Centenary International Convention in Indianapolis.

100yrs02Kiwanis International organised an excellent centenary Convention and hosted it in Kiwanis International’s home town of Indianapolis. So much happening, and so much to keep the eyes wide open – so much fellowship and so much fun, while the official duties of the House of Delegates were not forgotten.

The weather was not always the kindest with wild rain storms and spectacular thunderstorms putting the big “if” on some of the outdoor events, like:

A baseball game between the Indianapolis Indians and Syracuse – not top drawer company, but fascinating experiencing the traditions of America’s best loved game, followed by a magnificent fireworks display just as another rainstorm burst. All Kiwanians were given white Kiwanis T-shirts to wear at this, and the traditional BBQ of hot dogs, coleslaw and beers preceded the game.

A street party with local bands, A public pancake lunch held at the Monument Circle, the heart of Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Convention Centre was a huge building which provided so many possibilities, with many break-out rooms available and a huge adjustable auditorium. It was connected to many of the major hotels by elevated covered walkways, complete with Starbucks, stations and car parks. Unfortunately it was a cold building as the air conditioning kept temperatures well below comfort zones.

100yrs03It was also an energetic meeting place as Key Club International and Circle K International also held their annual International Conventions at the same time, and there was the constant meeting with our younger Kiwanis family. Their grooming and dress codes were far stricter than those of the “aged” Kiwanian with formal dress at all times, many of the young men sporting colourful bow-ties.

Elections for office were completed, with Sue Petrisin from Michigan confirmed as International President 2015-16, Jane Erickson from Nebraska confirmed as President-Elect, and Jim Rochford, Illinois, elected as Vice- President. Jim was the International Counsellor who attended our District Convention last year in Christchurch, and he has a strong record for growing new Clubs.

The House of Delegates (3202 delegates representing 1659 Clubs) debated 9 Amendments from which the following were the most important and hotly debated:

100yrs04A flat increase in International Dues of US$10 per member was adopted with a 75% yes vote. This means that New Zealand, New Caledonia, and French Polynesia Kiwanians will now pay US$52.

A move to allow International Dues to be adjusted annually by no more than 5% of the previous year’s amount failed with a 73% vote against.

A move to allow secure web-based voting for Kiwanis International business was rejected with 64% opposing it.

Many workshops on varying Kiwanis topics were held (and repeated) over two days. These were short, sharp presentations of no longer than 25 minutes, facilitated by experts in their fields. Some of the topics: Signature Projects, Healthy Children, Leadership Matters, Working with the Media, Celebrating Success/Club Anniversaries, Healthy Clubs, Habits of Healthy Key Clubs, Generation Z, Attracting Young Professionals etc. Each morning attendees were invited to participate in some gentle yoga sessions, or join in on a run or walk.

100yrs05A truly inspirational keynote speaker was Tim Harris, born 1986 with Down Syndrome. His theme “If you can dream it, you can do it” defined his dream to own a restaurant. Today, his restaurant “Tim’s Place,” is open daily serving breakfast, lunch and hugs (He has given out over 60,000 hugs). President Obama requested a hug from Tim at a White House Function. Kiwanis International President John Button also requested a hug when Tim concluded his presentation, which was marked with frequent air-punching to a loud “Oh Yea!”

The evening parties included performances by Sister Sledge (a trio famous for their signature song “We are Family”), a large student cast called “Up With People” which is a global education organisation focussed on bringing the world together through service and music, and a dancing comedian called Judson Laipply whose “The Evolution of Dance” has been viewed more than 290 million times on YouTube.

“This was the fourth International Convention I have attended in the last 10 years, and was by far, the best organised, most spontaneous, and most enjoyable. The attendies from the Zealand-South Pacific District were small in number, but all enjoyed mixing with Kiwanians from all over the world.”

– Past Governor Graham Chick (photos Diane Hodgson, President Morrinsville club)

International President