A Rich Club History
The Kiwanis Club of Asbury Park was chartered in April 1921. The Trenton, NJ club was its sponsor. The Asbury Park Club began with 44 members.
Most of the history noted here was gathered by one of our "oldest" members, F. Roy Garrabrant, Jr. He joined the club in 1947. A committee was formed to bring together the volumes of past documents held by the former secretaries of the club to show the activities of the club, which were loaded with efforts to support the local community. The secretaries of the clubs through the years were very important people. Besides taking minutes of the meetings they collected dues, kept reports of all the committees, and kept the Presidents in line with agendas for each meeting. We need to mention these men going back to Wilfred Pine, Russ Coleman and up to very recently our long time Kiwanian Russ Danielson.
Kiwanis Bell, Its Restoration
So much tradition is grounded in the Kiwanis Bell. Over the years (and still is), it was used to open and close club meetings. People looked forward to the ding of the bell being struck by anything that would make it "sing." But the continuous striking of the bell and a fire took its toll -- it ultiately needed restoration.
Past Presidents, Peter and Leon Avakian and Roy Garrabrant restored the clubs historic Kiwanis bell after a fire damaged it. See The History of the Kiwanis Bell.
The major activities of the Kiwanis Club were supported by many man hours and financial support of the local business community. The club gave its support to the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the Boys Club (now the Boys and Girls Club) and the Boy Scouts. A park area of Asbury Park was designated as Kiwanis Park and the club provided plantings, memorials and other needs. Two Key clubs were founded in the local High Schools. The records show that every year the club supported the organizations that were helping the needy and unfortunate.
The Early Years
During the early years, the club helped to support many improvements to local bridges, highways, elimination of dangerous railroad crossings, better parks and beaches. The charitable work of the club was carried on largely through entertainment. In 1925 "Kiwanis Kapers" was started by Paul Morgan and continued for 13 years until the depression. The program consisted of many different skits and a "minstrel show," which included Kiwanians, friends and even some High School students. It lasted till 1956.
The club took part in forming new clubs in the local area and they included Kiwanis Clubs in Belmar, Keyport, Toms River, Lakewood and others. The club also sponsored four clubs abroad in Switzerland, two in the Vevay-Montreux area and the Val de Ruz club and provided their bell, gavel and banner. The club also sponsored a new club in the greater Freehold area. The club's meeting places included The Ansonia, Albemarle, Marlborough, Metropolitan, and Monterey Hotels, and for several years the Berkeley Carteret Hotel. The meetings took place in the Steinbach Company building after Pearl Harbor.
The Next Decades
The ‘60s showed growth for the club to 80 some members and under the presidents of those years, Dr Robert Lamb, Leon Avakian, Wallace Gleason, Thomas Knecht, Sherman Mischler, William Mertens, Bradley Gillespie and Earl Johnson several programs evolved into the regular goings on of the club. A Cub Scout pack, a Muscular Dystrophy summer camping program, a little league and many others were formed.
In the ‘70s, the VietNam war occupied the efforts of the club who sent paperback books and mail to the men and women serving in our military and sending care packages overseas. Presidents in the ‘70s were Joseph Mullin, Charles Scott, Everett Rudolf, Robert Benham, F. Russell Coleman, Richard E. Lewis and Anthony Shelbell. These years also gave way to projects collecting eyeglasses for the needy and running a Christmas party for 100 underprivileged children. The Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army and the local Key Clubs were the focus of different projects to be worked on within the club. The famous Kiwanis Pancake Day project during the 70's made the members quite proficient in turning out pancakes on the club's own pancake maker.
The ‘80s continued with helping the Salvation Army, the YMCA and Boys Club with the Presidents, Frank Tomaino, Robert Albright, Lawrence Masgay, Otis Arnts, Richard Knight, Peter Avakian, Frank Fischer, David Taborn and Edward Noumair. Their projects continued to support the community and in the establishment of the Ronald MacDonald house near Monmouth Medical Center. In 1987 Kiwanis voted to have women join the Kiwanis organization which since its beginning in 1915 in Detroit Michigan was an all men's organization.
Women Approved for Membership
The ‘90s brought the first woman approved for membership into the Asbury Park Kiwanis club under President Robert Nicholson. Fundraising continues with the annual Pancake Day, operating a booth at the annual Ocean Township Festival. With Dave Roberts, Robert Garner, James McDonald, Dr Joseph DeAngelis, Robert Keleher, Hazel Samuels (our first woman President), Eugene Adams, Dr Frances Fittanto and Allen Shechter, we continued the charitable activities and fundraising events such as our first annual golf tournament, selling coupon books under the leadership of Eugene Paduano which, helped support our scholarship program, the Salvation Army and a new project to rebuild a miniature golf course on the Asbury Park boardwalk.
The highlight of the ‘90s was a 75th Anniversary Gala held at Christie's Restaurant with over 130 guests and members. The first "Kiwanian of the Year" reward was established and its first recipient was Robert Nicholson. Two more women were installed as President of the club at the end of the 90's and 2000 and the first woman in our club to become Lt. Governor in 2000-2001 year, Susan Philpot, was the sixth Lt. Governor from Asbury Park, following Past Lt. Governors F. LeRoy Garrabrant, Sr., Dr. Robert Lamb, Joseph L. White and Peter Avakian.
Secretaries and Treasurers' Efforts
We would be remiss not to mention the secretaries and treasurers of the Asbury Park club who worked tirelessly setting up meetings, guiding the presidents and other officers and members of the club to do the great work in the community. Two of these members we must remember -- Russ Danielson and Robert Albright -- both with many years of dedicatio, passed away before their time.
Since 2000 our Presidents Susan Philpot, Harold Greer, Janet Kortenhaus, Eugene Paduano, Adrian Hollywood, and Robert Taylor brought the forward -- continuing the support of the Asbury Park community. Projects included giving about 25 families complete Thanksgiving dinners, having a mini golf tournament on the boardwalk, giving scholarships to our local youth at the Boys and Girls Club and High schools and running our game booth at the Italian American Festival.
World Service Projects Support
Kiwanis is also known for its support of world service projects such as the IDD program. It helped make iodized salt accessible to countries to rid children of iodine deficiency. It also supported a new world service project called Maternal Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) -- a global project giving tetanus shots to women in 38 third world countries to help save newborn children.
A 90th anniversary celebrated the club’s long history of supporting the local community and children around the world. We thank past presidents for their trailblazing efforts and establishing acommitment to 90 more years, with everyone's help.