There is no set definition of what it means to be a woman in Civitan. Our female members represent all races, colors, and creeds. They are pioneers. They are leaders. They are builders of good citizenship in their communities.
Some joined because friends and family asked, others joined to meet new people and give back in their towns. Whatever brought them to Civitan, it is the service that keeps them coming back.
The following women have served in the name of Civitan as club, district, and international leaders. They have planned fundraisers, built accessible ramps, ran side by side with Special Olympians, and travelled the world sharing their Civitan stories with others. They represent the best of Civitan and what it truly means to be a Champion of Service.
Click on the below tabs to learn more about these amazing Civitans.
Alice Puddington, Almonte Civitan Club
Alice Puddington joined the Almonte Civitan Club in 2011 after marrying her husband Kevin who has been a member of the club since 1998. While she was working, Puddington was not as involved as she wanted to be, but since retiring, she has gone all in.
“I always felt there was more I could do. It’s my time to get involved. There is no end to the volunteer opportunities in the community. I did look carefully at what was out there and in the end decided I like who Civitan is, what they do and what they stand for.”
Puddington is currently serving as the Governor of the Canadian Northern Lights district. She has also served as a director and president for her club.
Throughout her years in Civitan, Puddington has taken part in many projects and learned a lot.
“I have learned that no matter what our differences person to person are we have our common goals as outlined in the Creed. When followed there is group harmony.”
Puddington recommends that new members talk to experienced members or find a mentor in the club to help you get involved with club happenings. “Learn all you can about your club, district, and international. Making friends is an unexpected benefit of participation. The satisfaction you will feel from being a part of something great is much more than a ‘warm fuzzy.’ Don’t be hesitant to step up. You aren’t ever alone in what you try… Civitans help Civitans!”
Lori Clapp, Tampa Metro Civitan Club
Lori Clapp admits she joined Civitan in 1984 because it was her connection to becoming involved with Special Olympics.
“Before the internet, you only found out about it the day of, or the day after the event. Then friends and I saw a posting about a new club being started that was affiliated with THE volunteer organization and a sponsor of Special Olympics, Civitan. We were excited to join this group of committed, hands-on volunteers with such great values and mission.
To this day, volunteering with Special Olympics is still her favorite project to take part in as a member of the Tampa Metro Civitan Club in Florida. “I get so much joy from the special athletes and am inspired by them, their families, coaches, and volunteers.”
Clapp has served in numerous roles throughout her time in Civitan including club president, district governor, and philanthropy liaison. You may also recognize Clapp from her years spent traveling for Civitan International as a Geographical Trainer form 2012-2018.
What’s the biggest lesson Clapp has learned in Civitan?
“Even small numbers of people committed to a common purpose can make the world a better place, but they also need to bring in others to join them in lightening the load and increase energy and impact.”
This lesson learned is one she would share with new members.
“Get involved not just in the projects, but in the club planning and leadership as well. Share ideas but be patient and persistent if it takes time for those ideas to be acted upon. Clubs that have been operating for a while sometimes need some nudging to do new things. But they also need the energy and ideas new members can bring.”
Lynn Leitch, Fairfax Civitan Club
“I think being a woman in Civitan allows us to show that we can make a positive influence in the world.”
Lynn Leitch has been a positive influence in the world since joining Junior Civitan in 1992. In 1999 Leitch joined the Fairfax Civitan Club and has been an active member locally and in her district. She served as Governor of the Chesapeake District from 2017-2018 and made it her mission to visit all the clubs in her care.
“It was great to see what each club did and get to help them with a project such as a putt-putt golf pub crawl, going to an art contest to help pick winners, or helping at a picnic for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
She personally enjoys learning about and supporting the Civitan International Research Center and encourages others to do the same. During her term as Junior Governor she raised over $8000 in support of the CIRC.
Her recommendation to new members? “I recommend you take the time to explore all the facets of Civitan, service, knowledge, and fellowship. Learn about Civitan International, the CIRC, the projects your district and local club are involved in. Then decide which one(s) match your interests and figure out how you can jump in and help.”
Shela Hopkins, Columbia Civitan Club
Shela Hopkins joined Civitan because of her sister.
“[My sister] was directly benefitting from the generosity of the Columbia Civitan Club. When I found out what they had done I went to a meeting and joined that night! I knew I wanted to give back to help someone like my dear sister had been.”
That encounter took place in 2010.
In the years since, Shela has been active locally serving as club president from 2015-2017 and is currently serving as the governor of the Valley District.
Her favorite Civitan memory was her first time volunteering with Special Olympics. The club made hamburgers for the athletes.
“They were so grateful. All the wonderful smiles and hugs, it just put everything into perspective.”
Perspective and humility are lessons Hopkins has learned throughout her time in Civitan.
“In my years in the Civitan organization I have witnessed many men and women who exemplify humility. I believe the basis of our organization is humility; putting others before yourself that is first and foremost in Civitan.”
Her advice for new members? “Civitan will become an obsession. You will find yourself looking for more ways to positively impact your community. Don’t be afraid to jump in and speak up! Your help and ideas will be greatly accepted.”
Twila Donaldson, Route 66 Civitan Club
Twila Donaldson is not afraid to go the extra mile to promote Civitan and volunteerism.
“When I was governor, our district came together and decided to do a relay to promote volunteerism. We walked, carrying the American flag and the Civitan banner, from Durango, Colorado, to El Paso, Texas. [We traveled] over 600 miles.”
In her 30 years as a Civitan, Donaldson has traveled across her district and the country in support of Civitan’s mission. She has served locally as a club board member, committee chair, and president. She has served the district as Governor, Philanthropy Liaison, Judge Advocate, and Training Coordinator and served internationally as an International Board Member from 2004-2006.
Donaldson joined Civitan after moving to a new town thinking it would be a good way to meet new people. That family has continued to grow.
“[Being in Civitan] means you have a forever family bound together by the desire to make your community and your world a little better than how you found it.”
She enjoys completing projects that allow her to work with people who have disabilities, saying that serving as a member of Civitan has taught her the true meaning of, “It’s better to give than to receive.”
Virginia McAffee, Idaho Falls, Hearts & Hands, Butte Civitan Clubs
Virginia McAffee was already a member in two other service organizations when she joined Civitan in April 2000. “I joined Civitan to be involved!”
McAffee has been nothing, if not involved, for the last twenty years. She is a member of three clubs in the Heart of the West District, has served two terms as club president, two terms as district Governor, and a two year term as an International Director on top of the countless number of projects she has worked on over the years.
“[My favorite project] I would have to say was “Bunk Bed Build Day” for Sleep in Heavenly Peace. We provided the money for supplies and Lowe’s provided the tools. In one day we built from scratch to ready for delivery, 60 bunk beds, providing 120 kids with a bed!”
She also recounted a story of a favorite holiday project.
“[We] delivered Christmas to a family. I watched a little eight-year-old boy drop to his knees and pray to God, thanking him for sending these people to give him Christmas like they had never had before.”
McAffee emphasized the importance of listening to one another and ensuring that everyone knows their ideas are heard and respected.
“We are just people, Civitans, working together to make our communities and the world a better place to live.”
Cindy Barrington, Pensacola Civitan Club
Cindy Barrington has a long family tradition in Civitan, and her family is the reason she joined. “I moved back to Pensacola in 1999 and joined the club because my dad and brother were active members.”
Barrington’s dad, George ‘Pat’ Codone, was a proud member of Civitan for fifty-one years even serving as district governor from 1971-1972. Her brother George Jr. also served as district governor from 1997-1998 and was a dedicated Civitan until he moved away in 2002.
Twenty years in, Cindy has many great Civitan memories. Her first are of attending Civitan International Conventions with her family as a child. “While I was not active in Civitan [at the time], the club and its projects were always a part of our family outings.”
Since joining, Cindy and her husband, fellow Civitan Mike, have attended thirteen international conventions. Cindy has served as club secretary for the Pensacola Civitan Club for almost twenty years, and held district offices including Civiscope Editor, District Director, and District Governor.
Barrington’s favorite projects over the years have been her club’s numerous wheelchair ramp builds, and their annual community picnic for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I have helped on over 300 ramp projects. We have enabled children and adults to safely enter and exit their homes. This truly makes you thankful for your own health and well-being and glad that you have made life a bit easier for someone.”
“My advice is to volunteer with a smile, volunteer regularly, and volunteer ideas for new projects in your club. Be proud of this organization and strive to be the best volunteer you can be!”
Donna Hill Grice, Arab Civitan Club
Donna Hill Grice joined Civitan 21 years ago after traveling across the Alabama North district with her then 14-year-old daughter who was the Junior Civitan Governor at the time. “I liked the people that we met and what they did.”
Like her daughter Kala, who is also an active member of the Arab Civitan Club, Grice has not shied away from leadership in Civitan. Grice has served in many roles throughout her time in Civitan and is currently serving in her third year as a member of the Grants and Scholarships Committee.
Grice’s favorite moment in Civitan came when she was a Junior Chair. A family at the local school lost everything in a house fire, so the Junior Civitan Club took up a collection of toiletry items to help with immediate needs. There was a student in the club with I/DD, whose own family had very little on their own. The student went to the advisor and said, “don’t tell my mama, but I want to help too,” at which point he gave the advisor his personal tube of toothpaste, which was half used.
Of that moment Grice said, “To me, seeing a young boy want to help others so much that he gives all he has is what Civitan and Junior Civitan are supposed to be about.”
Grice is proud to be a female leader in Civitan. She has led the way throughout her life as the only female in her major in college, the first female to be hired at the USGS in New Orleans, the first female Scout in two different scout checks, and the first of two women elected to the International Scout Association Board of Directors.
Did you know?
- Now more than 45 years after the historic 1974 vote, Civitan’s membership is predominantly female.
- The first all-female Civitan club charter was the Frontier Civitan Club in Orlando, Florida, on October 5, 1974.
- Of all the current districts, North Carolina East has elected the most female governors since the bylaw change.
- Less than forty female Civitans have received the organization’s most beloved award, the International Honor Key. Polly Mooney Forestier earned the first in 1986.
Civitan International Presidents
- Polly Mooney Forestier 1990-1991
- Bettye Sue Bolen 1998-1999
- Eva E. Wilhelmsen 2001-2002
- Bobbie Walden 2003-2004
- Betty Haralson 2006-2007
- Gay Aaron 2010-2011
- Debbie Juhlke 2015-2016
- Kendyl Massey 2017-2018
- Patsy Perkal 2019-2020