BONIFAY – Making a lasting difference in the lives of children is what Kiwanis International has done for more than 100 years. And today, the Bonifay chapter is in search of new blood to build and carry on the duty.
Newly inducted President and Holmes County Judge Luke Taylor says just like any civic organization, membership has to be revitalized.
"We need that new blood," said Taylor. "We need the next generation to step up and invest in our community."
Taylor says children in the community are the club's highest priority.
"Providing scholarships to our communities' children to further their education is our main goal," said Taylor.
In the 72 years the chapter has been active, many thousands of dollars have been given through scholarships and donations. The funds that allow the club to make these donations is raised during the Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo held on the first weekend in October every year. The rodeo will host its 75 year in 2019.
Scholarships are not the only way the club financially helps children. Donations are given to various school clubs to help fund travels to state and national competitions.
Taylor says that Bonifay Kiwanis invest in kids with the hope they will give back.
"That has been why we give scholarships, in hopes that one day they will give back to the community." said Taylor. "Some kids leave and don’t come back. If they do come back we want them to not only invest in the community but in the next generation that is coming up as the city leaders, county leaders and business owners."
For Taylor, Kiwanis has been a family affair - as his father and grandfather were both Kiwanians. Taylor says Kiwanis is his way of giving back to the community.
"I was in Key Club in high school and both my father and grandfather were in Kiwanis," Taylor said. "It is a family affair but more about a way to give back."
While each club chapter does their fundraising in different ways, the Bonifay rodeo is local chapter's sole fundraiser for the year. Coming into its 75 year, Taylor is excited and knows he has a large role to play, but doesn’t fear failure due to the strong board and team he has backing him.
"I don’t feel the pressure because I know there are a number of people on the board that this isn't their first rodeo,'" said Taylor. "I feel absolutely confident they will do their best to help me make this a great year."
Taylor also says he thanks the community for embracing the rodeo as much as it has.
"I appreciate the community for embracing the rodeo," said Taylor, "It brings families back year after year. It signals the changing of the seasons, it’s a tradition brings a lot of people together. It brings business to the community. All that comes back to the volunteers who give their time to make it a success and to invest in our future generations. To me, that speaks volumes of the folks of Holmes County."
The Bonifay Kiwanis Club recently inducted their new officers and board members, they are as follows: President Luke Taylor, President Elect Miranda Hudson, Past President Catrina Carroll, Treasurer Ruth Gould, and Secretary Shirley Owens. The board members are: Sandy Spear, Tim Wright, Bettie Slay, Joann Baker, Vernon Lewis, David Lauen, Roger Brooks, Andrew Grainger and Harry Bell.
If you are interested in joining the Kiwanis the club meets every Wednesday at noon at M&W BBQ, 609 US Highway 90, in Bonifay, where you are welcome to come pick up an application. Find the latest updates about the Kiwanis Club on Facebook (The Bonifay Rodeo) or ask any board member for an application.