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Don't pass up a powerful partner

We're more than just a family
Story by John Shertzer

Happy Kiwanis Family Month! Each November, we ask Kiwanis clubs and all Service Leadership Programs (including Circle K) to celebrate their partnerships.

The concept of “Kiwanis family” is significant in so many ways. Family is a term that connotes warmth, relationships, togetherness and so many other positive values. But there are drawbacks to the concept, especially as it relates to the dynamics between members of the family. 

In a typical family, there is a power difference between the parental figure(s) and the rest. While a Circle K club may have been formed by a Kiwanis club and may receive financial assistance from its sponsor, it doesn’t mean the relationship should be like that of a parent and child. 

The most effective Kiwanis/Circle K relationship takes place when both have equal standing—or mostly equal. To use an analogy, Mom and Dad Kiwanian may embark on a road trip with their Kiwanis-family youth. For most of their “children,” they’ll give them iPods and snacks and tell them to keep quiet in the back seat. But CKI isn’t a “child.” CKI should be allowed a chance to sit up front and drive. 

So let’s keep the values of family, but seek to build powerful partnerships upon that familial foundation. 

We educate our Kiwanis clubs on their obligations of sponsorship. These principles are clearly written on the charter documents each Kiwanis club signs. However, as time passes, reminders are necessary. These obligations also include items intent on building a strong partnership, including hosting joint service projects, having an annual meeting between officers of both entities and involving the Circle K club in Kiwanis functions. You can see the full list at www.kiwanisone.org/advisor

As a Circle K member, you have an obligation to contribute to a strong partnership as well. It starts with an open mind. There are too many things that—if we let them—can diminish the partnership, such as differences in age, life experiences and personal interests. View such things instead as assets. In regards to age, I’m the youngest member of my Kiwanis club, and I love it! I’m learning so much about life, business, family and citizenship from individuals who have already achieved so much. 

As you get to know Kiwanians, you’ll eventually find more similarities than differences. Namely, your heart to serve and their heart to serve beats equally loud and strong. Service unites us. 



Some practical suggestions for you: First, grab a friend in your CKI club and attend the next Kiwanis meeting. You might take it a step further and see if the club will let you be the featured speaker for the meeting. Talk about life as a college student today. It’s good for your résumé, and Kiwanians will love it. 

Perhaps host a Meet and Greet on campus for the Kiwanis club and CKI members. You could even mix in a service project or two. Remember that college campuses are like their own city within a city, and take special care to help the Kiwanians know where to park and how to navigate the campus. 

You might need to drive the conversation with the Kiwanians about what a strong partnership means. David Brock, author of “Creating Effective Strategic Partnerships” says that a highly effective partnership occurs when the two entities understand and maximize the following: shared risks, shared resources, shared rewards, shared vision and shared values. 

He writes it as an equation: (SR)3 + (SV)2 = high effectiveness. At your annual planning meeting with the Kiwanis club board, use this equation as a discussion point and a measuring stick. Do you truly share all of those things? If not, what needs to change? 

I hope you truly see how valuable it is to have a Kiwanis club as a sponsor. Please don’t take for granted this fact: In the college community where you live, a few big-hearted and difference-making citizens decided to build and support a CKI club because they love Kiwanis so much, they had to share it with you. That’s pretty cool. 

Thank you for choosing to be a Circle K member. As a Kiwanian, I’m excited to know that we’re partners in making our communities and this world a better place. Powerful partners in fact. CKI



John Shertzer is the senior director of Kiwanis programs.


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