Throughout the history of Forest Park, one organization, founded 1923, has been a steadfast promoter of numerous charitable causes. In fact, the members of the Forest Park Kiwanis have raised well over $650,000 for charity since the organization’s conception.

Today, however, it is the Kiwanis who need your help.

Their operating fund will be running at a deficit, unless the members can raise money specifically earmarked for this fund, said Gerald Lordan, public relations director for the club. 

To do this, they will be hosting a pasta dinner on April 23 at the Forest Park Community Center, from 5 to 8 p.m..  Through the dinner, they hope to raise approximately $1,000 for their operating fund.

“Unless we designate it will be for the operating fund, fundraising always goes to the donations fund,” said Denis Gathman, president of the group.  “We have 28 members and only 1/3 of their dues goes towards supporting the local chapter.  Our situation is that we need to increase our operating revenue because member dues don’t cover all our operating expenses this year.”

The idea for the dinner came from other Kiwanis clubs who have done this successfully in the past, Lordan said.

The meal is a steal, with all food donated.  In addition attendees will enjoy a
pasta from one of Forest Park’s most
exclusive pasta restaurants?”LaPiazza, for only $6.

“One of our members, is [Mayor] Anthony Calderone,” Lordan said. “When we were trying to identify local merchants, Tony talked to the chef at LaPiazza, who said he would donate the pasta.”

“I called Gaetano,” Calderone said. “Since he has opened business, we certainly have become mutual acquaintances.  Our heritage stems back to the same part of Italy. Gaetano has a very big heart.  When I had first called him, I called just for some advice, on how to put together a pasta dinner, as we started talking and I told him what it was for, he offered to donate the product.”

Aside from the pasta, there will also be desserts from Silverland and Kay’s lemon ice from Freddy’s in Berwyn and bread, rolls, etc. compliments of Turano’s in Berwyn

Kiwanis has been a part of the village for a long time, said Calderone, a past president and past Lt. Governor for Division 6 of the organization.

“Kiwanis Club is a service organization whose focus is young children, priority one, but it doesn’t stop there,” he said. “In any community that has an active club you will find members willing to help out at all different levels.  Kiwanis has always been an active supporter of any and all of our youth organizations.”

The organization’s goals are to promote higher social, business and professional standards, to build better communities and to promote patriotism and good will. 

In practice, this means they support the numerous youth organizations and participate in mentorship programs throughout the area.

Gathman, Calderone and Lordan all point to the organization’s track record.

“Back in the late 80s the Kiwanis club was responsible for the funds associated with a tot lot within the park, just north of the soccer field,” Calderone said.

 “Our biggest fundra-iser to date is the Peanut Day, on the last weekend of September,” Lordan said. “Volu-nteers solicit donations and to thank people for their support we give them peanuts. The fundraiser helps generate money for youth organizations.”

Some of the organizations the Kiwanis in Forest Park supports are the Forest Park Band Parents, West Suburban Special Education and Little League teams, Spastic Research, the Forest Park Middle School and the YMCA among  others.  They also host a Memorial Day service as a tribute to soldiers at the park.

The Forest Park Kiwanis are also responsible for the Franklin Park Club and sponsored the Melrose Park Kiwanis, the Austin Club and the Oak Park Club.

They are also responsible for the erection and dedication of a monument to the heroes of WWI.

On an international level, Kiwanis supports UNICEF in their iodine deficiency disorder program, as this is the leading cause of mental retardation.

Also, a little known fact, the Forest Park Kiwanis is responsible, in part, for creating the Park District of Forest Park. 

Totaled, the Forest Park Kiwanis donate between $4,000 and $6,000 to local charities annually.

The Forest Park Kiwanis is one of the oldest Kiwanis clubs in the nation, as this year marked the 90th anniversary of the international organization, and the Forest Park Chapter is 82-years-young.

Supporting the pasta fundraiser are a
series of celebrity servers, who will
greet attendees and help serve the
meal.  Included in the list are Dave Novak, park director; Art Jones, of the Main Street Redevelopment Association; Randolph Tinder, Superintendent of School District 91, the editor of the REVIEW and Calderone.