Kiwanis installs officers, board at annual meeting

DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Officers and dignitaries at the Spring Valley Kiwanis annual banquet include, from left, former Kiwanis member Jack Zierdt, who installed officers, President Rita Bezdicek, Secretary Denis Cornell and Division 7 Lt. Gov. Steven Forseth of the Minnesota-Dakotas district of Kiwanis International.

DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Spring Valley Kiwanis President Kelly Nelson gives her last address before transferring her office to Rita Bezdicek.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The Spring Valley Kiwanis Club held its 2019 annual banquet last Wednesday, Sept. 25, installing new officers and hearing an address from Kiwanis Minnesota-Dakotas Division 7 Lt. Gov. Steven Forseth.      

Kelly Nelson, who stepped down as president during the meeting, addressed the Kiwanians and their guests, thanking them for the guidance that they had provided her during her first round as a Kiwanis Club local president. 

Following her expressions of appreciation, Kiwanian Nancy Cornell updated the club on the progress made in raising money for The Eliminate Project, an effort through a partnership with UNICEF to eliminate neonatal and maternal tetanus by raising $110 million to fund tetanus vaccinations for mothers and their babies around the world. 

She related that the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club had pledged to contribute $28,500 toward The Eliminate Project, but it had far exceeded that goal. The two Spring Valley Kiwanis-sponsored youth groups also contributed as the Key Club had put in $2,182 and the Builders Club had given $1,087 for a total of approximately $34,000. That amount saved the lives of 19,000 babies and equally, thousands of mothers. 

There is still progress to be made, however, as Cornell reported that 13 countries out of the 46 originally identified by UNICEF and Kiwanis still await vaccinations and the right to proclaim that tetanus has been eliminated.

The Spring Valley Kiwanis Club keeps its membership very busy throughout the year with projects and contributions that encompass the Academic Student of the Month honor for high school students, granting college scholarships to graduating students, overseeing the Key Club and Builders Club, raising money for and packing food at the Food for Kidz emergency food event each April, hosting a Faith Recognition Day and a Farmer Recognition Day, offering handyman service, choosing a Kiwanis Citizen of the Year, hosting a breakfast in cooperation with the American Legion each year during Ag Days, holding a community Halloween party with the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce, ringing bells for The Salvation Army, helping with Supper with Santa at Christmas on Historic Broadway, reading to students at Kingsland Elementary School, taking part in the MN-DAK Book Project, assisting with Love Lights A Tree, supplying durable backpacks for the Kingsland Backpack Food Program, cooking up a breakfast to raise money for the Eagles Cancer Telethon and carrying out numerous other community projects. 

Forseth spoke briefly, as he’d told the Kiwanians in attendance that his wife had told him that “less is more” when speaking, and he commended the Spring Valley club for its leadership in the community and in lending a hand to guiding the Stillwater club – from which he hails – from its founding to its present status as a growing club. 

He remarked that as a high school student, he’d received an award from the Kiwanis that allowed him to enjoy lunch at the Minneapolis Athletic Club and that a Kiwanian picked him up for the occasion, taking an interest in his future. 

“He asked, ‘Where are you going to college?’  My family didn’t have any money, so I figured I would get a part-time job or go into the service,” Forseth said.  “He said, ‘Where would you like to go to college?’  I said that I would like to go to Augsburg, and he said, ‘I tell you what – I’ll hire you to work for my construction company.’  The first day, even though I was 15 and in pretty good shape, we paved a whole mile of road that day, and I realized I wasn’t in as good of shape as I’d thought. But I remembered that, so when Stillwater decided to open up a club, my wife was reading it in the paper and said, ‘You have to join.’” 

He commented that Spring Valley’s Kiwanis devotees have been ever helpful as the Stillwater club works toward its goals.  “We’ve had great advisors – Jack (Zierdt), Denis (Cornell), Nancy (Cornell),” he said. “We’ve all heard that we need to look at our club and look where we’ll be in 15 years, and I say to you, ‘Keep up what you’re doing.’”   

The 2019-2020 officers installed by former Spring Valley Kiwanian Jack Zierdt during the meeting included Rita Bezdicek as president, Denis Cornell as secretary and Nelson as immediate past president, with the treasurer’s and president-elect’s positions yet to be filled. 

The board of directors included Steve Hadoff, Kim Brown, Bill Rowen, Gene Halverson and Brenda Stier, while Stier and Don Rose were outgoing board members. 

The Kingsland Key Club’s 2019 president is Hannah Peshel, Matthew Schwanke is vice president, Alexys Harwood is secretary, Kaycie Bellrichard is treasurer, Brooke Kolden is editor-publisher, Aaron Thauwald will serve as faculty advisor, and Mark Marburger and Paula Ruesink will be the Kiwanis advisors to the Key Club. 

The 2019-2020 Builders Club leadership is comprised of Ashlyn Harwood as president, Kensie Heusinkveld as secretary, Emily Mlinar as treasurer, and Paul Eckheart serves as faculty advisor and Nancy Cornell will remain as Kiwanis advisor to the Builders Club. 

As the banquet came to an end, Zierdt congratulated the members of the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club “for all the officers that you have in this coming year” and for the hard work and dedication that its membership has shown the community.