IN THE BEGINNING
By Arthur Doster
As I remember, in the autumn of 1958, members of the Lancaster/Depew Kiwanis Club, led by President, George Mattesz approached businessmen in our area about organizing a Kiwanis Club in West Seneca. In September, Floyd Parker and Bill Burns approached me and we discussed getting the required number of businessmen from the West Seneca area to start a newly sponsored club.
After several committee meetings and many telephone calls, a group of interested people met for the first meeting on Wednesday evening at Reidl's Grandview Restaurant on Seneca Street.
Our first meeting brought in new ideas and more interested business people to the new Kiwanis Club in West Seneca.
Floyd Parker became the first President and Bill Burns, V.P. We strongly adhered to the Kiwanis by-laws. Socializing was encouraged so that members would get to know one another. However, if anyone carried an alcoholic drink to the dinner table after the bell was sounded, the president took great joy in fining the offender of the by-laws. A telephone committee was established and every week, members were phoned on Tuesday, for their dinner reservation. This phone contact seemed to encourage attendance. When a Kiwanian missed more that three meetings the board acted on it.
Music always played a big part in our meetings. Bill Cox, a senior at West Seneca High School, played the piano during dinner and led us in songs selected from the Kiwanis Song Book, including "stoodola Pumpa" and " Show Your K." When Bill graduated and moved from West Seneca, we gained Doug Frost who kept the Kiwanis Club singing in style.
In 1959, we had our first "Block of Dimes," a fundraiser held at the Southgate Plaza. Kiwanians assisted by their wives and children helped to make this project successful. Apparel worn by the Kiwanians were eye-catching sportswear and green derbies with the Kiwanis emblem. Dimes were placed on the tapes on the walks in front of the stores and bank at the plaza. Many times the dimes grew into dollars as the public grew aware of what Kiwanis represented to the community.
Another first as a fundraiser was the pickle sale purchased from the Tree Pickle Co.
Committee meetings were often held in the chairman's home to discuss the general community interest or attendance which was stressed in the formative years.
January 24, 1959- Charter Night Program -Kiwanis Club of West Seneca was held at Skate Haven Ballroom, 1830 Abbott Road, Lackawanna. There were 32 Charter Members. After dinner and the awards presentation, we had a great evening dancing. Dinner and dancing was a feature offered for each incoming president until 1962. After that, the club found the price of the band had gone out of sight, and we decided to go without the dancing.
Easter 1959, we held our first annual Easter Egg Hunt at Reidl's for the handicapped. That was some egg hunt with the Kiwanians hiding the colored eggs behind mirrors, water fountain, etc.
We also sponsored a baseball team, purchased the equipment and provided management by Kiwanian, John Palczynski.
In 1961, we held our first pancake breakfast. The first pancake breakfast was held at Queen of Heaven Church. We held the pancake breakfast there for two years and then moved on to the United Presbyterian Church in Gardenville. We dropped this fund-raiser because we were not making money. Another undertaking carrying on our theme and working with the youth, we purchased U.S. flags and presented them to the boys and girls scout troops.
The "Good Thanksgiver" was also an early Kiwanis project. Names of needy families were secured through all the churches in West Seneca. Food Baskets were also provided throughout the year as often as we would receive phone calls from the families who needed assistance. Christmas food baskets and gifts were also part of our program with the Lions Club of West Seneca.
We also assisted a very needy family with two children in finding a place to live, furnished the apartment we rented, and supplied the family with groceries until we were able to secure a job for the father as a mechanic at Sears & Roebuck, Southgate Plaza. The father was handicapped and found it very difficult to find any type o employment.
In 1961, our fundraiser was presenting a Broadway show “Pajama Game” at West Seneca West, by the Metropolitan Players. Members of the Philharmonic Orchestra played the music. The Play was presented April 29th and 30th. Art Kalenda chaired this event. All Kiwanis members were involved with this ambitious social event. Refreshments were served during intermission. Programs with advertising and sponsors helped with the finances. As specified in the contract, the total amount of money to put on this production was not to exceed $1,500.00.
The West Seneca Kiwanis Club also held it first auction at Island Park in 1961. Art's 1 1/2 ton Chevy truck went around town, picking up bedroom sets, etc. for the big sale. One woman donated three bedroom sets.
In 1962, Arthur Doster was installed as president of the West Seneca Kiwanis Club, Paul Allen 1st V.P., John Ciolino 2nd V.P. and Leroy Tepe Secretary-Treasurer. Doster, a charter member, succeeded Arthur Kalenda as president of the Kiwanis Club. He pledged the continuation of community projects, youth activities and to extend the Kiwanis ideals throughout the West Seneca area. In recognition of the Girl Scouts' 49th anniversary year, Bill Baumgart, chairman of youth activities, presented flags to six area troops.
Along with the annual Easter Egg Hunt for the handicapped, Good Thanksgiver project, we also presented a rescue breathing mannequin to the West Seneca Senior High. After demonstrating the technique to the Physical Education Department and the students, we participated in a reception. "Resuseanna" was very well received. We were also invited to participate in the dedication of the new Post Office. The Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary and other organizations in West Seneca were represented. This location is now the Ellicott Paint Store. In 1962, we also participated in the community reception for the new director of the West Seneca State School, Dr. Sammuel Feinstein. During the fall, we were approached to assist the Red Cross with their blood mobile, by chairing a luncheon for the donors and helping with telephone solicitation for new donors in the area. In the early 1960's, we started the heifer project. Kiwanis purchased a heifer and presented it to a 4-H member. The receiver of the heifer was counted on to give the first female offspring to another eligible 4-H member. The 4-H executive board chairman, Mr. AI Laskey, carried on distribution of the heifers.
In the early years while we were still meeting at Reidl's Restaurant, we held a ladies night on a monthly basis. On one of our ladies nights, held during the hunting season, Mr. and Mrs. Reidl prepared and served a venison dinner, courtesy of the great hunter and charter member, Henry Lischer. We had venison stew, venison in wine sauce and in as many other ways the cook could come up with.
In community affairs, the Kiwanis Club was asked to serve on a committee for selecting the "Outstanding Citizen" in the community.
In 1966, Kiwanis sponsored a "Variety Concert" held in the West Seneca High School. Vice President, John Pax, did an outstanding job as program director and producer. All seats were sold out.
In 1968, we were successful in organizing a "Key Club". Alex Krynyski was elected President and Ron Doster, Vice President. Under the guidance of the Kiwanis and the faculty advisor, the Key Club grew.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the Kiwanis Youth Center was held in 1969. Contributions for funding this project were door to door and every other means to secure the necessary funding for this big project. Kiwanis slogan "Take Stock In Youth" became a reality.
1959 – Floyd S. Parker 1960 – William Burns
1961 – Arthur J. Kalenda 1962 – Arthur Doster
1963 – Paul E. Allen
1964 – Leroy M. Tepe
1965 – Edwin H. Harder 1966 – James C. Hallmark 1967 – John Y. Pax
1968 – Milford Reiman
1969 – John McMahon
69-70 – Gerald Vidal
70-71 – Louis Lorenzetti 71-72 – Ross M. Cellino 72-73 – James F. Yochum 73-74 – John P. Mayer
74-75 – John Notaro
75-76 – Albert C. Faso
76-77 – Paul C. Dowling 77-78 – George Beimler
78-79 – Horace Battaglia 79-80 – Robert C. Rowley 80-81 – Allen Doster
81-82 – John E. Workley 82-83 – John F. Ciolino
83-84 – George Metz, Jr. 84-85 – Joseph Fiore
86-87 – Edward Hackett
87-88 – Robert T. Keefer
88-89 – John Kern
89-90 – Thomas J. Maass
90-91 – Kenneth A. Swain
91-92 – Raymond Dolan
92-93 – Lee E. Hall
93-94 – James Notaro
94-95 – Joseph F. Reina
95-96 – Eric G. Paul
96-97 – Robert M. Schmitt
97-98 – Wallace Piotrowski
98-99 – William A. Tober
99-00 – Paul Notaro
00-01 – Peter Kosanovich
01-02 – Diane Beres
02-03 – Scotty Burt
03-04 – Gregory Notaro
04-05 – Dr. Ted Winkle
05-06 – Michael McCarten
06-07 – John S. Blando
07-08 – JoAnn Pyle
08-09 – Charles Markel
09-10 – David Nagy
10-11 – Ivan Tarnopoll
11-12 – Don Rauscher
12-13 – Kevin Love
13-14 – John Mahoney