Club History

In May 1922, 55 men of Harrisonburg, Virginia, gathered for lunch at the Kavanaugh Hotel.  They wanted to become personally involved in making their community a better place.  Out of this first luncheon meeting, the Kiwanis Club of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was born.  Five months later, on October 10, 1922, the club was officially chartered.  The first president of our club was George Conrad.  The charter dinner was attended by 60 members, their wives (remember…members at that time only were men) and Kiwanians from Staunton, Charlottesville, and Winchester.

Under the Kiwanis motto “We Build”, the Kiwanis Club of Harrisonburg has been serving the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County community in many significant ways for nine decades.

Our primary objective has been to make the community a better place in which to live by focusing attention on the health, education, and welfare of the people of the community. We have served the area by contributing financially to worthy causes and by becoming personally involved in community work.

Through the years the Kiwanis Club of Harrisonburg has voluntarily devoted our time, talents and energies to fundraising in ways ranging from door-to-door sales of light bulbs, peanuts, toothbrushes, holiday wreaths and coloring books, to silent auctions and the sales of barbequed chicken and pizzas.

The dates following represent historic events throughout the history of our Kiwanis Club:

1922 – Funds were provided to erect a monument in memory of the war dead of Rockingham County.

1923 –Funds were donated to establish a rest park at Keister School with benches and lighting.

1927 –The Rockingham Library Association was established under Kiwanis leadership and 50 community leaders.

1924 – $1,000 was donated to Rockingham Memorial Hospital and has continued to donate at least that amount annually.

1928 – The Rockingham Public Library opened on Main Street in Harrisonburg (now known as the Massanutten Regional Library).

1945 – The first Soap Box Derby was sponsored by the Club.

1947 – The first biennial Turkey Bowl football game was sponsored by the Club.

1953 – The Club produced and presented a minstrel show “Kiwanis Kapers” that ran until 1965 and again in 1968

1956 – The first scholarship was awarded to a Harrisonburg High School graduate and has continued to award scholarships every year.

1960 – 2,500 Pairs of eyeglasses were collected and sent to persons needing them in India.

1961 – The Club presented the first Joe Gitchell Sportsmanship Award to an area football player in honor of a Kiwanian’s teenaged, son who was killed in a car accident, and has continued to present the award each year.

1962 –The Kiwanis Park in Harrisonburg was dedicated.

1965 – The Kiwanis Nurses’ Award was established and given to an outstanding member of the RMH School of Nursing graduating class.

1969 – A Travelog and Adventure series was established and continued for over 25 years.

1969 – The first Lawman of the Year Award was presented – a recipient is chosen every year from the Harrisonburg City Police Department, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department, Virginia State Police or JMU Police.

1971 –The Dingledine College Scholarship was established in memory of the 1971-71 past president Raymond Dingledine, Jr.

1971 – JMU Circle K was chartered on November 22.

1976 – Funds were donated toward furnishing a room in the Intensive Care and Cardiac Center.

1980 – Harrisonburg High School Kiwanis Key Club was chartered on March 14.

1982 –$1,000 was donated toward the establishment of a poultry production facility in Senegal for project “Africare”.

1985 – A scoreboard was donated to the Little League baseball park.

1989 –The first women were admitted to membership in the Club.

1989 –The first food service booth was built at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.

1991 – Harrisonburg Kiwanis Foundation was incorporated.

2006 – Thomas Harrison Middle School Kiwanis Builders Club was chartered on September 21.

2008 – Skyline Middle School Kiwanis Builders Club was chartered on November 12.

2008 – The new and improved Roger Davis Kiwanis Food Service Booth at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds was dedicated on August 7.

2010 – Kiwanis International joined with UNICEF to launch The Eliminate Project, dedicated to wiping out maternal and neonatal tetanus. Our club pledged $350 per member ($1.80 per week) over a four year period.

2011/12 - Completed 1st Stop Hunger Now Program at Cub Run Elementary School to supply food packages for 10,000 people.

2012/13 - Assisted SKMS Builders Club Completed 2nd Stop Hunger Now Program at Skyline Middle School  to supply food packages to 10,000 people.

2015 - Met our goal of $14,000 donation to the Kiwanis Eliminate Project to eliminate maternal-neonatel tetanus 

2016 - Harrisonburg Aktion Club was chartered on August 19,2016 at Pleasant View, Inc.

2017 - Raised over $2,000 for the American Heart Association at the Harrisonburg HeartChase in April.  We sponsored 6 teams - Both Builder's Clubs, 2 from JMU-CKI and 2 from the Kiwanis Club.

2017 - News from Kiwanis International: Congratulations! The Kiwanis Club of Harrisonburg has achieved Blue-level Today Club status for the 2016-2017 Kiwanis year. That means your club’s unrestricted gifts to the Kiwanis Children’s Fund reached a per-member giving average of US$10.