Al Hughes, of Pleasant Acres, Lewistown, is in a class all by himself when it comes to milestones in his beloved Kiwanis International.
Hughes recently was named a "Distinguished Kiwanian" for the 20th time, a feat no other Pennsylvania Kiwanian has accomplished.
Kevin Thomas, executive director of the Pennsylvania District of Kiwanis International, verified that fact recently by stating, "Al Hughes is the first Kiwanian in Pennsylvania to achieve this since the award was first given in the 1986-87 year."
Hughes was honored recently with a presentation at the district convention by Pennsylvania Kiwanis District Governor Susan Grab.
To achieve distinguished status, a Kiwanian must, in a single administrative year, accomplish the following:
During his time in Kiwanis, Hughes has held a number of offices both locally and on the district level. He is a past president of the Lewistown club, a past lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania Division 11, and currently holds the position of Region 3 Trustee, where he represents dozens of Kiwanis clubs in the central part of the state on the Pennsylvania Kiwanis District Board of Trustees. He is also currently the financial secretary of the Lewistown club.
Becoming a Distinguished Kiwanian is difficult enough to do once or twice, according to Thomas. So, to accomplish the feat 20 times is, in his words, something to be proud of.
"It is quite a remarkable accomplishment," Thomas said. "It represents, literally, thousands of Kiwanis meetings attended, hundreds of club board meetings, many visits to Key Club and other Kiwanis Clubs and at least 20 (and probably more) new members brought into Kiwanis. But most importantly, it represents thousands of hours service given to improve lives, provide scholarships and make Lewistown and Mifflin County a better place to live."
Hughes, who first joined the Lewistown Kiwanis Club in 1972, said of his accomplishment, "I've always made it kind of a goal of mine to get it (distinguished) every year. I haven't done that but I've only missed two or three years since this thing started. I did want to reach 20, however. I don't know how many more I'll be able to achieve as we move forward."
Being the center of attention is something Hughes said he's not comfortable with, however, with an organization he has been so active in for 38 years, he believes more people could accomplish what he has.
"I've always felt every Kiwanian should strive to make distinguished," he offered. "The requirements really aren't that difficult if you're a true Kiwanian. I understand everyone can't bring in new members every year. That's the hardest requirement by far. But the rest of them aren't that difficult."
When asked to sum up his feelings, Hughes said, "I always go back to a famous saying anytime I receive an award for something: I feel I've always gotten a heck of a lot more out of Kiwanis than I've ever been able to give back. I think it's a great organization."