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Reaching Out

meet volunteer barbara thompson of creve coeur

kiwanis international:  To help kids around the world be curious, safe and healthy through community clubs while also focusing on challenges like award winner fighting disease and poverty

How long have you been a volunteer?
14 years.

What interested you in this particular cause?
A few things attracted me to Kiwanis. First and foremost is its mission of serving children. My career was in education, so it immediately appealed to me. In 2003, I was serving as an assistant superintendent in the Hazelwood School District. The superintendent wanted everyone to become more involved in the community and join an organization of their choosing. I was chairing the A+ Schools advisory committee at the time, and a member invited me to a Kiwanis meeting. I went to the Florissant Valley club meeting and learned about several service projects they sponsor, including Key Club, a student-led leadership and service program in high schools. I had been a high school teacher, and was interested in helping students. Everything fell into place. It was just meant to be.

What kind of volunteer work are you involved with?
I’m involved on the local, regional and international levels. I belong to the Florissant Valley and Creve Coeur clubs and help sponsor a Key Club. They do so much; it is impossible to list everything! One of my favorite things at Creve Coeur is a character education program in elementary schools called TERRIFIC Kids. Each month, teachers select students who have demonstrated good character. A Kiwanis member gives them a certificate and some other goodies, letting the children know that the community is invested in their education. I am proud to be able to recognize these kids. In 2014, I became a member of the Kiwanis International board, and this is the last year of my term. I’ve been serving as counselor for the Belgium-Luxembourg and Taiwan districts overseas. I visited both, but I mostly remain in contact via Skype and email. I give these districts encouragement, suggestions and appreciation. Every district does amazing work for its local community. In 2016, I had the extreme pleasure of serving as counselor to the Key Club International board, which is comprised of students. I’m also the regional leader for the Eliminate Neonatal Tetanus program, which partners with UNICEF. Neonatal tetanus kills thousands of mothers and infants around the world. Kiwanis raises money to provide the tetanus vaccine to women of childbearing age. The program has helped eliminate neonatal tetanus in 33 countries, leaving only 16 nations to go. I also work on several teams and committees that help establish new clubs at both regional and international levels. Locally, we are working on starting a club in University City.

If you could do anything for the organization, what would it be?
To open a Kiwanis club in every community, and in larger communities, to open multiple ones to serve denser populations. The vision of Kiwanis is that every child will wake up healthy, happy, safe and loved. We can’t achieve this without meeting the needs of the community. The welfare of the child depends on the welfare of the community.

in the words of kiwanis international: “Barb Thompson epitomizes what it means to be a member of Kiwanis. She is a problem-solver with great enthusiasm. She has donated her time and talent to Kiwanis youth leadership programs, and is always among the first to volunteer to work with the students.”

Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

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