Local Albany resident and member of the Kiwanis Club of Albany Dewey Smith was recently named to Kiwanis International’s Board of Trustees during a recent visit to Japan. (Special photo)
ALBANY — After being an active member of the Albany Kiwanis Club for nearly 30 years, local resident Dewey Smith was recently named to the civic organization’s International Board of Trustees during a recent trip to Japan for the organization’s 2014 International Convention.
Smith, who attended the overseas convention with fellow Kiwanians David and Katrina Baranko from July 17 to July 20, said he was excited about the opportunity to serve as a Trustee.
“I’m honored,” Smith said. “Kiwanis is a big thing with me and has been for a long time, around 27 years. It’s a special organization and I’m proud I get to serve.”
Kiwanis International was founded in Detroit, Mich. in 1915 and its Board of Trustees is made up of Kiwanis members elected by local clubs who are then elected to three-year terms at the international level.
The Board of Trustees is charged with establishing and implementing long-range plans for the organization, directing the development of Kiwanis programs, such as membership growth and service initiatives, and counseling Kiwanis districts, Key Club International and Circle K International Boards.
“Kiwanis is all about service,” said Smith. “We do a tremendous amount of service at the local level and globally through things like our current international service initiative the Eliminate Project.”
The Eliminate Project is the organization’s current major, long-term initiative designed to help eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus, a disease which affects thousands newborns every year, particularly in under-developed countries.
It’s estimated that nearly 60,000 newborns die from the disease annually. The only way to prevent the disease is through immunization of the mothers prior to conception.
Kiwanis organized the Eliminate Project with UNICEF with the goal of eradicating the disease through immunizations. To date, the project has raised $60 million of the $110 million goal, something Smith said could only be achieved thanks to the dedication of Kiwanis and its worldwide membership.
Smith said currently Kiwanis International is active in 80 countries and boasts approximately 600,000 members who annually raise upwards of $100 million dollars and report over 18 million volunteer hours.
“Someone invited me to a meeting and I went and enjoyed what I saw and stayed with,” Smith said. “It’s a great organization. It’s about fun, fellowship and service.”
Smith, who has served in multiple capacities on the board of his local club, as well as serving at the district level, said his new duties will require him to attend at least four major, week-long board meetings throughout the year in addition to his usual local club activities.
The Kiwanis Club of Albany is a part of Kiwanis District 5 and meets regularly every Wednesday at Darton State College.