Tell me about your Civitan experience. When did you first join, who introduced you to Civitan?
I joined the Perimeter Civitan Club in Birmingham in March of 1994 at a recruitment meeting. The club was 6 months old and this was their first recruitment meeting. A friend, and co-worker at the time, Donna Harper asked me to go as her guest. She was on the district team and trying to help the club build up their membership. Donna is still an active member in Civitan and one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders (aka Violet Volunteer).
What attracted you to Civitan as opposed to other volunteer opportunities?
I knew that I wanted to volunteer and give back in some way. So, being the analyst and fact finder that I am, I visited Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and Optimist clubs before Civitan to see what their primary focuses were and if they were a fit for me and how I wanted to get involved. While they all offered some great things and were making a difference, what drew me to Civitan was the variety of options and ways I could have hands on interaction via community service projects in my city. “Yes” the primary focus of Civitan is developmentally challenged individuals, but the clubs also do many other things that also interested me. My specific interests at the time were helping those with food insecurities and helping pre-school kids get all of the life basics that they needed as well.
Tell me about your childhood. What values did you learn from your family that inspire you to serve others?
I grew up at home without siblings because both of them were older and out of the house before I had a “memory” of them being there. I came along 14 years after my brother so I think I was a “gift” to my parents. My dad worked many, many hours from the time I can remember but he taught me to be honest, to be humble, and work hard because things are not given to you in life. He also taught us to take pride in what we had – whether that was a mansion or a tiny house. My parents were very strict and taught me to respect people, to study hard, to do my best in everything that I did and they would love and support me no matter what! My mother cooked a home cooked meal every night and volunteered as the PTA parent for I don’t know how many bake sales, room parties, chaperones, etc. She gave selflessly of herself.
Our family was not rich in the financial sense, but we were rich in love. My dad was ALWAYS helping someone in some way. He would fix people’s cars for free if they couldn’t afford it, he would help a friend landscape their entire yard, he would paint, fix electrical issues, plumbing—you name it—for someone in need.
When kids are young they think their dads can do anything, but when I became an adult I “KNEW” my dad could do anything. At my dad’s funeral a stranger came rushing in at the end and asked for me. He said he was at dinner at a restaurant nearby when he heard about the funeral service. He said my dad helped him 20 years earlier and that kindness stayed with him his whole life. He just wanted me to know that and asked me to continue paying it forward in memory of my dad like he was doing.
Recruiting is important to you. What goals do you want to set for Civitan during your term?
Recruiting is important to me for many reasons. First of all I think what if Donna Harper never asked me to visit a Civitan club? All of the experiences, joy, happiness, and new friends I have made over the last 23 years would not have happened. If all of us as members have a “FIRE” and a passion for Civitan – why wouldn’t we ask others to join us?
The more members we have in Civitan across the world, the more new ideas we have, the more hands we have to actually do the work, the more resources and potential new leaders and so much more. I have not visited a club to date that said they did not need any new members.
My goal is for us to build 45 new clubs in North America and 12 clubs outside North America. This is our best hope for us to overcome the proven 17-20% of members we lose each year. I would also love to see us have 101 new club builders as we begin our second century of service. Supporting and retaining the members we have is equally important to me and our leadership team. In order to see Civitan continue to grow and thrive into our second century we need EVERYONE working toward these goals—”KINDLING THEIR FIRES for CIVITAN.”
What do we need to do to meet those goals?
To reach any goal I am a firm believer in having a written, detailed plan with a timeline associated to each component or task. I am asking each Civitan leader to outline the goals you have for growth and involvement in your club or district. Assign a “due date” for each item. Many activites can sometimes seem so large they are not attainable – so break down the goals into months or quarters. For example, my overall goal is to add 12 new members to my club in the upcoming Civitan year. This goal could mean by December (which is three months into the Civitan year) you have a recruitment meeting and add three new members (this is a completely reasonable goal) or it could mean adding one new member a month.
How do we reach the next generation of Civitan?
We have to meet all potential new Civitans “where they are” – not have them fit into our expected mold and schedule. We will need to think about reaching these new generations and demographics in different formats (maybe more online clubs or traditional clubs that also offer a web / dial in option as well). We will have to accept the amount of time and effort that they are willing to put forth – which may or may not be at our level of commitment or involvement.
What about your accomplishments in building clubs and recruiting members?
Building a new club is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my time as a Civitan member. I have been fortunate to have helped rebuild two troubled clubs and to be a club builder on 12 new clubs—including two Young Professional (YP) clubs. I am in the process of building my first two new Junior Civitan clubs locally, which is very exciting!
As far as recruitment goes, I have worked hard to share my love, passion, and enthusiasm for Civitan with everyone I have met and with many that were strangers. I believe my total number of recruits is a little over 150 new Civitans. I have set a personal goal for myself to reach 200 total new Civitan recruits by the Reno convention next summer. I would love to see a record number of Civitans earning MST (member sponsorship team) by recruiting four new members by the international convention in Reno as well.
When you are not working with Civitan, what do you do?
For my paying job, I work for an IT Consulting Company called CGI (consultants in government and industry) based in Montreal, Canada. I specifically work on a collections software system that we developed in house. I am on a client site typically Monday through Thursday out of state at a large financial institution. I enjoy getting to work with new fellow co-workers on every project, as well as the new client resources as well.
What about family? Hobbies? Interests?
All of my family still lives in Birmingham so that means regular travel to be present for the events my nieces and nephews (and surrogate ones) have going on all of the time (soccer, swim, graduations, birthdays, holidays). I am blessed to share my sometimes crazy and overflowing life with my sweet and thoughtful husband Michael Morgan. Michael is a past governor and current Civitan member and supports me in all things Civitan.
I enjoy travel and want to see as much of the world as I can before I leave this earth. Travel gives perspective and appreciation that we all need in our lives. I read pretty much every night and let’s just say I would not turn down any invitation for a shopping outing especially if shoes and handbags are purchase options.
To me, the best 12 weeks of the year are in the late summer / early fall when college football is in full swing. There is nothing like ESPN college game day, tailgating at a football game, or spending family time at a game and then talking about every detail of the game on Sundays. I am 100% a fearless and true Auburn Tiger – War Eagle!
If you had to tell a stranger about Civitan in 10 words or less, what would you say?
Civitan is helping, serving and giving to others of yourself.