Key to My Heart

It was my freshman year in high school. I was enjoying lunch with my girls when I saw a table being set up right in front of us. As they were putting a banner up, I read the words “Key Club.”

I asked out loud “What is Key Club?” We ended up jokingly going back and forth for a while about what it could have meant. Then, I asked, do they make keys?”

Shortly after, a friend and I walked up to the table to find out what it was all about.

We asked they answered. “Oh no, we don’t make keys, we are a service club. If you want you can sign up to attend our meeting to find out more about volunteer projects. Most of them are on the weekends.”

My friend brushed it off, “Oh, no, I don’t have time for that.”

But I was slow to move and respond because something really resonated with me, so I took a brochure.

As I was reading it later, I became really intrigued by all that I was reading. Founded by Kiwanis, there is an elementary school level (K-Kids), middle school (Builders Club), high school (Key Club) and even college (CKI) level. I excitedly blurted out a fact I just read about the organization. “Did you know Brad Pitt was a Key Clubber?!” None of my friends seemed as enthused as I was.

Fast forward to a few months later, I am volunteering at numerous service and fundraiser events on the weekends. I even ran for a club leadership position during elections. I didn’t get the one I wanted, but I ended up being nominated for an even better position: Sophomore Class Director. During the end of my freshman year, I received training for my role. I was responsible for maintaining communication between the sophomore Key Clubbers and the board of directors. I ended up only holding it until the end of winter semester due to moving.

When I moved to South Florida in the middle of the school year, it was almost like a drug. I could not stand to be at a school that had a service club nowhere close to Key Club. I missed having those interactions and the instant connection with people who genuinely enjoyed serving and leading like me. So, with the help of my classmates Stefano and Whitney, a Key Club was formed at McFatter Technical. We were sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club and attended regional and district events in the first year. I was nominated President for both years of school. It was a huge part of my life, it taught me a lot about people, planning, leading and initiating. It was hard work, but it all paid off. Unexpectedly, I received an outstanding Key Club President award at the end of my second term. I recently came across photos of my sponsoring Kiwanis Club still hosting meetings and events at my high school with my school’s Key Club. Talk about a proud legacy left behind!

I did not want to miss out on being a member of the Kiwanis Family so once I moved to Washington D.C., I immediately connected with the alumni network to find local clubs of interest.

After a little bit of research, I became a member of the D.C. Young Professionals Kiwanis Club and remained an active member for the two years that I lived in D.C. Ironically, the president of the club was also a Florida Key Clubber in high school. It was full of great service projects and fun, outgoing people. I became an Eliminate Project Club Coordinator for a year. I was also Member of the Month for my active participation. Before I left, a new member joined a meeting, and we recognized each other: I met her at DCON (District Convention) as a Key Clubber when she was a CKI (Circle K International) president. What a small world! This year makes four years since my last attendance at DCON.

This year makes Key Club’s 90th anniversary and Kiwanis’ 100th anniversary. I would encourage any parent who wants to get their kids involved in their community and to gain leadership skills to allow them to join. I would encourage any teen who is looking for someplace to fit in and make a difference while in school to join. The skills, memories, and friendships carry on with you throughout life. Even though I have taken a brief hiatus from being a Kiwanian, I will always be a proud Key Clubber and Kiwanian. The will to serve is forever instilled into me.