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Show your love save a life


Are you a former CKI member—and still committed to service leadership? Or getting ready to graduate and leave your CKI club? Connect with other alumni!

Let folks know what you’re up to. Join your fellow Circle K International alumni today.

As the network grows, we will continue to evolve to ensure a valuable experience for our members. Through blogs and story-sharing, let’s reconnect and find out who's where and what they are up to.
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  • Show your love, save a life

    Love is in the air—can you feel it? Valentine's Day is coming up, so it’s a perfect time to show your love for others. And the smallest gesture can make a big impact. It just takes a little time and a lot of love.

    For example, printable Valentine’s items are available. Bring joy to local nursing homes, hospitals or homeless shelters by delivering Valentine’s Day surprises. If you are participating in Show Your Love, Save a Life this year, you can also use these printables to fancy up your fundraising activities!

    On campuses worldwide, Circle K International will again host Show Your Love, Save a Life events to benefit The Eliminate Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. Use the fundraising guide to jump-start your life-saving events!

    The fundraising guide will help you plan special Valentine’s Day events. Which ones sound the most fun to you?

    • ElimiDate: a speed-dating event
    • Bachelor or bachelorette auction
    • Valentine’s Day dance
    • Valentine’s Day dinner

    What better way to show your love this Valentine’s Day than to save lives? Join Circle K as they take part in the Kiwanis family’s effort to protect the connection between babies and mothers around the world!

    Show your love, save a life logo

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  • Introduce yourself, open doors

    As an alumnus of Circle K International, you have a network of professionals to turn to for career advice. Use the Circle K Alumni LinkedIn Group to tap into that network—and make steps toward your desired career field!

    With over 5,000 Circle K alumni at your disposal, you are bound to find a professional that has your dream job. But if you never ask, you’ll never know. We strongly encourage you to introduce yourself to fellow Circle K alumni on LinkedIn!

    How do you start? Here’s an example:

    “Hello, fellow Circle K Alumni! My name is __(your name)__, a __(graduation year)__ Circle K graduate from __(your school or location)__. I am interested in learning more about __(desired career field)__. Can anyone offer insight or connect me to any professions in this field? I am eager to hear from you! From one Circle K alum to another, thank you for your service.”

    It may be surprising how far a simple introduction can get you in the professional world. Don’t wait until you need a job to start networking—tap into your professional network right now! Take a moment to introduce yourself to the Circle K International Alumni LinkedIn Group.

    Cartoon figures with word-bubbles

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  • CKI Alumni Spotlight Interview: Susan McClernon!

    Circle K International reached a milestone in 1984 when Susan McClernon was elected the program’s first female International President. For Susan, that accomplishment has shaped her professionally and personally.

    A student at the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, MN, she got a lot of support at the time from her school and fellow students. She had been motivated to run for a District Governor position by three of her mentors, Cecilia Burke, Ken Burke and Larry Rittgarn, each were strong advocates of female opportunity and leadership within Circle K International.

    “I am happy they, and others like Durbin Keeney, kept after getting women more involved,” Susan says. “The Port of Duluth Kiwanis Club and Minn-Dak Kiwanis District were very determined and very supportive, which was a big motivator for me.”

    Ultimately Susan was elected on the first ballot. Although she was slightly shocked when her name was announced, the excitement of traveling and meeting new people instantly replaced her feeling of surprise.

    “One day it kicked in that I was the first female president,” she says. “I just tried to stay focused amongst all the chaos. Sometimes it was awkward being the first female president. I had to minimize it in order to stay focused.”

    A leader and mentor

    After obtaining her Bachelors of Science in Healthcare Administration, Susan earned Master’s and PHD degrees in the subject from the University of Minnesota. Professionally, Susan has been involved in healthcare administration for the past 30 years. She is now the CEO of Innovative Healthcare Leadership, which consults with a variety of health related clients.

    Having a mission is Susan's favorite thing about healthcare management. And she enjoys teaching others business and management skills. In fact, she is also the Faculty Director of Applied Business and Health Services at the University of Minnesota and an adjunct faculty member for both the University of Minnesota and the College of St. Scholastica.

    Susan has redirected her focus because she loves mentoring students and watching them succeed. Susan's faculty-director position at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities started as a part-time gig, she says, but it grew into something much larger. She found it surprising that the university did not offer an undergraduate degree in applied health services management—so she helped develop one! Susan now manages faculty who teach online classes and in the classroom, and the program’s current first group of HSM major students started in Fall 2015.

    Susan also teaches three classes a year for the University of Minnesota’s Applied Business and Health Services Management programs and a masters level class annually for the College of St. Scholastica’s Health Information Management Division.

    Life clearly keeps Susan busy—she also has three children who are at the ages of 14, 15 and 20—but the Kiwanis family is still very much a part of her life. In fact, Susan just served as the 2014-2015 club president of the Kiwanis Club of Friendly Duluth.  

    She joined her first Kiwanis club, in St. Paul, Minnesota, immediately after earning her Master's Degree in 1987—which was also the first year women were able to join. After that she was a member of a Kiwanis club in St. Petersburg, FL and Austin, Texas, and in 2005 she joined her current club.

    Susan's favorite service projects are the two her club does annually , the Kiwanis Kite Fly and Kiwanis TV Auction. The Kiwanis Kite Fly is a free event that happens in conjunction with a hot air balloon festival. Luckily it is held at a large park because there are typically 3-5,000 kites given away for families to fly that day! The TV auction is exactly what it sounds like—an auction hosted over television. The event is hosted by local the Kiwanis club, with help from Key Club members,  and the event typically raises around US$40,000.

    “I’ve continued to give back to Kiwanis because I would never be where I am without the community service attitude and leadership skills I gained from my time spent in Circle K.”

    Susan McClernon: CKI Alumni

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  • Host an Alumni Reception at DCON!

    Deciding when to plan your next alumni event? Host an alumni gathering at Circle K DCON. Circle K district conventions for 2016 will be held between February and March—so get to planning!

    Every DCON is a little different, but all of them include learning, fellowship and celebration. And each provides a convenient space for Circle K alumni to connect and network with other service-minded individuals. Find out more about the DCON near you and get in touch with the Circle K district administrator to plan an alumni event.

    We’ve got some tips for hosting your Circle K alumni event:

    • Promote the event. Set up a Facebook event page and start sharing it with others. Encourage your network to invite their friends—spread the word!
    • Keep it simple. All it really takes to get people talking is a name-tag that includes the person’s graduating year, and maybe even desired career field. You could even fancy the room up with these printable party decorations!
    • Keep it fun. Offer activities that are entertaining—and easy to set up. One idea: a photo prop area where people can take silly pictures. Reel in the smiles at little to no cost with these printable photo props. Another simple activity is the Circle K Mind Twister! Print off copies and challenge attendees’ knowledge of Circle K.
    • Offer to serve. When you connect with the Circle K district administrator about your alumni event, offer to support he DCON with volunteer service. You may find that you’re a real asset to the convention—even beyond the alumni gathering.  

    However you decide to host the alumni event, it’s bound to be a good time. Be sure to take pictures and tell us about your event so we can share the details with the rest of Circle K’s alumni!

    And don’t forget to promote your event on the Circle K alumni Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

    accounts. Host an experience that people won’t forget!

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  • Nominate an outstanding CKI alumnus!

    Do you know an outstanding Circle K Alumnus? Give them the recognition they deserve by nominating them for an award! 

    Circle K Alumni Award

    The Circle K International Outstanding Alumni Award is designed to recognize one outstanding Circle K Alumnus who has remained committed to the realization of mankind's potential after his/her years as a Circle K member. To be eligible for this award, the nominated individual must have been a dues-paid member of Circle K International for at least one administrative year.

    It is preferred if nominees may have continued their involvement with the Kiwanis-family upon their graduation or have accomplishments in the non-profit/other service-oriented fields. However, this is not a requirement. The recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award will be invited to attend the Circle K International Convention and accept the recognition. 

    Circle of Service Award

    The Circle of Service Award was created to annually recognize and honor an individual within Kiwanis International who has made the most outstanding contribution to all of Circle K International. Neither salaried Kiwanis officials, nor Circle K members are eligible for this award. Individuals may not be recognized for this award more than once.

    A majority vote by the CKI Board will determine the winner of the Circle of Service Award. Individuals may be nominated by members of the CKI Board or a Circle K district governor. The winner will be announced at the Circle K International Convention. If no qualified nominations are submitted, the award will not be granted—so please, make a nomination!

    Humanitarian Award

    The Circle K international Humanitarian Award is designed to recognize one individual annually whose efforts on behalf of others have significantly contributed to the betterment of the world. Any individual who has had a positive impact on humanity is eligible to receive this award. Candidates may be nominated by any member in good standing with Circle K International. The recipient of the award will be invited to attend the Circle K International Convention and accept the recognition. 

    How to Nominate:

    There is no application form to nominate an individuals for the above awards. Nominations should be written as a narrative or letter to the Circle K International Board, including a brief description why the individual should be considered for this honor. Nominations may include up to five supporting documents.

    Please send your nominations to Chris Martz ( by February 1 2016 at the latest. We look forward to hearing from you!

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  • 2016 Alumni Gathering: You've got to go!

    Mark your calendars—the 2016 Alumni Gathering is coming! We invite you to attend this year's event during the Kiwanis International Convention in Toronto, Canada.

    Where: Real Sports Bar & Grill

    When: Thursday, June 23 9:30pm–11:30pm

    Who: Key Club and Circle K International Alumni

    Cost: US$25 (US$10 for 2016 graduates)

    Ticket includes: entrance to event, hors d'oeuvres, non-alcoholic drink tickets 

    **Cash bar is also available**

    Delicious food, amazing networking opportunities and giveaway prizes. If you missed the 2015 Alumni Gathering, be sure to attend this year's event!

    When you register for the 2016 Kiwanis International Convention or CKIx, just add the Alumni Gathering to your agenda. Keep up to date with the convention schedule and start planning your trip now! 

    We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!

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  • Serve others this holiday season

    As the holiday season approaches, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of parties, shopping and decorating. This holiday season, remember to focus on what matters most—serving others.

    There are always various opportunities for giving through drives for food, toys, and clothing. But if you want to take it one step further, we’ve got some ideas:

    • Help the hungry. While planning your holiday meal, consider all of the families that are not fortunate enough to have one—donate to a food bank! Buy the same ingredients that you use for your holiday dinner and donate them to a food bank. When you drop off your donations, stick around and help pack boxes and sort food.
    • Make greeting cards. There are plenty of sick children eager for “happy mail.” An organization called Send Kids the World lists children who could use a smile—and even provides you with the child’s story, so you can make it a more personal experience. Here’s an extra idea: deliver greeting cards to local nursing or veterans homes! Be sure to make them special—for some it may be the only card they receive.
    • Sponsor a family. Families living in poverty struggle with the knowledge that they can’t provide as they would like to. Whatever winter holiday they celebrate, each family has dreams. So help make them come true—get connected with a family through The Box Project.
    • Random acts of kindness. When you add them up it can be surprising the impact small acts of kindness make. Compliment someone. Ask if you can help. Set a goal to smile at five strangers. Praise your coworkers. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation provides loads of ideas! After all, there really is no such thing as a “small” act of kindness—because every act creates a ripple effect.

    Serving others is a big part of what the season is about. So is sharing. Inspire others to make a difference by sharing your holiday service plans. Spread the word on social media, with #CircleKHoliday!

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  • A great résumé lands the interview

    Your résumé is the first impression you make on employers. If they aren’t impressed by the résumé, there won’t be an interview. Perfecting your résumé can take some time, but if it lands you the job, it’s worth every minute. Whether you're thinking about a new job or not, keeping your résumé up-to-date and polished is a must.

    Using Monster Worldwide, the most visited employment website in the U.S., we have found tips that make all the difference when building or improving your résumé.  

    • One size does not fit all. You may be attempting to reach more opportunities by sending your résumé out to a lot of employers, in the hopes that at least one will bite. Truth is, the one-size-fits-all résumé usually fits nothing. Think about it from the employer’s perspective: When looking through a huge pile of résumés, which ones are you going to cut first? Most likely the ones that are vague and boring. If you have a one-size-fits-all résumé, you are not directly speaking to that employer—meaning you won’t draw attention.
    • List accomplishments, not duties. It’s easy to start listing job duties. But employers don’t care as much about what you have done as they do about what you have accomplished while doing it. “Worked with children in a daycare setting” is less eye-catching than “Developed three daily activities for preschool children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program.” Go into detail about your duties—transformed them into accomplishments.
    • Be specific. Employers need to understand what you’ve done and accomplished. If you want your résumé to get noticed, you'll have to let go of your modesty and brag a little. For example, “Worked with employees in restaurant setting” is less effective than “Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant with $2 million in annual sales.” Both of these statements could describe the same person, but which one grabs your attention? Be sure to think deeply about what you did at each job. Digging deep for résumé accomplishments will make all the difference. These specifics are what may set you aside from all the other candidates—so spend plenty of time on them!  
    • Have a good objective. When reviewing a résumé, the objective statement is one of the first things an employer notices—so make it amazing!  “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth” doesn’t say much about you or what you’re looking for. (Isn’t everyone seeking professional growth, and isn’t that why you are applying for the job?) Give employers something that puts the focus on their needs as well as your own. For example: “A challenging entry-level marketing position that allows me to contribute my skills and experience in fundraising for nonprofits.” You’re essentially saying the same thing, but you’re mentioning the job title and talking about your skills and experience—which will keep them reading. Check out some other ways to craft the perfect résumé objective.
    • Make it pretty. This may not seem important, but it may be the most important factor of all. Again, think about it from the employer’s perspective: in front of you lay two résumés. One is filled margin-to-margin with words of all different fonts and sizes. The second offers a lot of information that you can easily scan and retain— with plenty of white space and clear, consistent section headings. Which résumé would you choose to read? And what is ‘“pretty”’ anyway? Get feedback from multiple people since each of us has a different take on the word.

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  • Ryan Balentyne: A continuous journey

    Starting in Builders Club, moving on to Key Club and eventually getting involved with Circle K, Ryan Balentyne has seen the Kiwanis family make great impact on his life.

    Without the influence of Circle K in particular, Ryan believes, he would not be the caring and optimistic person he is today. In fact, Ryan thinks of his week at Leadership Academy as one of his best college experiences—because it allowed him to grow as a leader while also building lifelong friendships.

    Ryan attended Northern Illinois University; he also spent some time at Kishwaukee College. While in Circle K at Northern Illinois University, Ryan served as district treasurer, lieutenant governor, bulletin editor, and Kiwanis Family liaison. There was also Ryan’s favorite of all his roles: chairman of the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District’s Spastic Paralysis Research Foundation (SPRF), which gave him the responsibility of informing CKI clubs about spastic paralysis and the foundation, as well as planning and hosting Holiday Embrace, a dinner and dance fundraiser for the SPRF.

    Ryan understands the importance of having mentors in life—both because he acts as a mentor and because he has mentors of his own. Jill Haacke and Carolyn Englund have been mentors to him—whether they knew it or not, he says. Through their actions, Jill and Carolyn have taught Ryan what it is meant to be a servant leader. And Ryan has done the same for students of the Sycamore Community School District, where he acted as a mentor to students for a little over four years.

    Now an Assurance Associate at CohnReznick LLP, Ryan works primarily on projects in the affordable housing and renewable energy industries.

    “CKI helped me develop my speaking skills, my social networking skills and my professional skills,” he says. “It offered me the opportunities to hone my soft skills and improve my abilities for the workplace”

    Ryan commutes three hours a day by train and works anywhere from 8–13 hours each day, depending on the time of year. So of course adding Kiwanis club membership to the mix was overwhelming. It was clear that if he wished to be involved in a Kiwanis club, he would need a club that provides a lot of flexibility and understanding. Instead of giving up and deciding he didn’t have time to be in a club, Ryan joined the E-Kiwanis Club of Greater Chicagoland.

    “I wanted to stay active in the community,” he says, “and I know that the E-Kiwanis club has the connections and drive to do community service.”

    Club members attend online chats and perform service projects on the weekends, allowing busy professionals like Ryan to stay involved in Kiwanis. For anyone who may be hesitant about joining a Kiwanis club, Ryan advises they attend a service project or social event and find out what the club stands for—there’s nothing wrong with getting a sneak peak before you commit! In fact, Ryan is living proof that if you are passionate about an organization or a specific cause, nothing can keep you from getting involved.

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  • Kiwanis Family Month: Get Pumped!

    It’s Kiwanis Family Month! What plans do you have to bridge the gap? More than 600,000 Kiwanis-family adult and youth volunteers will celebrate their partnership in community service.

    As an alumnus, you’re a part of the family—take time to help “bridge the gap” between clubs this month! Remember, the Kiwanis-family includes:

    Have a fun joint meeting with other Kiwanis-family clubs in your area. Work together to promote and raise funds for The Eliminate Project. Or organize a joint service project.

    And take this opportunity to bring awareness of Kiwanis to your community. Host social activities in a shared community space—such as a game night, movie night or a chili cookoff! Spread awareness by leaving out informational pieces. These informational pieces could explain a summary of what the club does and how it benefits the member.

    If you participate in Kiwanis-family activities this November, please share

    with us how you celebrated—or how you plan to celebrate. We would love to hear your ideas and share them with your fellow alumni!

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