Kiwanis Club of Echo Discontinues Charter After 16 Years

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Matthew Greenup of Heppner listens to Phyllis Shovelski of the Kiwanis Club of Echo share a story about the old St. Peter's Catholic Church in Echo during a September 2017 cleanup effort and open house. Formed in 2007, the club disbanded in September. (Photo by Tammy Malgesini/Hermiston Herald)

After providing a variety of community outreach services for 16 years, the Kiwanis Club of Echo has discontinued its charter.

Phyllis Shovelski, president, and Michael Duffy, past president and acting treasurer, said the yearlong phase-out process became official Sept. 30. The Echo couple said it was a hard-wrought decision but with active membership down to about seven or eight people, they said it would take a substantial commitment to revive the club.

“The population of Echo is 700 people and they are spread pretty thin,” Duffy said. “People are getting older … and we decided it was time to do something else. We had a good run.”

Prior to moving to Echo nearly a quarter of a century ago, Shovelski, who initially joined the Kiwanis in 1988 in Missoula, Montana, and Duffy, both had been involved in regional leadership with Kiwanis International. Armed with experience in building clubs, they helped launch the Echo charter in 2007.

During the initial kickoff gathering, Duffy said 33 signed up as members. Over the years, he estimates that 50 people have been involved with the Kiwanis Club of Echo.

“We’ve had a pretty good core group,” Shovelski said. “However, people just don’t volunteer like they used to.”

Several past Kiwanis projects, the couple said, will continue with other groups taking the reins. Chester’s Food Pantry, which was started by the Kiwanis, is being taken over by the Echo Community Church. The Echo Heritage Association will continue in organizing the Echo Oktoberfest fundraiser, which helps support the restoration of the old St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

The Kiwanis Club, Duffy said, also provided man-hours and support with city cleanup efforts, the Red 2 Red cross-country mountain bike race, National Night Out activities, the holiday Christmas food box program and more. And the scholarship program, Shovelski said, awarded more than $85,000 to help local students continue their education.

Duffy said money earmarked for various projects was disbursed accordingly. In addition, he said, the Hermiston Kiwanis Club has assisted with the transition.

As for Shovelski and Duffy, their days of volunteering aren’t over. They are continuing to focus their attention on the Echo Heritage Association.

“Neither Mike or I are from Echo but we have devoted a lot of time and effort to doing things in Echo and making our community a better place to live,” she said. “Hopefully, people will continue to be inspired to join others and get involved with volunteering in the community.”

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