Projects to inspire and imitate in the areas of Employment, Accessibility and Education for those with I/DD.

Are you looking for a new or different service project for your club as you head into Spring? This month’s membership blog post includes interviews with three clubs carrying out successful service projects to improve the lives of individuals with I/DD.

Click on any of the following project names to learn more about it.

Pasadena Civitan Club: Disability Employment Awareness

Three  years  ago,  the  Civitan  Club of Pasadena established a new project goal, “increasing employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Today they do just that, by holding an annual recognition event each October which is National Disability Employment  Awareness  Month,  recognizing  local  businesses  who  employee  people  with  disabilities, creating  outreach  materials  encouraging  companies  to hire  people  with  disabilities,  and  co-sponsoring community forums.

At the club’s banquet local employers are recognized for hiring those with disabilities. One of the most recent companies to receive recognition was a local catering company who hired people with disabilities. They are now also the caterer for the annual banquet!

The Civitan Club of Pasadena has 15 members. Most of their membership takes part in the employment program subcommittee which works all year round on their mission. Club members work with three main agencies and city officials to spread the word about their programs.

Different job tasks throughout this process include meeting with city officials, speaking to other volunteer groups about potential involvement, planning the banquet, local media management, and selecting award recipients.

Looking ahead, the club’s goals for expansion include building a website where companies and adults with disabilities can connect for available job opportunities. They also want to create an emblem or decal that companies can put in their windows signifying that they employ people with disabilities.

For  more  information  on  the  Civitan  Club  of  Pasadena’s employment programs please contact

Pensacola Civitan Club: Wheelchair Ramp Construction

The Pensacola Civitan Club knows a thing or two about how to effectively and efficiently build a wheelchair ramp. To date, the club has built 494 ramps and counting in and around Escambia County, Florida. How do they do it? How can your club build a ramp? We spoke with Pensacola Civitan Club secretary, Cindy Barrington, to find out.

Q: How do you choose where to build?

A: My phone number is everywhere: rehab facilities, hospitals, hospice, United Way, the ARC Gateway, and even several churches. At the very beginning, most requests for ramps were coming from agencies that work  with  people  with  developmental  disabilities. People began  seeing  ramps  in  town,  phone numbers were given out, and now we receive 1-2 requests per week.

Q: Are there building permits required?

A: Civitans first visited the Health Department in 1995 due to a question about a septic tank in yard. They were told they  needed  to  submit  plans  for  their  wheelchair  ramps  and  then  apply  for a  building permit. Civitans attended a  County  Commission  Meeting  and  were  deferred  to  the  Building  Permit Inspections  Office. Civitans told them they  were  a group of  volunteers  (not  getting  paid),  building  life-changing  structures,  and they  had liability insurance. Case dismissed -no  building  permit  needed! We build our ramps according to the ADA code (American Disabilities Act), meaning the slope is a 1″ drop per foot. If they rent, then we require written permission from the landlord to build a ramp. Most landlords are happy to say “yes”, but we’ve had some say “no”, so we get permission in writing. Our rule is that we build one ramp. We’ve had requests to build a ramp at the front and back door, but we have them choose where a ramp is most needed.

Q: What does the planning process look like?

A: Planning process:

  • Receive request
  • Obtain permission from owner on where to build the ramp
  • Perform site survey
  • Design ramp
  • Prepare cost estimates
  • Arrange funding
  • Schedule construction
  • Order materials
  • Organize Crew

Q: What is the general time and financial cost?

A: Work  begins  at  8  am  on  a  Saturday  and  we  are  finished  by  early  afternoon. We  have  the  lumber delivered on a Thursday and often 2-3 Civitans will go out on Friday and cut all the lumber for the ramp project. That speeds up work on Saturday. Trailers sit high and require longer ramps. Those projects that are 40+ feet in length may not finish up until 3 pm. We send out an email blast to all members requesting 6-8 members to help with a ramp project. Lumber costs range from $300 -$900, depending  on length. Then  you  need  screws  and  nails. We  are  fortunate  to  have  found  two  agencies  that  will  fund  ramp projects: Modern Woodmen of America and the Rehab Foundation of NW Florida. At the present time, Escambia County has a wheelchair ramp pilot program and they will fund the lumber for ramps built only in Escambia County (not the city).

Q: What does a ramp build day look like?

A: We meet at 8 am and discuss the ramp design. Often there are bushes to clear out or even pavers to remove, so there is always prep work. First the deck and then the ramp. Everyone helps out where they want. We always have snacks, Gatorade, and water and if the ramp goes long, someone will go out and buy  burgers  or  whatever  for  everyone. We  stress  safety  and  always  have: first  aid  kit,  safety  goggles, gloves, hearing protection, sun screen, insect repellant and even a canopy for shade is nice. If a ramp ends on concrete, we add an 8″ wide x 48″ long sheet of aluminum (1/8″ thick).These aluminum plates can be ordered at a Metal Fabrication company. After the ramp is finished, we ask the client to come outside and try out the ramp for the first time. We always take a picture with the client and his/her family. And, we provide a club flyer. Most often  they have not heard of Civitan and this gives them an overview of our Club -along with the Club’s P.O. Box (for a thank you note or for a donation)!Less than 20% of the clients can pay for their ramp materials.

Q: Is there anything you’d like other clubs to know about building wheelchair ramp?

A: This is a most rewarding project -to see the person use a ramp for the first time. Often, they have not been able to leave their home due to the steps. We have quite a wait list -and just take them in the order we receive them.

University of South Alabama Campus Civitan: Spirit Contest Supporting PASSAGE USA Scholarships

The University of South Alabama chartered a Campus Civitan Club in 2018. This inclusive club brings together students taking part in the university’s PASSAGE USA program for students living  with  intellectual  or  developmental  disabilities  and  their  fellow  students.  Together  they have completed projects in support of local food banks, Night to Shine, Buddy Ball, and more. This  year,  the  club  added  a  new  project  to  their  schedule  in  support  of  scholarships  for  the PASSAGE USA program. On February 17, 2020, the South Alabama Campus Civitan Club hosted a Mardi Gras Spirit Contest fundraiser and raised $180 for PASSAGE USA. Check our interview with club president, Carol Hudak on how they pulled it off!

Q:  Is  this  the  first  year  you  are  doing  this  fundraiser?  If not,  how  many  years  have  you completed this project?

A: Yes! This is the first year we are completing this project, and we were confident it would be great and prosperous for PASSAGE USA.

Q: Where did the idea for this project come from?

A: The  officer board had  this  idea  because we  wanted to do a  big event  where  we  could raise funds for an organization in Mobile that supports those who have disabilities. Since Mobile is the original Mardi Gras, we thought it would be fun to have a Mardi Gras Spirit Contest right in the middle of the season.

Q:  How  did  you  decide  that  the  proceeds  were  going  to  go  toward  scholarships  for  the Passages USA program?

A: We decided to support PASSAGE USA because it is located right here at the University. It is a great organization  that  helps  our  friends  with  disabilities to  be  independent  citizens  in  our society.

Q: How did you promote the event?

A: We  promoted  this  event with flyers  around  the  community, on  campus, and  in  local restaurants  and  coffee  shops  around  the  area  to  bring  in  the  community.  Our  campus  lets organizations make large bed sheet signs, and we  made  three  of those  and put them in  three prime locations where we know a lot of people would see them. We also used social media every single day. Our officers and members were constantly sharing. On Facebook, we also created an event so our members could invite their friends to it through social media.

Q: What steps were taken in the planning process for the event?

A: There were a lot of steps.

  • First, we needed to figure out what type of event we wanted to do because we knew it needed to be something big. However,we wanted it to be profitable. We decided to tie into our city’s culture with Mardi Gras and make it a fun competition.
  • Second, we had to make a list of all the things we needed to do ask ourselves. Ex.where are we having it, when are we having it, do we have enough funds to pay for this ourselves, would it be profitable to  co-sponsor  with  a  another large  and  known  organization  on  campus,  can  our student  government  association  help  us,  who  are  we  giving  the  money  to?  These  are  all questions that needed to be answered before we truly planned anything.
  • Third, after answering the questions above we were finally able to plan out the finer details, such as decorations, creating flyers and bed sheets to be put up a 1.5 weeks before the event, writing a bill  for  our  SGA  to  gain  financial  aid  from  them,  asking  our  productions  team  (ours  is  called Jaguar Productions)  to  help  with  music  and  sound  equipment,  food,  and  we  decided  to  co-sponsor with another organization so we started to contact them.
  • Fourth, we started to make things finalized such as, picking a room in our student center, picking a date and time, getting volunteers from the clubs to help set up and break down, deciding how are we  receiving  funds  by  cash  or  online  or  both,  putting  up  flyers  and  bed  sheets  around  the community,  putting  orders  in  for  food,  having  our  bill  heard  at  our  SGA  and  defending  it  at  a meeting, buying decorations, etc.
  • Fifth, during the week of the event we started to get the finer details cranked out such as who is working the money table, planning a detailed schedule of the event, finalizing volunteer lists and labeling jobs, creating a music playlist, and promoting the event every day on social media and university mass email systems. On the  day  of  the  event officers  arrived before  volunteers and  were asked  to  be  there  with decorations  and  We had one  person  in  charge  of  decor,  another  handling  the  sound equipment people, and then another setting up the entry table. Everyone else filled in to help where needed. As people signed in we had two people handling money; one taking online cash and another taking physical cash. The school requires us to take attendance at each event if they are being supported by SGA funds, so as people paid, we took their information. As the event went on, officers made sure everything was going smoothly and people were having fun!

Q: Do you have any advice or recommendations for other clubs looking to complete a similar fundraiser?

A: Our advice is to take it seriously in planning ahead, because you may think you have a lot of time but with everyone’s personal life and school life tied in things will be pushed aside. It also helped  us  that  we  had  the  ability  to  co-sponsor  with  another  club  and  have  our  student government association help financially. Look into your college’s organization assistance to see how your club could save money, and not have to pay for everything out of pocket. Lastly, rely on  your  club  and  officers,  do  not  put  this  on  one  person.  It  takes  a  lot  to  make  an  event  be profitable so more minds are better than one.

Q: Anything else you want to share about the project?

A: The event was held on February 17, 2020.It was our first year. We had 40 people attend and were able to raise $180 total for PASSAGE USA. We at South Alabama take this as a huge win because we were able to achieve something and plan to continue this annually.