Village clubs look forward to new year

Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village member Jack Litzenberg, left, serves Don Ellerman during the fall pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Community Church at Tellico Village.

With 2019 in the rearview mirror, several Tellico Village nonprofit clubs are shifting their focus on upcoming projects and events.

The Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village saw a tremendous year of growth and headed numerous community projects.

“Our Kiwanis Club was established in March of 1999, and we have grown to an organization of over 90 members serving the community,” Rick Hamm, club president, said. “Our primary focus is to support and enrich the lives of children in our community. Our club has members involved in 50-plus projects and service activities in Loudon County and surrounding areas.”

Some of the bigger projects included expanding the robotics program to all five county intermediate/middle schools and enhancing the AmTryke program for disabled children.

The club also partnered with Regal Cinema to provide $10,000 to the Center for Courageous Kids, which is a camp for children with disabilities.

“In our third year of partnership, the total dollar investment is $47,690, with $18,750 from the Kiwanis Club, $12,040 from Kiwanis sponsors and $16,900 from Loudon County and Lenoir City schools,” Hamm said. “For the coming year, we hope to expand into the two high schools. Our Terrific Kids program is presented to fourth-graders and revolves around personal citizenship. It is taught in two schools, and we are working to expand this program.

“We provided several AmTrykes this year, and we are reaching out to physical therapists for referrals to provide ‘trykes’ to more children with disabilities that cannot use a traditional bicycle,” he added. “These bikes are customized to the individual child.”

Hamm expects Kiwanis will continue many current school programs and hopes to add several more for the new year.

“We work with the Smoky Mountain Raptor Center to bring raptor birds to select schools for a program for students,” he said. “We are looking at funding to increase the number of schools they serve. For 2020, we look to have this added to the social studies curriculum. A program we added in 2019 is the ABC Partnership ... plastic bottle caps are collected, cleaned, sorted and weighed by students at Highland (Park) Elementary (School), and they are then sent to be melted and turned into a buddy bench that will placed at the school. The finished product will last for many years. We are hoping to expand into additional schools.”

The Tellico Lake Rotary Club also had a successful year with school programs.

“We are involved in a number of different things. Some of the things that we did accomplish that we continue to do each year is, one, we do deliver dictionaries to every third-grader in Monroe County, as well as in Greenback,” Ron Randle, club president, said. “That’s a program that Rotary International, they emphasize a bit ... it’s part of our literacy emphasis trying to help these kids improve their literacy and help teachers with their teaching activities.”

The club’s annual events, such as Tour de Tellico and Charity Dinner and Silent Auction were big hits, and the club also published its Adventure and Activity Guide for locals and tourists.

There was also a greater emphasis on helping charities in Monroe County in 2019.

“We support different charities in both Monroe and Loudon counties, but we tend to emphasize Monroe County simply because there are so few service clubs in Monroe County as opposed to Loudon County,” Randle said. “Loudon County has a number of good service clubs, but Monroe County does not, so we try to help Monroe County as much as we can. We get sponsors from many different companies, whether it be service companies or commercial outfits, but it shows people what activities are available to them in East Tennessee.”

One of the main goals for 2020 is to raise close to $20,000, Randle said.

“Just like every service club, we’re interested in raising funds because the more we raise, the more we can support different charities,” he said. “We attempt to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 per year. That’s used to support various charities that we’ve previously supported, as well as offer scholarships to students, to graduating seniors from schools. That’s something that we’ll be doing again this year.”

The Tellico Village Lions Club celebrated 20 years of service Nov. 22.

“I guess the big thing was we celebrated our 20th anniversary, and over the course of that 20 years, we’ve raised and donated over $500,000 to the community,” Richard Kolasheski, club publicity chair, said. “Most of it focused on vision programs, free eye glasses for indigent people through Good Samaritan Center, vision testing in the elementary and high schools, as well as the day care centers. In the day care centers, we use a special camera where we take a picture of the eye and we send that picture to the (Tennessee Lions Eye Center) at Vanderbilt ... they can diagnose up to nine abnormalities with that digital photo we send, so that’s a big focus for our program.”

For 2020, the club will look to team up with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and the Watershed Association of Tellico Reservoir in new projects.

“One of the things we’re picking up is support of the Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, their oncology center,” Kolasheski said. “We’re working with them. We helped them with parking for football games, and we’re going to continue that support into the new year, supporting with individual volunteers going down there and working, as well as raising money and donating money to them.

“The other thing we’re getting more involved in is the environment, and we’re providing support through WATeR,” he added. “We’re supporting them financially, but those are two new initiatives. The next thing we’re doing is our chili soup dinner that’s coming up at the end of February.”