In adulthood, many alumni of Kiwanis’ Service Leadership Programs go on
to become active and enthusiastic members of a Kiwanis club. Like Amy
Zimmerman, many see service as the main inspiration for staying in the
In fact, Amy’s desire for an active, service-oriented club experience
was partly inspired by her membership in Kiwanis’ Service Leadership
Programs. When she joined the Cincinnati Kiwanis Club, the lessons and
energy of Key Club and Circle K International were still very much with
“I told the Kiwanians, ‘It’s going to look different if I join your club,’” she says. Looking for the like-minded
As a Kiwanian, one of Amy’s first initiatives was to boost her club’s
vitality with the kind of passion she brought to it as a young
professional. But recruiting new members had less to do with youth, she
says, than with enthusiasm.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for people my age,” she adds. “I was looking for like-minded individuals.”
As the club’s membership has grown and evolved, so has its definition of what it can do—and the influence it can have.
“The traditional club meeting is a thing of the past for our club,” Amy
says. “We’ve replaced these with monthly hands-on community service
projects—supplemented with ad hoc SLP projects and community projects to
keep members interested and motivated.”
The club even hosts family service projects one Saturday each month.
“You can bring your entire family to the project,” Amy says. “So our
service isn’t just for community leaders or business owners, but for all
those with a desire to serve their local community, at any age.” A natural fit
An emphasis on service was a part of Amy’s life long before she became a
Kiwanian—and even before she joined the Kiwanis family in her youth.
“We always did community service as a family,” she says of her upbringing.
So when a friend invited her to join the Carroll High School Key Club in
Dayton, Ohio, during her freshman year, it was a great fit. In fact,
Amy went on to become the club’s president by her senior year. Even
besides her own penchant for leadership, the size and zeal of the club’s
membership inspired her to take on a larger role as her experience
“I loved it,” she says. “We had so many members, we met in two rooms. To
this day I still make donations to some of the organizations the Key
Club did service for. We used to go to a place called Learning Tree Farm
to do farm chores and muck the stalls. We had so much fun engaging in
the project work and with the friendships we built while doing it.”
Amy’s passion for service—and her desire to develop her leadership
skills—continued in college with CKI. She was a five-year member of the
CKI club at the University of Cincinnati, serving as vice president and
eventually winning a position as CKI’s lieutenant governor for River
“You had to campaign,” Amy says. “It was a challenge at first, putting
myself out there, telling people why you want the position and what you
are going to do if elected. Then you have to do the work associated with
it. I learned so many things about being a leader and being
organized—being a servant leader rather than just an individual
contributor.” Enduring influence
Now that she’s a Client Executive and Manager at Hewlett Packard,
working with partners such as Procter & Gamble, Amy can see the
Kiwanis youth programs’ influence on her.
“Thinking back, it’s exciting to see how I could apply what I learned,”
she says. “Managing my time, leading people, traveling around, building
the team and sharing the credit—it enabled me to become a much more
effective leader at work.”
It also shows in the work she does with her fellow Kiwanis-club members.
Today the club has a five-year strategic plan, including fundraising
goals for The Eliminate Project and member recruitment. For instance,
the club is now aiming to have 100 members, raise 100,000 for the
Eliminate Project and serve 100,000 people locally and globally for
Cincinnati’s 100th Kiwanis anniversary in 2016.
The lesson: “If you’re not ready to change, you’re not ready for a new
member. Every new member brings new ideas and perspective as well as a
new group of friends who could be potential Kiwanians.”
Thanks to the club’s success, Amy is also enjoying an ongoing lesson about being a member of the Kiwanis family—at any age.
“If you’re in an SLP program,” she says, “it’s a way to continue changing the world one child and one community at a time.”