The biggest lesson to be learned from the year 2020 is how to adjust. Families have adjusted the way they work, socialize, celebrate, and greet others. For Civitans, adjustments have been made to the way to volunteer. Clubs around the world have been forced to come up with alternative ways to meet and serve their communities. For the majority of Junior Civitan clubs, there’s an added challenge – the school systems in which they exist. More than 90% of Junior Civitan clubs operate within a school where extra-curricular activities have become an afterthought. Many schools have even prohibited clubs from carrying out any type of meeting or activity this year.
Current Junior Civitan International Director and high school senior Dylan Kegeris found himself in that exact situation at the start of this school year. Dylan has been a Junior Civitan since he was a 9th grader and is the third of his siblings to come through the program. The idea of not being able to finish out his Junior Civitan career this year was not one he was going to settle for. After much thought, Dylan decided on an alternative: to start an all-virtual club and accept members from around the district whose school-based clubs have made similar decisions. Dylan sought out help from some of his Civitan mentors and together they completed the necessary steps and successfully chartered the Virtual Vision Junior Civitan Club on September 22, 2020.
While an all-virtual club will have its fair share of challenges, the leaders for this new club are focused on the benefits. “The virtual club has 22 members which represent, about ten school systems from over eight counties,” says Virtual Vision club advisor and New Market Civitan member Forrest Harrell. “With the kids being from several areas and most having large online friend groups, their fundraising and project awareness is multiplied ten-fold compared to a traditional Junior Civitan club.” Virtual Vision uses an online video conferencing platform to conduct their meetings and one of their main projects will be a “pen pal” program with residents of a local nursing home—both of which the members can participate in from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Not only is this type of club a great solution for the current circumstances, traditional clubs can also learn from this structure. “Even without COVID-19, it is hard to find a meeting time that all members can attend or just hard due to the school structure of the day. Traditional clubs could choose to meet virtually for some of their meetings,” says club builder Lena Reinsvold.
Dylan is serving as the club’s president this year and has found success with keeping the members involved by creating multiple committees to help generate project and fundraising ideas. “My goal for the club is to have a successful year of service. By the end of this year, we aim to be able to show others what we achieved to make virtual clubs a new trend in Junior Civitan, even after the pandemic!” exclaimed Kegeris. Reinsvold praised Kegeris for his dedication. She shares, “Dylan loves being a Junior Civitan! He truly has a heart for service and those in need. He has made an excellent example for others to follow.” Going virtual is one of many options that Junior Civitans and clubs can do to stay active during this trying year. Resources are available to help clubs explore these options and hopefully find one that will work for them in lieu of folding the club. These resources can be found in the Member Center of the Junior Civitan website.
The Virtual Vision Junior Civitan Club is sponsored by the Faith Civitan Club (North Carolina District West) and was built by Dylan Kegeris and Lena Reinsvold.