Kiwanis service clubs on the decline, says lieutenant governor
Lieutenant Governor Anthony Cameron, who oversees 24 Kiwanis service clubs in the county of Cornwall, says the service clubs, which formerly served as the backbone of several communities across Jamaica, are now registering a decline in membership and general relevance.
“It is not that the clubs themselves have changed, but society has changed, and so it is incumbent on us (as service clubs) to reinvent ourselves so that we can serve our communities continually. So if we are going to remain relevant as a club, then we have to change to meet the demand of the communities which we serve.”
Cameron was addressing the eighth anniversary dinner of the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point last weekend.
He referenced a recent study of service clubs across North America which showed that the situation was not unique to Jamaica. The study results reflected that clubs, which were once organisations of influence in their respective communities, have been losing their influence and impact over the last two decades.
Cameron said it has become more pronounced in the post-COVID-19 era as people are now getting used to doing a lot of things differently.
He said that for most service clubs, the issue is not in the recruitment drive of the clubs, but instead in its ability to retain members.
He remarked that service clubs need to radically change their modus operandi among other things, to remain relevant to their new members.
He suggested a change in the current meeting format to them being more family-oriented, where children would be accommodated while their parents are participating in meetings. He also wants the meetings to become more informal, with the formats altered to allow new recruits to be more involved in the day-to-day operations of clubs. Cameron suggested further that clubs serve as incubators for young creative minds; and (engage in ) seeking new ways to address traditional issues.
“It is imperative (that) we reinvent. That may involve passing the torch and allowing an emerging generation of leaders to reinvent our clubs according to their needs. The alternative may be irrelevance and obscurity,” said Cameron.
The lieutenant governor used the occasion to congratulate the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point whose members celebrated its anniversary week during March 19 to 25. He noted that the club has achieved much in its eight years of operation, and urged the members to continue to add value to the communities which they serve.
Several events were staged during the week, including a church service at the beginning of the week; the donation of sanitary napkins to four high schools, under the theme, ‘Sit with Confidence’; a presentation of medical items to the Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital; and the culminating dinner.