In 1922, when their husbands joined the Kiwanis Club of Evansville, 23 women found a way to meet independently for fellowship and to engage in their own local civic projects. They created the Sinawik Club of Evansville (Kiwanis spelled backward), and this year the organization celebrates 90 years of community service.
Its members have matured — Mora Burris and Marian Caldemeyer are in their 90s — yet the women of Sinawik remain active by meeting monthly at the Evansville Kennel Club for a luncheon. Much like Kiwanis clubs around the Tri-State, Sinawik’s mission is to benefit the area’s youth, and the club’s annual project is to provide financial assistance to the emergency funds of the five public high schools in Vanderburgh County.
When Evansville native Mary Dixon joined Sinawik more than 50 years ago, the club boasted more than 170 members and hosted numerous fundraising events — style shows, card parties, and rummage and bake sales — including a 1963 card party and style show that drew nearly 900 guests. She has served as president twice, and spearheaded a silent auction and a style show by the Lois Fashion Shop (circa early 1960s) with a $1.50 ticket price. She recalls, “We hosted anything that would get people together to have a great time and raise money.”
Last year, Sinawik, which now fully relies on donations, gave about $300 to each of the emergency funds at North, Central, Bosse, Harrison, and Reitz high schools to assist students in need of items such as books, backpacks, clothing, cash, and even the occasional pair of glasses. “We feel like there are a number of needy students in those high schools,” she says, “and our purpose and hope is that we can help them.”
In 1987, Kiwanis opened membership to women, resulting in a sharp decrease in new membership to Sinawik. “It has become difficult getting young people involved in women’s clubs,” says Dixon. “But we’ve never lost focus of our club’s bylaws.” Today, 21 females — 12 who still attend meetings and secure donations — continue to collect $1,500 annually for local schools.
“I’m just so proud of our group,” says Dixon. “These women are purposed, and we will continue to give back to the schools as long as we can.”
If you are the wife of a Kiwanis member interested in joining Sinawik, please call director Joy Tredway at (812) 477-5019.