Kiwanis looking to establish River Parishes chapter

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – A small group of passionate citizens have quietly been brewing positive change on Wednesday evenings in LaPlace.

Tonight, a group of locals will meet at Chung’s Heavenly Sweets on Belle Terre Boulevard in LaPlace at 6 p.m. as a fledgling Kiwanis Club under the auspices of the Kiwanis Club of Pontchartrain. Although the goal is to one day be the Kiwanis Club of the River Parishes, the group must first claim 15 members before it can receive a full charter.

But the group, led by President Renetta McDuffie, is not going to let such a technicality stop them. Sure of eventually winning enough support from the community, group members are already trying to make a difference in a few places around town, such as Emily C. Watkins Elementary School and New Life Women’s Center and Thrift Shop.

At Emily C. Watkins, group members hope to partner with the school to start a Kiwanis-affiliated club, such as a Builder’s Club, which is for middle and junior high school students.

Treasurer Mary Truehill recently met with Watkins Principal Toni Robinet to discuss establishing a club at the school.

“They really want to start something new where the kids have ownership,” said Truehill. “They really need a club to come in and make a difference.”

The Kiwanis offer clubs for children as young as 6 all the way through adulthood. Truehill said Robinet was particularly interested in starting a club for the school’s sixth- through eighth-graders.

The group is also working to help with some much-needed repairs at the New Life Women’s Center on West Fifth Street in LaPlace. The facility is in need of repairs to the roof and ceiling, and the Kiwanis hope to be able to help with that.

“We want to be as visible as possible and do as many projects in the community as possible,” said Kiwanis Club member Cynthia Bentley.

Although other service organizations such as the Lions Club and the Rotary Club already exist in the area, the local Kiwanis believe there is a niche for them in the River Parishes.

“We’re more hands-on,” said member Karen Harris.

The Kiwanis Club of the River Parishes meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at Chung’s Heavenly Sweets, 607 Belle Terre Blvd., LaPlace. The club meets this evening at 6 p.m. and invites all interested residents of the River Parishes to attend.