July 13, 2024 Donate

Chelsea, Chelsea Government

Kiwanis Club of Chelsea’s Enduring Impact with a Century of Service

Club secretary Jim Randolph (L) and club treasurer Robert Milbrodt with the Kiwanis Club street sign from the 1970s, around the club’s 50th anniversary. Photo: Taiyler Stanfield.

By Taiyler Stanfield

Founded in 1924, members of the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea have prioritized their club on making the community an enriching environment for all, especially for younger kids.

“We are an international service organization. Our main focus is children—improving the lives of children,” Chelsea Kiwanis club treasurer Robert Milbrodt, who has been with the club for 30 years, said.

“Kiwanis has clubs in 88 countries,” Milbrodt points out, adding that over 8,300 Kiwanis clubs are located around the globe.

Accomplishments by the Chelsea Kiwanis include netting about $60,000 each year that they’ve given to different organizations, scouts, and Faith in Action. These donations to preschools, elementary schools, and sponsored youth in middle and high schools, as well as colleges, make a big difference in the community and have an even larger impact on children and teenagers. Some organizations and events that Chelsea Kiwanis donated money to include SRSLY, the Michigan Foundation, Sounds and Sights, the Ice Cream Social for elementary kids, and more.

1924: The first President of Chelsea Kiwanis, Warren Daniels (C), and his two sons, James (L) and Robert. All have been Presidents of Kiwanis at different times. Photo courtesy: Chelsea Kiwanis

During the years of the Great Depression, unemployment in Michigan skyrocketed to 34 percent. Even through these difficult times, Chelsea Kiwanis still made time to advocate for well-made roads to the State Highway Department to ensure safe and good road conditions. The club even signed promissory notes in 1937 that made paving South Main Street Road to US 12 possible, a highway linking both regional and local destinations.

Jim Randolph, secretary of Chelsea Kiwanis and member for 14 years, explains, “For a long time, Kiwanis was the only service organization, with Warren Daniels of Chelsea Lumber, Staffan and Mitchell of Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home, Paul Schaible of Chelsea State Bank, and so on. Chelsea was built with people who were in the Kiwanis.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Chelsea Kiwanis’s founding in 1924, and it’s safe to say that some things have certainly changed over the years. For example, the clubs were “men only” from 1915 until 1957.

The way Kiwanis went about organization and community service also changed throughout each decade.

“I think it might not have been the greatest thing for the organization through the 70s and 80s because the people wanted to go out and volunteer and help the community,” Randolph said. “They didn’t want to follow the role of an organization. They just wanted to do service for the community. In the last 15 years or so, we’ve been much more focused on doing things for the community, not just being a well-organized club.”

Every Monday, the Chelsea Kiwanis Club has dinner in a room at the Chelsea Hospital, where they go over their next plans and activities to do as well as fundraising opportunities. One main revenue stream that the Chelsea Kiwanis uses for donations and activities for the community includes the use of their concession trailer where they sell food and goods to members of the town during fairs and special events.

“[The Chelsea Kiwanis] is a great social connection,” Randolph said. “It’s a set of people that you might not have otherwise run into and interacted with. And when you do projects, there’s a sense of satisfaction of having either paid it forward or paid it back. You’re not really sure at our age which direction you’re paying. But you’re doing something for the community.”

To learn more about the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea, visit their website at https://k01203.site.kiwanis.org/.