Civitan is a coined word that comes from the Latin word Civitas, which means citizenship.
Purpose of a Civitan Club
Civitan’s purpose is to serve the community. This is done by fulfilling human needs that are not met by other organizations or by individual efforts. Individuals whose needs are best met through organized group action are prime candidates for Civitan service projects. In all they do, Civitans seek experiences that provide life direction, character building, leadership development, and the satisfaction of helping others. As a result of this work, a Civitan typically experiences a heightened sense of self-esteem and accomplishment.
Civitan – The Organization
Civitan Clubs throughout the world can trace their roots back to 1917, when a group of concerned businessmen met in Birmingham, Alabama to discuss ways that they could collectively improve their community. The group then organized as a purely local club – the Civitan Club of Birmingham. They selected the name “Civitan” which comes from the Latin term ‘civitas’ meaning ‘active citizenship’.
Civitan officially incorporated as an international association of service clubs in 1920. In May, 1925, a club was chartered in Hamilton Ontario, but the club was short lived. Then in January, 1929 the Toronto Club was chartered and ‘Civitan International, became a fact. From then Civitan has spread throughout North America, Europe and South-East Asia. The headquarters of Civitan International has remained in Birmingham.
Civitan International is governed by a board of Directors which have been elected by and represent the various international zones. At the head of this Board of Directors is the International President who is elected by delegates attending the International Convention. The President serves a one year term and the Directors are elected for two years. The headquarters staff are managed by the Executive Vice-President who is hired by, and reports to, the Board. Canadian Districts East and West together form Zone 5 and by agreement choose the Director from alternate districts in succeeding terms.
District East and District West as well choose their own governing body in the form of a Governor, Governor-Elect and Board of Directors, Lieutenant-Governors and the Immediate Past Governor. All are elected except the latter who is automatically a member of the Board. Other district officers such as Secretary/Treasurer and committee chairpersons are appointed from the general membership. Representatives of both Districts meet regularly to conduct the business of the Zone.
The business of each club is conducted by its own executive, which is elected by and from its own membership. A typical executive consists of a president, president-elect, immediate past president, secretary, treasurer and a board of directors. The executive of each club may vary slightly in makeup with some positions combined and others added.
Although the logo of Civitan has changed a few times in the past 90 years, it has significant symbolic points that have remained constant. The gold color represents the purity of highly refined metal, indicative of those who would volunteer their time. The blue is a regal color, which together with the gold, has become symbolic of many organizations within the service club movement dating back to the early part of this century. The “C” around the globe is representative of Civitan around the world. The 12 highlights around the emblem represent the 12 points of the Creed.
Our Creed is unique among service clubs, being the most completely developed ethical statement set forth for a service club and serving as a challenge to every Civitan. Originally written in 1922 by Champ Andrews of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Civitan Club, it has been modified over the years, most recently in 1984.
It reads as follows:
I AM CIVITAN as old as life, as young as the rainbow, as endless as time.
MY HANDS do the work of the world and reach out in service to others.
MY EARS hear the cry of children and the call throughout the world for peace, guidance, progress and unity.
MY EYES search for others to join in the fellowship and service of Civitan
MY MOUTH utters the call to daily duty and speaks prayers in every tongue
MY MIND teaches me respect for law and the flag of my country
MY HEART beats for every friend, bleeds for every injury to humanity and throbs with joy at every triumph of truth.
MY SOUL knows no fear but its own unworthiness
MY HOPE is for a better world through Civitan
MY MOTTO builders of good citizenship
MY BELIEF do unto others as you would have them do unto you
MY PLEDGE to practice the Golden Rule and to build upon it a better and nobler citizenship.
Let's work together
Civitans are dedicated to improving their communities through community service. On the international level, Civitan focuses on helping people with developmental disabilities. Civitan funds the Civitan International Research Center, a research and treatment facility for developmental disabilities and special needs.