Nancy Dietze and husband Fred are voracious readers. So when they were looking for a club to join, they wanted one that supports literacy.
Kiwanis fit the bill. The two have been part of several clubs, including in River Falls, before chartering Kiwanis of Greater Hudson.
Over the years, Dietze has helped lead efforts to collect and donate books for kids. For every Kiwanis speaker -- that’s two a month -- the club donates a children’s book to the Hudson Area Public Library. Over the years that’s amounted to 220 books.
The group also donates books to its sister district in the Philippines, Books for Africa, United Way food shelves, Family Resource Center, Pine Ridge Native American Reservation and more.
One of the biggest efforts is with the Hudson Backpack Program, providing books for kids to choose each time they come to pick up needed food.
Over the last 11 years, that adds up to more than 8,000 donated books.
“I think every kid should have their own book, at least one and hopefully a lot more of their own that they can do what they want with it, they can read it, they can pass it on,” Dietze said. “Every kid needs a book.”
What is your favorite aspect of being involved in the community?
Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they actually pick out a book and say, “Oh, it’s mine, can I take it?”’ and we say, “Yes, it’s yours you may take it home and keep it.” And their faces just light up. It does my heart good. We call that a Kiwanis moment.
And everyone has a different Kiwanis moment. Our club has sponsored a room over at Grace Place, which is the Salvation Army homeless shelter in New Richmond. We used to donate books for their food pantry when they had it in Somerset and then they moved to that new facility in New Richmond a few years ago and we sponsored a room by decorating it with bedding, pictures on the wall, towels and washcloths and rugs and all that stuff, comforters, window coverings. Wherever we can shine a little brightness into somebody’s life who needs it is what we’re all about.
What impact do you hope your work has on the community?
Our biggest goal right now is to get our Kiwanis Club of Greater Hudson better recognized in the community for what we do. We're one of the best kept secrets around. Because we don't have a large presence, we don't have a huge membership.
We’d like to get more media presence so that people know we’re here,and we’re open to all nationalities, all ages, all interests. If you have something that you’re passionate about to help the kids in the community, call us, maybe it’s something we can take up as a service project. We need new blood.