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New service club for those with disabilities

Shirley Bowald, Dick Brulotte and Ashley Arter are working with the Kiwanis Clubs in Salem and Lisbon to launch a Kiwanis Aktion Club in Columbiana County. Aktion Clubs are community service clubs for adults with disabilities. Brulotte is Aktion Club administrator for Ohio. Bowald and Arter are staff members of the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities. (Submitted photo)

LISBON — Adults with disabilities want the same things in life as everyone else, including the chance to give back to their home communities. Those in Columbiana County will have that opportunity with the proposed formation of a service club just for them through a program of Kiwanis International.

Kiwanis Clubs of Lisbon and Salem are partnering with the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD) to sponsor creation of a Kiwanis Aktion Club.

“You run the club. We are here to help you but you make all the decisions,” said Dick Brulotte, speaking to a group of a dozen prospective adult members Thursday at the CCBDD training facility.

Brulotte, a retired teacher from Delaware, Ohio, is Aktion Club administrator for Ohio. He said there are already 31 Aktion Clubs in Ohio; currently he is working with local Kiwanis Clubs in the counties of Hamiliton, Butler and now Columbiana to launch new chapters.

Thursday’s informational meeting was conducted by two women who will represent the CCBDD as advisers to the new club. Shirley Bowald, employment development manager, conducted the in-person meeting, while Ashley Arter, transition specialist, transmitted the session to those following virtually through an internet connection.

Bowald said she and Arter had discussed the need for such a club recently. Arter heard about the Kiwanis Aktion Clubs and “has been instrumental in getting the group up and running,” said Bowald.

The new club would elect its own president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, who would fulfil the duties of their offices just as individual Kiwanis Club officers do, but with guidance and assistance from advisers, Brulotte said. The time, day of the week and frequency of meetings would be up to the club, with monthly meetings suggested as a start. Members would learn and follow Robert’s Rules of Order, just as all other Kiwanis clubs do, so that meetings would be orderly and productive, he said.

The two local sponsoring Kiwanis clubs in Salem and Lisbon each would designate liaisons for the Aktion Club, would regularly welcome Aktion Club members to their meetings, and would provide financial and logistical support.

“You will have Kiwanis members come and join your meetings. They will help your projects and you will help them,” said Brulotte.

Social and recreational events and outings will be part of the club’s activities, as will fundraisers and service projects, he said. When the club is officially chartered, the Kiwanis Ohio District governor will attend “to install you as members and officers in a big event.”

Brulotte said Aktion Clubs in his experience have organized car washes, talent contests, plays, trips to ballgames, picnics, variety shows, public speaking competitions and many other activities and projects. Club representatives may be selected to attend state and national Kiwanis conferences.

Individuals attending Thursday’s meeting had questions about transportation to meetings, which would be hosted at CCBDD offices in Lisbon. Bowald said getting members to meetings would be worked out in a variety of ways. A majority of those attending indicated they are willing to join and serve as officers.

Josh Martin, CCBDD assistant superintendent, is also president of the Lisbon Kiwanis Club.

“Aktion Clubs provide ways for individuals to serve and become leaders,” Martin said. “People with developmental disabilities are willing and more than capable of making a difference in their communities, and I thank Ashley and Shirley for stepping up and spearheading this project. We believe the community will see the many talents of the individuals we serve through their service projects.”

Several more organizational meetings will be held before the club is formally chartered and elections of officers held, said Brulotte. His goal is to enroll at least 15 members.

Bowald said she and Arter may be reached through the CCBDD main number, 330-424-7788. Brulotte may be contacted at 740-816-0200 or at rbrulotte.aktionclub@gmail.com. The website is aktionclub.org.

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