Sixty years ago, on a rainy Saturday night of April 25, 1959, 33 charter members were inducted into the Silver Valley Civitan Club.
The club will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a gathering at Yarborough’s Restaurant on April 25. Contributions to seven service projects totaling $4,000 will be announced at the celebration.
The critical need for a community volunteer fire department was identified in March 1959 during an organizational meeting of the club. The club provided leadership, firemen and contributed the first $100, and later, half the cost of the land to help establish the department in 1960. In the early years, Civitan bought or shared in the expense of numerous equipment purchases.
“Builders of Good Citizenship,” is the motto of Civitan. The first service project of the Silver Valley club was the presentation of what is now known as the Distinguished School Citizen Award at Silver Valley Elementary School. Max Lambeth received the honor May 27, 1959, as the first of 65 recipients over 60 consecutive years. The award honors the memory of four outstanding past Civitan members. Honored on a rotational basis are J.W. Bill Sowers, Odell Lambeth, Russell Maner and Woodrow Ridge.
The connections with local schools and Civitan began at the club’s birth. The club was chartered in the old school cafeteria at Silver Valley Elementary School. The master of ceremonies on April 25, 1959, was Dr. D. W. McCulloch, chairman of the board of education. The charter officers included teacher Boyd G. Smith as president and Principal Paul V. Yarborough as secretary.
During the first two decades of the club, Silver Valley Elementary School received two activity buses purchased and refurbished by the club. Before there was a gym, the club bought and erected outdoor basketball goals. When the gymnasium was opened in 1964, the club donated a section of bleachers. Over the years other playground improvements were made, the flag pole bought and erected, art work purchased, money given for student incentive awards and media center needs. In 1984, the club paid $1,300 to install backstop fencing followed in 1985 with over $4,000 for a picnic shelter and tables and later bought outdoor athletic bleachers. There are many undocumented instances of school needs being met by Civitan.
The Silver Valley Civitan Club will have soon donated more than $136,000 in support of South Davidson High and Middle schools since 1988. With the 2019 contributions included, they will total $62,700 to athletics, 63 college scholarships totaling $60,200, $5,125 to exceptional classes and $8,050 for other projects. The scholarships are presented as memorials to Troy Jarrell, Sam Arnold, Halton Hughes and Beauford Trotter.
Other citizenship activities include the annual Distinguished Community Citizen Award. It has been presented since at least 1961 and a minimum of 51 times.
Local pastors and their spouses have been honored with the annual Clergy Appreciation Observance since 1963. Longtime club Chaplain Luther B. Pope passed away in 2018 and will now be honored at the event each February.
Project Santa Claus is the signature community service project of the club. It began in 1967 and 52 editions have ensued. Typically around 300 local residents receive gifts each Christmas Eve. They include children and families in need, seniors and people with disabilities. The club estimates that Project Santa served around 1,900 families and a total of more than 4.400 children. The most recent Project Santa distributed gifts valued at $5,500.
The Silver Valley Civitan Club has volunteered at the Special Olympics Davidson County Spring and Winter Games for 42 consecutive years and has made many monetary contributions. Their first involvement was in January 1978 and has been at the local, state, national and world levels.
The club has contributed too many local schools and agencies that assist people with disabilities as well as to the Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Many family and youth service agencies have also been served with donations.
Civitan International was founded in 1917 in Birmingham, Alabama. The mission of Civitan is to build good citizenship through clubs dedicated to serving individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities. The Silver Valley Civitan Club currently has 28 members and typically meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of each month at New Jerusalem Reformed Church.
This is Holy Week in the Christian calendar. There are many churches having special services this week starting on Thursday with Maundy Thursday services followed by Good Friday services and then Easter Sunday. Contact a local church for the list of services and the times.
Have a Blessed Holy Week.
To report news of Silver Valley, call Karen Coppley at (336) 472-2507 or at KarenCoppley@yahoo.com.