COW joins Key Club


Debra Klevens

Volunteering at the Green Trails fall carnival, sophomore Sarah Habibollah tosses a bean bag to an elementary student.

After only two years of life since revival, Community Outreach at West (COW) is ready to expand their service work out from the local communities. Setting their sights higher, they have applied to join an international service group, Kiwanis International’s high school division, Key Club.

“Kiwanis International’s mission this year is to eliminate tetanus and increase tetanus awareness. I think at the end of the year, if we have money from dues left over we are going to give to that effort. Last year we donated them to the Nepali Crisis. This year I think we are going to donate to the tetanus cause. We might do a tetanus drive or some sort of initiative, but I’m not sure yet,” senior and COW president Mahnoor Malik said.

Like COW, Key Club was originally started at a high school; specifically California’s Sacramento High School in 1925. After joining Kiwanis International and becoming the name for the high school division, Key Club has expanded as a globally-recognized service organization comprised of over 5,000 clubs in 30 countries with a membership of over 270,000 high school students.

“When I was first involved in COW, the club was just starting back up. It was really small, and none of us had much idea what we were doing except for Sarah Verhulst [the president at the time]. It was pretty unorganized at the beginning but quickly got efficient and gained lots of members. Currently we still have lots of members, we are very organized and we never have a problem getting lots of opportunities to volunteer at,” senior and COW Treasurer Jordan Beveridge said.

Since the beginning of her involvement, Malik has always been looking forward to the next step for the club.

“When I was asked sophomore year to lead COW with Sarah Verhulst, I looked to see if there were national organizations. That’s when I learned about Key Club. I researched a little bit about Key Club my junior year, when it was my first year being president. I had heard about other schools having Key Clubs, like North and South and Eureka,” Malik said.

After two years of work and organization, Malik decided it was time to join Key Club.

“Mahnoor contacted me about two to three months ago. We emailed back and forth and then we agreed to meet. We got together at my office and we spoke for close to an hour about the possibilities and what would be involved in COW joining Key Club, what would all happen, and what needed to be done,” Region IV Trustee of Missouri/Arkansas Kiwanis International Nancy Willimon said.  “Then she took that all back to Mrs. Klevens, spoke with her and then they spoke to the club. The club said, Let’s do it! I came out then to meet with the club leaders and now it’s a matter of paperwork.”

In the meantime, there should not be too many changes to COW from the way it was before.

“The beauty of COW joining Key Club is that it is already set up. Normally what happens with new Key Clubs is when we go into a school there is no organization set up at all so we have to find students that are willing to be officers. We have to recruit members. We have to explain what it is all about and what they will be doing and what is involved in it all,” Willimon said. “It’s a much harder process that what is going on at Parkway West because you already have a club in existence. You are already doing everything a Key Club does.”

Seniors Grace Gwin and Kaitlyn Kastberg help set up games and help run them at the Green Trails Carnival on September 19th for Community Outreach at West hours.
Seniors Grace Gwin and Kaitlyn Kastberg help set up games and help run them at the Green Trails Carnival on Sept. 19 for COW service hours.

In fact, Willimon was impressed with COW when she first heard the details about it.

“COW has a succession plan. You have people lined up to take over. I would like COW to show other Key Clubs how to set up their own succession plans. We want to get freshman thinking along those lines so that when they are elected as a senior then they have all that experience.  I would love to see some of our students starting to apply for positions higher up in Kiwanis International,” Willimon said.

According to Willimon, it should only be a few more weeks before is officially chartered as an official Kiwanis Key Club.
“After the current leadership graduates, my hope is that COW will be almost as big if not as big and permanent of an institution as NHS is at our school,” Beveridge said. “I can see COW continuing to make a difference in the community and being a welcoming club to even more members as somewhere anyone can go that wants to be a part of serving their community.”