The Kiwanis Club of Wilton is the longest serving volunteer and service organization in town, and current president Jack McFadden is proud of his Club’s engagement and action in the community. Under his watch the Club has completed a refresh of its vision and mission, and has also started an effort to recruit younger families, to provide a way for families to find opportunities to volunteer in the community together.

GOOD Morning Wilton is spotlighting Kiwanis Club of Wilton members as an occasional feature, sharing why they became Kiwanians. Today, McFadden shares his story:

(To learn even more, stop by the Kiwanis Club’s booth at Saturday’s Street Fair–members will be giving out chilled water bottles on a very hot day.)

I joined Kiwanis in April 2015, and I have been president of the Wilton Kiwanis since October 2018. We have a very clear and organized succession process. The President’s term for Wilton Kiwanis starts in October and lasts for one year. Since joining, I have served as vice-president, and president-elect.

My first big leadership role came in 2016 when we agreed to embark on Oktoberfest. It was a challenging assignment with little time, many moving parts, and a lot of work. We didn’t raise much money but it was a lot of fun—a gift to our community.

Since moving to Wilton in the mid-80’s, I became aware of the incredible contribution of the Kiwanis to our community. My favorite event has always been the Pancake Breakfast on Memorial Day. So wonderfully a demonstration of Wilton family values—the breakfast, band, parade, ceremony at the Hillside Cemetery, hot dogs….

Charlie Lewis was the first person to invite me to join Kiwanis, but I was busy working at Deloitte as well as deeply involved with STAR on the Board and as president. Plus I thought that Kiwanis membership might make more sense once I retired, a misconception that challenges membership even today. Charlie didn’t give up and finally I agreed to attend a lunch/meeting.

What I discovered was an amazing group of individuals. Certainly, people whose accomplishments are well known in the community—including government, religious, corporate leaders, but more importantly good people whose talents and passion were magnified and ignited through service to others. I wanted to know them, learn from them, and be counted among them.

What I cherish most are the relationships. Feeling proud, working together, to make an impact. The fellowship and, as president, gentle mentoring, the work, the laughter and at the end of the day sharing the joy of service.

Among the most satisfying things that have happened on my watch have been completion of our Vision/Mission project (started under past-president John Kalamarides), initiation of new forms of membership, including the Family Plan, sponsorship of a little league team, and establishment of a high school scholarship. As important as the results is the way they were achieved. Everything we do is a team effort. I think the leadership mantra that lives with the Kiwanis is:  “There is no limit to what can be accomplished, if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Kiwanis Club’s Role in Wilton

We have spent more than a year re-examining our Vision/Mission and relevance within Wilton now and going forward. Leaders going back decades as well as current membership all contributed:

Vision:  Wilton Kiwanis will enhance and strengthen a vibrant and desirable Wilton through volunteer service, contributions and fellowship. When possible collaboration with other like-minded individuals and organizations will build relationships and magnify impact.

Mission:  Wilton Kiwanis is a volunteer organization that provides resources and funding to deserving individuals and community organizations, with a focus on the needs of youth.

If there is an important need in Wilton consistent with our Vision/Mission, one way or another, we will find a way to meet the challenge.

The Wilton Club is the second largest club in New England. We participate in activities beyond our local area, however our primary priority and focus is Wilton. Our attention and resources start with Wilton at the center.

There is no better way to engage our Wilton community. My understanding of the fabric and dynamics of Wilton has skyrocketed since becoming a member of the Kiwanis. There is so much collective wisdom and experience. And opportunities abound to get to know your neighbors and local organizations in doing good. For new families in the area, teaching your children the importance of serving others through fun service activities will give them a taste of the joy of helping others and instill  character that will last a lifetime.

We are the longest serving volunteer organization in Wilton (since 1951), but to be sustainable, we need to get bigger and younger. We have a place for everyone who shares our values. Join us!

To learn more about the Wilton Kiwanis Club, visit the club’s website, and stop by the booth at the Street Fair on Saturday, July 20.