Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

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The Kiwanis Club of Birmingham is a civic club first charted to Kiwanis International of Detroit on May 19, 1917. The name is derived from the Otchipew phrase "Nunc Kee-wanis", meaning "we make a noise" or "we advertise".

The Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, with 498 members, is the largest of 8,200 chapters worldwide. The club is a member of the Kiwanis' Alabama District. The group is divided into numerous committees, each responsible for their own service projects to the club or the wider community. Affiliated organizations include "K-Kids" for grammar schools students, the "Builder's Club" in middle schools, high school "Key Clubs" and "Circle K" for college students.

The executive director is Gail Vaughan, and the current president is Tony Davis.


The Kiwanis Club was founded as a for-profit businessman's club in Detroit in 1915. The Birmingham chapter was established two years later and quickly grew to become one of the largest in the organization. The 1919 Kiwanis International Convention was held in Birmingham at the Tutwiler Hotel and proved to be a watershed in the direction of the new group.

The rights to the Kiwanis name were purchased by the members from founder, Allen Browne, for $17,500 paid in cash during the convention. The member's checks were personally guaranteed by Birmingham chapter president J. Mercer Barnett, who sent his teenage assistant Joseph H. Brady to retrieve the briefcase of cash from the Birmingham Trust National Bank. A reorientation of the club's mission to civic activities was emphasized with a new motto "We Build". Barnett was elected president of Kiwanis International at the 1920 convention in Portland, Oregon.

The Kiwanis Club donated the wrought iron gates installed at the base of Vulcan's tower in 1939.

In 1986 Kiwanis members joined with the Rotary Club of Birmingham and the Monday Morning Quarterback Club to create the Civic Club Foundation which owns and operates the Harbert Center.

Membership was opened to women in 1987.

In 1997 the Kiwanis created the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame, which is located on their "Wall of Honor" on the 3rd floor of the Harbert Center.


  • To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life.
  • To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships.
  • To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business and professional standards.
  • To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, active and serviceable citizenship.
  • To provide, through Kiwanis Club, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service and to build better communities.
  • To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism, and good will.

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