Brief History of Kiwanis (from the kiwanis.org website)
The first Kiwanis club was organized in Detroit, Michigan. The group received a charter from the state of Michigan on January 21, 1915, and this is regarded as the birth date of Kiwanis.
Kiwanis became an international organization with the chartering of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1916. Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962, when worldwide expansion was approved. Since then, Kiwanis has spread to all inhabited continents of the globe.
The Portland Kiwanis Club was founded in 1917, and is the oldest Kiwanis Club in Maine. Over the years, men and women who live and work in our community have dedicated themselves to service through Kiwanis. Some projects that the club has worked on include the renovation and rededication of the Portland Observatory, and the creation of Kiwanis Pool on Douglass Street, as well as fund raising for charities such as the American Cancer Society's Children's Camp Rainbow, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, YMCA, Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute, and many more.
The Portland Kiwanis Club continues to lead the way for many clubs, especially in the area of service leadership programs. Not only does the club sponsor one of the largest number of groups in general (five Key Clubs, one Circle K Club, and one Aktion Club), but it was also the first Kiwanis Club in the New England District to sponsor an Aktion Club. Aktion Club provides an opportunity for young people with developmental disabilities to get involved with their community, give back, and learn organizational and leadership skills. We are very proud of all of our sponsored groups.