These times are like no other we have ever seen. I have missed seeing my fellow Civitans during this time of social distancing. Club meetings, events, fundraisers, and service opportunities have been cancelled. Some of these can be deferred, but many are just gone. However, you, your clubs and your districts can remain connected.

North Carolina District West was scheduled to have its Spring District Meeting on March 21st at Victory Junction with the district board meeting the previous day. With warnings and some COVID-19 cases appearing in North Carolina, a decision was made just nine days prior to cancel the in-person meetings. We had some items on the district board agenda requiring action and the district meeting had a great program scheduled.

During my Governor-Elect training, Zoom was used for monthly meetings with my fellow Governors-Elect and International staff. Zoom was easy to use, allowing you to see the speakers, other members, the agenda, and communicate using a chat room feature. Districts had been notified of Civitan International’s willingness to allow use of its Zoom license.

There was no doubt that our district could use Zoom for both our board and district meetings. It was simple to create the Zoom meetings, and International staff members were very easy to work with. Zoom has a free option that allows meetings up to 40 minutes. I worked with International’s license since I knew my meetings would surpass this limitation.

The district board meeting was held at the same time as originally scheduled. The only change was to create a PowerPoint presentation of the agenda. Everyone received the agenda and all supporting documents prior to the meeting. I did not find the meeting went any differently than our in-person meetings. As expected, there were a few individuals who were a little uncomfortable, but still fully managed to participate.

The district meeting was held the following day. Based on the way the meeting had been organized, most of the morning included participating in camp activities and a service project. Only about 75 minutes had been scheduled for speakers. I spoke to all scheduled speakers and they agreed to speak via Zoom. Not only were they accommodating, they were enthusiastic about having the meeting. The meeting was conducted a little differently than the board meeting. With this meeting, specific focus was given to each speaker and all other microphones were muted until Q &A. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation to welcome everyone and provide an agenda to follow.

From my perspective, the district meeting was a success! Every originally scheduled speaker spoke from the safety and comfort of their homes. We had at least 67 who attended. Attendees could log into the meeting 20 minutes ahead of time. Although we did not have in-person fellowship, most everyone still spent the time prior to the meeting talking with each other. I also heard from others who were very satisfied with both the content of the meeting and the length of it. The meeting ran about 75 minutes as originally planned once it began.

I encourage every district and club to consider using Zoom or some other video conferencing product currently available to connect with district and club members. If you use it for a board meeting, send the agenda and all backup materials in advance. If you use it for a district meeting, keep the time under 90 minutes. Many clubs are using video conferencing to stay connected. Several clubs in my district are having their own Zoom meetings. Join the trend!