The Sun News

Civitan celebrates 60th anniversary

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It has been 60 years since the Warner Robins Civitan Club was started and began its journey to impact lives in our community and beyond.

The club was founded Sept. 6, 1956, with 36 members — all males. The charter president was Jack Creamer. Catherine Silengo, who was president in 1982-1983, became the first woman to serve as state governor of Civitan.

Founded in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1917, Civitan International now has clubs in over 40 countries. Membership was formally opened to women in 1974, making Civitan the first major, all-male service club to accept women.

According to information provided by the club, in 1988 Civitan International pledged $20,000,000 to establish the Civitan International Research Center. Located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the research center is a leader in developmental disabilities prevention research. Warner Robins Civitan member Mary Coon explained it this way: “We are trying to find out why disabilities occur, and how can we prevent them, as well as improving the life of those with disabilities with treatment.”

Locally, Warner Robins Civitan has provided volunteers and raised funds for numerous projects over the years. Some recent projects include providing adaptive playground equipment at local parks, helping with events at Happy Hour Service Center such as the Christmas party and Fall Festival, providing Meals on Wheels birthday bags and hosting a prom for special-needs students in Houston County. The club also has been involved with the Independence Day fireworks celebration, hosts a clergy appreciation luncheon and provides scholarships for local high school students.

For the past 35 years, Warner Robins Civitan has provided funds and volunteers to send campers with special needs to Camp Big Heart. The camp provides the campers a week of fun activities and also allows their families a chance to recharge as caregivers of a children with disabilities.

Dusty Large, the current president, said Civitan is the “best kept secret in Warner Robins.”

“I really believe in this organization and its mission: to build better communities with an emphasis on projects that benefit those with special needs,” Large said.

Large joined Civitan because of the opportunities it provides to get involved in the community.

“I really liked the appeal of working with those with special needs, getting involved and give back to the community. Civitan lets you do all those things plus provides you with a core group of members that are just awesome and really add to your life,” Large said.

Member Debbie Crenshaw echoed Large’s comments.

“It is an opportunity to fellowship weekly with some of the best-hearted folks in Warner Robins. Our Civitans have such a heart for children and adults with disabilities in our community and are passionate about meeting their needs,” Crenshaw said.

The Warner Robins Civitan meets at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Golden Corral. For more information about joining the club or their projects, visit their Facebook page “Warner Robins Civitian.”

Alline Kent can be contacted at or 396-2467.