BANGOR, Maine — Bangor’s Noontime Kiwanis Club may disband later this month after nearly 90 years of service.
Rick Marston, who is acting as president of the organization, said the board has voted to dissolve the group because participation has dipped too low to sustain its charitable efforts. He said there are 26 members, but only three or four are “completely active.”
The number of meeting attendees has dwindled in recent years to the point where it’s hard to get enough people in the room to plan fundraising or other initiatives, Marston said.
The group will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, at Hollywood Casino. Members will vote on whether to move ahead with the disbandment.
The group formed in 1924 thanks to a sponsorship from the Waterville Kiwanis Club. At the time, Bangor’s was the only club north of Waterville, according to Marston, who has been a member since the 1970s.
The group is working out how it will divvy up and pass on the tens of thousands of dollars that it has raised, he said.
“We’ve got some members who have passed away, and when they’ve passed away, family and friends and club members have donated money in their names,” Marston said. That money goes to causes those members valued, and will still go toward those causes, according to Marston.
For example, two members of the club who passed away wanted donations made in their names to go to Camp Capella, a summer camp for children and adults with disabilities. As a result, $12,000 was raised under one name and $13,000 under the other. Kiwanis members will present Camp Capella with a pair of checks on Wednesday.
About $41,000 raised for other causes in the name of former members will still go toward those purposes, according to Marston. Another $75,000 likely will be divided up among the four remaining Kiwanis clubs in the area, he added.
If a Kiwanis Club disbands without redistributing its funds, whatever money it has goes to the Kiwanis International. Marston said the organization wants to ensure its funds stay local.
“It’s really too bad because this is an organization that has been very strong and useful for the community,” Marston said. “It’s a really hard thing to have to dissolve it.”
Other Bangor-area Kiwanis groups, including Bangor Breakfast Kiwanis, and clubs representing Hampden, Old Town-Orono and Brewer have retained good membership numbers and remain strong, according to Bob Gardner, secretary of the Breakfast Kiwanis.
Bangor’s Breakfast Kiwanis, which spun off from Bangor’s other Kiwanis club in 1977 to offer a convenient meeting time for members who couldn’t skip out for a Kiwanis meeting at lunch, has about 35 active members, according to Gardner.
“Like any organization, we’d love to get younger,” and to have more funds available, Gardner said, adding that Kiwanis groups in the area have solid footing and are “well and strong.”
The goal of each Kiwanis group is the same: Raise funding and recruit volunteers for programs to help the less fortunate, especially children, Gardner said.
As for members of the Noontime Kiwanis who might want to continue their work with the organization, “we’re opening our doors to anyone who wants to join,” Gardner said.