I have been involved in the Kiwanis Family, an organization dedication to community service for 35 years. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and I joined the Key Club (high school level) at my high school when I was a sophomore because I liked the advisor and I decided that if he thought it was worthwhile, then I wanted to be a part of it. I did some projects and was pretty active, but I didn’t have a clue about the whole Key Club universe. That changed in the spring of my junior year I found out about a convention being held in Green Bay. I thought it would be cool to spend the weekend there, so I signed up
I had no idea that there was anything beyond our little club and then I got to Green Bay and I was one of 600 high school students there! The first night, we sat in our caucus and we were paired with another division, which is a region of the state. There were candidates for all these statewide offices coming in and telling us what they were going to do, why they were qualified, and why we should vote for them. And there was a guy running for a position called Lt. Governor of the other division and apparently our division needed one, too, but no one was running. The guy running the caucus was begging for someone, anyone to run.
About that time, my club advisor nudged me and said, “Why don’t you do it?” I had never even held a club office before, but, I thought about it and I decided, “I’ll run, and then they’ll see that I’m not any good and don’t know anything, and somebody better will run against me and get elected.” So, I raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it.” And I immediately learned a lesson about volunteering. You tend to get what you volunteer for!
I answered questions the best that I could and I guess they felt I wasn’t a total loser, because I was elected. I didn’t know what I was doing, but as soon as I got home, I dove into all of the material that I had been given and learned everything I could. I had a good year and received several awards as a result. I was sad, however, that I had not learned about this sooner and that I had only one year to serve on the district board and enjoy the great experiences of leadership.
I then met the Circle K (the collegiate level) District Governor and he told me about Circle K as a place for me to continue my involvement. I went full force into Circle K, being appointed Lt. Governor the first week I was in school, getting elected Governor as a freshman, then International Vice-President and finally, International President. My experiences in those positions have shaped and influenced my life and career since and still do to this day.
What if I had not answered the call? What if I had played it safe and just sat there? What if some time traveler could go back to that moment and hold me down and I never took the bold step forward? Well, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If I hadn’t taken that bold step, I would not have been influenced to move to Indianapolis after graduation, which is where I got into the mortgage business. What career might I have had? I got into the mortgage business by accident, so who knows? It was because of the mortgage business that I moved to Atlanta. So, if I wasn’t there, then I never would have met my wife and my daughters would never have been born. I would never have joined a Kiwanis Club and had the opportunity to grow in my leadership and confidence, leading workshops and giving presentations. I would not be writing to you today. And so it goes. One bold move has influenced the rest of my life.
When the opportunity comes, will you raise your hand and say, “I’ll do it”? Leadership and life are calling to you. All you need is a desire to serve and a willingness to try. Make the most of the opportunities by saying, “I’ll do it!”
I appeared on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon twice
to make check presentations on behalf of Circle K International’s fundraising efforts.
Yes, this is me back in college!
Dave Kelly is the leading authority on Student Leadership and Community Service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from Student Government Associations, Campus Activities Boards and campus clubs of every kind on Campus Organization Leadership and Community Service Projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 140 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.