Junior Civitan international, district, and club leaders gathered in Birmingham, Alabama on March 24-27 for a weekend at the 4th Annual All In Summit. The All In Summit seeks to provide meaningful leadership training to Junior Civitan members through a series of keynote speakers, workshops, team building activities and more while serving as the program’s fundraiser for the Civitan International Research Center (CIRC). Twenty Junior Civitans met the minimum fundraising requirements to attend the event and spent the weekend learning and growing their skillsets while networking with like-minded peers from around North America. The event was founded on three pillars: service, education, and fellowship and this years event once again provided numerous opportunities of growth in all three.

Service is vital to this event just as it is vital to the Junior Civitan program overall. This year, Junior Civitan partnered with The WellHouse, a Birmingham non-profit whose mission is to rescue and provide opportunities for restoration to female victims of human trafficking as the event’s service beneficiary. Prior to the weekend, participants and other Civitans purchased items from The WellHouse’s wish list to be donated to the organization. A representative from The WellHouse visited our participants during the weekend to educate them on the work that they do. Following the informative session, participants made encouragement cards for their residents, and loaded up all of the donated supplies that would be transported to The WelllHouse for use at their facility. While this particular organization is only found in Birmingham, our participants were inspired to seek out organizations in their home communities who seek to serve a similar clientele and work to serve those organizations in the future.

Another activity related to service was the ongoing activity called Junior Civitan Shark Tank. Based after the hit television show “Shark Tank,” All In participants were split into groups and prompted to create a service project from start to finish. The goal of this activity was not just to come up with a great service project idea, but it was rather a full collaborative effort among the group members to plan each and every detail of the project as if they were truly going to carry out the event. The groups had multiple work-sessions throughout the day to work on their project before they presented it to the team of Civitan “sharks” for judging. The sharks were Civitan International President-Elect Dee Hutsler, Civitan International Immediate Past President Dan Brown, and current Civitan International President Jo Ann O’Toole and they had the opportunity to ask each group questions about their project to ensure that they had thought through all the details. Following the group presentations, the sharks collaborated with one another to determine a winner. The winning group’s project was called “Meet In the Middle” and was focused on the inclusion of special education students by partnering with club members on various activities and projects throughout the year. Each group’s project was unique and very well thought out and each student was encouraged to pitch their ideas to their clubs upon their return home.

In addition to service, another pillar of this event is education. Through participation in the All In Summit, leaders are able to learn how to be successful fundraisers, learn and strengthen their leadership and teamwork skills, and learn about the CIRC and the work that takes place each and every day there. The participants and their chaperones, combined with the Civitan International Board, heard two wonderful keynote speakers: Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Chris Singleton, former major league baseball player turned motivational speaker. While Greg focused on instilling valuable lessons in how to be successful, Chris spoke on how he overcame his mother’s tragic death and encouraged the participants and board members to love others who may not believe the same things you do.

One huge advantage of the All In Summit taking place in Birmingham is the opportunity that the participants had to visit the CIRC and see first-hand what their fundraising dollars go to support. Four of the CIRC’s labs were represented and students rotated through their stations to participate in hands on activities to learn about their work and its impact on the surrounding community and beyond. Participants were able to interact with these researchers and not only learn about their specific areas of work, but also learn more about the importance of Civitan’s fundraising efforts and the opportunities that those dollars are able to provide the labs within the CIRC.

Throughout this experience at the CIRC and all other events at the All In Summit, participants were in constant fellowship with one another, which is the third pillar of the event. All In provides the unique opportunity for participants to meet fellow Junior Civitans from across North America and create friendships and memories that will last for years to come. To encourage fellowship among the participants, the group was split into two teams and were put head to head in friendly competition throughout the weekend in a series of games and activities. While the activities were lighthearted and fun, it gave the students an opportunity to really get to know one another, bond with their teammates and rally around a common goal together. The teams competed in various ice breaker activities, rock climbing, a lego building challenge, Family Feud, kickball, a scavenger hunt, and more. Participants enjoyed getting out of their comfort zones and enjoying the fellowship with their new Junior Civitan friends.

Aside from the three pillars of the event, the All In Summit serves as Junior Civitan’s fundraiser for the Civitan International Research Center (CIRC). Thus far, the participants have raised a total of $47,330.00 and were recognized for their hard work at the event’s Fundraising Banquet, hosted by Dr. Craig Powell, Director of the CIRC. One student went above and beyond and was named the event’s top fundraiser for raising $12,000 but sadly, was unable to attend the event in-person due to air travel issues. Kinley Zeigler from Charleston, West Virginia serves as Region 4 District’s Director and joined the banquet via Zoom to be recognized for her incredible efforts along with her peers.

While the 2023 event has come and gone, the fundraising doors are still left open! All funds raised until June 30, 2023 are allocated to the 2023 event. If you or your club are interested in donating, please visit www.civitanallin.com.

To learn more about the All In Summit and see how your club can get involved next year, please contact Director of Junior Civitan, Emily Kicker (emily@civitan.org).