PALM COAST, Fla. (December 14, 2023) – Closing out 2023 with their meeting on December 13th at Pine Lakes Golf Club the Flagler Palm Coast Kiwanis Club had plenty of good news to share.

In addition to being recognized as an outstanding club in the region, an accolade Lt. Governor Kelly LaCombe was happy to deliver personally, the organization doled out a number of positive headlines for club members before inviting attendees to enjoy a box of homemade holiday cookies from the ‘Great Cookie Giveaway Crew’.

The Great Cookie Giveaway Crew. (Flagler News Weekly)

Good News #1

In addition to their current work with kids in Flagler Schools that includes the Terrific Kids Program, K-Kids and Key Clubs, the Flagler Palm Coast Kiwanis Club is partnering with the Kiwanis Club of Flagler County to support outstanding athletes at Matanzas High School. Overseen by Athletic Director Jordan Butler, the program will offer swag to the Athlete of the Week. The kicker? They will be part of a mentoring program helping at-risk younger students get back on track.

Flagler Palm Coast Kiwanis President Warren Mudd with Matanzas High School Athletic Director Jordan Butler. (Flagler News Weekly)

Butler was excited about the program’s launch.

“This is a very important program because it allows us to recognize our student athletes for more than just being athletes,” Butler said. “We’re going to recognize them on the basis of what they’re doing off the field and on the field, and in the classroom.”

“I think it’s crucial for our younger kids to have some positive role models to look up to. I remember growing up in a small town in Ohio and high school athletes in that small town walked on water as far as I was concerned. So, we know the kids look up to our high schoolers and we want to give them a good example to look up to and strive to be when they get to be in high school,” he said.

Flagler Schools’ 2023 Principal of the Year Jessica DeFord is also excited about the opportunity presented as older students provide mentorship for the next generation.

“The relationship between the Kiwanis and the school district is amazing,” said DeFord, principal at Belle Terre Elementary. “The support from PBIS and Terrific Kids all the way to K-Kids helping deliver food and bring in food for our needy students, the relationship is amazing. We appreciate all they give us.”

“The older students mentoring the younger students is a fantastic idea because a lot of times littles need somebody to look up to and to mentor them. If they see the older students doing well and being a positive role model, then they also want to be the same thing. It’s a form of positive peer pressure, and I love it,” she said.

Flagler Schools Administration (Flagler News Weekly)

Good News #2

No baby has to be left to die if Frank Constantino has anything to say about it, and it turns out fellow Kiwanians agree. Teaming up with two other club members – Mike McElroy and Bill Klinkenberg (all three are members of the Knights of Columbus, as well), the trio applied for a grant from their Kiwanis Club to help support a Safe Haven Baby Box.

“We recently wrote a check to the Knights of Columbus for $5,000. That is one-third of the amount of money they need to buy a single Safe Haven Baby Box,” said Kiwanis Club President Warren Mudd to the membership.

“This is a device that goes in front of a fire station, electronically controlled, climate controlled, everything. If a new mother abandons her baby, Florida law it’s legal to abandon a baby if you take it to a safe place, this is the safe place to take it. They place it in the box and within minutes EMS and a care person will come and fetch the baby and take care of it.”

“As Frank said, if we can save a single kid from being thrown in a dumpster, we’ve done our job,” said Mudd.

Frank Constantino talks about the Safe Haven Baby Box. (Flagler News Weekly)

“This Safe Haven Baby Box is going to go into Station 25 on Palm Coast Parkway,” said Frank Constantino. “They will have that soon. Somebody said how soon do we need the money. Yesterday. We’re on our way and we want to thank all the Kiwanis.”

It All Starts with Attitude 

Catch up with members of his district, Lt. Governor Kelly LaCombe was complimentary of the work being done by the club in the community.

“There’s strength in numbers and they have a pretty good-sized club as well as they have been fortunate to have had some gifts bequeathed to them. With that, they’ve been able to number one let that money make more money, and then share that with the community,” he said.

Kelly LaCombe, Amelia Fulmer, and Anthony Wild. (Flagler News Weekly)

The club successful team is a role model not just for other Kiwanis Clubs but for all service organizations.

“I think a lot of it is attitude. They have a ‘can do, anything goes’, not only that, they have fun with what they do,” said LaCombe.

“Some of the clubs get a little focused, it becomes a job, and because of what happened after COVID, happened to every service organization. So now we’re all kind of getting to gain on it. We’re aging on at the same time the younger generation is coming up. How do you address them? You’ve got to be on social media. Somehow, we’ve got to bridge the gap. I believe the younger generation is not as apathetic as the middle generation was before it, to where it was almost ‘cool to not care’.”

“I think mentoring is the key. You give a kid an instrument, great. You teach a kid to play that instrument, and it’s a dramatically different outcome.”

Joel and Audrey Rosen (Flagler News Weekly)