In 1917, a Birmingham doctor by the name of Courtney Shropshire founded Civitan International, a service organization which says the following about its history, vision and purpose:
The worldwide mission of Civitan International is to build good citizenship by providing a volunteer organization of clubs dedicated to serving individual and community needs, with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities.
The centerpiece of this focus is the UAB Civitan International Research Center, founded in 1991 through an ongoing financial commitment from Civitan. Located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, this world-class research facility is dedicated to improving lives through the research and treatment of developmental disabilities and other cognitive disorders.
In the 1950s, Civitan adopted a special emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities. Civitan was one of the major supporters of Special Olympics International, and thousands of Civitans still support these local events. Civitan clubs also fund and organize special camps and events for people with developmental disabilities.
Civitan clubs outside North America are also taking on momentous projects. In the Philippines, the Civitan Asia Training and Research Institute is an academy where doctors, teachers, and other professionals learn to serve children with developmental disabilities.
In Norway, the Civitan Norway Research Foundation funds crucial scientific research into Alzheimer’s disease. And in West Africa, Civitans provide clean drinking water and education for people in rural communities.
There are over 40,000 members of Civitan worldwide, and Athens has a ladies’ chapter that is hard at work preparing for their 3rd Annual Holiday Tour of Homes. It will be held on Sunday, December 1st , from 1pm to 5pm, and the proceeds from the tour go to further programs in Limestone County for residents that are developmentally disabled, or suffer from intellectual or cognitive disabilities, Down Syndrome, Autism, and other disorders.
In addition to the Tour, Athens Ladies’ Civitan has an outreach event called Operation Santa, a day when the developmentally disabled are invited to Friendship Church for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, entertainment, gifts, and most importantly during the holiday season, love. The Limestone County Mental Health Center participates in Operation Santa, and special needs students from Tanner attend as well.
A number of local caterers prepare and donate marvelous party foods that are served at each of the five homes on the tour, and the beverages are provided by the homeowners. This year the participating vendors are Chef Stanley of LuVici’s, Amanda Smith of Endless Catering, Chandra Holland of Piece of Cake, Gardenia Lara of Gardenia’s Cakes and Catering, Sherrol Gideon and Vivian Jefferson of C & A Catering, and Dee Green of Limestone Bay at Athens State University.
Every year the homes are different, and for the 2013 season the homes are as follows:
- THOMAS HOME: Jason and Rhonda Thomas, 22391 East Yorkshire Drive, Cantera Place
- HAMM HOME: Norman and Betty Hamm, 24123 Piney Creek Drive, Canebrake Golf Community
- JOHNSON HOME: Dave and Shirley Johnson, 16739 Bellewood Drive, The Woodlands
- THORNTON HOME: Denny and Phyllis Thornton, 723 Idlewood Way, Park Place
- WORKMAN HOME: Daniel and Angela Workman, 12683 Carriage Park Lane, Carriage Park Subdivision
The cost for the tour is $15, if the tickets are purchased in advance, and $20 if they are purchased on the day of the tour at the homes.
Outlets in Athens and Huntsville where tickets can be purchased are: SheaLeigh’s, Pam’s Home Furnishings, First National Bank on Hwy 72 and Lindsay Lane in Athens, Smith Infinity in Huntsville, Pimentos, Class Act Hair and Nail Salon, Crawford’s, Pablo’s on Market, Trinity’s, the Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful Office, as well as from any Athens Ladies’ Civitan member.
The Ladies’ Civitan members would like to thank each vendor and home owner in advance for graciously donating their time, food, and the use of their homes in order to bless both those in need as well as the people of Athens during the holidays. They also hope that our town will turn out in force to support such a worthy cause and organization, one that was born in Alabama the Beautiful nearly a century ago.
For more information, please contact Lynne Hart, Director of Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful at the KALB office number, which is 256-233-8728, or on her cell, which is 256-431-0272. She can also be reached at KALBCares@gmail.com. See you on December 1st!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner