Earlier this year, Circle K International created community-based clubs to help grow membership in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Community-based clubs are a new way to bring the CKI experience to college-aged students who attend schools where outside organizations are not permitted on campus. Functioning the same as on-campus clubs, these clubs will require a Kiwanis International club sponsor, pay dues and elect club officers. Members can come from more than one college and university throughout a city or region.

We recently talked with Vanessa Carreño, president of our first community-based club Circulo K Mar y Tierra (Sea and Land) is in Bogotá, Colombia. She told us about her experience in the Kiwanis family and advice on starting a community club.

Circulo K Mar y Tierra (Sea and Land) is in Bogotá, Colombia.

Tell us about yourself!

I am from Barranquilla, Colombia, and am studying in Del Rosario University in Bogotá.

What is your connection to Kiwanis International?

My connection to Kiwanis is very deep and very long. I have many family members in Kiwanis clubs such as my dad, my mom, my uncles and my grandma, so I think I can say that I have grown in an environment full of Kiwanians that have taught me the importance of service. That’s why I have been in Kiwanis since I was in a Builders Club, and some of the members were also family members or relatives of other members of Kiwanis. After that I started a Key Club with my friends, and now I have reached a new purpose of making another CKI club in my city.

Why did you decide to join Circle K International?

In my different stages of service, something that I’ve learned is that we can contribute in different ways, and these ways change as we grow and use mechanisms that are in our power for the better. It is a fact that as a CKI member I can do more things than when I was a Builder or a Key Club member. Now I have watched, learned and therefore identify what are these tools that my age and experience allow me to use.

Your club is a community-based club. Tell us how you found members to join and how you are meeting.

Some of the members are from our Key Club period who have decided to join me and continue with our purpose of helping others. Others are people that we have met along in college that have fallen in love with the Kiwanis community.

Our meetings have been through Zoom and other virtual mechanisms that have helped us with communicating and organizing some of our upcoming activities, especially since we are from different cities of the country.

Do you have tips on how to start a community club?

I think the best tip is just to start. To start proposing the idea of a community club, of helping others in these difficult times for everyone, and of course of making new experiences, friends and having good times helping change the world.

Why should people join your Circle K club?

My CKI club is a young one that knows what it wants to do and is currently finding ways of achieving our purpose of helping people. We might be young, but we know how fortunate we are and as a gratitude, we want to approach as much as we can to communities that need our help in our city and country.

What is your favorite service project?

As a Builder and Key Club member, we used to go to Puerto Colombia, municipality of Atlántico, and every December 8 we organized the first communion of the kids of the locality. COVID- 19 has made it difficult to restart these types of activities, but still is my favorite because it's a joy to see their happiness in a very important date such as that one and to be able to be the reason why they could have such a memorable moment is very motivating.

Who inspires you?

My mom (Kiwanis Colombia District Gov-Elect Elena Maria Carreño Ortega). She has accomplished all she ever wanted and has done it with her heart and always inspires me to do anything I want with goodwill and with the strength of my heart.

Does your club have any social media accounts?

Follow us on Instagram! @marytierrack

Interested in starting a community club in your area? Visit www.circlek.org/membership/join-start-a-club for more information.