By Greg Stowers, Key Club International Director
I take a few steps outside of the crib (yes, I call my apartment the crib), and I’m right in the middle of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. In my opinion, it’s the biggest and smallest city in the world. Big because of population (11th-largest city in the United States), but small because if you grow up here, you get to know everyone. It’s an interesting dynamic, as my hometown consistently makes headlines around the world, but it’s the people who have provided the support to make me a better person that remind me of the small town feel — and I’m incredibly thankful for it.
As Key Club International director, I work in conjunction with our student leaders, adult volunteers and fellow Kiwanis staff members to provide a member experience that taps into our core values of leadership, character building, caring and inclusiveness. Each year, I visit our international president soon after school starts to meet various individuals in that person’s life. K’lena Schnack, 2019-20 Key Club International president, is from Milford, Nebraska — a bit of a change from Indianapolis, but during my visit I was reminded of two important things.
First, being the Key Club International president is no small task. A variety of challenges present themselves throughout the year, from managing expectations to representing the best interests of members around the world. Delegation also plays an important role, but there are times when leaders must do the work as well — as evidenced by the time set aside on my week’s itinerary to pack food items for people in need. Months ago, we had discussed how K’lena planned to collect resources for a personal hygiene space for the less fortunate, and during my visit I saw the space coming together, thanks in part to her efforts. While the trappings and accolades of being international president are nice, it was awesome to see the foundation of her Key Club journey — the ability to lead and serve others — still prevalent. I know the same can be said for many leaders throughout our organization.
Secondly, support structures are important. It’s the parents who take time out of their schedules to meet with me — and the father who shows me embarrassing photos but still has an air of being incredibly proud.
It’s the principal who, while giving me a tour of Milford High School, shows an incredible level of pride in his students’ work.
It’s the older sister who has continued to serve her own community and instilled the same service mindset in K’lena.
It’s the Kiwanis family members from the Nebraska-Iowa District who showed up for the midday meeting and listened intently to K’lena’s remarks. As I surveyed the room, they all seemed incredibly proud, as they too have begun to recognize that Key Clubbers aren’t just emerging leaders, but leaders now.
While stories and titles may differ around the world, Key Club provides students the opportunity to make an impact. Whether you’re collecting books for an elementary school classroom or providing resources for hundreds of people, servant leadership provides us all with an incredible foundation. While I too have my own challenges in this role, I also get to see the work from Key Club members being done around the world, and it truly is an honor to serve as your international director.