Cleaning up trash and doing yard work can be a chore, but doing it in the rain makes it worse. Despite both challenges, the spirits of 20 hearty citizens who came out to clean up Damascus Community Park the morning of Saturday, April 7, were not dampened.

'We were wet, (but) we got a lot of work done and had a good time,' said Mary Wescott. 'We're just trying to get the park set up so the kids have a place to go.'

Wescott and the rest of the group held the cleanup as the first volunteer event of the Damascus-Boring Kiwanis Club, the area's newest chapter of the community service organization.

'We finally got a good core group of people,' said Wescott, who serves as vice president of the chapter. 'It's nice to have a service organization just for your town.'

Kiwanis International, founded in 1915, is an organization that strives to support children around the world. According to Kiwanis, there are more than 8,400 Kiwanis clubs with approximately 280,000 members in 96 nations and geographic areas.

Organizers of the Damascus-Boring Kiwanis can't file for their charter until they have 25 people on board, and they currently have 21. But that didn't stop them from holding the cleanup event, and members believe it makes sense for the new club to form.

'There has not been any organized service clubs in the Boring/Damascus area for years,' said Rob Dahl, president of the club and deputy fire chief of the Boring Fire District. 'They tried to form a Kiwanis club 15 years ago. But the community's changed quite a bit, and the time seems to be right.'

Dahl expects to apply for the club's charter in the next few weeks, perhaps after the next meeting on Wednesday, April 18. Len Bierlein, one of the driving forces behind the new club, hopes enough people show up at that meeting to make it happen.

'I've been a member of Kiwanis in Rockwood for 22 years,' said Bierlein. 'As long as we're healthy and strong and we can do something constructive for the community, let's do it.'

The fledgling club already has other events planned for this year, including a blood drive with the Boring Fire District on April 30, helping with the Damascus Day in the Park event during the last weekend of July, literacy projects and beautification projects for the Damascus business district. Later this week, club members plan to plant flowers in two large flowerpots they placed in Damascus Community Park during the cleanup. And they're not going to stop there.

'On a larger scale, we've talked about getting parks or community facilities to bear our name,' Dahl said. '(Another) one of the beauties of Kiwanis is you meet and become friends with people who you might not have met otherwise. The club is representative of all corners of the community.'

Other Kiwanis clubs in the area are excited for the momentum building in Damascus and Boring. As D.J. Anderson - president of the Sandy chapter - noted, clubs work together in the community, and he looks forward to having a sister club close by.

'It means more support for our youth and our programs,' said Anderson. 'The more the merrier.'

Want to go?

The Damascus-Boring Kiwanis Club meets at 6:45 a.m. the first and third Wednesday of every month at Damascus Community Church, 205th Avenue and Highway 212. Dues are $100 a year. For more information, call Dahl at 503-663-4638 or visit www.kiwanisofdamas

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