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Greetings, everyone!  Thanks for being here tonight!  And more than that, thank you for the work you are doing all the other days of the year, for our community!  Thank you, especially, to president Vanessa McClary for your stewardship of the Kiwanis Club since you founded the South Central Indiana chapter in 2006.   

Kiwanis is an important part of our community’s foundation.  And it focuses its energy at the foundational level--for 105 years, Kiwanis has dedicated itself to helping children get a strong start so that they can reach their full potential.  

This 105-year-old organization has a global reach--with more than 16,000 clubs in 85 nations around the world--and more than half a million members of all ages--from elementary age kids like you guys right here--to college-age kids--to those of us with grey hair.  

But the work you all are doing is intensely local -- each of those clubs around the world, there are folks who are doing specific projects to help just a few more folks have a better day tomorrow, whether that’s--building a playground, putting books in classrooms, or making sure kids have safe bikes and helmets.

Projects that make lives better, safer, more meaningful--one child’s life at a time, not leaving anyone out, because everyone counts.  

With that in mind, it’s a good time to remind everyone that we’re really focusing on getting everyone counted this year.  Everyone Counts. It’s time for the Census, that big count that happens every ten years to make sure communities like ours are getting represented accurately in Congress, and that our community’s projects are getting the funding they deserve.  This means city projects, but it also means our hard-working non-profits--like Kiwanis. We worked hard to make sure that this census was fair and non-discriminatory, and you can complete it knowing that your privacy is protected.  So make sure that when you get that invitation in the mail, you go online or return your family’s questionnaire by mail, to get Bloomington and Monroe County, and our Kiwanis Club (!) the resources we deserve! Census Day is April 1!  Remember, everyone counts!

But you know this!  From the youngest volunteers in the room, those of you in K-Kids at University School (going strong for 20 years!) to those of you in high school, college, and adult chapters--the work each of you is doing COUNTS!  It takes 19 million hours to raise the $133 million Kiwanis raises annually to provide the resources that help kids get a good start. That’s one hour here, two hours there, three hours over there. People, all over the world, and right here in Bloomington, pitching in, because every effort is important, and every person is important.

And to the youngest of you here: I want to thank you personally for being part of K-Kids [or other Kiwanis programs].   While you’re having fun, hanging out with your friends, and doing service projects in K-Kids, you are going through an important transformation -- you are becoming a member of your community, a group that relies on one another and looks out for one another.   Our country relies on this community spirit to make progress -- it’s hard-working folks caring for one another who provides the horsepower for our great nation. Whether it’s keeping our air and water clean, building good homes, and making sure people are fed, can read, and get good jobs -- these are big goals we all share and that we all have to work on together -- the government together with businesses and organizations like Kiwanis, full of people like you, who want to do the right thing and make things better.

You are off to a great start as a community member, and I can’t wait to see all the wonderful ways our community will bloom as a result!  Keep up the great work, our city, our country, and our world needs YOU!
 

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