This story, originally written by Loren Eisley is a powerful depiction of making a difference and brightening the corner where you are, no matter how small your light is. If you know the starfish story, I hope you don’t mind me retelling it to remind you what a big difference you can make in your small corner.
An old man was doing his daily walk along the beach one morning, it was a beautiful day to be by the sea. The man was enjoying his alone time, enjoying nature and reflecting. Then he spotted a young boy crouched by the ocean, picking something up from the sand and throwing it into the sea.
Fascinated by the boy’s actions, the man stopped to watch the boy for a while. He noticed the boy kept scooping something up, running to the ocean and throwing it in. The man watched the boy repeat these actions again and again – stop, pick up, throw, move. Over and over. The man was indeed intrigued by the strange actions of the boy at the beach. “What could he possibly be doing?” The man asked himself. And so he walked closer to the boy and asked him.
“What are you doing there boy?”
“I am saving these stranded starfish” answered the boy. “If they stay on the beach any longer, they will dry up and die. I am putting them back into the ocean so they can live.” Then he picked one more starfish and threw it in, then another, and another. The old man was silent for a while, watching the boy labor away. He didn’t understand the young lad’s enthusiasm and drive; it just didn’t make sense to him at all. Because life had taught him that if he was to spend time doing anything at all, it was better to spend it aiming for the stars, doing big things that made a difference with a bang. “Young man” he said, “on this stretch of beach alone, there must be more than one hundred
stranded starfish. Around the next corner, there must be at least one thousand more. This goes on for miles and miles and miles – I’ve done this walk every day for 10 years, and it’s always the same. There must be millions of stranded starfish! I hate to say it, but you’ll never make a difference.” In response, and without missing a beat, the boy picked up a starfish and threw it into the water, saying, “well I just made a difference to that one.” Then he picked another and threw it, “and that one.”
And so on and so on, one after another, it made a difference to that one, and that one, and now this one…” And on and on the boy went, making a difference one starfish at a time.
The starfish story teaches two important lessons; well-meaning people can discourage and stop you from helping or making a difference in small but important ways. And it also teaches the importance of small contributions. “You don’t have the power to effect meaningful change”, “this is too big a problem for you”, “I know this problem very well, you cannot solve it.” Have you ever been told any of these?
And did you buy into the pessimism? Well don’t. That is Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and it doesn’t have a place in Civitan. I share this story with you today to serve as a call to action for all of us to be that boy, picking up each starfish and giving it a chance at having a future. My friends, we need to act like that boy and find those people that aren’t a member yet and bring them into our family so that they and your club benefit. So for the time remaining this year until September 30th, I ask you to find one person and recruit them into your club.
If you do, your action will be rewarded. You will receive a symbolic pin, like the one you see below. Let’s all resolve to be wearing these pins on October 1st as we enter our new year and lets not stop there, Keep Going!!
I hope that you are well and that everything’s “coming up roses ” for all of you. I hope that if you haven’t received your vaccine yet, that you will be able to do so soon. If you have been locked down and not been able to get out, I pray that you will be able to do so very soon.
I am encouraged by the interest that I am seeing in the registrations to attend our Civitan International Annual Convention. Whether you are coming to Jacksonville or attending virtually, it is important for you to attend as we will be conducting the business of your organization, and it is important for you to stay up to date on what is happening in your Civitan organization. We will be electing the two highest leaders in Civitan, President and President-Elect as well as a number of Directors for your Civitan International Board of Directors at this Convention. These individuals will be YOUR representatives on the Board and if you are a voting delegate, you should study their platforms and if you have questions for them, reach out to them and ask! Then vote accordingly. The candidates photos, biographies, and statements are contained in our May 2021 Civitan Magazine. For those attending the Convention in person, the candidates will be staffing information tables at the Convention to meet you and to answer any questions that you may have. Again, if you are attending virtually, reach out to candidates using the contact information provided.
I especially would like to call your attention to the Governance Documents Proposals submitted by the Board for the voting delegate’s approval. These proposals are important to each of you and it is important for each of you to know that a lot of time and effort has been put into making the absolute best proposal for your consideration and most importantly, that they are being proposed not for today’s Civitan, but for the Civitan of the future. It is about the sustainability of Civitan for the long term and it is the long term that I am most concerned about as your International President. Sustainability is important to the members of the Governance Documents Review Committee who have been working on the proposals for close to two years now and your current Board of Directors. Yes, we are restructuring the organization to reflect our true mission and reason for being, the local clubs and their members. It was this structure that our Founder, Dr. Courtney Shropshire and the other members of the founding team used to begin our Civitan over 103 years ago. Districts were started in 1927 primarily to expedite communication between local clubs and headquarters and to help grow the organization through membership recruitment and organizing new clubs. With the advancement of social media and Zoom, we are able to communicate in a more timely manner without creating undue time difficulties and travel restrictions, especially in a Covid environment. The Bylaws will give us more flexibility in recruiting and building new clubs, voting rights to everyone that is in a club in good standing and registers to attend the Annual Convention, most importantly it will restructure the organization into 6 regions led by an elected International Director. Each International Director will lead a Leadership Council (LC) composed of Civitans from that region that possess knowledge and expertise in a number of pertinent areas of interest to local clubs and you as members; such as Member Development, Member Engagement, Communications, Philanthropy, Junior Civitan and a final area to be determined by each LC.
In closing, I have been emphasizing membership all year and even before that but when it comes down to it, Membership is our business and no one has more of a stake in the outcome than you do as a club member. What happens to your club when you don’t have enough members to do the projects that define you as a Civitan and Civitan Club, well we know the answer, you eventually cease to exist. Well, we need to come together to refocus on going after those new member prospects and when you invite them, treat them as honored guests, welcome them and treat them right. Find out what they are interested in and make an effort to let them put their stamp on a new direction for the club. You do not need to tell them that you need new blood in the club. That is dead wrong! We are currently in a Summer Growth Incentive drive and here is a summary of what they are. I ask that you embrace them and get busy now to make it happen. There are many of you that keep saying that International does nothing or says nothing to help you. Here is what we are doing now but if you don’t do it, then just look in the mirror to see who is responsible for your club not growing, it will be you. Membership growth is EVERYONE’s business and it can be fun and rewarding. Ask Gerry Faulkner!:
June- HOMECOMING month. Bring Them Back: invite past members, former Junior Civitans, former Campus Civitans, to participate in a project or event! Recruit a former member, submit an add form, and your name will be entered to win a $250 gift certificate to the Civitan Supply House.
July- RECRUIT AN ESSENTIAL WORKER month. Invite an essential worker (for example, police, fire, ambulance, teachers, doctors or nurses), to attend your July meeting or a project. Follow up with them to make sure they attend. Perhaps your club may like them to make a presentation to your members. Recruit an essential worker, submit an add form, and have your name entered to win a Kindle Fire plus a $100 Amazon Gift Card!
PLUS! Initiation fees ($15) and Reinstate fees ($5) are waived through the end of this fiscal year – September 30, 2021!
See you in Jacksonville and Virtually! Take care of yourselves and each other!
As the Leader of our organization, I extend best wishes and warmest regards to all of you on behalf of your International Board of Directors and Headquarters staff. However, as we do so, we realize that many of our Civitan family are still under quarantine and are restricted from traveling due to the pandemic (COVID-19). Condolences to those of you that have lost friends or loved ones due to the Pandemic or other causes. We are thankful that there are many of you who contracted the Covid virus and have recovered. Praise God! Please take care of yourselves and each other and know in your hearts that we love you.
I ask that District Governors reach out to each of your club Presidents and ask them to call each of their club members to say hello and encourage them to remain positive and enthusiastic. We are going to come out of this for sure as a better and united organization. Remember this tenant of our Civitan Creed: My heart beats for every friend and bleeds for every injury to humanity, and throbs with joy at every triumph of truth.
As each of you may be aware, we have experienced substantial losses of our members and clubs during these past two years. We must work together to reverse this trend by bringing new members into our organization. You may be thinking that this is not your problem. However, that can’t be farther from the truth. New members actually benefit your club as it brings new ideas, new skills, and people to do the work that makes a difference in your community. The Bottom Line is that new members benefit your club the most!
To this end, we are conducting several Membership Themed drives during the months of May, June, and July. Each month will feature an incentive recognizing your participation as a very important person in our People Power movement. Here are the basic themes for each month:
May – RECRUIT A FRIEND month. Recruit a friend and submit an add form, and your name will be entered in our drawing for one 2021 Jacksonville Convention registration event package. But wait there’s more, Initiation fees are waived for May as well! A win- win for sure! So Let’s Get Busy!
June- HOMECOMING month. Bring Them Back: invite past members, former Junior Civitans, former Campus Civitans, to participate in a project or event! Recruit a former member, submit an add form, and your name will be entered to win a $250 gift certificate to the Civitan Supply House. Again, no initiation fees for these returning members! Do you know someone?
July- RECRUIT AN ESSENTIAL WORKER month. Invite an essential worker, for example, police, fire, ambulance, teachers, doctors or nurses, to attend your July meeting or a project. Follow up with them to make sure they attend. Perhaps your club may like them to make a presentation to your members. Recruit an essential worker, submit an add form, and have your name entered to win a Kindle Fire plus a $100 Amazon Gift Card!
If you recruit a member in these categories and should be entered into a drawing(s), please email all pertinent information including your name, club, your new member’s name and club, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know that many of you have earned various levels of Club Builder Recognition and that some (perhaps many) of you have identified communities for new club building. Let’s go after it and get them built! I could really use your help. If you have a community in mind, let me know and I will work with HQ staff to coordinate and support your effort. If you don’t have a new club build in mind, then let’s shift your expertise to those small clubs that are under 15 members and help them build themselves back better! I am planning a special recognition at our Convention in Jacksonville so let’s work on doing this!
In closing, Thank you for the privilege of serving as your International President. Take care of yourselves and each other.
I feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve you as your International President and value each and every day that I am able to do it. In this month’s newsletter article, I believe that I would like to chat with you about you, your value, and the organization’s responsibility to you as a member of our Civitan family.
To speak of family, we really have to start at the beginning and how did we get into this family in the first place. Well, I am sure that some of you wonder about that sometimes but there is always a reason. That reason can be that sometimes our family picks us or that it is our family that brings us into being. Well, Civitan is a lot like that. We are brought into the family and sometimes we don’t like our family members but don’t let anyone say bad things about our family, or bad things will come down upon them. We are very protective of our family but we also need to open our arms to new family members that join our family. We need to nurture them, protect them and to be there when they need us. Civitans are very much like our own family, even part of a totally separate family. We don’t set out to start that family but Civitans have a way of doing that to each other. They help each other, they mourn family losses, they celebrate accomplishments and achievements, and they are together for life, or at least a long time!
Each of you are valued members of the Civitan family and as the leader of the family, I feel connected and responsible for each one of you. But with that love and caring, comes responsibility to do what is right for the family. We are faced with a situation, the approval of the Proposed Governance documents; that each of us as family members, have opinions about, perhaps strong opinions. But when the day is done and we reflect on what is good for the family and the future, our decisions, or the decisions we need to make, look pretty good for our family.
I close by sharing a line from our Civitan Creed, which I hope will speak to you: My Ears hear the cry of children and the call throughout the world for peace, guidance, progress, and UNITY. “There is more that separates us than what divides us.” Civitans: Let’s love and care for each other!
Keep the Faith,
Hello Civitans and thank you for your service!
I wholeheartedly believe that we have many aspects of our organization that distinguish us from the other service organizations. I would like to highlight two of these in this article.
One is our Civitan International Research Center. I am sure that you are all aware of the priceless relationship that we have with our Civitan International Research Center and the reasons why we should be “shouting from the rooftops about it”. CIRC speakers are available via ZOOM and there are videos that you can access on Civitan’s Vimeo page and on YouTube to show at your club meetings. Please use these resources to share knowledge with your members.
Second, is our annual observation of Clergy Appreciation Week, which Civitans have celebrated since 1963 to honor local clergy and lay leaders of all faiths for their dedicated service to their local community. Clergy Appreciation Week is typically observed during the week of February 3rd but you may observe it anytime during Febraury. This Civitan tradition began with the chartering of the Albuquerque Breakfast Civitan Club in 1960. The members of the club decided to honor local clergy as their first major project and Civitan International soon adopted Clergy Week as an official project. Beginning with a proclamation at the 1962 Civitan convention in Dallas, Texas, the week of February 3 was selected to coincide with the sinking of the Dorchester and the story of the Four Chaplains. Make plans now to observe this project in your club!
In closing, our prayers go out to those that have personally been affected by Covid-19 and we hope that the vaccination process reaches all of you soon! I would like to ask Club Presidents to call each of their club members to check in with them to give them encouragement and support. Remember Civitan has always been about our relationship with one another so let’s love on one another in the name of Civitan. On an International note, I would like to give a SHOUT OUT to the Korea District, they are Rockin’ Civitan this year, even with the Pandemic!