Where is the Abingdon Ruritan Club located?
We are in the Bena area of Gloucester County, “The Land of the Life Worth Living,” a coastal community on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula.
Who are Ruritans, and what do they do?
We are a bunch of community minded citizens joining together to meet community needs while embracing the Ruritan motto of Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service. We do this by organizing ourselves into several committees, each with specific areas of interest. Every club member serves on one or more committees. In addition to the “standard” committees of Ruritan, we have an active Relay for Life Team.
You can find news coverage of our activities published in our local newspapers, The Gloucester-Mathews Gazette Journal, Glo-Quips, and The Daily Press. Our club was featured in the “Community” section of the Winter 2016-2017 edition of our local magazine, Pleasant Living. We have received written permission to share this copyrighted article with you here on our website. To see it, please use these links Page 1 and Page 2.
To see more photos and learn more about our club and what we are doing, you can also visit us on Facebook.
The Abingdon Ruritan Club donated $450 to help send two children to the 2017 4-H summer camp. Pete and Mary Lou Shepherd are members of the Ruritan Club and are also members of the Board of Directors for the Jamestown 4-H Education Center so it was fitting for them to present the check on behalf of the Ruritans. Accepting the check is Krista Gustafson, Gloucester 4-H Club Extension Agent.
Historic Preservation: At its 2017 March membership meeting, Abingdon Ruritan Club president Mike Davis presented donation checks to assist with the preservation of two County landmarks. Ginny Snowden, president of the Guinea Heritage Foundation, accepted a check on behalf of that organization. The donation to Friends of Woodville Schools was accepted by its president, Brenda Mack. Each check was for $500.
Ruritan National Convention 2018
Eleven members of the Abingdon Ruritan Club attended the Ruritan National Convention in Charleston, SC, in January. Attendees were Sandra and Elliott Hogge, Mary Lou and Pete Shepherd, Tony and Elena Dziadul, Dave and Lynn Onesty, Dave and Janet Kyle, and Jimmy Leiffer with wife Sandra. Our club received two awards in the National Communications Award category: 3rd place for Excellence in Club Newsletter; and 1st place for Excellence in Club Web Site Design. 2018 Club President Tony Dziadul accepted the awards. Mary Lou Shepherd is the editor of the Club’s newsletter and Sandra Hogge maintains the Web Site.
STAR Program Award
(Coats, Hogge, Hartman)
The Abingdon Ruritan Club received a 2017 plaque from the Gloucester County Parks and Recreation’s STAR program in recognition of the monetary support and the many volunteer hours provided over the years. It was the first ever such award given by the STAR program. STAR, which stands for Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Attitude and Respect, is a recreationally based program for children with special needs. Club member and regular volunteer
with STAR, Jimmy Hogge (pictured above, center) accepted the plaque on behalf of the Ruritan Club. John Coats, director of the County’s STAR program and John Hartman Jr. made the presentation.
Ruritan National’s web site provides extensive information about our national community service organization. Ruritan is made up of local clubs in urban areas, small towns and rural communities Currently nearly 30,000 members throughout the United States work to improve more than 1,100 local communities. Since the organization’s beginning in 1928, Ruritan Clubs have served America under the motto of “Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service” .
Ruritan’s purpose is to create a better understanding among people, and, through volunteer community service, make America’s communities better places in which to live, work, and raise families. Club membership represents a cross-section of the community in which the club serves and is not restrictive with regard to occupation, social position, or any other specific criteria.
Unlike most civic service organizations, Ruritan rarely has national programs. Rather, each club surveys its own community as to the needs of that community. However, one on-going program that most Ruritan clubs participate in is the gifting of Rudy Bears (our mascot stuffed animal) to local police, fire & rescue, hospitals, and nursing homes so that first responders and caregivers have something to soothe children and adults, as well, in times of need.
Also, nearly all clubs work locally with Ruriteen, FFA, 4-H and other organizations serving youth. Nearly one in every three Ruritan clubs sponsors a Boy or Girl Scout unit. Many clubs, including ours, maintain a club building available for rent to the community for weddings and other celebrations, and many clubs own and maintain recreational fields for youth and adult sports.
Abingdon Ruritan Club was chartered in September 1956, with 29 members. It has since grown to over 100 members, dedicating their efforts to supporting the community. The building was dedicated several years later on February 27, 1993. It has since hosted hundreds of functions, comprised of fund raisers (including those for the Free Clinic, Humane Society, and others), community uses (such as the Guinea Jubilee, Blood Drives, Achilles Precinct Polling Place), and private uses (including weddings and receptions, birthday parties, and corporate functions). Abingdon Ruritan Club is proud to say that several of our members also serve Ruritan as Officers at the National, District, and Zone levels. Most recently, one of our members, Elliott Hogge, served as Ruritan’s National President in 2013-2014.
RURITAN NATIONAL’S HISTORY
The first Ruritan Club was chartered May 21, 1928, in Holland, Virginia. Since that first club, Ruritan has grown throughout the United States of America, and in doing so, has become “America’s Leading Community Service Organization.”
Tom Downing of Suffolk, Virginia, and Jack Gwaltney of Holland, Virginia, are known as the co-founders of Ruritan. Gwaltney and Downing recognized the need for an organization where community leaders could meet and discuss ways to make their community a better place to live for both the townspeople and the rural farmers.
The name “Ruritan” was suggested by Daisy Nurney, a reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper, and the club’s charter members unanimously adopted “Ruritan” as the organization’s name. The word is a combination of the Latin words for open country “ruri” and small town “tan,” interpreted as pertaining to rural and small town life.