Several awards were presented to Kiwanian members

ATASCADERO — Atascadero Kiwanis Club has a new president following a changing-of-the-guard dinner recently.

Dan Chinn was installed as the club’s new president at the annual installation/awards banquet. He succeeds E.J. Rossi. The club’s year runs from October to September. Taking the gavel, Chinn told the members he was looking forward to being involved in a leadership role with the club.

But before Rossi turned the reins over to Chinn, he said the club has worked to normalize its many programs as the pandemic slips slowly into the past. Rossi said he was grateful to have had a part in the leadership of the club. He additionally pointed out the club was able to award scholarships to local graduating seniors, carry off its 11th annual Winemaker dinner that resulted in a $20,000 donation to Parents for Joy, completely rebuild the kitchen at the senior center and Kiwanis Hall, and swear in 10 new members, making the organization one of the largest service clubs in the city.


Kiwanis was chartered here in 1969.

The outgoing president presented several awards to a number of Kiwanians.

Mike Schneider was named Kiwanian of the Year. 

“In a year when we were still trying to transition between in-person and online, Mike made that awkward transition seamless,” Rossi said. “Mike not only keeps our technology running and up to date, he manages our website and calendar so fluidly that you would assume we are paying a company to do it.” 

Mike was also honored for his participation in a number of club and community projects.

The Rookie of the Year Award went to Trudy Meyer

“Trudy was instrumental in all three of the Winemaker’s events this year by securing sponsorships, communicating with stakeholders, and keeping everyone together as we tried new endeavors,” Rossi said. “In all that you have done this year, it is amazing to think that this was your rookie year.” 

Past President Tom O’Malley was presented with a Distinguished Service Award. 

“Coming off their year as president most people would take it easy, maybe even enjoy a little rest, but Tom did not do that. In the midst of the toughest family situation they have faced so far, he continued to lead and serve his Kiwanis Family too,” Rossi said.

Tom was a major fundraiser by himself for the annual Winemaker event, collecting $20,000 in donations to the club. 

“Tom, in a year when everyone would have been happy to see you survive, we are incredibly thankful that you went above and beyond, and I am happy to award you with the Distinguished Service Award,” Rossi concluded.

A prestigious George F. Hixson Fellowship went to Glen Casey. Casey has led a number of public service projects, including building a new kitchen for the senior center. 

“Glen, for your significant generosity and impact to our club and community, I am honored to recognize you with the Hixon Fellowship Award,” Rossi told the club members gathered at Kiwanis Hall.

One of the highest awards in the three-state region of Kiwanis International is the William A. Dunlap Fellowship. It isn’t given every year.

This year’s winner is Albert Almodova. He has received it in prior years and now is a gold star fellow. He is a past president, works on many barbecues and helps with the Key Club, transporting the high school Key Clubbers up and down the state, taking them to conventions and even to work on the Rose Parade float. 

“You name it and he is there,” Rossi said of Almodova’s service.

High school teacher Jennifer Neiswanger was presented with a Youth Leadership Award. This high school Spanish teacher has been the faculty adviser to Key Club for the last nine years. Not only does she advise the high schoolers, she takes a group students to a foreign country. 

“We couldn’t ask for a more loving and giving person to be our Key Club adviser, Rossi opined.

Key Club member Sasha Oquendo received a Youth Service Award. She has been a member since she was a freshman. She is the current president. Oquendo is also in the Earth Club, Model United Nations Club, and what Rossi described as an amazing student, carrying a 4.57 grade point average. 

Rossi thanked her for “your work, dedication, and leadership to your Key Club and to your community.”

A non-club member, local printer Joe Nutile, was presented with a Community Service Award. This award goes to those citizens who help local nonprofits do what they do. Nutile owns Color Craft. He has printed

many programs, rack cards, posters, and even the order tags Kiwanians use at the Mid-State Fair. He many times has done that printing for free or heavily discounted. 

Rossi said, “Thank you, Joe and your Color Craft company for your many years of helping us succeed in our goals of community service.”