Democrat Photo by Dan Hust
NEW YORK KIWANIS District Governor Joe Corace, left, congratulates outgoing Woodridge Kiwanis President Leni Binder as longtime member and master of ceremonies Aileen Halchak applauds.
Woodridge Kiwanis Celebrates
By Dan Hust
ROCK HILL October 17, 2006 The Woodridge Kiwanis Club’s 50th anniversary was truly a family event.
Not only were more than 150 supporters and Kiwanians from seven other clubs in attendance, but the very club Woodridge helped found six years ago Shawangunk joined the celebration on Thursday at Bernie’s in Rock Hill.
Both Woodridge and Shawangunk (based in Ellenville) installed their officers that evening, and the family theme continued when it was announced that incoming Woodridge Kiwanis President Sue Kasofsky would be donning a mantle first worn by her father, Bernard Ruderman, the club’s charter president in 1956.
“My father would be proud to know his daughter will be president of the club he started,” Kasofsky said to cheers during her installation.
Pride was the order of the evening pride in Woodridge’s history, pride in the Kiwanis legacy, pride in the good things each Kiwanian does every day to make the world a better place.
And there was much pride in hosting the New York District Governor, Joe Corace, and his wife, Nydia.
“Thanks for making us your first visit on your whirlwind tour throughout the New York District,” said master of ceremonies and active Woodridge Kiwanian Aileen Halchak, who herself serves in leadership positions at the district level.
Corace’s keynote address mentioned his theme for 2006, “Joe’s Heroes,” and he urged local Kiwanians to have fun while raising funds and doing good deeds for children in need.
But the night belonged to Woodridge, and he was pleased to be a part of it.
“Imagine, 50 years of touching lives!” he marveled. “All of you are looking for people to help. My God, isn’t that special?”
Woodridge made sure the Coraces felt special, as well, giving Nydia a handmade Christmas ornament (adding to an already large collection) and giving Joe an official postal cancellation with the Kiwanis logos, created by Woodridge member and accomplished artist Bob Longo.
Corace promised to make Kiwanis service even more rewarding and exciting, working toward the day where people can say, “Why would you not want to ask someone to be part of that great experience?”
Woodridge already has 50 years’ of experiences to share no small feat in Kiwanis, which only has a 91-year history itself.
“Woodridge: this is your life,” began Max Cohen as he detailed the club’s history.
“The year was 1956, and the Monticello Kiwanis was eager to sponsor a new club,” he related. “Woodridge seemed like the most opportune place, being it never had a service organization.
“They approached Bernard Ruderman, an accountant by profession and soon to become the mayor of the Village of Woodridge,” he continued. “There was a great deal of interest, and before long, the new organization was formed. Twenty-five men were invited to join, and Kiwanis International chartered them on November 20 of that year.”
Four of those charter members attended Thursday’s dinner and were duly recognized: Dave Rashkin, Verb Konviser, Al Adler and Ralph Rappaport.
One of the club’s first projects was the creation of a Little League field, and after much hard work and fund-raising, “we built it, and they came,” said Cohen.
As the years passed, the club evolved, first by moving locations (fires forced three relocations), then by staying active in the summer (previously, the club had closed down for the busy tourist season) and then by including women.
“In 1987, when women were officially introduced to Kiwanis International, Roz Pavloff became the first woman to join our club and two years later became the first woman president of a Kiwanis Club in the Hudson River West Division,” Cohen related proudly.
“I can vividly remember her standing at a meeting and telling the wives in attendance that it was time to stop being guests and become members in their own right. It was an electrifying moment …”
Meanwhile, the club continued to help children donating books, delivering 600 gallons of paint to Woodbourne’s Head Start school, raising funds every year for numerous local and international Kiwanis projects.
Members also got the chance to sponsor their first club, and on August 17, 2000, the Shawangunk Valley Kiwanis was born. Its 72 members created the largest new Kiwanis club worldwide that year.
These days, Woodridge Kiwanis remains active, having recently been recognized as a distinguished club and now representing all of the Town of Fallsburg.
Aileen Halchak, who became the division’s first female lieutenant governor, is working to get a club-designed logo adopted as an official Kiwanis International logo.
And the club’s scholarships and club recruitment efforts continue in the Fallsburg Central School District.
Installed Thursday evening were President Sue Kasofsky, Vice President Kenny Kalter, Second Vice President Kathy Mitchell, Treasurer Diane Garritt, Secretary Laverna Kraft and board members Myra Bennett, Bill Dashiell and Debbie Jacobson.
For Shawangunk: President Sue Nibe, Vice President Karen Leitstein, Treasurer Elaine Flynn, Secretary Lisa Cavanaugh, and board members Max Cohen, Elizabeth Potts and Rosemary Melendez.
Special thanks were given to the dinner committee and the Chester Kiwanis, which co-hosted the event. And several remarked that they hope to see the day Woodridge celebrates a century of service to the community.
“A toast to the Woodridge Kiwanis Club,” concluded Cohen in his history. “May they continue to prosper and grow for the next 50 years and continue to bring only good projects to our communities.”