October 22, 2019

Club formed as outlet for disabled volunteers to connect with community

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WEST BRANCH — With the intent of benefiting the West Branch community, the Kiwanis Club launched an offshoot early in March to provide an outlet for disabled individuals looking to volunteer.

“The Aktion Club is people who are 18 and over who have some kind of handicap, who want to do something to serve the community and the children of the community,” Kiwanis Adviser Denny Shumway said.

According to Shumway, there are currently 10 Aktion Clubs operating around the state, and after attending a Kiwanis district meeting last year, he decided to form a club in the area.

“Tim Dibble and I went to districts last year and that is basically where we learned and understood what the Aktion Club was all about,” Shumway said.

Following districts, Michigan Aktion Club Chairperson Sue Debon came and spoke to the Kiwanis Club about the organization.

According to the Kiwanis Aktion Club’s website, the program is designed to give adults living with disabilities the opportunity to “give back to their communities, build leadership and decision-

making skills, and develop and use their talents.”

“Ultimately, Aktion Club helps to improve their self-esteem,” the website reads. “People living with disabilities, more than anything, want to be treated like everyone else and the Aktion Club allows that to happen.”

Dibble, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of West Branch, already had an informal group of people volunteering through the church, and after learning of the Aktion Club he approached the individuals to gauge interest in forming a club.

“We chartered them on May 15 at the United Methodist,” Shumway said. “We had about 65 people who attended — families, and people above us from districts that came in.”

Shumway said it was evident to him that the community needed such a club.

“The group that we got in were already active in the community,” Shumway said. “They already know how to generate programs. All we are is giving them a name so the public can see what they are doing.”

Shumway said his role is to serve as an adviser to the group but the members run their own club.

“They run the club just like we run our club,” Shumway said. “They have their own president, secretary and treasurer.”

According to club President Violet Wilson, the group first started by running a soup kitchen and grew from there.

“There were three or four of us trying to get something started,” Violet said. “It is a good group of people. They are loving, caring and work hard.”

Shumway said if anyone is interested in joining the club, they can contact Shumway at 989-701-2507.

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