History of Pullman Kiwanis

Kiwanis International was founded at Detroit, Michigan, in 1915. Seven years later, a group of citizens in Pullman, Washington, banded together into a “temporary organization” on March 22, 1922.

By the following Monday—March 27, 1922—54 charter members were enrolled in the Kiwanis Club of Pullman, which became the first service club in Pullman.

Pullman had 2,500 population at that time. 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.

Pullman Kiwanis supports four local youth clubs: Circle K or CKI at WSU, Key Club at Pullman High School, Builders Club at Lincoln Middle School and K-Kids at Sunnyside Elementary School.

Notable Dates

1936 – 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.

1947 – Pullman’s J. N. Emerson became one of the most dynamic Kiwanis International Presidents.

1949 – Kiwanians in the wings of Bryan Auditorium at Washington State College, armed themselves with shovels and brooms. The production of the Passion Play as a fundraising event had both camels and donkeys in the cast, so Kiwanians stood ready with shovels to save the day.

1959 – Kiwanis launched the annual Pancake Breakfast as a fundraising event. Held the first Saturday of December—and still going strong now—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.

1963 – Kiwanis volunteers began participating in the City of Pullman’s fun spring kickoff: the annual Egg Hunt for kids and families. The Pullman Kiwanis continue to help with the event each year.

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.

1972 – The Pullman Kiwanis helped establish the Key Club at Pullman High School. The PHS Key Club received its official charter on June 24, 1999.

1970s – Working together with Washington State University’s Athletic Department, Kiwanis members manage the parking lots at home football and basketball games and provide an example of town-gown cooperation combined with fundraising to support youth.

1994 – The Pullman Kiwanis began supporting the Lincoln Middle School Students of the Month with recognition including attendance at club luncheons with parents or other family mmbers and a check.

2002 — The Pullman Kiwanis helped establish the Builders Club at Lincoln Middle School. This Kiwanis-supported student service club received its charter on April 5, 2002.

2008 – The club launched the Stuff the Bus school supplies drive to help local youngsters in need so they can be prepared to learn. Partners include the Kiwanis Club of Moscow and the school districts in Pullman, Colfax and Colton/Uniontown in Washington and Moscow, Idaho. Many generous local businesses, organizations and individuals support the effort, which continues to expand.

2017 — Pullman Kiwanis helped establish the K Kids at Sunnyside Elementary School in Pullman. This Kiwanis-supported student service club received its charter on May 30, 2017.

2019 – Mary’s Park, including the first fully accessible playground on the Palouse, received a $25,000 donation from the Pullman Kiwanis for ADA-approved playground equipment.

2022 – On March 27, the Pullman Kiwanis celebrates its 100th anniversary. The club continues to thrive and keep many of its signature service activities: Pancake Breakfast and Music Fest, Stuff the Bus, Egg Hunt, football and basketball parking, and youth service club support.

Read a longer history of the Pullman Kiwanis (PDF)