Club Spotlight: Kiwanis Club of Pacific Beach focuses on honoring, helping children

PB Elementary students William Hourigan and Madelyn Hourigan with teacher Pam Denenberg and Kiwanis President Tony Bayona.
Pacific Beach Elementary students William Hourigan and Madelyn Hourigan were honored as “Student of the Month” for December 2022. They are pictured with teacher Pam Denenberg and Kiwanis Club President Tony Bayona.
(Courtesy photo)

Every Thursday morning Kiwanis Club of Pacific Beach members meet at the Broken Yolk Cafe to discuss their charitable work within the community.

“Everyone is just hanging out, having a great time, chit-chatting,” said President Tony Bayona, a Kiwanian for three years.

Bayona said he is proud of the work the group has done to give back to the Pacific Beach community, especially its children.

“(We’re) all about community service, youth education and being a good supporter of the community,” Bayona said.

Want to join?

Kiwanis Club of Pacific Beach

Meetings: 7:30 a.m. each Thursday at Broken Yolk Cafe, 1851 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach

Cost: $175 annual dues

For details: Call Tony Bayona at 305-525-0791, check out the club’s Facebook page (Kiwanis of Pacific Beach) or stop by a meeting.

One way it does this is through the club’s Student of the Month program. Elementary students are chosen by their teachers for recognition. The honor highlights those who go above and beyond in some aspect at school. For example, they might have volunteered or helped other students. They receive a certificate and Mr. Frostie dollars.

Bayona said during a meeting the teacher explains why the student was chosen “... and you can just see the kid walk out of the room afterwards with a big smile on his face feeling 10 feet taller.”

Bayona added that his hope is for fellow students to hear about the accolades given to their peers and that it will motivate them to “try a little bit harder.”

The club also provides scholarships to Mission Bay High School students and supports local charities such as Meals on Wheels and Feeding San Diego. The Kiwanians raise money by holding small fundraisers and one large annual event.

Last August the club held its inaugural “Wine-down Summer” wine tasting at the Broken Yolk Cafe. Bayona said it was a great success and the Kiwanians are already working toward holding another in 2023.

Kiwanis International was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1915 and has more than 550,000 members among clubs in 80 countries. Local clubs focus on giving back to children in their communities, while the international organization targets wide-scale issues such as fighting disease and poverty.

In addition to Kiwanis Clubs for adults, students can get involved through Builders Club and Key Club for middle and high school students, respectively. There is also Circle-K Club for university students and Aktion Club for adults with disabilities.

The Pacific Beach Kiwanis Club has been a positive force in the community since it was founded in 1946. During the pandemic membership declined and Bayona said his goal is to turn that around by recruiting at least five new members this year.

“(I want to) bring new life back into the club, to see if we can keep it going for another 80 years,” he said.

Bayona said he sees the club as something truly worth having in the community, and the benefits to the local students are truly special.

When asked what he wants the Pacific Beach community to know most about Kiwanis, Bayona listed three items.

“First, we’re a fun group, we have a good time. Second, we support kids in our community. Third, we are actively looking for new members to join us to help support the work that we do.”

Members participate in the weekly meetings as their schedules permit.

“Some members attend every Thursday, some come once a month, it’s flexible,” Bayona said.