The Kiwanis Club of Issaquah has embodied the spirit of volunteerism and activism in the Issaquah community since it was chartered on August 15, 1929. It was the time of the Great Depression and charter members of the new club learned about the deprivation of some of its residents, leading them to organize food, clothing and financial assistance programs including hot lunches for students. Another early project was to provide free vaccinations for all first graders.
During World War II, Kiwanis members supported the war effort by achieving 100% club participation for the U.S. Savings Bond program and collected 150 tons of scrap metal in just 24 hours. In 1946, Issaquah’s first library became a reality by the energetic action of the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanians provided rain parkas for the Issaquah High football team, collected for March of Dimes, made repairs to Issaquah Community Church, built bleachers at Memorial Field, held banquets for school teachers, painted and improved Firemen’s Hall for the use of youth groups, and has sponsored a Boy Scout troop since 1930.
Kiwanis members volunteered for the construction of Gibson Hall including signing of $2,500 in personal notes to complete the project; Gibson Hall is now the club’s meeting clubhouse and is rented out to provide a community gathering space for others.
Kiwanis projects have been varied through the club’s nearly 100 years. In 1957, Kiwanis sponsored the training camp for Pete Radenmacher, the 1956 Olympic gold medalist heavyweight boxer. Kiwanis was the backbone of the Issaquah Labor Day celebration for more than 30 years. In 1970, Salmon Days was born along with the world-famous Kiwanis Salmon BBQ, a major fund raiser for the club. In the early 1980s, Kiwanis helped create a sheltered workshop for developmentally disabled adults called Community Enterprises of Issaquah, now thriving as AtWork!
Kiwanis Club of Issaquah has raised funds for academic and recreation scholarships, a Kids Carnival, a Bike Rodeo with free bicycle helmets, Christmas food baskets, healthy snack bars for kids who came to school hungry, diapers for babies, rental assistance, mental health counseling and so much more. Kiwanis members created the summertime Issaquah Farmer’s Market, still ongoing as a regional event at Pickering Farm. The club supported the construction of the Issaquah Community Center with a pledge of $25,000 and became the major fundraiser for Concerts on the Green by securing sponsors and selling concessions.
In 2015, the Kiwanis Club initiated the all-access playground at Lake Sammamish State Park by funding its design at a cost of $20,000 and a few years later provided $20,000 toward capital costs of The Garage, teen cafe. Through fund raising activities Kiwanis provides annual support for more than 30 non-profit organizations that serve Greater Issaquah residents.
Kiwanis members are frequent volunteers in leadership positions, including elected positions, and many are honored in the Issaquah Hall of Fame for their commitment to building a better community, but Kiwanians also know how to have fun in their endeavors by sharing picnics, parties, dances, social hours, and storytelling. Issaquah Kiwanis members share their purpose in life through giving, growing and enjoying.
In 2021, Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly signed a proclamation declaring Kiwanis the Spirit of Issaquah for its years of service and leadership to the citizens of Issaquah.