Pancake Breakfast (credit Gail Lavielle)

Every Memorial Day, Wilton begins the town-wide festivities with the annual Kiwanis Club of Wilton Pancake Breakfast. It’s sort of a ritual that countless Wilton families attend year after year, and children grow up recalling as a fond memory of home.

This year, the Kiwanis Club–Wilton’s longest serving volunteer organization–is also using the event to help kick off an effort to provide an opportunity for families to get more involved with the club. Kiwanis is inviting families looking for ways to introduce service and volunteering as a family activity to become Kiwanis Club family members.

The Kiwanis Club is active and visible around the Wilton community throughout the year. The club supports individuals and local organizations in need, with an emphasis on children, raising funds, distributing contributions, and performing physical work to enhance the town and surrounding areas. Over the past four years Kiwanis has donated more than $120,000 to deserving organizations, including the Wilton Family YMCA, Wilton Social Services, Wilton Chess Park, Visiting Nurses, Wilton Library, and many more.

The Kiwanis quarterly weekend food drives outside Village Market and Stop & Shop help restock empty shelves at the Wilton Food Pantry, valued at $160,000. In addition, through the annual Pumpkin Sale held at the Wilton Historical Society, the Homefront building project, or the annual Citrus Sale (among many other efforts), the club members are very active in helping and fundraising to give back to Wilton.

Club leaders say the Family Membership provides one of the few ways for families to become involved in volunteering together, and teach even young children the value of giving back and engaging with the community. Family members will participate four times a year on a weekend morning with like-minded Wilton neighbors for breakfast followed by a community-building service project. The projects planned for the coming year (subject to changing needs) are:

  • Memorial Day Pancake Breakfast:  Monday, May 27, 2019 7:30 a.m.
  • Pumpkin Sale:  Saturday, Sept 28, 2019 9 a.m.
  • Quarterly Food Drive:  Saturday, Dec 14, 2019 10 a.m.
  • 2020 Town Clean Up Day:  Sunday, April 26, 2020 8:30 a.m.

Families interested in exploring the membership are invited to come early to this year’s Pancake Breakfast. Families who volunteer to help will enjoy a FREE breakfast first and should arrive at Wilton Congregational Church between 7:30-8 a.m.; after they eat family volunteers will help with whatever activity and time makes sense for them. Family volunteer coordinators will be on hand to help provide direction.

The Pancake Breakfast opens to the public from 8-10:30 a.m. before the parade begins. To learn more about the Kiwanis Family Membership, visit the Kiwanis Club of Wilton website.

The price for breakfast is free for volunteer families from 7:30-8 a.m.; after 8 a.m. Adults/Teens (13+) are $10; children (5-12) are $5 and young children under 5 are free.

Why I Am a Kiwanis Club Member

GOOD Morning Wilton is spotlighting Kiwanis Club members as an occasional feature, sharing why they became Kiwanians. Today, retired Wilton veterinarian Kevin Craw tells his story:

I started working in Wilton as a 15 year old, for Dr. Chester Earl Guthrie, who was a prominent veterinarian, and it turns out to be a charter founder of the Wilton Kiwanis Club.

All I knew of the Wilton Kiwanis Club was that every Wednesday he would take himself away from the office for lunch with this group called Kiwanis Club and come back about an hour and a half or two hours later. I never heard a word about what they did or what was involved because I was kid.

Well, long story, I went to vet school, came out of vet school. I came back to Dr. Guthrie, asked if he wanted to hire a young veterinarian and I joined his practice in 1974. After a couple of years, things were going well, and Dr. Guthrie came in and said, “You know, I don’t think I mentioned it in our interview, but part of a condition of your employment here is that you join the Kiwanis Club.” And I said, “What’s the Kiwanis Club?

He said, “It’s a service club. We do all kinds of things. We helped build the YMCA, we helped build Merwin Meadows, we got the first ambulance in town.” I joined in 1977, and about eight years later, became president.

Part of my role as president involved serving on the board of the YMCA. So I was immediately engaged in helping to turn around the Y, which was just in all kinds of dire straits in the early 80s. It had a terrible deficit, had really a bleak future, but a great core of folks I met there, lifelong, dear friends, and have been engaged in one activity after the other ever since. We just got swept into the concept of being a part of the community by volunteering to do things.

All the things I’ve ever been involved with in this town certainly came through my getting hooked up with the Kiwanis Club in 1977.

One of the great things that Kiwanis Club does that I’m deeply involved with and have been since we got involved 27 years ago, is the Homefront project, where we refurbish and renovate a house for someone who is truly needy and deserving of the effort. And the Kiwanis Club has done that since 1992. Since then I have been the volunteer coordinator, and that means the world to me.

We just finished our most recent home a couple weeks ago, and the homeowners are just beaming with joy. It’s a great thing. It really is life changing for people, in ways we’ll never know. We don’t go back and question or pry around. We just do our thing and give them a hug and hit the road. But, yes, you can tell that it literally changed the course of their existence. That means the world to me.

I just can’t think of a better way to live. Doing things for other people when they’re deserving of the effort, and sometimes even when they’re not, just gives me great joy. This is an opportunity, a vehicle through which a relatively little amount of effort can make a big, big difference. In other words, you don’t have to start with a blank slate or create something whole cloth. You just simply throw your oar in the water and start paddling the same direction.

It’s a really easy way to get engaged. Ask anybody, you meet the nicest people when you work with a good crew of volunteers.