Civic clubs build up our community adding extra flavor to our society and way of life. They keep us connected.
When I moved to Lucedale in 1988 to work as a staff reporter for the Mississippi Press newspaper, I obtained a list of clubs active in the George County community. I still have that list in my files of local history and recently stumbled across it. I had gotten it from Janet Smith, branch manager at that time of the Lucedale-George County Public Library. According to that list, in 1987 George County had at least 14 active civic clubs.
Those clubs were: the Beautification Club, Business Girls’ Club, Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, Daughters of the American Revolution, Fine Arts Club, Friends of the Library, George County Homemakers’ Council, George County Music Association, Jaycees, Lucedale Garden Club, Lucedale Woman’s Club, Retired Teachers Association, Rotary Club, and Thursday Culture Club. Many have disbanded.
The ones still active include the Daughters of the American Revolution, Fine Arts Club, Friends of the Library, Retired Teachers Association and Rotary Club. Two organizations were added in the 1990s: the Ivy League Garden Club and Lucedale Kiwanis. For a while two garden clubs existed; however, only the Ivy League Garden Club remains active.
The local chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution is known as the Declaration of Independence Chapter. DAR’s mission is to promote education, patriotism and the preservation of history. Last December the chapter sponsored the Wreaths Across America event in Magnolia Cemetery and plans to do the same this year.
Lucedale Fine Arts Club sponsors the Distinguished Young Woman scholarship program for high school girls each spring. These ladies also put on the Gingham Tree Arts and Crafts Festival on the second Saturday in November each year. Proceeds are funneled into the community.
The George County Retired Education Personnel of Mississippi, formerly called the Retired Teachers Association, supports teachers new to the classroom and helps with youth projects throughout the county. The organization hosts guest speakers and keep its members informed about education issues.
Howell Grantham American Legion Post 53 wasn’t on the 1987 list; however, it is a vibrant organization and celebrated its 100th anniversary on November 6, 2021. Post members set flags on veterans’ graves in cemeteries across the county each Memorial Day. They also host Veterans’ Day events and create awareness by giving out poppies and attending patriotic activities.
The Ivy League Garden Club’s goal is to keep our community beautiful. The club has worked flower beds in various public locations around the city and last October made downtown merchants flowered pink door wreaths for Breast Cancer Awareness. It also hosts a biennial ladies’ luncheon featuring a guest speaker skilled in gardening, decorating or entertaining.
Lucedale Kiwanis Club, organized in 1999, is dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. This club raises money for playground equipment and other items to benefit our community’s youth. This past spring, its members made it possible for six George County High School seniors to attend prom wearing beautiful dresses and tuxedos. These seniors consisted of four girls and two boys who couldn’t afford to attend the event. Kiwanis partnered with Mississippi Gulf Community College’s cosmetology program to style the girls’ hair and manicure their nails.
Lucedale’s Rotary Club, founded in 1935, gives a dictionary to every 3rd grader in our schools. Its members also sponsor the George County Fair each October and the annual Lucedale Christmas Parade the first Saturday evening of December. Proceeds are given back to the community through donations and projects. Members meet on Mondays for lunch and to hear guest speakers share information about services and opportunities beneficial to our area.
Connected communities have more than businesses and institutions. Connected communities, like ours, have civic clubs that make them really click.