The North Royalton Kiwanis Club voted to disband on Tuesday, September 3. The Club has served this community for close to 70 years and is well known for their annual Easter Egg Hunt for the community’s children. They also sponsored the North Royalton High School Key Club. The official date of disbandment is September 30, as the club will decide the distribution of the remaining funds.
The lack of new members, with an organization that is aging out, is the main reason behind the end of this club. “We have membership declining over the years and the active members were not able to take over as President,” said Kiwanis member Jeanne Cilenti. “ It’s very said because despite how small the group, we still had some wonderful things we were able to do for the community, such as the annual Easter Egg Hunt, assisting with the Community Food Bank and offering scholarships to High School students. A lot of this won’t be sponsored. The lack of membership in service clubs are declining over the years, not only in North Royalton, but all over.”
Most of the current members are over 65 years old. This is not a new problem, or a North Royalton problem. Many service clubs admit that younger people have not gravitated toward these service clubs, mainly due to time constraints. John Burke, the Secretary/Treasurer of the Kiwanis noted that “basically, we lost our president and our club was aging. It’s was getting harder and harder for them to do the service projects. Our last reverse raffle, we weren’t even able to sell all the tickets.” He said that five years ago, there were 21 in the club, which had dwindled to 14.
Kiwanis member and Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw noted that “as a member of Kiwanis Club, I’m very sad to see our club disband. Especially given all that Kiwanis does. It’s a loss to our community. It also raises the urgency to continue to do the Service Club Open House that Council President Larry Antoskiewicz and I hosted for the first time this year back in March. I plan to continue to explore more ways to increase community and civic engagement here in North Royalton.”
Last year, Langshaw and North Royalton City Council President Larry Antoskiewicz produced an online survey after discussing the need for increased membership was noted as an issue from the city’s service clubs. In the survey results, to answer the question, what would encourage people to join the city’s civic groups and clubs, over 75% thought more information about these groups would help. They also felt that affordable dues and attractive benefits would be encouraging. Just under 60% said they would be interested in joining. Some said they did not have enough time to join. After the survey, an open house, featuring the various organization was held to help drum up membership.
“I think this weaves into what we did last year with the survey and open house. Our fear was with these service clubs, how long will they would be able to function,” said Antoskiewicz. He went on to say that “the different events that they sponsored will have to be picked up by the city or we will have to find some other way to do it. It’s just a sad thing, but we all understood it last year. Hopefully this is the only one, but I know that some clubs are on the verge of just hanging in there.”
“I was very disappointed but not surprised,” said Mayor Bob Stefanik. “It just seems to be a lack of enthusiasm for service clubs in general. It’s unfortunate because they play a huge role behind the scenes, serving the residents of North Royalton. I would imagine our Recreation Department will pick up the Easter Egg Hunt, maybe in cooperation with another service club. We just aren’t getting the numbers.”
For those who wish to contact the various organizations, the following is a listing of some of the city’s groups:

Chamber of Commerce

Historical Society

Lions Club

Royalton Hills Lions Club

North Royalton Community Band

North Royalton Garden Club

The Rotary Club of North Royalton/Broadview Heights

Contributing Writer