Young professionals in the business world have their whole life ahead of them — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling with work-related stress, job security, and especially, financial hardships.
Times are tough, so to help with the financial hurdle, Lake Granbury Kiwanis is offering a membership incentive for all young professionals in Hood County.
As part of its membership challenge for the Kiwanis year (which began Oct. 1) the volunteer service organization offers one year of completely free dues and meals for anyone 30 years old or younger.
“When I joined Kiwanis at age 24, I remember how money was tight, and I would go anywhere for free food,” said Lake Granbury Kiwanis Vice President Matthew Mills. “We're hoping this initiative will help build some leaders for the next generation by giving them a helping hand and encouraging them to serve our community.”
Alison Ullom, president of Lake Granbury Kiwanis, explained that the idea for the membership incentive was created after the Granbury Kiwanis chapter attended the organization's district meeting this past summer.
"I was a delegate for our particular division, and I gave out some prizes for people who had different accomplishments; one of them was for the one (division) that had the most new members, and they had 41,” Ullom explained. “I like trophies and I'm highly competitive, so I brought it up, and Matt said, ‘Hey, I've got this kooky idea, I think it might work.’ We talked about having younger professionals, or just younger members as a whole in the club, so we thought it was a really grand idea. We took it to the board, and we got it approved.”
She jokingly added there were some board members who were not happy at first — but that it had nothing to do with the idea itself.
“There were a few board members who were not thrilled to know they were not considered young anymore, but otherwise were super excited about it,” Ullom said with a chuckle. “We have several members under 40. Those are the ones who were a little upset about not being young anymore.”
Every Thursday at noon, Lake Granbury Kiwanis meets at Farina’s Winery & Café to network with other members, plan future community events, and listen to a speaker — usually someone who is fully integrated into the community.
Ullom shared that at previous meetings, they have had guests like Granbury Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn and a representative from the Granbury Education Foundation.
"Lunch is included with your membership and then we listen to a speaker and just generally have a great fellowship,” she said.
Individuals age 30 and under are invited to come to Farina’s every Thursday, network with other members, and plug into the events and the community service projects organized by Lake Granbury Kiwanis.
"We are all about kids,” Ullom said. “I (recently) got to go and give Super Citizen Awards to these elementary students, about three or four from each elementary, and it was just so lovely. I know that as we get some younger members, we'll be able to do a whole lot more in the community and with the kids.”
Lake Granbury Kiwanis Club is a volunteer service organization made up of community members from Hood County, according to its website. Members are diverse in their careers and backgrounds, but they all share one thing in common: a passion for serving children and communities.
“We have done food drives and benefits for Rancho Brazos,” Ullom said. “Last year, I believe we gave away right at $24,000 in scholarships to our high school kiddos. We've really tried to be involved and stay involved with the kids in our community and just recognize them as much as we can and help them out as much as we can.”
Ullom said the organization’s main priority is children, but members have also volunteered for other nonprofits as well, like Meals on Wheels of Hood County and Salvation Army of Hood County.
Currently, Lake Granbury Kiwanis has approximately 60 members, with about five of the members aged 30 or under.
"We're hoping to get more young blood, fresh ideas and more energy,” Ullom said. “If we can get some college kids in there and people who are just out of college, they can start hearing from those people, you know, their experiences, that sort of thing, and they're going to be able to relate really well.”
Lake Granbury Kiwanis also has a Key Club, specifically for students in high school. Ullom said if more college-aged individuals joined Kiwanis, it would inspire more high-schoolers to join at the junior level.
"The 20-somethings, these high-schoolers think they're so cool and they can present some great examples and bring in some new ideas,” she said.
Although anyone can join Kiwanis, Ullom said this promotion is intended to bring in more younger members.
"Come to one meeting and see if it's for you,” she said. “If you come and you see that it’s something that’s really for you, it's right up your alley, and you can be passionate about it, then you would ask to join. The board would vote on the membership, and then you become a full-fledged member."
After the one year is up, the young professional will be responsible for paying dues of $50 per month, which covers all meals.
Ullom added that even if this promotion only brings in five or six young members, she would still be open to holding it again in the future.
"As long as I'm on the board, it's going to be something I'm going to be voting for," she added. “I can see us continuing this in the future.”
For more information about Lake Granbury Kiwanis, visit granburykiwanis.org online.