The Portland Kiwanis Club first introduced the Salem Kiwanis Club which officially began with an installation luncheon on September 9, 1921. Kiwanis International had started six years earlier in Detroit in 1915, and the Pacific Northwest District started four years earlier in 1917. After an International Convention in Portland in 1920, the Kiwanians experienced rapid growth in this area. A national field representative from Chicago installed the first Salem Kiwanis members. In 1921, membership fees were $20 and annual dues were $10.

Salem-Keizer Kiwanis Spelling Bee

The club met on Tuesdays at the Marion Hotel from 12:10 to 1:10 p.m. Board meetings were held on the first Wednesday after the Tuesday of the month. The Salem Club had 75 charter members. By the following year there were 87 members, of which 57 were charter members.

In the early days many of the club’s traditions began. Fining began at the first meeting, with a 10-cent fine for not calling a member by his first name. By 1961, new members were wearing the Mansfield apron that all members were to sign as they introduced themselves. New members gave biographical sketches when their sponsors introduced them.

Bell Ringing for the Salvation Arm

Throughout the years the club sponsored Key Clubs, raised money for construction projects, and members helped with YMCA, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire and Girl Scout projects. From 1963 through 1972, the club planned and chaperoned all night graduation parties for the high school seniors. The Salem Club began the Educator of the Year Award program in 1986. The projects are endless and many more are listed on our projects page.

Marion Hotel Fire

In 1971, a tragic fire destroyed the Marion Hotel where the club had met since their first meeting in 1921. Many of the club’s records were destroyed in that fire. The Black Angus was built at the same location and the club met there until 2001. Annual dues have risen from the original $10 to $37 in 1971 and are $150 annually today. The Salem Kiwanis Club continues a rich tradition of fellowship, community involvement, and responsibility that is a fine example of the goals of Kiwanis.

Merger of Three Salem Kiwanis Clubs

On December 3, 2013, a joint meeting was held of the three Salem Kiwanis Clubs. The clubs included Salem Kiwanis Club, Capitol Kiwanis Club and West Salem Kiwanis Club. A merger of the clubs took place and now there is one combined Salem Kiwanis Club.