Bob Jones was elected to become the 2018-2019 International President during the Centennial Convention in Birmingham during the summer of 2017. He and his wife, Judy, live in Concord, North Carolina, where they are both active members of their clubs.
Originally on the board since 2013, Bob is very familiar with the issues facing Civitan as we grow into our second century. He is a certified club builder and the recipient of multiple honor keys and the club, district and international levels.
He was kind enough to sit down with Civitan Magazine, during the October board meeting in Birmingham, to discuss his thoughts about the future of Civitan.
Tell us a bit about your family. How long have you been married? How many kids?
Judy and I just celebrated our 54th anniversary on November 7. I have two sons Kevin a retired Charlotte Mecklenburg police detective, and his wife Kandy. Mike is a supervisor for Supply One in Rockwell, North Carolina.
I have three grandchildren. McKenzie is a senior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Her sister Hayden is in 5th grade and my grandson Spencer is in the 6th grade. I am proud to say that all my family are members of our great organization except my two youngest grandchildren.
You come from a military background, correct? Thank you for your service. What about that background prepares you for leadership in Civitan?
I served four years in the US Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence, so I really don’t think that qualifies as military background but I am proud of my service to our nation. Those four years of service did teach me a lot and instilled in me the values I hope to reflect in Civitan—service to others, personal responsibility, and a sense of community. It also gave me good insight on what it means to be a leader.
How long have you been a Civitan?
In 1989 Judy and I were invited to come to a Civitan meeting by one of her co-workers. We both had the same question “What is Civitan?” We attended the meeting which was what was called at that time a “Seek” meeting. We both liked what this club and the organization was doing in the community so we joined. We immediately became involved and within a short period of time were serving on committees working on projects.
What motivates you to be a Civitan? What are some of your favorite memories?
The opportunity to help others in need. I like to work with children and see the smiles on their faces with just the least little bit of accomplishment. One of my motivations is the Research Center and the work that is being accomplished which motivates me to continue supporting that great work. I just enjoy meeting and helping people.
In 1998, our club was planning to have a “prom” for those in the community with developmental disabilities. We had dress shops donate prom dresses and other businesses donated suits and ties for those who could not afford one. We had a local limo service that was going to bring the people to the dance. Everything was set and ready.
The afternoon before this dance I was severely burned in a fire. I was in the hospital with third degree burns on 90% of my right arm and minor burns on my face. I will never forget that all these people who came to the dance signed a giant get well card and sent it to me in the hospital. That card meant so much to me and helped lift my spirits.
What are some of your favorite projects?
The first project that comes to my mind is the Civitan International Research Center. With a family member who has been diagnosed with autism, and a close personal friend who is has a family member with Alzheimer’s, the research they are doing there is very important to me. My hope is that very soon they will have answers to help those with I/DD and other debilitating conditions.
My next favorite project is Special Olympics. The joy and smiles on the faces of the athletes are beyond compare.Their attitude is something we can all learn from.
We have a project in North Carolina West we support, Victory Junction Camp. This is a camp for children with life threatening illnesses or chronic diseases. Here the children do not see the illness. They only see another person that they can relate to and make a new friend.
What are some of your goals for your Civitan year?
I have a big goal that we help make a difference in the world. Also, to increase the visibility of Civitan around the world. We often hear people ask “What is Civitan” When we say the word Civitan I want people to know what and who we are and what we do.
I think there are many of us who share that goal along with you. What did you learn during your year as President-Elect?
That it is important to be a good listener and also a good communicator. You can not do everything yourself. This is an organization of teamwork.
What do you see as some of the challenges ahead for service organizations and how can we tackle those challenges?
Of course, the challenge for all service organizations is membership. I do believe that people want to give back and serve others. How we reach those people is the challenge. I do believe we have to be more cognizant of people’s time in this day and age. That is one thing people really cherish. The way we form new clubs and the ways clubs meet may have to change in order for us to grow.
If you could challenge everyone to do one thing for Civitan, what would that be?
At the convention in Reno we played the video by Admiral McRaven on completing one task of the day by “Making Your Bed.” My challenge to each member this year is to complete that one task by sponsoring just one new member. I also would challenge each person to tell at least five people they meet this year about Civitan. I’d like to challenge everyone to build quality clubs that will be sustainable and meet the mission of Civitan.
If someone asked you to sum up Civitan in 10 words or less, what would you say?
A Service organization where hands and hearts make a difference.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I am looking forward to meeting people and as I attend different districts I see that even though they may do some things a little differently than others we all have the same goals—to help others. We can all learn from each other.