Civitan work goes on

Published 1:34 am Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pictured are (from left, standing) Ben St. John (New Bern Civitan Club president), Leigh A. Wilkinson (N.C. District East governor) and (sitting) Phyllis Hendrickson (second charter member) Joy Stallings (first charter member) and Kent Buckman (third charter member). (Contributed Photo)

Civitan International, based in Birmingham, Ala., 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.
New charter members and others interested in the club met last week at The Blind Center in Washington for a public organizational meeting.
Joy Stallings, the first charter member of the Tar-Pamlico Civitan Club was a member of a Junior Civitan club when she was in high school. She brought her Junior Civitan scrapbook to the meeting to show to anyone interested.
Stallings discussed some of her early Civitan days.
“Growing up in Emporia, Virginia, I was an only child, a minister’s daughter and very shy. I am very thankful for a special mentor by the name of Ronnie Grizzard who God placed in my life at just the right time. He was able to break me out of my shyness and got me involved in Jr. Civitan. Most Jr. Civitan clubs are attached to their high schools but ours was a club that stood on its own in our community. I started out as a chaplain and ended as an International Officer my senior year. Throughout that time, I served as a Vice-president, President, Miss Chesapeake District, and as an International Officer. I also had the opportunity to travel to Maryland, Alabama, and Canada.”
Stallings said that her parents just recently retired in Washington, NC, and might become involved with the club as well. Stallings’ parents always encouraged her Junior Civitan activities and helped with her many service projects.
Phyllis Hendrickson, the second charter member, said that her father was a member of the first Washington Civitan Club.  Hendrickson is also the local coordinator for the Beaufort-Hyde Special Olympics.
Hendrickso elaborated on some of her personal connections to the Civitan organization.
“My father Jay Phil Roberson Sr,,who passed in 1989, got involved with the Civitan Club because of my brother. My brother Phil Roberson just turned 58, but back in the 50s there were no programs for handicapped folks. Civitan Club when it was first started took it as one of their projects to help folks with handicaps. For eight summers, they sponsored a camp called Camp Pamlico for the developmentally disabled at the Roanoke Christian Service Camp.  My father had me out at a young age selling Claxton Fruit Cakes to raise money for the club.”
Leigh Wilkinson, an attorney with Ward and Smith and a member of the Tryon Civitan Club in New Bern, gave a speech at the meeting. Wilkinson is the governor of the 58 Civitan Clubs in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
She discussed the mission of Civitan and some of the requirements the Washington club must satisfy in order to be chartered by Civitan International.
“I, as  the governor, will appoint a Club Development team and it may be some of the people you see here. It may be some of the other people from the New Bern area. And they are committed to help you develop during your first two years as a new club. In addition to those people you will be assigned to an area of our district.”
Wilkinson mentioned that the Tar-Pamlico Civitan club hopes to be chartered and have twenty charter members by the end of July.