ABOUT US

WHO ARE THE RURITANS?

We are a group of community minded citizens joining together to meet community needs while embracing the Ruritan motto of Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service. 

What do we do?

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. We do this by organizing ourselves into several Community Service Committees, each with specific areas of interest. Every club member serves on one or more committees.

This is what we do:

Giving back to our Community:

Our club, Abingdon Ruritan Club has donated to Gloucester County $52,584.68
in the period of Sept 2021 to August 31, 2022!

On August 24, 2022 Abingdon Ruritan President Frank Gillerlain presented a check to Gloucester Housing Partnership. Present in the photo is From left to right is Bob Tschirhart (President), Eddie Washington (Vice President), Katie Bradley (Executive Director).

Abingdon Ruritan President Frank Gillerlain presented a check to the Guest Program to Director Christie Askew on August 24, 2022.

Contributing to the Lewis Puller Center

On August 10, 2022 the Abingdon Ruritan Club made a $1000.00 donation to the Lewis Puller Center located on Main St in the Courthouse area of Gloucester. Club Vice President Mary Lou Shepherd presented the donation check to Mike Freeman a Supervisor at the Center.

Supporting the DARE Program

The Abingdon Ruritan Club made a $500 donation to Gloucester’s DARE Program.

ARC Board member Mike Ekdahl presented the donation check to Sherriff Darrel Warren.

We love our STAR Program.

The Abingdon Ruritan Club made a $2,000 donation to the Gloucester’s STAR Program. ARC Board member Mike Ekdahl presented the donation check to Stephnie Jenkins, a coordinator for the Gloucester STAR program. Also pictured is Billy Jenkins.

Supporting our Shop With A Cop Program

The Abingdon Ruritan Club made a $500 donation to Gloucester’s Shop With A Cop Program. ARC Board member Mike Ekdahl presented the donation check to Investigator Kyrstin Shackelford. The Shop With A Cop Program is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization created to assist children and families.

Support to the Circle of Friends Foundation Inc.

On August 10, 2022 the Abingdon Ruritan Club presented a $1000.00 donation check to Circle Of Friends Foundation Inc. in Gloucester, Virginia. Accepting the check is Dr Joe Lombard, Jr. from Mary Lou Shepherd, Abingdon Ruritan Vice President.

Donate to Gloucester Boys & Girls Club

Our local area Boys & Girls Club of Gloucester located in the Hayes Shopping Center was recently presented with a $1000.00 donation check from the Abingdon Ruritan Club. Aug. 2022

Supporting Walter Reed Hospic

The Abingdon Ruritan Club recently made a $2000.00 donation to the Walter Reed Hospice Care team located on Main St in Gloucester. Club Vice President Mary Lou Shepherd presented the check to Hospice Manager Brenda Scales. Aug. 2022

Giving to Rappahannock Community College for RAM

Dr. Chuck Harris of the Abingdon Ruritan Club presented a $500 donation to Dr. Rebecca White, Rappahannock Community College, to help support their initial start up for the Remote Area Medical (RAM) effort. RAM is a non-profit organization that provides free dental, vision, and medical services to area residents.

Giving to the Habitat Restore

Habitat Restore located on George Washington Highway in Hayes was presented with a check for $1000.0 by Abingdon Ruritan Vice President Mary Lou Shepherd on July 14th. Accepting the check was Mike Davis, President of Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors & is a past president of Abingdon Ruritan Club and Executive Director Teresa Dalton. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home.

Giving to Gloucester Mathew Care Clinic

The Abingdon Ruritan Club fully endorses this Community idea and has presented the Clinic with a $1000 donation. Accepting the check is Arlene Amerta, Executive Director of the Care Clinic along with Mary Lou Shepherd the Ruritan’s Vice President. The check was presented on July 1, 2022.

Giving to the Giving Garden

On June 30, 2022 the Abingdon Ruritan Club made a $1000.00 donation to the Giving Garden Foundation of Gloucester County. As quoted on their website, “All Proceeds From Fundraisers and Donations Remain LOCAL and Help Cancer Patients in Gloucester and Mathews, Virginia!“
The Abingdon Ruritan’s wholeheartedly agree with this worthy cause and are glad to be proud sponsors of Helping Cancer Patients. Presenting the check is Vice President Mary Lou Shepherd and Dianna Woolley to Karen Fary, Director of the Foundation.

Giving To our Gloucester Parks & Rec

The Abingdon Ruritan Club has once again made a monetary donation to Gloucester County Parks system. The Woodville Park located at 3904 Woodville Park Road Hayes, VA 23072 has been undergoing renovations to the playground and sports fields.
Gregg Tonge, Superintendent of Parks, Gloucester County was presented with a $1000 donation by Vice President Mary Lou Shepherd, for Woodville Park Projects.

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The Guinea Heritage Association receives ARC Donation

L T Wells, ARC VP Mary Lou, Rose Marie Smith, Ginny Snowden, Sharon Zuber, and Hamilton Williams (behind the counter).

The Abingdon Ruritan Club made a $1000.00 donation to the Guinea Heritage Association on June 18, 2022. The donation was presented to the GHA at Buck’s Country Store and cultural ‘museum’ located on Guinea Road.
The Guinea Heritage Association (GHA), established in 1995, celebrates the people and traditions of a unique area of Gloucester County, Virginia, renowned for the men and women who work on the water. The GHA focuses on charitable and educational purposes, including, the preservation of the history and culture of the community of Guinea.
The Abingdon Ruritans cultural committee embraces these local diverse cultures and backgrounds which make our Virginia County such a wonderful place to live. Preserving these cultures from our past are a top priority.

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RURITAN SUNDAY

Ruritan Sunday is a day of worship in honor of those persons who have given of themselves to make the churches stronger and the communities a better places in which to live and work.

Abingdon Ruritan members observed Ruritan Sunday at the Abingdon Episcopal Church on May 22nd . Abingdon Ruritan members are shown below with  Rev Jen Kimball, center front.

Ruritan Sunday May 22, 2022.

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CARING ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY

The Abingdon Ruritan Club donated $500 to support BAYSTARS FC to help promote the positive attitude of youth level sports in our Community.

VP Mary Lou Shepherd (center) and Rick Taylor (right) presented the check to Jay Jaquysh, President of BAYSTARS on April 14th, 2022

The Baystars FC is dedicated to the development of youth soccer players across the Middle Peninsula since 1987. The Baystars mission is to maximize each child’s soccer skill, knowledge, and ability through a positive, engaging, and challenging atmosphere. The Baystars also wants to be the leader for soccer on the middle peninsula though its youth development, coaching, and partnerships with collegiate and professional organizations. Games are currently played at Woodville Park.

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VP Mary Lou is shown presenting a check for $1000 to Krista Gustafson, Gloucester Extension Agent for 4-H
Youth Development. The check will be used to send 4 Gloucester County kids to 4-H Camp this summer.
Donation was an approved item in the 2022 Donations Budget.

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Abingdon Ruritan Club
marks 65th anniversary

The Abingdon Ruritan Club celebrated its 65th anniversary with a special program during its October membership meeting.

Abingdon Ruritan club president Dave Onesty, at left, is pictured with the “Magnificent 7,” the seven members who started the club’s signature Seafood Festival in 1979, from left—Rupert Thomas, Graham Blake, David Dea, John Beck, Walter Priest, L.T. Wells and Gordon Smith.

The Abingdon Ruritan Club is celebrating its 65th anniversary this month. The club was chartered in 1956 with 29 original members. As the third largest club in all of Ruritan National, it has been a major community supporter of Gloucester Point.
When the club was founded, members met at Bethlehem United Methodist Church and at a now closed restaurant, Seawell’s Ordinary. It wasn’t until 1981 that the club purchased the land where the club building, which was dedicated in 1993, now sits. According to longstanding member L.T. Wells, the land was purchased for $55,000 with the aid of a loan from a local bank. The land was put to use and became the new
site for events including the Seafood Festival. The Seafood Festival is the club’s signature fundraising event that is held in May and October each year. During 2020, ARC was unable to hold any of its fundraising events including the festival, because of Covid. Current ARC president, David Onesty said it was painful not being able to award their yearly donations for other causes because they lacked the funds to do so. However, the festival has returned for 2021. In fact, the event on Oct. 20 has already sold out. Wells said they sold over 2,000 tickets to the event in just three days. The festival was started by club members Graham Blake, David Dea, Jon Beck, L.T. Wells, Gordon Smith, Walter Priest and Rupert Thomas in 1979. The seven are affectionately referred to as the “Magnificent Seven” within the club. The seven are still very active members after all these years.
Blake is the longest tenured of the group with 57 years under his belt. He also proudly boasts perfect meeting attendance for those 57 years. Dea has been with the club for 55 years and Beck 54. Outside of the 50-year mark is Wells with 48 years, Smith with 46, Priest with 44 and Thomas with 42. The seven remember the journey and the many fund raisers it took to get the club where it is now. Dea remembers the early days of club members selling fruit cakes throughout the area. They said it was at Buck Rowe’s store where they first started selling clam chowder and having fish fries. It was also there where they first started selling their now well known clam fritters. They said it was Harry Thornton who would make the fritters for them and suggested it be something they sell. Many of the club’s funding sources are made possible because of the club building. It wasn’t long after the building opened that the club was offering its catering service and renting the space out for other events.
One big event the club takes pride in is the Children’s Christmas Party. The party takes place on the first Sunday of December at the club building. Over 600 kids come to get presents and play games, and enjoy cookies and ice cream. When the event is over, the club cleans up and does it all over again for local foster kids. The Christmas Party is an example of what the club is all about—helping the community.

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Blue Ribbon Award

The Abingdon Ruritan Club recently received the Blue Ribbon Award for 2020. Several accomplishments must be achieved in order for a Ruritan Club to receive this distinction, which include; having 90% membership attendance at every monthly meeting and at least one project completed by each of the five Community Service Committees.

Johnny Moore and Jimmy Leiffer

ARC’s 2020 President, Jimmy Leiffer, also received the Outstanding Club President Award. Johnny Moore (left) , Ruritan Chesapeake District Governor, presented Jimmy Leiffer with both awards at the Club’s June membership meeting.

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Abingdon Ruritan members and the Gloucester County’s Elections and General Registrar work together.

Bobbi Morgan, Gloucester County’s Director of Elections and General Registrar, was the guest speaker at the Abingdon Ruritan Club’s September membership meeting.

Abingdon Ruritan members volunteer in the Gloucester County Election/Voting Poles. Bobbi Morgan discussed many topics, including upcoming deadlines for registering to vote, as well as, early and absentee voting.  She also went into detail about third party mailings regarding early voting and explained that they are not legitimate unless they have come directly from the Registrar’s Office.  Her and her staff take the integrity of our voting system very seriously and say all voters should feel confident when they cast their votes in our County.

Ruritan Clubs in observing the founding of Ruritan

Each year on a Sunday in the month of May, our club joins the many other Ruritan Clubs in observing the founding of Ruritan. Members are invited to attend a worship service together. A different place of worship, usually a member’s church, is selected, each year.

Abingdon Ruritan Club Members attended Union Baptist Church on Sunday, May 23 to celebrate Ruritan Sunday observed in all Clubs nationally. The Church gave a warm welcome to our Club.
Former 2021 ARC President, David Onesty and former Ruritan National President, Elliott Hogge observe Ruritan Sunday at Union Baptist Church.

You can find news coverage of our activities published in our local newspapers, The Gloucester-Mathews Gazette Journal, Glo-Quips, and The Daily Press.
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Ruritan National’s History

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” .

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.

Abingdon Ruritan Club’s History

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.  Our building was built by members and dedicated on February 27, 1993.  It has been the site for rentals for  hundreds of functions, such as fundraisers for the Free Clinic, Humane Society, and others, and private uses such as weddings and receptions, birthday parties, and family reunions. The building is provided as a community service to the Red Cross for blood drives and as a polling place for the Achilles precinct.  Each year our outdoor festival area is the site of the Guinea Heritage Association’s Guinea Jubilee and is occasionally rented for concerts and other outdoor activities. 

President

board

Officers and Board of Directors 2021

Back row: Chuck Harris, David Kyle, Mike Ekdhal, Yvonne Scales, Frank Collins Seated: Jimmy Leiffer, Dianne Woolley, David Onesty, Frank Gillerlain , Ann Dugas

officers

Many members of our club serve at the Zone, District, and National levels. Currently serving at the Zone Level are Don Sandridge (Zone 4 Governor) and Rose Taylor (LT. Governor). We are very proud of our member Elliott Hogge who served as Ruritan’s National President in 2013-2014.

Elliott Hogge
Rose Taylor
Don Sandridge

rudy bear

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