While people still find time to volunteer, some clubs that used to bring people together to volunteer in their communities are dying off. However, Sara Trowbridge thinks service clubs can still play an important part in every community, and that's why she decided to join Old Pueblo Civitan about four years ago. Now 30, Trowbridge is president of the club, and her personal mission is to bring in more members and keep the 35-year-old club going. For more information on the international service club, visit civitan.org; for local info, go to oldpueblocivitan.com.
Why did you decide to join Civitan, as opposed to another service club?
I joined in 2006, but my grandpa joined in the '60s, and my uncle has been in it since 1991. It's always been a part of my life, but I wasn't an active member until then. It's a worldwide organization. We really try to do things in the community to better the community. ... We have kind of a soft spot with the developmentally disabled community.
Most people your age don't join service clubs, which is why these groups are dying.
It's literally true. I went to the (Civitan) convention, and it was obvious many of the clubs are disappearing. We just had three people join us from another club. There were four Civitan clubs in Tucson, and now there are three; one of those is a Phil Schlesinger Civitan Club, which is comprised of only developmentally disabled people.
Why are you so involved?
I just don't want it to die. I became president Oct. 1, and I already have six new members (younger than) 50. I've gotten my friends excited about it, which is great. ... Right now, one of our newest members is an active-duty Air Force member who wants to ... bring another group of people to the dances we do for the developmentally disabled community, to dance with people who don't have anyone to dance with. It's just a good group of people.
Your club is doing a swing set for family-resource center Parent Connection right now. This is your fourth project like this?
We've done three playhouses. One playhouse was for Tu Nidito this past year, and the other two are for the New Beginnings women and children's center, and Casa de los Niños.
Each project costs about $1,300, so how do you raise your money?
Part of it comes out of our dues, and at the dances, we charge $1 per person. On average, we get 180 to 200 people there every month. We're having a Christmas dance, and we'll get 250 people at least. We've been doing these dances for more than 45 years. It's really amazing. ... We charge a buck, and they love it. We've had live music for the first time recently, and now we've had three bands who've asked to audition to play at the dances for free. Most of the people at the dances have never seen a live band before. Now they come back every month, asking us, "When is the band coming back?"
Where do you have the dances?
At the Armory Park Senior Center. They've donated the space to us for 20 years or so. We have the dances once a month, the first Saturday of every month, except for July, because of the 4th. We're the only club that does this dance for the developmentally disabled community.
What do you see at the dances that makes them so special?
(People) really enjoy themselves, and when you tell them something new is going on, they get excited, and they can't wait until next time. It's hard to explain how happy they are. ... Most of the people who come to the dances have nothing else to do other than the Special Olympics events. A lot come from group homes, but there are plenty who are home with their families.
Tell me your pitch to get your friends to join Civitan.
Well, more than anything, I tell them how much fun I have. We have such a good group, and we have so much fun at the meetings. We're constantly razzing each other. There's never an argument, and everyone is up for anything; it's great. For some people, it's important to know it's not religious-affiliated, and we don't require so much of your time. If you can't go to every meeting, that's fine, or if you don't want to join at all, but just show up and volunteer at an event, that works, too. We need you.