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Civitans spreading cheer
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Forsyth County News

I recently spoke to the Cumming Civitan Club and really enjoyed meeting these wonderful members of our community.

Just what is the Civitan organization about and what does it do?

The group has been around a long time. In fact, it began back in 1917 when a group of professionals met for lunch to discuss how they could help improve their community. Courtney W. Shropshire, a well-respected doctor in the, group is credited with being the official founder of Civitan International.

The Cumming club’s president, Dianne Hansard, told me she first got involved 20 years ago.

Dianne, a Forsyth County native, was looking for a group that was particularly interested in helping children with special needs and those who support them.

Her reasons were quite personal.

“Our grandson, Nicholas, had some issues early on, and when he was just three months old, he started having seizures,” she said.

Dianne said the medication worked for a few years, but then sadly, the seizures became more severe and more often.

“He had several surgeries and then he was also diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, autistic behavior and brain damage from a virus contracted during my daughter’s pregnancy,” she said.

Nicholas, 23, is still dependent on others for his care. “He has given us so much joy over the years, I wanted to pass this joy on to others by helping those with special needs and those who care for them.”

The Cumming Civitan sponsors three parties a year for special needs students in our county: a Halloween party; a Valentine’s Day dance for middle and high school students, plus a pizza party for all of the students, buddies, teachers and bus drivers; and a Christmas event for elementary-school students, complete with a visit from Santa.

This active Civitan group also helps with the Special Olympics by providing music, dancing, face painting and more. It also sponsors campers to attend a weeklong camp at Camp Big Heart, a camp specially designed for special-needs children.

I love how this group also pays attention and honors those who teach and care for these precious children. The Civitan Club organized a special education teacher of the year banquet to honor these teachers and thank them for their tireless work.

There is much more this group does, but that should give you an indication about how active of a group it is.

If you’re looking for a way to give back to our community, this is a wonderful group to join. It has all ages (you just have to be 18) and both men and women can join. What a great idea for a retired couple or a stay-at-home mom.

The group meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 11:45 a.m. at Golden Corral. I love a group that meets and eats together.

To find out more, call Dianne at (770) 540-0447.

In a world where there often seems to be little good news, it is heartening to meet such a compassionate group of people.

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at