HCC Club History
Following eight organizational meetings, a dedicated group of women met the goal of attracting over 30 like-minded persons to charter the Hometown Civitan Club with a service area including Lake, Marion and Sumter counties in central Florida. The new group was sponsored by the Uptown Jacksonville and Leesburg Civitan Clubs. It is formally chartered as Club #4096 of Civitan International and is in the Florida District. The club builders included Mattie Fraser, Deb McCoy, Betty Rohan and Lana Suggs.
The chartering ceremony was held on May 1, 2015. The officers for the first year were: Betty Rohan, President; Sheri Rowe, President-Elect; Nancy McGee, Vice President; Lana Rosenberg, Treasurer; Vicki Findley, Secretary; Eve Fletcher, Chaplain; Karen Schwering and Beth Halstead, Project Directors.
The club adopted the helping people slogan: “Making a Difference, One Person at a Time”.
From the very beginning, the HCC members were true to the values and mission of Civitan International. They supplied food for the Summer KidsPack Program, collected school supplies in yellow school bus collection boxes for the Tools for Schools program, donations of bedding and clothing made to Ruth House, a Roundtable Mentoring program at Ruth House, supporting programs for young girls at Pace Marion, Christmas presents for Voices for Children, packing meals for Deliver the Difference program, monthly birthday celebrations at ARC Sunrise and hosting a charity brunch to raise funds for a severely injured local worker.
The club's first major fundraiser was a golf tournament at Evans Prairie, "Make a Hole, Make a Difference", raising over $15,000. Many members dressed up in pink tutus to participate in the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides” fundraiser. Two social events were held to get members to better know one another: a pool party with ice cream and High Tea at Polly's Pantry in Wildwood. The newsletter took on the title “Happenings” and was expanded to include a calendar along with more content. New officers attended training sessions. Three officers served as delegates to the International Annual Conference. Betty Rohan was selected as Civitan of the Year by the Florida District. After a membership drive at Stonecrest, HCC ended its first year with 58 members.
In 2016, the club addressed the many organizational issues for newly formed groups such as formal procedures, by-laws review and committee structures. The successful fundraising from 2015 was put to good use with many projects funded with cash grants in addition to donations of time and supplies. HCC continued support of Ruth House by funding a new roof. New projects included Shepherd’s LightHouse, Stirrups 'n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center, Alzheimer's Research Walk and golf fund raiser, and Sumter County Humane Society's Doggie Joggie. The club launched a web site: Hometowncivitanclub.org.
Civitan International recognized HCC as the Best New Club at their Annual Convention, awarded 2nd place for the Club Website and 3rd place for Club Awareness and Publicity. Our Florida State Representative presented HCC with a letter of congratulations for "Outstanding New Club". Two social events were held for new and existing members: a golf tournament at Bonifay, Go MAD (Go Make a Difference) and a wine reverse auction that provided the majority of the fundraising for the year. Betty Rohan was also President for 2016-2017.
Hometown Civitan Club changed it's focus area from Tri-County to The Villages (charities and members from the larger area were grandfathered in). A Pub Stroll was held as a fundraiser and social event to attract new members. Funding in 2017 continued for most of the previous year’s charities. Additionally, funds were granted to the Wildwood Soup Kitchen, Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, Stirrups ‘n Strides Therapeutic Riding Center and the Early Learning Coalition of Marion County. Aluminum pop tops were collected for Ronald McDonald House. HCC sponsored a holiday turkey dinner for SCARC. Members donated time to clean the Rewards Closet for PACE Marion (a BIG project).
HCC continued to receive awards from the District including 2nd Place for Outstanding Total Service to People with Disabilities.
In 2018, when Penny Badalato was President, a new fundraiser was added in the form of a "Garage Sale", as well as members' handmade/painted greeting cards, raising nearly $5,000. HCC joined the Adopt-a-Precinct program, where the club provided the poll workers for the mid-term election, who in turn donated their wages to the club. A “Hoodie” project was completed that provided warmer outer wear, pants and backpacks for 30% of the students at Wildwood schools. A grant was added for New Vision for Independence, a charity helping people with vision problems.
Social events included tours of the The Sharon backstage, Sip and Sniff, Grumble's Tea House and Making a Meal with a chef in Ocala. A club membership picture directory was produced.
Karen Schwering was President for 2018-2019. HCC members supported the Young Performing Artists of Royal by purchasing many tickets to their Soul Food Festival in early 2019. A yard sale and garage sale were used as fundraisers. Socials were a dinner and play in Ocala, then a Christmas tour of the Howey Mansion. A Bunco Party was added as both a fundraiser and social event. The Center Hill Children’s Mission was given a grant. HCC recognized two Wildwood School teachers with Servant’s Heart Awards. HCC received the “Shoot for the Moon” award from SCARC in appreciation for hosting their Christmas Party, their birthday parties and cash grants.
Babe Rogers was President for 2019-2020. Amid increasing needs caused by the pandemic, 2020 was a challenging year for civic organizations and charities alike. HCC stepped up and continued to provide support to the charities it has long served. An additional grant was made to “Dreams for Seniors”. A new grant of supplies was given to LovExtension. Continued support was given to Civitan at the Helm, supporting autism research.
The Adopt-a-Precinct fundraiser became the highlight and star for 2020 as members and friends poll workers earned over $43,000 that they donated to the club. A special social was at Grand Oaks Resort and continued support of the Young Performing Artists Soul Food festival.
Mary Anderson is the President for 2020-2021. Early in 2021, HCC relaunched its web site: hometowncivitanclub.com. Bountiful Farms Bistro was the location of a social outing.
The Villages Homeowners Advocates (VHA) awarded the Hometown Civitan Club it's prestigious Volunteer Club of the Year (2020) Award.
For the first time the club participated in the animal auction at the Sumter County Fair, with the purchase of a lamb for $1,705, the proceeds of which fund a variety of participating youth charities.
As a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, most of the board members signed on for a second term. Mary Anderson continued on as President for the 2021-22 year.
This year saw a renewed spirit with a net growth of 3 members. The club had an excellent cast of speakers at the general meetings. Six social events were held. Four members attended the International Convention in San Antonio. The Florida District held its last conference in The Villages.
HCC was honored to receive the District Governor’s award of Outstanding District Club of the year.
The Club made the local news 8 times during this year.
HCC continued its participation in the Sumter County Adopt-A-Precinct program. The proceeds from the primary early voting came to over $14,000.
The Club made 7 grants to local 501(c)(3) organizations amounting to more than $13,000. The awards continued long term support for Hand in Hand (Ruth House), Pace Marion and Center Hill Children's Mission. The total grants awarded over the 7 years of Club activity is over $70,000.
HCC planned, funded and participated in events with three of its charities: Hand in Hand/Ruth House (fundraiser), MTRA (visit) and Center Hill Children's Mission (Christmas Party).