Kiwanis Club of Plainfield Closes in on 50 Years of Local Service
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
The Kiwanis Club of Plainfield is nearing its 50th anniversary. The club, which started in 1974, has done a lot of good through the past five decades. Though numbers have fluctuated through the years, currently they have nearly 100 members. This counts the Plainfield Schools Key Club, which is devoted to teaching children and youth about the importance of leadership and service.
Rob Hovermale and Ron Porter are two of the four pastors at Mercy Base Church who joined the Kiwanis Club in the summer of 2019, eager to make community connections with great organizations like Hendricks County’s Healthy Families. In early 2022 Hovermale and his church members launched a yearlong challenge, collecting baby supplies once per quarter for Hendricks County’s Healthy Families. These items included diapers, bottles, wipes and formula. Mercy Base divided into four teams to make the first-quarter challenge a fun, competitive event.
“It’s fun to get people fired up about helping people in need,” Hovermale says.
“Pastor Ron Porter works hard making connections with community members daily,” says Captain Jack Sadler, enforcement division commander for Hendricks County. “After learning of the diaper challenge, many Hendricks County employees, along with other community members, made donations.”
David Schall, nutrition coach at The Energy Spot in Avon, engaged his customers in the diaper challenge as well.
“My wife and I decided to run a promotion through our business and customers brought in diapers to support the cause,” Schall says. “It was amazing to watch our community give back.”
Ultimately, they amassed 18,000 diapers.
“This partnership between Kiwanis and Mercy Base has been out of this world,” says Lori Lee, president of the Kiwanis Club of Plainfield. “The kind, serving hearts they have have made our club very successful and helped us blossom.”
Porter never misses a Kiwanis meeting because he loves finding opportunities to partner up. For instance, Mercy Base utilizes their volunteers to help with the annual Kiwanis golf outing. They have also partnered with Kiwanis and Fabric Care to assist in the Coats for the Community program. Last fall they gave out 130 coats to more than 75 families.
“Pastor Rob hosts Kiwanis’ holiday dinners, and in the winter partners with Jack’s Donuts to pass out pizzas, blankets, socks and subzero sleeping bags to the homeless,” Lee says.
Mercy Base partners with the Kiwanis Club for a benefit ride to raise money for scholarships for the Plainfield Youth Assistance Program.
“We enjoy what that program is all about,” Hovermale says. “We want to make sure we help out where there is a need.”
Jerry Sheffer, a member of Mercy Base, spent much of his life living paycheck to paycheck. In recent years he has become more financially stable and eager to help others. One day he asked Hovermale if the church’s outreach team could bring bounce houses, snow-cone machines and a deejay to a run-down apartment complex. The mission? To put smiles on the faces of the residents. For four hours they cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, served cotton candy, offered face painting and provided bounce houses. That same outreach team travels all over the state and even to other states to encourage businesses and churches. As for Sheffer, the opportunity provided a sense of worth and pride that he hadn’t felt for a long time.
Through Kiwanis, Hovermale has created partnerships with multiple businesses in the community.
“What that does is allow us out in the street,” he says.
For instance, through a partnership with Meineke Car Care, Hovermale can send any single mom to get a free oil change. He has also partnered with Gill Insurance Advisors, Brain Balance Center, SunRift Capital Partners and Chick-fil-A.
Hovermale’s outlook is really quite simple. He just wants to partner with people who are already doing good things in the community. “Why reinvent the wheel?” he asks.
Now that Mercy Base has been a member of Kiwanis for three years, they no longer have to seek out partnerships. “Now people know us and call us,” Hovermale says.
For more on the Kiwanis Club of Plainfield, visit plainfieldkiwanis.org.