Uptown Civitan Club getting ready

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by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

There’s a service club in Jacksonville that was founded on the concept of marching to a different drummer and has maintained that tradition for more than 25 years. The exclusively female Uptown Civitan Club installed new officers for 2008-09 this week and discussed plans for the biggest fundraising event in the club’s history.

Last year, Uptown Civitan raised more than $50,000 for Pine Castle, the club’s local flagship beneficiary, with a “Dancing with the Stars” type event featuring local celebrities. This year, the goal is to double the donation and the ladies have chosen to present a 400-player sanctioned poker tournament Feb. 24 at the Poker Room at the Orange Park Kennel Club.

“Uptown is a very special club,” said 2008-09 President Bonnie Patterson. “We have a menu of opportunities for service, knowledge and fellowship.”

The poker tournament, “Is an event new to all of Northeast Florida. With everyone in the club helping in some way we have an opportunity to raise more than $100,000 for Pine Castle. We can make a really big difference in what Pine Castle is able to do in 2009 and working together we can make this a truly spectacular event,” she added.

The last meeting in September also included the club’s annual awards grants to local agencies that provide services for and to the young people in the community. This year seven organizations received more than $8,000 in financial support from the members of the Uptown Civitan Club including The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council for “Smile Camp,” Hope Haven Children’s Hospital for the continuing education of therapists, Horse Sense and Sensitivity to feed and care for horses and Jacksonville Speech and Learning center to help fund a program for hearing disorders. In addition, Safe Passage received a grant to establish an English-language program for children in Guatemala, the Cummer Museum was awarded a grant to support the “Very Special Arts Festival” and the St. Augustine Art Association received a grant to help with transportation costs for students at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind to attend an art show.

Patterson also explained her goals for the club during her year as president. She plans to create a higher profile for the club in the community and found new Campus Civitan Clubs including a chapter at Edward Waters College.

“What a great opportunity beginning a club at Edward Waters College would be for us,” she said. “We could become involved with students at Jacksonville’s oldest college and we could help our city on the Jacksonville Journey.”

Patterson added a club at Edward Waters College could also be the first step in establishing Civitan Clubs at Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida as well.

“It has been an amazing and humbling year,” said Immediate Past President Marion Anderson. She also said she was proud to have led the club during its 25th anniversary year, the year one of its members, Jean Smith, was Civitan Florida District Governor and the year Uptown Civitan was honored as the No. 1 club in Civitan International for the eighth time in its quarter-century history.

“It’s also heartwarming to see this club of women and how we can touch so many people’s lives,” added Anderson.

Uptown Civitan Club 2008-09 officers
President Bonnie Patterson