Building a Better World
There's a new governor in this state. You may know him as the pool guy or the father of some pretty good athletes. Now and for the next year, you will know him as the Governor of the Georgia District of Civitan International. He is as old as life and as young as the rainbow, as endless as time. His hands reach out in service to others. His ears hear the cry of children. His heart beats for every friend and bleeds for every injury to humanity. He is a Civitan. And, his name is Kenny Martin.
Kenny was born to be a Civitan. Actually, he was born before the Dublin Club was founded in 1955. His father, Hubert Martin, was the club's fifth president and a Lt. Governor of the South Georgia District. Kenny grew up in East Dublin and went to school in Dublin before returning to the Rams of East Laurens High School. It was on the East side where Kenny got his first taste of leadership. He served as his senior class president and helped to facilitate the integration of East Laurens and B.D. Perry High School. Just three years out of high school, Martin made his first venture into politics, winning a seat on the East Dublin City Council, a feat which made him the youngest city council member in the history of the county. That record didn't last long. Clifton Wilkinson set the record two years later when he was elected to the Dublin council at the age of 20.
Kenny devoted most of his time to build a life and home for his family, but found time to serve others as a Mason and a Shriner. When his law enforcement career ended, Kenny began to look for other ways of serving. He didn't look far, remembering all the times that his father and Elbert Mullis, known to many as the "grandfather of all Civitans in the South Georgia District," would meet together at his house working on Civitan matters. Kenny also remembered going with his father and other Civitans out to the old Brewton School to salvage some unused chalk boards which the county donated to the School of Hope in Dublin behind Saxon Street School. The school, whose first teacher was Mrs. Shirley Miller, was sponsored by the Civitans to help educate disabled children.
"Most people are asked to join the Civitan club. It was different with me. I wanted to get in," Martin fondly recalled. Fellow deputy Vernon DeLoach and Kenny's Civitan role model Elbert Mullis helped him to join the club in 1988.
To Martin, being a Civitan means a chance to give back to his community. "We have a strong club with a good mix of ages with members from their twenties to their eighties," Martin observed. In fact, the Dublin club, in a constant seesaw contest with Warner Robins club, is now the largest in Georgia. Kenny feels a sense of fulfillment when he and club members build a wheel chair ramp for the disabled, host an Easter egg hunt for special needs children, or host a fair, the club's biggest fund raiser, all in the name of helping children, who cannot help themselves.
Speaking of the Fall Fair, which will be held on October 19-23, Kenny Martin has headed the fair committee for the last sixteen years, going back to the old days when it was held in the rear of the Ag Center. It was a role groomed for him by Mullis. "Robert Drew helps get the building and grounds set up every year and I handle the business end of it," said Martin, who can always rely on fifty-plus year member James Hudson to handle the ticket booths, Treasurer John Simpson to count the proceeds, Wick Cochran to stock the concession stand with donated products, and every other member to step up and help where needed.
Martin served his first year as President of the Dublin club in 1997, but two years ago when a president-elect took another job and the club needed a replacement with experience, Kenny Martin couldn't say no. Old cries for him to run for District Governor by long time leaders of the old South Georgia District were heaped on him. With all of his children out of school, Martin succumbed to the pleas and threw his hat in the ring. "At the time, I didn't know I would have any opposition, there is usually not any," Martin recalled. But, at the 2009 annual convention, Kenny Martin was elected Governor of the Georgia District. He is the first Dublin member to attain that honor, although three former members have served as Governor of the South Georgia District.
Kenny took office on October 1st. In the six weeks leading up to his taking office, Martin has been busy, very busy. He attended and helped manage the district convention, only two weeks before traveling to the International Convention in Cancun, Mexico. Since returning home, Kenny has spent the last three weeks traveling all over the state attending and speaking at officer installation banquets.
This year, 2010-2011, the International Civitan Club's motto is "Pay it Forward." "Every civic club's mission is to pay it forward," Martin contended. It is Martin's goal and the club's goal to encourage every single member, there's 1150 of these public servants in Georgia, to "pay it forward" on an individual basis to help even more people in our community and around the world, including children in the International Civitan Research Hospital Center in Birmingham.
One of the Dublin club's goals for the upcoming year is the revitalization of the Special Olympics programs in Laurens County. Citing that the Olympics were once the club's most important event, Martin would like the games and community support rejuvenated.
"There are plenty of opportunities to help people out. There are a lot of people hurting with the economy and the shape it is in. You always think you have it bad until you look around and find somebody else who has it worse than you do," Martin remarked. "You don't have to look far to find somebody in need," he concluded.
So, if you would like to help disabled children and do unto others as you would have them do unto you, find a Civitan and ask for a membership application. Then, you too can help build a better world.