Nancy Cornell of Spring Valley Kiwanis receives a regional award. From left, are Region 7 Lt. Gov. Gail Heyda, convention director Liz Lawrence Ross, Cornell and Stewart Ross, who is district service director and past international trustee. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Nancy Cornell of Spring Valley Kiwanis receives a regional award. From left, are Region 7 Lt. Gov. Gail Heyda, convention director Liz Lawrence Ross, Cornell and Stewart Ross, who is district service director and past international trustee. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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A group of Spring Valley’s Kiwanians attended the organization’s district convention with one member bringing back a regional award.

“The convention is a great way to make new friends, become inspired to ask oneself ‘What more can I do for the children of my community and the world’ and to do some hands-on service,” said Spring Valley Kiwanis member and Builders Club Kiwanis advisor Nancy Cornell.

She, along with her husband and club secretary, Denis, current club president Rita Bezdicek and president-elect Brenda Stier and her husband, Matt, attended the 97th annual Minnesota-Dakotas District Convention of Kiwanis International from Aug. 8 through Aug. 10 at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest in Minnetonka, Minn., which was held to conduct the business of the district, elect new officers, present awards, provide education and inspiration and to do service.

The theme reflected that of the 2013-2014 Kiwanis international president, Gunter Gasser from Austria — Building Bridges for Children to the Future. The focus is on children, especially early childhood development and the importance of reading to children, safe playground equipment for those living with disabilities, and the well-being of children.

Activities held during the convention included hearing speakers, attending workshops, and service activities such as building a “diaper wall,” fixing toys and making items for children to use in emergencies and medical situations.

“Participants and their clubs were asked to donate disposable diapers for a ‘diaper wall.’  The diapers were given to the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, who gave a presentation on the need and scope of the service they provide,” said Cornell.  “There were three hands-on service projects on Saturday afternoon: repairing bikes to be given to needy children, making trauma dolls and dogs to be given to children in emergency situations, and cutting and tying fleece blankets for children in the hospital. I enjoyed attending a forum on three impactful service project ideas, another forum by Scholastic Books  called the ‘Oasis Project,’ a forum on growing your club so more children can be served and a forum on service leadership groups led by our international counselor, Bruce Breven, from Winnipeg, Canada.”

There was a silent auction and used book sale, too, with proceeds going to The Eliminate Project: Eliminating Maternal and Neo-Natal Tetanus.

Emphasis was placed on The Formula: Love It, Share It, Live it!, a way to increase club membership and thus increase the number of hands for service and therefore the number of children that can be given a better life here in the community as well as around the world.

     During the convention, Cornell received the Kiwanis Region 7 Star Award, presented to her by Stewart Ross, district service director and past international trustee, while attending the Saturday luncheon.

“Our district is made up of seven regions, and each region could nominate one person to receive the award. There are many Kiwanians in our district who serve their clubs and their communities with unwavering commitment who are never recognized. This award is an opportunity for clubs to acknowledge those efforts by nomination, which includes an essay why the recipient deserves the award, and to publicly recognize and honor them before their peers at the district convention,” said Cornell.

She was nominated for service to the Spring Valley club, community and especially for co-chairing and promoting the Kiwanis worldwide service project, Eliminating Maternal and Neo-Natal Tetanus. One baby dies every nine minutes from deadly but preventable tetanus. Kiwanis, working with UNICEF since 2011, is raising funds — $110 million — to pay for the vaccines and training of local health care workers. So far, over 30 million mothers and their unborn children have been protected from tetanus, mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia. Twenty-four more countries still need to be protected.

“I’m proud to say that our Spring Valley Kiwanis Club has raised $20,400 of our $28,500 goal. By August of 2015, we hope to surpass our goal. Thank you to members of the community who have supported our soup fundraiser at Four Daughters Winery and Vineyard for the last three years,” said Cornell. “I was honored and humbled to receive this award. I felt it was a team effort since the things that were accomplished were done with the support and help of my club. I did not do this on my own.” Cornell especially liked sharing with members of other clubs.

“My favorite part was meeting new friends and seeing people that I have not seen since the last convention — I met lots of Kiwanians from the three states as well as our international counselor from Winnipeg, ”said Cornell. “I enjoyed the Friday night talent show and the Governor’s Banquet on Saturday but my most favorite part was the keynote speaker, Mark Lindquist, a nationally recognized motivational speaker and world touring entertainer who is also a former Key Clubber and current Kiwanian from Fargo, N.D.  He was amazing and very inspirational.”

She cited that she came away with some new service and fundraising ideas, and was able to share some ideas for Builders Club projects that have been successful at Kingsland and how they organized their spaghetti supper fundraisers for Eliminate and Food for Kidz.

The Cornells also took in some exhibits while in the Twin Cities. After the convention on Sunday afternoon, Jack and Judy Zierdt, former Spring Valley Kiwanis members now active in Rochester, joined them as they enjoyed “Nature in Glass: The Wonders of Craig Mitchell Smith,” comprising 32 unique and stunning glass sculptures that adorn the gardens at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. The “real flowers and the glass ones were all fantastic,” said Cornell.

Stier related that her experience at the convention was very positive. “I thought the convention was very well organized, from the silent auction to all the speakers and presentations, to the talent show, and more. I really enjoyed it, and everyone was so friendly and welcoming to Matt and me. I liked being able to help with the fleece blankets that the Anoka Area Kiwanis will be donating. Bringing diapers and seeing how many were collected for the Crisis Nursery and that presentation were also very touching. I also enjoyed talking to other Kiwanis members about their clubs, and being able to share with them about ours.”