Civitan International

Last updated
Civitan International
Civitan International new logo.png
Founded1917
Founder Courtney Shropshire
Focus Developmental Disabilities
Location
Area served
Worldwide in 42 countries
Method Community service through service clubs, charitable grants
Members
40,000
Revenue
US$ 2,200,000 (2007)
Website http://www.civitan.org

Civitan International, based in Birmingham, Alabama, is an association of community service clubs founded in 1917. The organization aims "to build good citizenship by providing a volunteer organization of clubs dedicated to serving individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities." The organization includes 40,000 members (referred to as Civitans) in almost 1,000 clubs around the world.

Contents

History

In 1917, a group of Birmingham, Alabama, businessmen were members of the local Rotary club. Many of the men thought that the club focused too much on increasing the business of club members, so they surrendered their club's charter. Led by Courtney Shropshire, a local doctor, they formed an independent service club named Civitan, derived from the Latin word for citizenship. [1]

The United States entered World War I just one month after the club formed. With all attention focused on the war, Civitan remained a local organization. Some of the earliest projects the club undertook supported soldiers, [2] helped European war orphans, and encouraged voter participation through the payment of poll taxes. [3]

Herbert Hoover (bottom right) holding a reception for delegates to the 12th Civitan International Convention 12th Civitan Convention with Herbert Hoover.JPG
Herbert Hoover (bottom right) holding a reception for delegates to the 12th Civitan International Convention

Shropshire envisioned an international organization of Civitan clubs dedicated to serving humanity. The process to incorporate was begun, and the International Association of Civitan Clubs was founded in 1920. In the years immediately following World War I, the organization saw rapid growth. By June 1922 at the second international convention, delegates from 115 clubs attended; there were more than 3,300 Civitans throughout the United States. Service clubs like Civitan were extremely popular, since they promoted the spirit of optimism which characterized much of the Roaring Twenties.

The vast multiplication of voluntary organizations for altruistic purposes are themselves proof of the ferment of spirituality, service, and mutual responsibility. These associations for advancement of public welfare, improvement, morals, charity, public opinion, health, the clubs and societies for recreation and intellectual advancement, represent something moving at a far greater depth than "joining." They represent the widespread aspiration for mutual advancement, self-expression, and neighborly helpfulness.

20, 20, Herbert Hoover, 1922 [4]

The club suffered sharp declines in membership and fundraising during the Great Depression. Some also questioned the necessity of service clubs after the New Deal's creation of relief programs. The organization persevered, in part due to cooperation with Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions clubs. One of the few bright spots in the 1930s was the creation and rapid growth of the first Junior Civitan clubs.

B-25 named after the Shadyside Civitan Club Shadyside Civitan B-25.JPG
B-25 named after the Shadyside Civitan Club

The organization experienced another noticeable drop in membership at the outbreak of World War II, since many of its civic-minded members were among the first to volunteer for military service. Civitans who remained at home organized scrap metal collections, war bond sales, and blood drives. One club in Birmingham, Alabama, held so many successful bond drives that the Army Air Forces named a B-25 [5] and a P-47 [6] in the club's honor.

The period after World War II saw another surge in growth. There were 10,000 members by 1947, [7] with membership tripling in size between 1946 and 1956 as Civitan became the sixth largest service club in the United States. [8] By 1960, there were 34,000 active Civitans in 998 clubs. [9] One reason that Civitan expanded so quickly was the flexibility that it allowed to clubs in other countries. Compromises over issues such as the Civitan creed and membership dues allowed the ethnically diverse organization to maintain a strong sense of unity. [10]

By the 1950s, Civitan's focus had shifted to helping the developmentally disabled. The Civitan International Foundation, established in 1960, provided financial support for many organizations and programs which benefited developmentally disabled individuals. By 2005, the Civitan International Foundation had provided $13,000,000 in grants to the UAB Civitan International Research Center, the first institution in the United States to focus solely on researching developmental disabilities. [11]

Charitable work

Service projects

Each club is issued a banner when it is organized. Patches are added to the banner to recognize significant awards, achievements, and milestones. Civitan Club Banner.jpg
Each club is issued a banner when it is organized. Patches are added to the banner to recognize significant awards, achievements, and milestones.

On a local level, individual Civitan clubs undertake various service projects which benefit their local communities. Examples of club projects include maintaining a section of highway (the Tyler Civitan Club was the first to volunteer for the Adopt a Highway program), [12] promoting the creation of hospitals, [13] honoring community leaders, [14] supporting local reading programs, [15] sponsoring children in financial need, [16] purchasing playground equipment for developmentally disabled children, [17] and holding events for developmentally disabled individuals. [18] Clubs operate independently of the international organization or other clubs, leaving them free to participate in whatever service they deem appropriate.

Focus on developmental disabilities

While individual clubs are free to pursue their own projects, on an international level Civitan is focused on service to the developmentally disabled. This emphasis was adopted in 1956, [19] with Civitans becoming some of the first to provide special training for teachers of developmentally disabled children. [20]

Civitan continues to focus on assisting those with developmental disabilities. In 1990, the Civitan International Research Center was established on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a $20,000,000 grant from the Civitan International Foundation. [21] The Civitan International Research Center was the first institution of its kind in the United States to be focused solely on the research of developmental disabilities. Medical professionals from all over the world also come to the center for training on developmental disabilities.

Clergy Appreciation Week

One of Civitan's most significant international events is Clergy Appreciation Week, inspired by the story of the Four Chaplains. Begun in 1964, the interfaith event honors the sacrifice of the Four Chaplains by encouraging citizens to thank the clergy who serve their communities. [22] [23] The week usually involves Civitan clubs presenting local clergy with an award or certificate of appreciation. Local mayors often sign a proclamation recognizing Clergy Appreciation Week and encouraging its observance.

Junior Civitan International

Junior Civitan International is one of Civitan's oldest and most successful programs. Students between the ages of 13 and 18 can join a Junior Civitan club at their school or in their community. Each Junior Civitan club is sponsored by a senior Civitan club and promotes student leadership, character development, and community service.

YP Civitan

YP Civitan clubs are designed to provide community service and networking opportunities for young professionals aged 21 to 35. YP Civitan of Greensboro, North Carolina was chartered on June 25, 2013 as the first YP Civitan club. [24]

World Citizenship Award

Dwight Eisenhower receives the World Citizenship Award on June 9, 1966. Eisenhower Civitan World Citizenship Award.JPG
Dwight Eisenhower receives the World Citizenship Award on June 9, 1966.

Civitan has awarded its World Citizenship Award to those "who have made significant contributions to mankind." [9] Recipients of the award include Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Wernher von Braun, Thor Heyerdahl, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Candy Box Project

The Civitan Candy Box Project, one of Civitan's oldest and most successful fundraising programs, has raised $50,000,000 since its inception in 1976. Civitan volunteers place boxes of mints at businesses in their community, and patrons donate money to take a piece of candy. Volunteers collect the money, keeping some for club service projects and sending the rest to Civitan International for its charitable projects. [25]

Claxton fruitcake sales

Civitan's other important fundraiser involves the sale of Claxton Bakery's fruitcakes. This partnership began in 1951 when Tampa Civitan club (#0202) member Earl Carver enjoyed the cake so much that he suggested they be sold nationally as a fundraiser. [26] Each year during the holiday season, local Civitan clubs sell millions of pounds of fruitcake. [27] The proceeds from these sales benefit Civitan International's work with developmentally disabled persons.

International activities

Civitan has clubs in 49 countries and maintains a strong international focus. Because of its long history of service in West Africa, Civitan was invited by the Special Court for Sierra Leone to monitor the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, held at the International Criminal Court facilities in The Hague. [28] Civitan clubs are active in the following countries: [29]

Notable Civitans

Jake Delhomme appearing in a Civitan public service announcement. JakeDelhomme&KevinWeb.jpg
Jake Delhomme appearing in a Civitan public service announcement.

Several well-known individuals have been Civitans, including: [30]

See also

Related Research Articles

Disabled sports sports practiced by disabled people

Disabled sports, also adaptive sports or parasports, are sports played by people with a disability, including physical and intellectual disabilities. As many disabled sports are based on existing able bodied sports, modified to meet the needs of persons with a disability, they are sometimes referred to as adapted sports. However, not all disabled sports are adapted; several sports that have been specifically created for persons with a disability have no equivalent in non-disabled sports. Disability exists in four categories: physical, mental, permanent and temporary.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver sister of John F. Kennedy and founder of Special olympics

Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver, DSG was an American philanthropist and a member of the Kennedy family. Shriver is known as the founder of the Special Olympics, a sports organization for persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. For her efforts on behalf of the disabled, Shriver was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984.

Willowbrook State School Former state-supported institution for intellectually disabled children in Staten Island, New York

Willowbrook State School was a state-supported institution for children with intellectual disability located in the Willowbrook neighborhood on Staten Island in New York City from 1947 until 1987.

Susan Saint James American actress and activist

Susan Saint James is an American actress and activist, most widely known for her work in television during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, especially the detective series McMillan & Wife (1971–1976) and the sitcom Kate & Allie (1984–1989).

The Claxton Bakery

The Claxton Bakery is a confectionery company based in Claxton, Georgia.

Casper Yost American journalist

Casper Salathiel Yost (1864–1941) was the longtime editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Developmental disability is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments that arise before adulthood. Developmental disabilities cause individuals living with them many difficulties in certain areas of life, especially in "language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living". Developmental disabilities can be detected early on and persist throughout an individual's lifespan. Developmental disability that affects all areas of a child's development is sometimes referred to as global developmental delay.

Freedoms Foundation human settlement in Pennsylvania, United States of America

The Freedoms Foundation is a national, non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian educational organization, founded in 1949. The Foundation is located adjacent to the Valley Forge National Historical Park, near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, U.S., and sits on ground that was once part of General George Washington's Valley Forge encampment during the American Revolutionary War.

Supported living or supportive living refers to a range of services and community living arrangements (CLAs) designed with individuals with disabilities and their families to support disabled citizens to attain or retain their independence or interdependence in their local communities. Supported living is recorded in the history of the NASDDDS, celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Community Supported Living Arrangements (CSLA) was a landmark federal multi-state demonstration to illustrate the federal role in community living in the US. Supported living is considered a core service or program of community living programs funded through federal-state-local partnerships.

The Arc of the United States is an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization was founded in the 1950s by parents of people with developmental disabilities. Since then, the organization has established state chapters in 39 states, and 730 local chapters in states across the country. The Arc of the United States is based in Washington, D.C.

Richmond H. Hilton United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Richmond Hobson Hilton was a S.C. National Guard 118th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Sergeant during World War I, and a Medal of Honor recipient—the first of two from Kershaw County, South Carolina to be awarded the medal during that war. He was also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal by Great Britain, the Médaille militaire and Croix de guerre with bronze palm by France, the Croce al Merito di Guerre by Italy, the Medalha da Cruz de Guerra, Third Class by Portugal, and the Medal for Military Bravery by Montenegro. All were awarded for bravery in the face of the enemy.

Courtney Shropshire American philanthropist

Courtney Shropshire, a prominent doctor in Birmingham, Alabama, was the founder and first president of Civitan International.

Junior Civitan International organization

Junior Civitan International is a student-led service organization for middle and high school students. There are 11,000 Junior Civitan members in 400 clubs in North America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. It is the longest lasting project of its parent organization Civitan International.

Intellectual disability Generalized neurodevelopmental disorder

Intellectual disability (ID), also known as general learning disability and mental retardation (MR), is a generalized neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significantly impaired intellectual and adaptive functioning. It is defined by an IQ under 70, in addition to deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors that affect everyday, general living.

Community Living Ontario is a non-profit organization in Ontario, Canada for people with intellectual disabilities.

Community Options, Inc. is a 501(c)3 national nonprofit organization. that provides housing and employment supports to people with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury. The organizations headquarters are located in Princeton, New Jersey. In 2015 Community Options was named the fourth-largest nonprofit organization based in New Jersey.

Mary Meyers Rosenfield was an American community leader, active in special education and services for people with developmental disabilities in Texas.

Disability in Yemen

Disability in Yemen has been increasing over time, especially because of increased conflict in the area. Disabled people in Yemen face many challenges due to poverty, lack of accessible infrastructure, gender segregation and more. The government of Yemen has passed laws to help protect the rights of the disabled in their country, but not all laws are equally enforced.

Disability in Singapore

Singapore does not have a formal definition of disability, but has been making changes in regards to the visibility of people with disability and also with increasing accessibility of all areas of the country. Early in the country's history, human rights issues for people with disabilities took second place to the need to secure independence and building the economy. Singapore signed on to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2013 and coordinates the Enabling Masterplan with both government and non governmental organisations.

References

  1. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 14.
  2. "Civitan History and Founders". Civitan International Website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  3. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 15.
  4. Hoover, Herbert (1922). American Individualism. Doubleday, Page & Company. p. 28.
  5. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 51.
  6. Cundy, Arthur (December 1944). "Southside Club's Ladies Night Combines Business With Pleasure". The Civitan. Birmingham, AL: Civitan International. XXV (11): 3.
  7. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 69.
  8. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 67.
  9. 1 2 Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 95.
  10. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 102.
  11. "UAB center receives $920,000 grant from Civitan International". Birmingham Business Journal. 2005-11-08. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
  12. "History". Texas Department of Transportation Website. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  13. Lewis, Catherine Heniford (1998). Horry County, South Carolina, 1730-1993. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 56. ISBN   1-57003-207-6.
  14. "Civitans Honor Local Volunteer". Tri-Cities Personal News and Media Center. 2006-09-18. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  15. "Welcomes". The Dispatch. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  16. "$5,000 Donated Through South Johnston Senior's Project". The Daily Record. 2008-05-15. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  17. "Civitan Day Camp Rededication Ceremony and "First Play Day"". TK Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  18. "Civitans Host Special Day of Fishing". Sun Journal. 2008-05-07. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  19. Leonhart, James Chancellor (1962). The Fabulous Octogenarian. Baltimore Maryland: Redwood House, Inc. p. 287.
  20. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. pp. 74–75.
  21. "History". UAB Civitan International Research Center website. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  22. "Clergy Appreciation Week". Civitan International website. Archived from the original on 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
  23. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 97.
  24. YP Civitan of Greensboro
  25. McCann, John (12 January 2009). "Through Civitans, spare change you can believe in". The Herald-Sun. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  26. "Civitan History and Founders". Civitan International Website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
  27. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 72.
  28. "Borderless Civitan". Civitan Magazine. Birmingham, AL: Civitan International. 87 (4): 10. Spring 2008.
  29. "Civitan Around the World". Civitan International Website. Archived from the original on 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  30. "Famous Civitans". Civitan International Website. Archived from the original on 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  31. 1 2 "Civitans Organize Here" (PDF). The New York Times. 16 June 1922. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  32. Rohmer, Richard (2004). Generally Speaking: The Memoirs of Major-General Richard Rohmer. Dundurn Press Ltd. pp.  254. ISBN   1-55002-518-X.
  33. Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. p. 43.