The Faces Behind Kiwanis

kiwanis 2ST.JOHNSBURY- The 65th annual Kiwanis Auction took place last week in St.Johnsbury. For decades, the Kiwanis Club has been putting on this auction in order to raise money to maintain one of America's only privately owned, completely free swimming pools that also offers free swimming lessons all summer long.

 The Kiwanis Auction takes place over three days and has hundreds of donated items up for bid. Interested buyers call in and place a bid for the category or item they wish to have. All proceeds for this event are strictly for maintaing the pool. 

 It takes a great deal of club members and volunteers in order to run the auction. The St.Johnsbury Kiwanis Club is currently made up mostly of members who have been dedicating their time and efforts for years. 

 

20 year club member, Midge Lubot, says the pool is such an important part of the community because it is the piece that "holds the community together." 

 

Each year, the club strives to raise a budget of $50,000. With the auction alone, their goal is to bring in close to $30,000. 

 

The current club membership is at an all time low with under 50 participants. Current members are very concerned with the decline and worry that without the younger generation, they club will not survive.

 

"32 years ago when I joined I was the youngest member, today I am almost the youngest member. There is one person younger than me" says Fred Laferriere. "I am concerned that as the club is aging, it is also shrinking." This year, Laferriere was in charge of displaying all the items in the groups and auctioning off the super specials. " I am in the retail business so I enjoy auctioning and making everything look good." 

 

Wes Ward, who has been a member for 13 years, says that he believes that it's not just the St.Johnbury Kiwanis club that is experiencing a decline, "I think all service clubs are suffering, we need to get the younger generation involved so that way the club can have a future." 

 

"It's harder to get people to want to spend the time to help, for us, this is our time," says Lubot. 

 

The Kiwanis Club is completely hands on. All of the work put into maintaining the swimming pool is done by volunteers and for Lubot, that is the best part. 

 

"I just felt like this is what I should be doing, helping out, getting down on my hands and knees at the bottom of the pool, scrapping the bottom of the pool [...] every penny that we makes goes into this so it's really important that we keep this going." 

 

Each member of the club plays a roll in the auction. 21 year member and the only two time president, Brent Beck, was in charge of getting auctioneers this year. "We have a list of previous auctioneers and call them up to ask them if they would like to do it again, we also like to try to get new volunteers, anyone who is willing really."  

 

To join the Kiwanis Club you can contact any club member or go to their weekly meetings. 

 

There will have more information on the results of the auction as they become available. 

 

 

 

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