In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis rocked the international political scene, Americans flocked to the theater to see “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and the Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do.”
And in South Queens, a group of business men who wanted to make an impact on their community formed what is now one of the oldest service groups in the neighborhood —the Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach.
Since then, the group has grown rapidly, attracting members from all walks of life, and on Friday, April 20, at its annual dinner dance, it will mark five decades of doing everything from raising money for diabetes research to sending children to summer camp.
“We’re celebrating 50 years of servicing the Howard Beach community,” said Bob LoCascio, the group’s president. “It’s one of the oldest, if not the oldest, community organizations in Howard Beach. We’re very proud of it.”
The Kiwanis Club will hold its 50th annual dinner dance at Russo’s on the Bay beginning at 7 p.m. For the first time ever, the event will be open to the general public, and people can buy tickets for $125 a head.
The money raised during the event, which includes food and entertainment by the Rick Mango Band, will go toward the various charitable organizations and activities the club supports. The group will also honor its past president, Steve Sirgiovanni, at the celebration.
“For us in Howard Beach, we reach out to the local people, and most of the money stays in Howard Beach,” LoCascio said of the group’s efforts that include giving out more than $1,000 in gift certificates for families in need during Thanksgiving, supporting the Columbus Day Foundation and the International Society of SS Cosma and Damiano in Howard Beach, and sending youngsters to Camp Kiwanis during the summer.
The Howard Beach group, which meets every Thursday night at Lenny’s, is one of many Kiwanis organizations spread throughout Queens. Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 and has gone on to raise money for children worldwide.
The Howard Beach group also supports groups of younger Kiwanians in the Builders Club at St. Helen’s and the Key Club at Bayside High School.
“To keep it going for 50 years, that’s the milestone,” LoCascio said. “You see a lot of organizations that started, but couldn’t keep growing. We’re up to 50 members now, and we want to continue to grow by having new members and different fundraisers. We want to keep this organization strong.”
For more information about the April 20 dinner, call club member Dino Bono at (718) 848-3650 or (646) 401-2805. Those interested can also call LoCascio at (917) 805-3115.
Individuals may also email howardbeach email@example.com.