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Welcome to... Kiwanis Club of West Erie County

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When was Kiwanis founded?

Kiwanis was founded January 21, 1915, in Detroit, Michigan, by Allen Simpson Browne, a Moose lodge organizer, and Joseph G. Prance, a tailor.

What does the name "Kiwanis" mean?

The name "Kiwanis" was adapted from the expression "Nunc Kee-wanis" in the Otchipew (Native American) language, meaning "We have a good time," "We make a noise," or, under another construction, "We trade or advertise." Some persons prefer to pronounce the word "ki"; others, "kee."

During the organization's founding in 1915, members originally belonged to the "Benevolent Order Brothers." The name, however, was unsatisfactory from the first.

"It seems to me," said member Harry A. Young, "that Benevolent Order Brothers is a might peculiar name for an organization of businessmen. Who wants to be a BOB? Well, I don't for one. The name sounds downright silly, and I think we'd be getting off to a better start if we changed it right now before we go any further."

A committee of members sought the assistance of Clarence M. Burton, then historian for the City of Detroit, Michigan. Burton found the expression "Nunc Kee-wanis" in Bishop Baraga's dictionary of the Otchipew language.

The name was perfect. It satisfied founder Allen Simpson Browne, because one variation of its meaning, "We trade," corresponded with his conception of the new organization. He believed that better business opportunities among the members--adding up to a sort of reciprocal trade arrangement--constituted its prime purpose.

Other members, however, believed that the group should "make a noise"--a noticeable difference--through community service.

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