Local Kiwanis Club Is 25 Years Strong

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Local Kiwanis members have raised and distributed more than $700,000 to youth in the last two and half decades -- $300,000 of that has been in scholarships.

"Kiwanians give of themselves and time means nothing," said Tony Plonski, charter member of the Kiwanis of Zane Grey Country.

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Visiting sponsoring club members from Fountain Hills included Betty Pantdso, Phyllis Horan, Jane Hayde, Donna Yordy, president.

The club celebrated 25 years of service in the Rim Country at their meeting/dinner party July 25.

"We are about training the leaders of tomorrow," Doug Bailey told those in at the dinner.

District officers Herb Hayde and Rose Ann Dodson attended. Betty Pantuso, Donna Yordy and Phyllis Horan represented the Fountain Hills sponsoring club.

Bailey put together a "top ten events of 1982" list that included event number eight: Time's Man of the Year was the personal computer. Of course, the March

1982 charter of Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country was No. 1.

When he reached the history list, the contributions made to the community was somewhat longer.

"Lord only knows how many project meetings there have been over the years," Bailey said.

Regular meetings number 1,300.

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Also attending the anniversary party were Rose Ann Dotson, district secretary, Herb Hayde, governor-elect for Southwest District, and his wife, Jane.

Almost-charter-member, Dick Walker, followed in his father's footsteps when he became a Kiwanian.

"My dad has 45 years of perfect attendance," Walker said.

He chairs the high school Key Club.

"I love to hand out Terrific Kid T-shirts as a reward to elementary school students," he said.

Twenty years ago, Kiwanis used to take children to spring training games.

Walker recalled eating hot dogs and drinking a Coke when one little boy looked up at him and said, "Mr. Walker, this is the best time I've ever had in my life."

The club does not keep a record of the youth it has helped.

Bailey estimated 30 in the last year alone.

One of the club's proudest moments was when it gave $7,000 to Kiwanis International for the eradication of Iodine Deficiency Disorder. Eradicated from the U.S. in the 1930s, IDD causes facial disfigurement, birth defects and blindness.

People do not necessarily know the recipients of their good deeds, and sometimes, that knowledge does not matter.

Tony Plonski has been a Kiwanian for 52 years. When Plonski was a young man, he traveled as a salesman and served in clubs in Hicksville, New York and Danbury, Conn.

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Tony and Elsie Plonski were among the local Kiwanians celebrating. Tony was one of the founders of the Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country.

When a sky cap in La Guardia Airport refused to take "a couple of bills" for helping with Plonski's luggage, Plonski asked why.

The sky cap had seen his Kiwanis pin and said, "I would never take money from a Kiwanian because a Kiwanis Club helped me and my family."

"If a young man like that can remember, well it is beautiful," Plonski said.

When they meet

Kiwanis meet every Thursday morning at Tiny's Restaurant in Payson.

They begin gathering at 6:30 a.m. to shake hands and order breakfast. The meeting begins at 7 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, a song and a speaker.

They often play a quick trivia game called "Bailey Bucks" as a way to win a buck or two for the club, or pocket one.

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