(Photo by Gabe Licht) [Order this photo]
This year's recipient was Terry Peterson, for his leadership of the Spencer Daybreaker Kiwanis during the 2010-11 year.
"The biggest reason our club did well is because we had the right people doing the right things as committee chairs and members," Peterson said.
A Daybreaker president had never received the award before, but the club was first runner-up in 1990 for the year in which Paul Brenner was president. Former Spencer Hy-Noon Kiwanis presidents Lou Reed and Karen Buchholz each claimed the Top Progress Award following their terms.
Brenner, who served as Division 3 lieutenant governor in '10-11, shared the background of the award.
"The Top Progress Award was an idea of Wes Bartlett, of Algona, who was the Kiwanis International president during the 1971-72 year," Brenner said.
Each of the Nebraska-Iowa district's 189 clubs can apply for the award every year. Former Daybreaker Secretary Dennis DeWitt completed the application for the club.
"This isn't really a competition between Spencer and other clubs," Brenner said. "There's other awards for that."
The application for the award states, "The award is designed to recognize leadership that stimulates a club to progress significantly in service areas and administrative excellence during the year as compared to the previous year," and a panel of district leaders decide which club best fits that description.
Peterson pointed to two specific areas of growth.
"A couple big things that made a difference in why our club got the award was our increase in members and increase in inter-club meeting participation," Peterson said.
The club had a net gain of 14 new members, a 25 percent increase, and took a group of four or more members to other clubs 77 times.
Daybreakers added the TeamMates Mentoring Program to their list of sponsorships.
"I had attended the district and international convention and went to training sessions about TeamMates," Peterson said. "I thought it was a worthwhile program that our schools should have. I told the board we needed to be involved in this and the board agreed."
TeamMates started in Spencer Middle School with the training of 24 adults in the fall of 2011.
In all, Daybreakers added seven new activities in the '10-11 year.
The club joined other Division 3 clubs to fill backpacks with hygiene items for youth in need and collect more than 1,600 pounds of peanut butter and jelly for Upper Des Moines Opportunity.
A Kiwanis birthday cake program for clients of UDMO began the same year, with $100 as the Daybreakers' share of the program that provides birthday cake supply vouchers for about 300 youth.
When the community prepared and packaged meals through the Then Feed Just One program, club members participated and raised funds for the project.
Daybreakers also made a $500 contribution to the Shayla Bee Fund and a $100 contribution to the Parent Partners fundraising walk.
Partnering with four Clay County commodity groups, the Daybreakers recognized four women in agriculture.
Each activity the Daybreakers participated in is now set to continue on an annual basis.
Peterson attributed that success to a proactive approach.
"One of the things that helped our club was having planning goals for each committee," Peterson said. "When you do that, you have a better chance of getting things done."