How a family full of Kiwanians inspired Maggie Cruz-Ledon
Story by Jamie Moore
Maggie was the little girl who tagged along. She joined her mom, a Spanish teacher and Key Club advisor, for more Miami Beach Senior High School Key Club service projects than she could count on her fingers.
And when Maggie’s Kiwanian dad traveled to district and international conventions,
Maggie and her two sisters got to go. They took trips to Chicago, Toronto and Anaheim—places they never would have experienced otherwise. They also spent time with people who were committed to helping others.
“Volunteering was always a part of my life,” says Maggie Cruz-Ledon, a former
Key Clubber who is now president of the Miami-Latin Kiwanis Club. “I never knew
Maggie’s Kiwanis connection
It all started in 1980. That’s when Maggie’s mother, Maria, was asked to be Key Club
advisor at the high school—a role she would play for 20 years. Maria wanted to
get more involved in Kiwanis, but at the time women weren’t allowed to become members.
So she convinced her husband, Maggie’s father, to join. It was a good move—he loved Kiwanis so much, he eventually became president of the Miami-Latin Kiwanis Club.
Maria was persistent about joining, and in 1987 she was among the first group of
women inducted into the Kiwanis Club of Miami Beach. Later, she served as a Kiwanis
lieutenant governor and trustee for the Florida Kiwanis Foundation.
Maggie charters a club
Growing up, Maggie couldn’t imagine life without Kiwanis. She says she knew she
would always be part of the Kiwanis family. But when she started her first year of high school at Maritime and Technology Academy, there was no Key Club—so her mother helped her start one.
Finally it was Maggie’s turn to take the wheel, organizing service projects and
attending district events. At conventions, she heard inspirational speeches from Kiwanians such as astronaut and U.S. senator Bill Nelson.
“I met Kiwanians who had done amazing things,” Maggie says. “And I realized
that Key Clubbers are the leaders of tomorrow. You can see it through the history of
the club. It’s really exciting.”
One memory still crosses Maggie’s mind more than 20 years after her time in Key Club. While running for Key Club International trustee, she delivered a 60-second campaign speech to a crowd of 2,000 people at that year’s Key Club International convention in New Orleans.
As she talks about that convention, she remembers some of her favorite moments—such as scanning the audience and seeing the Key Club friends who inspired her to run for the position. She continues, her voice softening, then she pauses to compose herself.
“I met people all over the country and the world, all very different, but all with the same goal: to help others,” she says. “It was powerful.”
One of her close Key Club friends has since passed away. Another one attended Maggie’s
wedding just over a year ago; the friend’s children were even part of the processional. They’re all like family to Maggie.
The domino effect
As president of the Miami-Latin Kiwanis Club, Maggie now wears the same leadership hat her father once did. The projects she organizes help subsidize a daycare learning center for kids, an initiative her club has supported for several years.
“Without the assistance from Kiwanis, these moms wouldn’t otherwise be able to work,” Maggie says. “It makes a real impact on the community here.”
Even during the holidays, Maggie and her extended family are at work making a difference. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving, they get together to deliver food baskets to parts of the city battling devastating poverty and crime. Over the years, it has become a family tradition.
Maggie’s parents, sisters and cousins pitch in. So does her four-year-old niece, Samantha,
who has been an honorary member of the Kiwanis Club of Miami Beach since she was one month old. Like Maggie, Samantha has grown up attending Kiwanis lunch meetings and service projects. But she’s not the only new addition to the family’s Kiwanis tradition: Maggie’s husband is now part of the service too.
“He knows at Christmas we’re going to buy gifts for the daycare center kids and deliver baskets,” Maggie says. “Now whenever he goes shopping, he looks for things for them.”
Welcome to the family—Maggie’s Kiwanis family.