It’s that time of year again… a flood of articles in newsletters that begin with “It’s that time of year again.” But, seriously, this Fall marks a few milestones for the Marsoccis as well as some new opportunities. It was ten years ago that Jeffrey and Kathleen Marsocci created the third Kiwanis Young Professionals Club in the world, and it now stands as the oldest Kiwanis Young Professionals Club in the world still in existence. It is also the time when they started working with the Kiwanis sponsored leadership program Circle K at NC State, and met some amazing friends that are still with us today.

In August of 2000, we attended the NC State Circle K kick-off meeting in the Talley Student Center on the suggestion of a long-time Kiwanis member who helped get our Kiwanis club started. His suggestion was to see how they ran their meetings and see what kinds of projects they were doing since the college students were closer in age to our members than most Kiwanis clubs were. And it definitely worked. They had a lot of hands-on projects that did not cost a lot of money, including a project called Operation Toybox which provided toys to children in disaster stricken parts of the world so the kids could have something related to being a child when everything else may have been taken from them.

It was at this project in early September that we met our friend Kristen Batten. We gathered a few Kiwanians together and went to help the Circle K club at Operation Toybox by sorting through donations to make sure they had all of the pieces, that stuffed animals that needed repair were sewn, etc. About 20 minutes into the sorting, Kristen, then a Freshman, came to the project and was frantic. Apparently, she was driving along NC State’s campus and a bicyclist blew through an intersection and hit Kristen’s car, flying over the handlebars and breaking a leg. She felt so bad about what happened, but from what she was saying it was not her fault at all. The bicyclist actually hit her car and not the other way around. Well, when she heard that I was an attorney and Kathleen worked in insurance claims, she unloaded everything. We were able calm her down, have her report the claim to her insurance company, and calmly explain why it was not her fault.

That was almost ten years ago. Since then, Kristen became the Carolinas Governor of Circle K, graduated college to become a teacher, and worked with special needs children in the Wake County public school system. She also joined our Kiwanis club. But a week and a half ago Kristen and her new husband bestowed a great honor on me. Most people don’t know that in addition to being an attorney and author that I am also a credentialed minister with the Universal Life Church. But Kristen did. Kristen and Adam asked me to officiate their wedding in Cary on August 21. The new Mrs. Kristen Batten Cook has moved in with her husband in Rocky Mount, and she has started work there as a teacher.

And now Kathy and I are looking ahead to a new year of working with youth leaders in Circle K, its “younger sibling” organization Key Club in high schools, and with leaders from Wake County GSA clubs to empower them to stop bullying and prejudice in their schools. The students are all different from the ones we worked with 10 years ago, but the needs and desire to do good in the world are the same. It’s going to be a great Fall season, and we’ll see what the next ten years hold.