Service Leadership Programs

Growing the Family

When Paul Meyer volunteered for a Key Leader weekend, he had no idea what to expect. But his Kiwanis experience gave him confidence that it would be rewarding.

As current president of the Kiwanis Club of Bridgeton, Missouri, he was aware of the program. And as a retired painting contractor, he knew the enjoyment of working with younger people. “They’ve got younger ideas,” Paul says. “So many people my age—and I’ll be 70 really quick here—won’t talk to a younger person because their ideas may turn out wrong.

“But that’s the part I like,” he adds. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

In fact, it didn’t take long for Key Leader participants to open up to Paul during the October 2010 weekend at Camp Mihaska, 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

 “The kids offered to carry the adults’  luggage to the cabins, and the luggage I  used happened to have my wife’s name on  it,” Paul says. “Two twin brothers were  wondering who in the world ‘Mary Ann  Meyer’ was, so they started calling me  Grandma. They called me Grandma the  whole weekend.”

When Paul hit it off with another participant, the grandfather of six (ages seven months to 20 years) found his brood of “grandchildren” expanding slightly.

“He asked if he could call me ‘Grandpa’ and I said I’d gladly adopt him as a grandson.” They’ve talked by phone since and plan to get together soon.

Paul knew of Key Leader’s potential to change students’ lives, but he didn’t expect that change to be so dramatic.

 “When you’ve raised kids, you see  change,” he says. “But when you’re in  a group of total strangers, you really  notice it since you don’t know their  personalities at first.

 “You could see the change in the kids  as the weekend went on,” Paul adds.  “It was amazing.”

Key Leader even made a positive impact on Paul’s relationships with his older grandsons.

“We spend a lot of time together now, in part because of Key Leader,” he says. “I learned things that I can convey to help make each of them more of a leader.”

Paul believes in Key Leader’s potential for changing volunteers’ lives. “The blooming of youth just astounds you,” he says. “I encourage you to go to a Key Leader weekend and see what today’s youth is capable of .”

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