Joshua Morrison/News  Jim Gastin, left, speaks during the 75th anniversary celebration on Monday. Current President Kathy White, right, invited past officers in attendance to speak.
Joshua Morrison/News Mark Bennett, left, was given the PIP (Past International Presidents) Award from Kiwanis Executive Director Lanton Lee during the 75th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Mount Vernon on Monday.
Joshua Morrison/News Faith Levine, Kiwanis Ohio Governor speaks during the 75th anniversary celebration of Kiwanis at the Glenn Gallagher Centre on Monday.

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MOUNT VERNON — The Kiwanis Club of Mount Vernon celebrated its 75th anniversary Monday by honoring members with more than 25 years of service, recognizing past officers and presenting one former president with the Past International Presidents Award.

Mark Bennett, who served as club president in 1993-94, was presented the P.I.P. Award, honoring him for his years of service to the club.

Kiwanis Ohio Governor Faith Levine was on hand to honor the club on its birthday, saying “Mount Vernon has always been a stalwart club; it’s always been one of the great clubs in the Ohio district.

“Thank you for all you’ve been doing 75 years. Thousands of children throughout the world have been helped by Kiwanian efforts.”

Both the Knox County Commissioners and Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis read proclamations they had written proclaiming Monday “Kiwanis Day in Mount Vernon” and citing the extensive service work they do and their wide-ranging programs for children.

“We want to acknowledge everything you have done for the community since you were founded on Feb. 4, 1944,” said Commissioner Teresa Bemiller.

Twenty-two former club presidents attended the meeting and each recalled something about their year in office or about how Kiwanis has played an important and meaningful role in their lives.

Ex-presidents addressing the meeting dated back to Jim Gastin, who served in 1975-76.

All club members who have been member for 25 years or more were also recognized. The member with the longest service is Robert Denzer, who has been a member for 61 years.

The club also conducted a recent chocolate fund-raiser that raised almost $3,000. The club’s board made it an even $3,000 and presented a check to the Knox County Community Foundation for the Kiwanis Scholarship Fund.

The local Kiwanis Club was founded in 1944 while World War II was raging and he club’s first project was sponsoring salvage collections. Five paper drives were held that resulted in a profit of $1,659 which was placed in a special fund used to help men and women returning from the service.

There is a long list of community projects and activities sponsored by Kiwanis, including a Babe Ruth baseball team, Coats for Kids scholastic recognition programs, Key Club and Aktion Club, the Luke B. Biggs Memorial Award for a local farm family, boat inspections, car seat inspections, bicycle safety helmets, 4-H Club program, Boots for Kids, books for Safety Town School, Relay for Life, plus support for many other events and activities, including donating $10,000 for the recently-opened Harmony Park.

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Chuck Martin: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @



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