Kiwanis pancake breakfast

Archer Kennan (left) and his sister Ava watch pancakes being made at Kiwanis Pancake Day on March 7, 2020.

JONESBORO — The Jonesboro Kiwanis Club’s annual Pop Stricklin Pancake Breakfast may not make it to see its 81st anniversary.

The only fundraiser for the organization may be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kiwanis Club Board members met Wednesday afternoon to discuss possible options and alternatives for the annual fundraiser.

Member Dr. Warren Skaug said St. Bernards held a Zoom meeting Wednesday afternoon and some of the facts presented were disturbing.

“St Bernards officials are predicting we won’t hit the peak of COVID-19 cases until April of 2021,” Skaug said. “We really have a difficult time ahead of us. Biden’s prediction is correct that it will be a very dark winter.”

Knowing the darkest days of COVID-19 are still ahead, Kiwanis members were concerned about holding the annual fundraiser, which is normally held in March at the First Presbyterian Church.

Jonesboro Parks and Recreation Director Danny Kapales said there has been much discussion on the matter. Kiwanis President Robin Kuykendahl asked Kapales to speak at the event to present options which might be safer as the region battles rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19.

“We just don’t know what it is going to look like for us in March when things open back up,” Kapales said.

A 5K race would be an option, Kapales said, and Kiwanis members could feed pancakes to the runners. The organization would be looking at making about $5,000 in profits from the race, he said.

Member Roy Ockert said the organization normally makes about $15,000 on the pancake breakfast.

“We could have a fish fry as a secondary fundraiser,” he said.

Other ideas were tossed about by Kiwanis members such as having a drive-through event and adding a Cash App option in order to reduce cash handling.

The board made the decision to table the discussion until December with the added instruction that in December the board must commit to making a final decision.

Kiwanis members also committed to donating funds to Northeast Arkansas Family Crisis Center and The Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas.

Sherry Cothern, a special guest speaker Wednesday, informed Kiwanis members of the services the center provides to not only the community but the entire state of Arkansas in some cases.

“I have been at the Crisis Center for nearly 30 years,” Cothern said. “We provide services to those who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Cothern said the Family Crisis Center also recently opened a Rape Crisis Center where examinations can be conducted in a private environment with those trained to handle delicate matters, protecting victims from having to seek help from a medical facility.

Some of the services offered, Cothern said, are not just a shelter for those in need of a safe environment, but also connections to resources.

“When someone comes to us, we provide case management,” she said.

Anything a household would need, the shelter needs also, including cleaning supplies and hygiene items, Cothern said.

“We are always needing people to volunteer, also,” she said.

Cothern said the most important part of bringing awareness to the community was overcoming the shame of the survivors.

“We need to start having those hard conversations,” she said.