By James Fields, Ed Higdon and Dee Hutsler

After building the Cullman Civitan Club, these three Civitans got together to share with fellow members about their experience of building a club. And, one thing they all agree on is that it is a fun experience! They do acknowledge that it can be a bit frustrating at times but it is such a rewarding experience. Here are comments from our club builders.

James Fields: Building the Cullman Civitan Club was a unique and rewarding experience for me. As I have never had
the opportunity to fully experience the fullness of the Civitan Creed: “To Practice the Golden Rule and to Build upon it a
Better and Nobler citizenship.” When I was first called upon to assist in this endeavor, I didn’t know what to expect. But
working alongside my fellow club builders was the experience of a lifetime. I looked forward to every Thursday and sometimes Tuesday and Wednesday. We would follow up on referrals and share our Civitan stories. Many times, it was over a meal. Watching Dee eat Rice Krispy Treats was a joy. However, he mostly enjoyed my famous ‘Bama Licious Nanner Puddin’ (Banana Pudding)! But, none of that compared to the sharing of the Civitan story and you could see the excitement on the faces of the new prospects. All they wanted to know was how do I sign up and when can we start serving our community? The prospects knew instinctively what we recite: “My soul knows no fear but its own unworthiness.” Building a Civitan Club is a reward far greater than a person can expect. Therefore, my eyes will always search for others to join in the fellowship and service of Civitan. I appreciate the opportunity to build a better world through Civitan!

Ed Higdon: You might say I am a simple man with a simple plan. The formula or plan for building a Civitan club has been around a long time. It involves meeting and greeting people, telling them about Civitan, and inviting them to a meeting. I know the world loves text messages, emails, phone trees and newspaper articles. But there is no replacement for a handshake and a smile. There just isn’t. Always stick to the plain simple facts and do not bring up any unpleasant experiences or facts that detract from the picture you are trying to paint for a new member. Sell our service to the community and our international service through CIRC. Things moved slow at first but our cumulative efforts started to payoff and we gathered more members one and two at a time. The fun part is seeing new members recruiting others, which happened in Cullman. These young professionals, business owners and community minded individuals will make Cullman a successful club and a leader in our region! They have great leadership, a good cross section in all areas of their officers and membership that will lead to a successful club.

Dee Hutsler: It has been a while since myself and Ed built a club and this would be the first club for James. But, I learned
some valuable lessons during this club build:

  • #1 LESSON: If Civitan has been there before, you can build a new club there, GUARANTEED. Civitan International may not be a household name but it is always well respected in the communities where they serve. The old Cullman Club had done wonderful things in that community but they had “aged out.” People remembered them and we heard several stories of their good works.
  • #2 LESSON: It helps to have good recruiters. Ed Higdon and James Fields are very good recruiters. I was fortunate to be able to work with them. Some clubs find a spark plug who builds the club for you, meaning a major feeder of new members into the new club. But we knew we could build it with or without a spark plug. After we got to 15, the members started to recruit themselves. We had spark plugs all along!
  • LESSON#3: FROM ED: DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Ed has a knack for spotting people of good character even though they are not in the normal profile. Ask him about “Mountain Man.” On October 19, Ed and I went recruiting one day. We were parked outside a realty office, which Ed had a connection. But, there was never anyone there. Then, we saw a young man at the back door of an adjoining building. He had a long beard like a country music singer or a Duck Dynasty character. Ed decided to approach him and after Ed started talking, he and the young man realized that they were distant relatives. His mother worked inside and might know Ed. Sure enough, Ed and Ruth were close cousins who had spent their childhood together. They even knew each other’s childhood nicknames. Soon thereafter, we had our 3rd member.
  • LESSON #4 FROM JAMES: If a person’s friend has joined, that increases the attraction to join the club. We talked to one man who would not join. When we returned for a followup visit, we mentioned that his friend had joined. The man joined on the spot!
  • LESSON #5: Keep trying. Ed had tried several times to contact the local radio station but no one would answer. One day, after we knocked on the radio station door, got no answer, and moved on. As we were headed back to our car, a man came out of the radio station door! I was floored. But we walked right up to him, introduced ourselves, told him what we were doing and asked about a public service announcement. The next day, James Fields and I were on the air talking about Civitan International, the Civitan International Research Center, and the new Cullman Civitan Club! I believe we got two new members from that show. The moral of the story, from Ed, is keep trying; It doesn’t take but a minute to try one more time. And the benefits can make it really worth-while.

From President Dee Hutsler, “I hope these comments and stories will encourage you to give club building a try. If you love
Civitan like I do, this is a great way to give back to this great organization! Thank you.”

Thanks to these club builders for taking the time to combine these lessons and stories. Please know the opinions and stories in this article reflect that of the contributing authors and not of Civtian International. Each club building experience is different, but very rewarding. If you are interested in building a new Civitan club, please contact us today at