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Fish on a (gear) stick

Kiwanis fish bus delivers to
locals more than just lunch

The organization contributes
proceeds to local charities

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (December 2004) – The Kiwanis Club has a long history in Oldham County. Residents have become accustomed to seeing the club’s bright blue Fish Bus parked on the corner lot beside the public library for the past 40 years.
The bus is run by volunteers who over the years have donated their time and talents to serving the community. Current president Jerry King joined after retiring from the service in 1992 and said that to become a member, individuals must be nominated by an existing member.

Kiwanis Fish Bus

Photo by Don Ward

The ‘Fish Bus’ serves lunch for a
good cause twice a month in La Grange.

King’s father-in-law, Tom Moock, has been a member since he moved to La Grange. Around 1965 a neighbor asked him to join the club. In his late 20s, Moock had “never belonged to anything before,” he said.
Belonging to the club requires “a lot of work,” said Moock. The club meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Oldham County Fairgrounds. “We’re the only club in the district with our own building,” said King.
In the past, members moved from restaurant to restaurant to hold meetings. The railroad donated property on which to build a clubhouse, said Moock. But certain members objected to this plan, and after tabling the idea for a time, a space became available at the Oldham County Fairgrounds.
For $35,000, a permanent building was constructed, said Moock. Members did all of the inside plumbing and electrical work themselves on the clubhouse, located at 2505 W. Hwy. 146.
But volunteering is not something new to members of the Kiwanis Club. “We are strictly a volunteer group,” said King. Every member must participate in fund raisers. “All money goes to charities,” he said.
The group is responsible for chartering the sponsorship of Little League Teams in Oldham County, hosting an annual Easter Egg Hunt and providing 10-15 families in need with food baskets and groceries during the holidays.
Members will tackle any project big or small to do “anything to benefit children,” said King. This includes assisting the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and buying eyeglasses and clothes for elementary aged children.
The Kiwanis Club has “donated to almost everything that comes along,” said Moock. “We don’t have one special project that we do.”
The club even donated labor and money to establish a rescue squad in Oldham County in the mid-70s. A sense of satisfaction in knowing they have helped someone in need, spurs members on to the next project.
The term, Kiwanis, is derived from an expression in an American Indian language of the Detroit area. “Nunc kee-wanis” means “we trade” or “we share our talents.”
Kiwanis International was founded on January 21, 1915, in Detroit and is now headquartered in Indianapolis. There are more than 8,600 Kiwanis Clubs with nearly 300,000 members in 94 nations and geographical areas.
In a typical year, Kiwanis Clubs invest more than 6.2 million hours of volunteer time, leaving a lasting impression on future generations.
In the 1960s, some civic-minded men in Oldham County held fish fries to benefit the Catholic Church and school, said Moock. It was decided they should move onto the bus and continue what they were doing. The reins were handed over to the Kiwanis Club, and they have been frying and selling fish ever since.
What began as a men’s club changed direction in 1987. After several years debate, women’s membership was approved. King’s wife, Candy, is the club’s treasurer, and his daughter is also a member, marking three generations of family involvement.
Moock has had the honor of holding the position of Lieutenant Governor of the club twice, once in 1977 and again in 2001. This position governs the Louisville district, which includes Elizabethtown, Shepherdsville, Shelbyville and Carrollton.
At the time, 16 clubs were in existence but have since been consolidated into 11. Moock’s duties as Lieutenant Governor included scoring and tallying donated hours, keeping a record of members attending meetings, and keeping track of money. The club was in the top three at the end of the year, said Moock.
“It was a full-time job,” he said. It was required that he attend a certain number of meetings in his district a year, which averaged out to 100 dinners a year.
The Fish Bus is parked in La Grange on the first and third weekend of every month. This is the fourth bus for the Kiwanis Club. They generally last about 10 years. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

• For more information, contact King at (502) 222-3035.

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