Kiwanis International was founded at Detroit, Michigan, in 1915. Seven years later, on March 22, 1922, a group of citizens in Pullman, Washington, banded together into a “temporary organization.” By Monday, March 27, 54 charter members were enrolled in the Kiwanis Club of Pullman that became the first service club in Pullman — enduring, serving and growing to this day.
At that time Pullman had 2,500 population. Since then Kiwanians with their time, hands and money built the first wading and swimming pools, the city’s first indoor and outdoor youth centers, and the sidewalk grid at Camp Roger Larson on Lake Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.
The club organized the first Circle-K club (now CKI, the Kiwanis sponsored service organization for college students), which spread from Pullman throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1947, Pullman’s J. N. Emerson, became one of the most dynamic Kiwanis International Presidents.
The year 1949 found Kiwanians in the wings of Bryan Auditorium, armed with shovels and brooms. The cause was the production of the Passion Play as a fund raising event. With both camels and donkeys in the cast, Kiwanians stood ready with shovels to save the day.
Since 1959, Kiwanis has provided their annual Pancake Breakfast as a money raising event. Held the first Saturday of December, citizens flock to this community breakfast to enjoy tasty food and watch and listen as their neighbors – young and old – perform on the stage at Lincoln Middle School cafeteria.
In 1968, during one of the worst blizzards seen in Pullman, Kiwanians braved the elements to put up the annual Christmas decorations. They continued this tradition in wind, rain, ice and snow, giving Pullman a festive appearance during the holidays.
Working together with Washington State University’s Athletic Department, Kiwanis members manage the parking lots at home football and basketball games providing an example of town-gown cooperation combined with fund-raising to support youth.