Kiwanian Jeff Hartman says the Pacific Kiwanis Club has done a lot to help people in need, but its numbers are dwindling to the point that it cannot always keep its promises.

“We need help,” he said.

Speaking to about 120 people gathered at the Tri-County Community Senior Center for the Pacific Kiwanis 18th annual Prayer Breakfast Mway 1, Hartman said as members of a club citizens can do things that change people’s lives.

Hartman was not the keynote speaker at the Prayer Breakfast, but he knew his crowd and was unapologetic in his plea for new members for his club.

He said clubs like Kiwanis are often made up of members drawn from an aging population.

“Only the Pacific Lions is going strong right now,” Hartman said. “I urge everyone to support that club, and all the clubs, which do good work. But no club does more for young people than the Kiwanis.”

The local club had made promises to Emma Tomnitz, Pacific High School Key Club president, that they were not able to keep.

“We promised to send her to the Key Club convention in Springfield, where she would have experienced great leadership training and we didn’t do it,” he said. “We promised to help her collect used blue jeans to be redistributed to young people who are homeless and live on the streets and we didn’t — because we just didn’t have the resources.

The Pacific Kiwanis Club was formed in 1977. One of its first projects was to raise $5,280 to buy jaws of life equipment to extricate people from wrecked vehicles.

“I thought $5,000 was all the money in the world,” Hartman said. “I didn’t imagine that we could raise it.”

Within a few months of the purchase, local resident Keith Bruns was involved in a train-vehicle accident and the equipment had to be used to extricate him.

“This community service stuff is no joke,” Hartman said.

The original Pacific Kiwanis Club folded in about 1987, but reorganized in 1994 and until very recently was a strong service organization in the city.

“We didn’t keep our promises to Emma, but here’s what we did do,” Hartman said. “We raised $3,000 for Neonatal Tetanus from our members’ pockets.

“We raised $1,400 on our local trivia night for local events, and we raised $2,000 to buy hams when Agape House needed help to fill Christmas baskets.

“Some things are necessary,” Hartman continued. “When you’re hungry at Christmas that’s pretty tough.

“We truly believe that you have to take a pro-active serious approach to what’s going on in our community,” he said.

Kiwanis is a global organization that is dedicated to changing the world one community at a time, said Susan Jespersen, Missouri United Methodist Church, southeast district administrative assistant.

As keynote speaker at the prayer breakfast, Jespersen explained the current National Kiwanis campaign to eliminate maternal neonatal tetanus, which prevents children from getting tetanus by inoculating the mothers.

Kiwanis and UNICEF have joined forces to save lives in Third World countries.

Hartman said the $3,000 raised in Pacific for the campaign was taken from the pockets of local Kiwanis members.

“We don’t go into the community and raise money that is sent out of the community,” he said. “All the money we raise stays here.”

Tim Baker, senior center president, and Jean Guffey, administrator, arrived at the center at 5 a.m. to cook a buffet breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits, gravy, pancakes and melon cups for the breakfast.

The Pacific High School jazz band, carrying their instrument cases, eased into a corner of the room to play a short session as late arrivals found their seats.

Commenting that it was his first official public appearance since taking office, Mayor Jeff Palmore welcomed the attendees to Pacific.

In addition to Hartman’s comments, there also were lengthy prayers at the annual day of prayer celebration.

Pastor Denise Williams, Pacific Presbyterian Church, opened the event with a prayer that focused on God’s presence in every aspect of the world we live in.

Pastor Harold Harrison, Pacific Assembly of God Church, offered the closing prayer — a plea for the faithful to look to God to solve the problems and end the divisions that we face in every aspect of life.

But it was Hartman’s heartwarming plea for others to join the efforts of the local service club that captivated the crowd.

He later told The Missourian that his breakfast speech attracted two new members for the club.