schools, churches and service clubs will generally relate their historical timelines with events experienced by club members or others closely associated with the organization that come up from time to time.

I was thinking about this the other day as I sat at one of the local bistros with Bill Sears and Jim Woodford, two very active members of the Kiwanis Club of Bonita. They are currently on the quest for something that is the goal of many such organizations, the formation of their own foundation and their own 501C3.

Although the club was formed in 1974 it never had been in the position of saying it was tax-exempt.  The service clubs in our community—or, for that matter, in any community—exist for the principal purpose of helping others. This could involve many classes of folks at many places on the globe.  Some aim their efforts at the young of the community—or an out of way place—giving financial or some other kind of aid to help a unit over a rough spot. 

Others might concentrate on the seniors of the area or, perhaps, on a part of the universe having an epidemic of a little known disease without the tools to fight it.

I have been a member of the local club for more than 30 years.  Back in the club’s infancy they took on the aid at one of the local elementary schools.  On certain weekends one could find a contingent of men and women at the Ella B. Allen Elementary School working on either playground equipment or on the grounds themselves, doing those things that were not within the school district’ s budget.

In addition to the manual labor given by the Kiwani members the club would also play a Santa Claus and Easter Bunny visit to the schools dispensing gifts and making life a bit brighter to the schools young population. In later years the club also initiated a scholarship program aimed at some of the Sweetwater Union High School graduates who were deserving of a continued education but did not have the resources to make it happen.

Any kind of aid that is going to some other unit, of course, requires funds. Money must be somehow raised. Some years back some club members thought that forming a foundation within the unit might be the answer.  They were, of course, right but they also were saddled with a task that few, if any, knew how to go about.  Interest in such a project was lost and the foundation plan was abandoned.

And so we come to the event that turned things around and resurrected the foundation plan along with the 501C3.  Prior to November of last year the motorist entering Bonita from the west would see, in the vicinity of the Glen Abbey Cemetery, a large sign advertising the many units in the community that are there for others to enjoy.  But Mother Nature, in the form of one of those windstorms that sometimes descend upon us was too much for one of the many eucalyptus trees near the sign.  The tree, it seemed, took aim and came down squarely over the sign destroying it beyond repair.

The first thoughts by Kiwanis members was to restore the sign.  But to make this happen was going to require funds.

And the best way to do this was to attain the tax-exempt status so that business entities and others might contribute the necessary funds that would once more erect the large sign.

On March 20 club  members, now as foundation members, met to accept the newly-written bylaws and elect officers and directors.  The latter are the existing officers and directors of the club, but, of course, wearing a different hat.
The next big fundraiser for the club is the annual golf tournament at the Bonita Golf Club in September. Club members predict that, at that time, the foundation will be in place.  And also in place will be the newly erected Welcome to Bonita sign in its new and improved style.

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