Brandon Kiwanis preparing to mark 100 years

Established on Feb. 7, 1919, the Kiwanis Club of Brandon will mark a century in the city with a celebration dinner on Feb. 12.

A chance meeting with the father of one of his son’s friends led Peter Lonstrup on a path which has proved to be one of the most rewarding of his life and extremely beneficial to the community at large.

A former Canadian Armed Forces member, Lonstrup’s final posting was at CFB Shilo, so he and his family decided to settle in Brandon. He also wanted to get more involved in his new hometown, which led him to becoming part of the rich history of the Brandon chapter of Kiwanis.

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“I joined in June of 1992,”said Lonstrup, who is in the midst of his third term as president of the Brandon Kiwanis. “When I decided to settle down, I started to think about joining a service club. And it was pure coincidence that I began chatting (with a Kiwanis member), and a couple of days later I was invited to attend the Kiwanis lunch. So that’s how it all started.”

Lonstrup became part of a near 100-year legacy of the Brandon Kiwanis. They officially came to be on Feb. 7, 1919. To commemorate this memorable milestone, the club is hosting a dinner at the Victoria Inn on Feb. 12.

“It’s going to be a dinner for members and guests,” he said. “And a couple of our members – headed up by chair Frank Thomas – are going to be putting together a 100-year presentation on the history of the club.

“We’re hoping that people will come in period dress; anywhere between 1919 and 2019 – it should be a special evening.”

The Brandon Kiwanis motto is “Serving the Children of the World” which originates from Kiwanis International. To help fund their local initiatives, the Kiwanis have three tent-pole fundraising activities. The first and biggest event is the annual soapbox “Kar Derby” which runs in late May or early June. The last derby was held on Rideau Street near Rideau Park. The event has become an annual Brandon tradition since being established in 1986.

The derby is open to youth aged 8 to 14. Participants vie for trophies for Best Decorated, Best Design and Most Original soapbox cars.

They also work alongside the Brandon Police and auction recovered bicycles every April.

“Those are bicycles which are found and not claimed, as well as some which are donated,” noted Lonstrup. “We hold them for 30 days hoping the owner will claim it.”

The third fundraiser sees the Kiwanis deliver posters for the Keystone Centre and Provincial Exhibition. Given how busy that facility is, you can imagine there are plenty of posters to deliver.

“There are always functions coming up – Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, Agriculture Exhibition, concerts, those sorts of things,” he noted.

This helps the Kiwanis fund many important projects and programs in the community, including but not limited to babysitting training (in conjunction with the Brandon Fire Department), the Food For Thought program with the Brandon School Division, scholarships for Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College, and other initiatives.

The club currently has 45 active members, but they are always looking for more members; more people who want to invest in their community and share in the fellowship at the same time.

“It can be a struggle and service clubs are struggling to bring in new members, but we have gone through a recent spurt of bringing in new members,” says Lonstrup. “But we sure would like to keep it going and celebrate our 200th anniversary.

“We enjoy the fellowship and helping the young people in the community day-to-day,” he added.

If joining the Kiwanis sounds like something that interests you, they meet for lunch every Tuesday at noon in the Louis Riel dining room at Brandon University.

To learn more about the Kiwanis and the work they do, visit their website at www.kiwanisclubofbrandon.ca. 

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