In 1982, Clem Vicari, who was the lieutenant governor of the Queens West Division, owned a butcher shop in Ozone Park and in conjunction with several other local businessmen decided to start a Kiwanis Club. After the first year in 1983, several new members were recruited for the club, according to Second Vice President Mickey Alvino. This was originally an all-men's club, but on Feb. 10, 1997, the first woman was allowed to join and Carol Verdi is now the first female president of the Kiwanis Lefferts-Liberty Club. Original charter member John Cerulli previously was against having women join, but now takes a different view. "I'm happy now to have women in our club who bring forth so much to the table," Cerulli said. According to Alvino, the Lefferts-Liberty Kiwanis Club is the second-largest club in Queens. Currently the club has 53 members. A Legion of Honors, in the form of a pin, has been given out to members of 25 years - since the start of the club. Some of the local honorees were Gary Madigan, John Cerulli, Frank Merante and Lieutenant Governor Clement Vicari. Past Lieutenant Governor Monte Maltighati, who is now filling the same position, was also acknowledged. Democratic District Leader (23rd AD) Geraldine Chapey also just joined the Kiwanis Club. Verdi started visiting the club a few years back but never thought she would wind up being the president of one of the divisions. "I'm honored to be the president of the Lefferts-Liberty division and it really came to me as a surprise," Verdi said. Past governor of the club Ed McGowan said that originally the club started with 32 members and it continues to thrive. Several clubs throughout the years were losing members, but the Lefferts-Liberty club beat those statistics, he said. According to Kiwanis member Rosemary-Ciulla-Frisone, on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. the Kiwanis Lefferts-Liberty Club's second annual fashion show will be held at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach and proceeds will benefit the children in the community. Kiwanis was originally founded in Detroit, Mich., in 1915. By 1919, the club changed its focus from business to service and it became an international organization in 1916, according to Kiwanis.org. In 1962 worldwide expansion was approved - before that it was limited to the United States and Canada. The word Kiwanis means 'we trade' or 'we share our talents.' The word Kiwanis was taken from an American Indian expression, Nunc Kee-wanis. Kiwanis members contribute to the betterment of the community, the homeless and service to children.
©2008 Community News Group
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