SIDNEY — As her year as the Sidney Kiwanis Club president ended, Rikki Unterbink, shared her thoughts of her presidency and presented awards to club members.
:People like to say this has been an ‘unprecedented’ year,” said Unterbrink. “This is obviously because nothing like this has ever happened in our lifetime. We know 2020 will be a hard year to forget even though we might want to. Many of us were working from home or out of work for months. Many of us barely even left our homes while others were considered ‘essential’ and had to work under challenging and even scary circumstances. Many of us are just ready for 2020 to be over. It may surprise you that I am not one of those people. Sure, I am ready for the day where I don’t have to wear a mask in public and can plan to invite more than 10 people over for a party. But the reality is that much of this year will be frozen in time for me. I got to spend an “unprecedented” amount of time at home with my toddler, husband, and newborn. Time which I gladly survived. I also got to meet almost all of my neighbors when we were out for those daily walks that were ‘essential’ to our well being.
“And then there was Kiwanis. Do you know it’s been an unprecedented year for us as well? And in ways that had nothing to do with the virus. Sure, we may have had to cancel our pancake fundraiser, but we sold out of chicken dinners in an unprecedented amount of time. The work for the scholarship committee was just getting started when we were told we could no longer meet in person or interview candidates yet we still did it virtually and awarded an unprecedented amount of money,” she said.
“It became clear after weeks of not meeting that Kiwanis was essential to all of us in this room. Our first Zoom meeting was mostly spent smiling at each other and sharing kind words. After all of our challenges we still completed 25 service projects and put in 255 service hours. We served more than 300 youth.
“At the beginning of the year I told you I wanted to bring the fun to our meetings. I tried to provide a fun fact or extra treat each week. I was pleased to bring you gum for Fresh Breath Day and treats for my fellow Left Handed friends on our special day. I told you why to appreciate the dragons in your life and recognized our committee chairs on National Carnation Day. I also told you at the beginning of the year we had important things to do and to celebrate. I meant that we would be celebrating our 100th anniversary (which will still happen eventually) but we have more than that to celebrate this year. We dedicated a new playground. Who knew it would be so deeply appreciated when everything else was cancelled and being at the playground was one of the few things considered safe again? Who knew we would just be celebrating the fact that we could all be together in the same place?” she continued.
Unterbrink presented awards to Jessica Guillozet, Ruby K Award for bringing at least eight new members into the club; Committee Chairs – Merrill Asher and Ashley Wilt, committee chairs of the year; Carol Pierce, Kiwanian of the Year; and John Coffield, Century Award.
”Our Kiwanian of the Year always sits in the back of the room but she is always at the front when it comes to volunteering,” said Unterbrink. “Anytime we need anything that maybe no one else will do, this woman will step up, usually using her quiet voice that you almost don’t hear. She was essential to our Sponsorship drive. She visited a ton of our regular donors and brought in lots of new donors. And this was her first year on the committee! This lady is also great at marketing Kiwanis – and not just because that’s part of her day job. She goes the extra mile when it comes to bringing in special guests, new members, and getting our message out there. I’m sure you all know who I am talking about now and I was the most impressed when she barely hesitated to step into the Vice President role while we were all still stuck meeting via zoom. I believe she will make an amazing President in the future and is the perfect embodiment of what it is to be Kiwanian of the Year.
”The Century Award is not one that is awarded every year. It’s only awarded when a member of the club has put lots of time and energy into Kiwanis over many years. It’s a very special award. Even so, I think many of you will be just as surprised as I am that this person has not already received this award. I think the main reason for that is that you may not know all that he does for this club. He definitely seems to down play it himself almost as if to say ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.’ Well, I’m here to finally recognize the Wonderful Wizard of Kiwanis for all the incredible things he does for our club. I often refer to him (though not to his face) as Mr. Kiwanis. The truth is no one knows as much about this club or keeps things running smoothly as much as Mr. Kiwanis. Sure he’s in charge of some committees but he really does things for all of them. He goes to District meetings, and even international conventions – All because he wants to and because he loves being a Kiwanian. He knows our motto, We Build, and really takes it to heart. He has unofficially guided presidents into their role for years. He is instrumental in our fundraisers, budget, and service clubs. He’s served as our district’s Lieutenant Governor more than once (?). Suffice it to say he’s done more than his fair share for this club. And yet I know he’s still the first phone call for several members of this club to seek advice or just to vent frustration…and sometimes profanity. In true wizard fashion he lends his brains, leads with courage, and most of all shares his heart. I hope now that he has received this award he will not stop doing these things because I don’t know where we would be without him. Thank you so much Mr. Kiwanis, otherwise known as John Coffield,” she said.