You know the old saying, “Good things come to those who wait”? Well, the patience of three Kiwanians—Charles Brown, Pamela Rodney White and the late Kay Anderson—was rewarded after nearly two years of determination.
After gathering a bunch of energized and service-oriented individuals at the beginning of 2013, the group watched meeting attendance dwindle each week—until it fell to an average of just five people. This was not the vision the three stalwarts had had just a few short months after a promising start, when 30 individuals expressed interest in opening a new Kiwanis club in Kingston, Jamaica.
“We were not going to be deterred from our size," says Dwayne Bailey, president of the Young Professionals Kingston Kiwanis Club. "The remaining members banded together to identify our first community service project.”
The small group tackled a beautification and rehabilitation project at the Hope Valley Experimental School in Kingston. “While we continued to attract new individuals with service, we were not able to retain them, which became a major challenge,” Bailey says.
Then an opportunity presented itself. One of the members heard about the Bring Up Grades program and how the partnership started.
But they knew it wasn’t going to be easy. With 30 grade-school students (70 percent of whom were reading below the grade-one level) and four Kiwanians, the numbers were not in their favor.
Along with Brown, White and Anderson, Bailey committed time and energy for the remaining 20 weeks of the school year. In addition to contributing personally, members relied on the generosity of friends and donations from Nestle Jamaica Limited.
Despite being non-educators, the group was devoted to enhancing the students' social and educational experience.
“This signature project is what kept the core group together, and it was the catalyst for attracting new individuals to the club," says Bailey. “We are also proud to say three years later, we are still going strong, upgrading to a literacy program in which the students have shown marked improvement in their academic performances."
In January 2015, then-Lieutenant Governor Lloyd Distant and The Formula team came to the Caribbean island, bringing new energy to the new club. “The Formula team truly transformed the way we saw the movement, introducing creative ways to Love, Share and Live our Kiwanis experience,” Bailey says.
With the team's guidance, an action plan was put in place. It worked: The club grew from 6 to over 20 active members in just over two months.
In June 2015, the Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston Jamaica was born, becoming the first Young Professionals Club in their division, chartering with 23 members. In its first year, the club balanced bringing in new members with the need to keep members who would help perpetuate comradery and fellowship.
The club maintained a strong focus on service, partnering with four of Jamaica’s larger corporations; Jamaica Broilers, Select Brand, Nestle & Audi Motors. These partnerships culminated in executing the movie premiere of “Transporter Refueled” thus raising over a quarter million Jamaican dollars to fund their service projects. The media exposure helped the club grow its membership by 15 percent in its first year. They also reached distinguished club status that year. They even received the Spirit of Service Award for their division—recognition as the club that most embodies Kiwanis values.
The Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston Jamaica was a long time coming, but Bailey would not have chosen another path.
“The journey has had several challenges," he says. "But I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish as Kiwanians: improving lives, serving our nation’s children and building our communities. Through the help of The Formula, a small group of young, enthusiastic Kiwanians took service that we love, made it a part of our lives and continue to share with others.”