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County a wash in civic pride

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
Residents of Franklin County don't have to search very long for volunteer opportunities.
That's because there are 13 civic clubs that are listed with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, according to Executive Director Lisa Stockton.
In Russellville, there are nine active clubs-Book Lovers, Civitans, Cultura Garden, Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist, Potpourri, Rotary and Study.
Red Bay residents have two clubs-Civitans and Garden. Phil Campbell also has a chapter of Civitans.
"If you want to be involved with something and help your community, then civic clubs are something you can join," Stockton said. "For Franklin County, the civic club is something the community counts on because a civic club is usually involved when there's an event in Franklin County, whether it's helping with community or education projects."
Stockton attends civic club meetings, but she isn't a member to avoid a conflict of interest.
"I have been asked [to join] by all of them," Stockton said. "I attend many of their meetings, and I'll speak to the clubs. My husband (Tim) is very active in Kiwanis, but I don't want anyone to think I'm giving preferential treatment to a club.
"I try to be a member of all the clubs and help them as much as possible."
Stockton said that each club has special projects it sponsors, and most of them are involved in community events such as Relay for Life and the Watermelon Festival.
"A lot of them participate in Relay for Life," Stockton said. "And many give out college scholarships and hold food drives for people at Christmas-time."
Some of the special projects include Pancake Day, Christmas fruitcake sale, beautification projects, litter clean-up, Breakfast with Santa, public library patronage, historical restoration and a bike ride and golf tournament during the Watermelon Festival, which is August 17-19 in Russellville.
To join a civic club, ask a member for information and attend a meeting. Or, contact the club's president or membership chair.
"Most of them are probably open membership," Stockton said. "Your best bet is to contact a member.
"Some clubs meet on a weekly basis, and some meet every month. Civic clubs generally have annual or monthly membership dues."
Stockton has noticed a growing discrepancy in the age of civic club members in recent years.
"That's one of the reasons why we have a Franklin county junior leadership class," Stockton said. "It was a selfish reason, because I want to introduce kids to volunteer projects and things that are happening in our community. Before I go to an event, I already know who will be there-it seems like the same people are at everything.
Stockton encourages people to volunteer at an early age and to continue community service despite the time demands of raising a family and working.
"Kids or even middle-aged people say to themselves, 'I'll finish this first and then I'll start volunteering,' but the time is now.
"In most civic clubs you have a range of retired people, then you have middle-aged business people. Very few young people in their 20's and 30's are in civic clubs, and sometimes those are the ones with the most energy."
Civic clubs can hold membership drives, schedule meetings after work-hours or talk to local companies to encourage their employees to join, according to Stockton.
"We're doing junior leadership interviews this week, and one question I'm asking is, 'What can we do to promote volunteerism in schools?'-we want to instill a servant's heart in people," Stockton said.
"Students will participate in community service in high school because of church or club, but for a lot of them it goes out the window when they get into college because there's no one looking over their shoulder."
Stockton believes that civic clubs make a major difference in communities, and Franklin County is a good example.
"I just appreciate everyone involved with civic clubs, because without them there would be a big void," Stockton said. "It would be hard to imagine Franklin County without them."