Sisters say 'Thank you' to Kiwanis members for being role models

Steven Hadt | Dec 26, 2017

Sisters say 'Thank you' to Kiwanis members for being role models Sonya McAbee Gregory and her sister Angelia McAbee Jarrell just want to say thank you—thank you to the members of Kiwanis International for being role models to them 40 years ago.

"At an early age we were exposed to the idea of community because of our local Kiwanis club," said Sonya. "We were shown the support of the community and the love of the community. We were taught how to give back to the community. Those early experiences shaped us into the people we are today."

"We learned you can do anything when you put your mind to it," said Angelia.

It may not seem like a life-changing event, but the sisters say performing in the talent show sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Kings Mountain (North Carolina) every year had a profound impact on their lives. The women—who are now age 57 and 60 respectively—sang and danced to the latest pop songs or Broadway tunes of the era. From the time they were six years old until 18, their mother would hand sew every stitch of their satin and sequined costumes, choreographing numbers that impressed the judges.

Sisters say 'Thank you' to Kiwanis members for being role models "It taught us great responsibility, patience, respect, honor and pride in the quality of our work in anything that we endeavor to do," said Sonya. "This talent show was probably the single most important event in our little town each year. Everyone wanted to win that talent show!"

"It's some of my most precious childhood memories," said Angelia. "When I came out on the stage, I was terrified. But when everyone started clapping, I had the confidence to perform."

The practice paid off. The judges awarded Sonya and Angelia many first-place trophies over the years. Longtime friends still chide the sisters about how they won the talent show every year.

"It took a lot of work for the club members to organize the show every year," Angelia said. "We are so grateful they did it. If you ever wonder if what you do makes a difference, it does. Keep doing what you are doing."

"It was like Hollywood for our little town," Sonya recalled. "What I love about Kiwanis is that they do a wonderful job. They brought the children and families of our community together to do fun and exciting things—teaching us to have great confidence in ourselves, positively impacting us, as well as the whole town, for the rest of our lives. We pray that Kiwanis International will always be there to inspire the dreamer and achiever in us all!" 

Sisters say 'Thank you' to Kiwanis members for being role models