Local Civitan Diane Young truly young at heart

By Julie Kerns GarmendiaResident Community News


Her smile is joyous, welcoming and nearly bigger than this tiny woman, but Diane Young, 76, has a heart to match and a lifelong desire to help others. A charter member of the local Uptown Civitan Club, which celebrates its 30th anniversary during 2013, Young is always happy to talk about Civitan’s support for local charities and her involvement. Of the original 53 women, she and Susan Hamilton are the only two charter members still active in the local club.

“I want to give credit to our first president, the late Circuit Judge Virginia Beverly who was also an Assistant U.S. Attorney…because of Judge Beverly’s involvement, other women joined until we had about 53 charter members committed to community service. I personally joined Civitan because of their pledge to assist the developmentally disabled, both children and adults. I was president-elect that first year in 1983, then president and later became involved at the district level. I gave as much time as I could from my 23-year career at Independent Fire Insurance Company. My final position before I retired in 1993 was vice president of human resources and administration,” she said.

Young said many people do not realize that Civitan is an international community service organization and besides helping youth and developmentally disabled worldwide, it also has pledged millions in support of Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. The local club has received the organization’s highest honor, the Dr. Courtney W. Shropshire Outstanding Civitan Club Award ten times in its 30-year history, most recently for 2010-2011.

“All Civitan Clubs throughout the world raise funds to support research at the center in Alabama. Here in Jacksonville we’ll do almost anything to raise money for our charities, from large fundraisers that bring in thousands of dollars to selling cookies at our monthly meetings,” Young said. “I’ve been mostly involved with Ronald McDonald House, and the Pine Castle Junior Civitan Club, which we helped form in 1989. We assist with their twice monthly meetings, have speakers, do crafts and other activities. Pine Castle serves adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.

The club also serves monthly breakfasts at the Clara White Mission and provides volunteers for a variety of ongoing service projects through Community Connections of Jacksonville.

“My parents were both active volunteers too,” Young said. “My father, Jack Weatherford, was in Civitan and I remember him taking me along to many of their activities…they did so much good in the community. We lived in St. Nicholas. My mother, Marjorie, volunteered with Southside Women’s Club and served as its president. She also helped at her church, Mayfair Baptist Church,” she said.

Although the recent passing of her husband, Ray Young, has changed her life, Young was thankful he retired in 1998 from his position with the local Florida Department of Children & Family Services and that they had those years together. The couple had joyfully celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.

Young is still an active Civitan volunteer and also serves at her church, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. She recently spoke there and shared her story of Ray’s final days and the blessings of their life together during a special annual service “When Holidays Hurt” for those suffering bereavement or separation from loved ones, illness, depression or addictions.

“Ray and I always loved to travel through the U.S. and Europe. These days I focus on church, Civitan and my interest in Alliance Francaise which I share with some of the other women in Civitan. I studied French privately and was introduced to the local club through my teacher, Michelle Brown, a native Parisian,” she said. “I have always loved music and play piano, especially Christmas music. I also enjoy some popular, and most sacred and classical music. I especially enjoyed seeing the operas La Traviata and La Boheme in Jacksonville!”

Young’s wide range of volunteer activities and her varied interests are a reflection of her entire life. Although she completed her business administration degree from the University of North Florida in 1982, she actually started college in 1953 at Florida State University.

“I started out as a math major, but kept changing my major every semester until I realized I was never going to graduate from college if I didn’t focus on one subject. I am pretty sure I majored in every subject FSU had!” she said.

Although she can no longer personally participate in fundraising walks for charity, due to her own diagnosis (currently in remission) of leukemia in 2001, Young recruited several of her friends to walk in “Light the Night”. The annual November event is held to raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Young’s group is called Diane’s Dollies and the 10 walkers who participated raised almost $2,000 for research.

“The research going on in leukemia and lymphoma is tremendously important,” she said. “Our volunteer support and fundraising can make a real difference.”


Pay It Forward


Headline: How can you help?


Editor’s note: This month The Resident offers another opportunity that we hope inspires residents to be change-makers for community good. “How can you help?” profiles a local nonprofit organization and showcase ways to support it. It is our sincerest hope that by creating awareness of local needs, we can all help generate positive solutions, funds and help for those in our community who deserve it most.

Organization: The Children’s Home Society of Florida – Buckner Division/Jacksonville


Mission: The Children’s Home Society is dedicated to “Embracing Children, Inspiring Lives,” with a goal of rescuing and helping children to heal. They work to break the generational cycle of child abuse while building and strengthening families. The society seeks to protect children from harm and help them to grow up safe, healthy and prepared for life. They also are dedicated to helping teens who struggle to survive on their own after age eighteen.


Opportunities to Help: The Children’s Home Society has group volunteer opportunities available including hands-on projects like landscaping or clerical work, group activities with the children such as parties or arts and crafts. There are volunteer opportunities for individuals to work directly with children helping in the after-school tutoring program, held Monday-Thursday, 3:45-5:30 p.m. Volunteers are also needed to help during the post-adoption meetings held the last Tuesday of each month from 5:45-8:00 p.m. Individual volunteers are also needed during the Caring Chefs (held each Fall), and Evening of Taste (held each Spring) annual events. All volunteers who will have direct contact with the children must attend a volunteer orientation. The society is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and donations, one-time or recurring are tax free. Donations may be made anonymously or in honor or memory of someone. The Champions for Children Campaign is another way for individuals, groups or businesses to advocate for children, volunteer and raise funds to support children in need and the programs that serve them.


How to Raise Your Hand: For information about how you can volunteer or help The Children’s Home Society contact Myra T. Simmons, development specialist and volunteer manager, at (904) 493-7738, or visit the society’s website: www.chsfl.org.

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