After disbanding in October 2015, the Valley Stream Kiwanis Club was refounded at a ceremony on May 29 at Mia’s Restaurant on Rockaway Avenue. Among the more than 100 guests at the charter night were local politicians, former Kiwanis New York district governors and current New York District Governor Candace Corsaro.
“She’s encouraging us, but she’s there for us,” club President Richard Ramos said.
Over the course of the evening, guests enjoyed dinner, listened to speeches and watched as the Valley Stream Kiwanis banner was presented to the club. Each of the almost 40 members present also received a plaque. “We, as Kiwanis, are excited to see what we can contribute to Valley Stream,” Ramos said.
In the past, the Kiwanis provided local graduating seniors with scholarships and honored these students at an annual dinner. In addition, the Valley Stream Kiwanis Club teamed up with the Monica Village Crochet Club in May 2008 to install pediatric trauma kits at Blessed Sacrament and Holy Name of Mary schools.
The club was disbanded in 2015. But by December 2017, Kiwanis dignitaries were seeking to re-establish the club.
At the time, a team was formed to gauge the level of local interest in starting or refounding clubs in Valley Stream, Lynbrook and Westbury. Thomas Cesiro III, the lieutenant governor of Long Island Kiwani’s Southwest Division, then conferred with elected and school officials, asking them to sign a petition confirming that they would be in favor of having the Kiwanis in Valley Stream.
One of those officials was Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare, who said he supports “any volunteer community service organization.” Fare even joined the club as a member. “I am happy to serve and help raise money for kids in need.”
The club differentiates itself from other international service organizations in its focus on helping children. In 2017, Kiwanis International raised more than $100 million for children’s initiatives.
Locally, the club has sponsored antibullying and antidrug campaigns, as well as fostering leadership at local high schools through its Key Clubs. Central High School has a chapter of the club, and other local high schools are studying the possibility of adding chapters as well, according to Cesiro.
Kiwanis also send disadvantaged children to sleep-away summer camps and have partnerships with other local schools.
The club will continue to support children’s hospitals; sponsor local Kiwanis youth groups; raise money for schools and shelters; help build and renovate playgrounds; create reading programs and develop scholarships, Cesiro said. “Everything we do is for children.”
Rounding out the evening, members elected officers. Besides Ramos, who was tapped for president, Bob Barra was elected vice president, Jay Hunter as secretary and Ray Kenney as treasurer. Carol Basdeo, Kathleen Bogle and John DeGrace will serve as trustees.