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'Serving the community's greatest needs' in Swan River since 1967

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For the past 50 years the members of the Swan River Kinsmen Club have been coming together for the betterment of the Swan River Valley.

Chartered in January 1967 with 22 members, the Kinsmen Club was an option for young males to be part of a service organization as an alternative to Lions, Elks and other similar organizations.

Leading the charge at that time was Ron Henry, a local RCMP constable, who put his name forward as the first President. He was joined by Vice-President Doug Gourlay, Secretary Gary Baker, Treasurer Fred Filuk, Registrar Tom Norman and Directors Eamonn Doyle, Ted Alexander and Larry Woolgar.

The group hit the ground running and the young man's club was integral in funding some large donations, like the former Swan River Kinsmen Pool.

“The motto of Kin Canada is ‘Serving the Community's Greatest Need’,” said current President Kevin Carter, who joined the club in 2001 on the invitation of a co-worker and has served in his current position for the past 13 years.

“There is always healthy debate around our table about what the ‘greatest need’ is at any given time; however, there is a consensus that activities, events and programs that benefit the youth of our community fit squarely into our mandate.”

Lately the club’s generosity has lead to donations for the water slide at RRWC, the Swan River Kinsmen Nursery School, a stage in the Legion Park for the 2012 Manitoba Games, the Swan River Lions Skate Plaza and the expansion of the golf course and replacement of the deck on the clubhouse.

“Currently we are leading a project for a splash park at the location of the former Kinsmen outdoor pool site,” said Carter. “We are also making a healthy donation to a shelter structure at Rotary Soccer fields.

“Annually, we sponsor two $500 bursaries presented at SVRSS grad ceremony as well as a $750 Corporate Challenge Bursary. And, many activities coming out of the SVSD over the years – including regular tournaments, provincial championships hosted by the school in all sports, exchange programs, Envirothon, playground equipment and more – were sponsored by the club.

“We have also provided funds for varying families dealing with the unfortunate circumstances of seeking medical assistance for their children,” he continued. “In recent years, the Swan River Kinsmen / Larsen Brunel Children’s Medical Trust Fund was established specifically for that purpose.”

While the club is thriving today, a lot has evolved and changed over the years.

“A Kinette club was established for the ladies that worked in conjunction with the Kinsmen club in the 70s and 80s,” said Carter. “The Kinette club faded away over time and the Kinsmen club continued, although, as with many organizations, the number of individuals involved started to decrease.

“The future of the Kinsmen clubs were at a bit of risk. The Kinsmen had an age restriction of 39 and once a member turned 40 years old, they could transition to K-40, if it existed. Nationally, Kinsmen changed the rules and removed the age restriction which has opened up the club to maintain members as they reach that magic 40 age.

“Currently half of the local guys associated with the club are over 40 and would have been put out to pasture, so to speak,” he continued. “The rule change allows them all to be active members.”

The current club, which consists of Sean Baskier in the vice-president chair, Brian Gilroy as secretary and Justin Delaurier as treasurer, proudly boasts 34 members who meet twice a month.

“Our meetings are held at the Swan River Kinsmen Nursery School building in a space designated to us as part of a significant project that the club spearheaded to build the nursery school in recognition of a lack of spaces for such service in Swan River in the late 1990s,” said Carter.

“It has served us well and we have enjoyed a positive relationship with the nursery school boards over the years. We pay for general cleaning service of the building that occurs weekly as well as an annual donation to the nursery school for needs for the kids at the school.”

Like other service clubs, the Kinsmen lend their time and efforts to planning and executing many different activities and fundraisers throughout the year with all profits being donated back into the community,

“Our fundraising activities include Lobsterfest, our food booth at rodeo, running the Safe Grad bar, the Corporate Challenge Hockey tournament and various work-a-bars for socials and weddings throughout the year.

“We have also picked up the High School rodeo held in May as well as the High School Finals Rodeo this year in June in which we also opened our food booth.”

The Swan River Kinsmen have made a huge difference in our community throughout the past five decades and it’s owed to the dedicated members who have served the club.

“Personally, I feel that I am a community minded individual and that being part of a service club, particularly the Kinsmen Club in my case, was the right thing to do,” said Carter, noting that this is the same feeling that other members have.

“Communities like ours are built on volunteers and that is something in Swan Valley that extends well beyond the Kinsmen Club. The absence of groups such as ours supporting these initiatives, we believe, would leave a gap in opportunities for the youth and other citizens of the Swan River Valley.”

Are you interested in joining and making a lasting difference in our community?

“The group is open to any man over the age of 18,” said Carter. “Interested parties can contact any one of the existing members of the club and be invited to attend a meeting.

“The club provides opportunity for interaction and networking with a wide variety of individuals, all with a common goal of building a community that provides as much opportunity for its population as possible.

“There are always things that can be improved or added to make Swan Valley a better place for current citizens, but also in making it an attractive location for those we look to recruit to our community,” Carter concluded.