Brad Cook is set to take over as president of the Granville Kiwanis Club in October 2024, and plans to look for a co-chair for the 2025 Kiwanis Pancake Day. Credit: Jack Nimesheim

Seventeen circular tables, most with five brown chairs, take up the bulk of the cafeteria space attached to the Church of St. Edward the Confessor in Granville. It’s 9:18 on a Saturday morning, and every single one of the tables is occupied. Seniors, middle-aged adults and children walk up to the counter in front of the kitchen, where they receive thick pancakes and sausage patties before taking a quick right turn for coffee, orange juice or water.

About 20 minutes earlier, volunteers in the kitchen were whispering concerns about a slow start. 

Brad Cook, 44, shared the concerns silently as he paced around the cafeteria, collecting dirty silverware and chatting up event partners.

But with a line forming at the counter, the pressure of having to chair one of the Granville Kiwanis Club’s most treasured fundraisers for the first time on short notice, in place of a veteran, starts to lift from his shoulders.

“It was more stressful when no one was here,” Cook said. “Now, we’re in flow.”

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A portion of the stress that Cook references stems from a plethora of logistical challenges. For the sake of advertising, the club members always try to determine a community project for Pancake Day proceeds to fund before the event actually happens. This year, they didn’t land on one in time. In other words, if people interested in purchasing a ticket asked where their money would be going, they were going to be told it was to be determined. 

While a good turnout would once have been in the 350 to 400 range, according to Cook, numbers have fluctuated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And on the morning of Feb. 10, Pancake Day, it was raining.

The broader source of stress is the fact that Cook is in this position in the first place. Butch Curtis, 75, ran it for 16 years.

But when Cook arrived at one of the Granville Kiwanis Club’s meetings this past December, Lesa Miller, club president at the time, handed him a manilla envelope. In it was a letter from Curtis, who could not attend the meeting.

Curtis had written to inform Cook that after a long, impactful run, he decided it was time to step down as chair. 

With Pancake Day only about two months away, Cook – who has a full-time job, who has two boys at home, who coaches and serves on the board for the Newark Generals youth hockey program – was under the gun.

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Kiwanis International was founded in 1915. As of 2022, there were nearly 8,000 adult clubs and even more youth clubs across 82 countries and geographic areas, according to a fact sheet produced by Kiwanis.

The Granville branch was founded in 1962. Today, there are more than 90 members, according to club swiss army knife and public relations manager Jennifer Lewis. Through it, adults around town can not only make a positive impact through volunteer work, but also connect with like-minded adults across a broad age spectrum, at a time when the need for social connection is more dire than ever.

The Granville Kiwanis Club is better known for its 4th of July celebration, but Pancake Day is a pretty big deal around town, too.

“Hey Jack?” 

I hear Cook from the St. Ed’s kitchen.

“Yeah?” I ask, making the ten-step walk toward him, coming from a nearby hallway.

“Can I steal that pen for 30 seconds?”

I get to Cook as soon as he finishes his sentence, and I hand him the black pen I had been using to take notes. It’s 5:17 p.m. on Friday evening, less than 14 hours before Pancake Day was set to start. 

He places a napkin on a counter beside the sink. On it, he writes down two things:

“Decaf coffee.”

“Sugar-free maple syrup.”

Cook and some fellow Kiwanians were prepping the kitchen and the eating space for the following morning when he realized they were missing those two things. The napkin would serve as a reminder for him to bring them with him in the morning.

In one sense, the sequence of actions was simple: He realized he was missing some stuff, asked for my pen and jotted down napkin notes. But they also metaphorize both Cook as a person and his experience chairing the 2024 Granville Kiwanis Pancake Day.

When problems arise, he stays calm and makes adjustments.

“The thing about Brad is that I don’t think I’ve ever seen him flustered,” Miller said. “He always has a smile on his face.”

To pull off chairing the event, Cook had to constantly think of solutions on the fly. Were all of the food items ordered on time? Are enough paper supplies going to be handy come Feb. 10? Is the shift schedule set? There’s a bake sale onsite for Pancake Day. Was everything squared away with the groups — namely the Aktion Club of Licking County, the Granville High School Key Club and the Circle K Club out of OSU-Newark and COTC — contributing to that? What about the boy, girl and cub scouts who help with cleanup at the event?

In the end, 318 people were served breakfast at this year’s event, and 45 of them were children. Including the bake sale, the event raised $3,907.

A little over a month later, I followed up with Cook via email to double-check something: Are you still planning on chairing again next year?

“Yes,” he replied, “but I take over the club Presidency this coming October so I will be looking for a co-chair.”

In taking over as chair for this year’s Pancake Day, Cook filled big shoes. After enduring the pressure and stress, he’s pursuing an even larger role within the Granville Kiwanis Club (the largest role, to be precise), because that is what servants do: They continue to find ways to make even bigger impacts on the communities they love.

Jack Nimesheim writes for, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism program, which is supported by generous donations from readers. Sign up for The Reporting Project newsletter here.