By David Lazenby
A Springville resident who works as the public relations and communications director of Civitan International is leading an effort to develop a St. Clair County chapter of the service organization started in Birmingham a century ago.
Terry Schrimscher, who has worked for Civitan International since November, said before the Greater St. Clair Civitan Club can become chartered, it has to first have at least 20 members. Currently the group has slightly more than half that many who have joined the club.
To get the club off the ground, the fledgling local group born from a entity that celebrated its 100th anniversary this year is holding weekly organizational meetings at 5:30 p.m. each Tuesday at Argo City Hall, which is located at 100 Blackjack Road.
Schrimscher said he hopes to have 20 members in the St. Clair chapter by the end of the month. However, he said starting off with 30 members would benefit the new club financially since it would make the St. Clair chapter eligible for refunds from dues members are required to pay to Civitan International.
Each Civitan club decides how often it will meet and on which local projects it wants to focus its attention, according to Schrimscher.
“Some meet every week some once a month. Every club is different, Schrimscher said. “And that’s one of the cool things about Civitan. We look at our own communities and say ‘What can we do to make a difference?’, and that’s what the clubs get together and try to work on.”
Well-known members of Civitan Interantional include Thomas Edison, President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, astronaut James Irwin, athlete Bo Jackson, and race car driver Richard Petty.
Since the 1950s, the organization has emphasized efforts to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As part of that goal, Civitan International has traditionally been one of the major supporters of Special Olympics International.
This focus, coupled with the location of Civitan International’s birthplace, made possible the UAB Civitan International Research Center., the club’s centerpiece since its inception in 1991.
The Birmingham facility on 6th Avenue South is a center for research into disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, brain tumors, epilepsy, and more.
According to Schrimscher, statistically one in every 10 Americans has been impacted in some way by developmental disabilities.
This Tuesday there will not be an organizational meeting of the Greater St. Clair Civitan Club. However, the meetings will resume on Oct. 17.
Argo Mayor Betty Bradley, who is a member of the Trussville Civitan Club, said she prays more people decide to get involved with the creation of the club being formed in St. Clair County.
“It’s a good organization,” she said about the club founded in 1917 by a group of businessmen determined to make a difference in their community. “We do a lot of good things.”