Instituted on Aug. 18, 1962, the Kingsport Sertoma Club is a civic organization that benefits the community through philanthropic projects. Members of the organization are afforded the opportunity to not only serve local charities and nonprofits, but also to experience fellowship and friendship.
Ted McCown, who currently serves on the board of directors for the organization, has been involved with the Sertoma Club of Kingsport since its inception and has seen the organization evolve ever since.
"It's been interesting to see it develop," McCown said. "I've had several offices in it."
The Sertoma Club of Kingsport meets on the second and fourth Mondays of every month. McCown said that the only requirements for joining are payment of dues - a quarterly fee of $115, which includes meals - and a heart for service.
"Just be interested in serving the community and be willing to pay your dues on time," McCown said.
The Sertoma Club of Kingsport supports a number of charities, organizations and programs. Some of the club’s beneficiaries include Second Harvest Food Bank, the Kingsport Lifesaving Crew, Friends of the Kingsport Public Library, Kitchen of Hope, Small Miracles Therapeutic Riding Center, the American Red Cross and Boy Scouts of America.
In the past, the organization has also supported a Jackets for Children program every December, the Kingsport Theatre Guild, March of the Dimes and more.
One of the organizations that the Sertoma Club is most involved with is the Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center, a not-for-profit agency that offers evaluation, education and treatment for speech, language, hearing and swallowing disorders. In fact, with Kingsport's Junior League, the Sertoma Club helped establish the Center in 1974. The club's annual donations to the Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center total around $20,000.
The Sertoma Club's annual fundraisers include a golf tournament in the spring and a concessions booth at the Appalachian Fair.
Like many civic organizations, the Sertoma Club has seen an unfortunate decline in membership over the years.
"We started with about 50 members when we were chartered, and right now we have about 23 active members," McCown said.
McCown attributes this to the advent of faster communication with the rise of the Internet and to a shift in societal values.
"It's just a different world, and there's not always a lot of desire to be a member of a club and to do civic work anymore," McCown said. "People just aren't joining like they used to, and we'd love to see some new faces."
Even though the club doesn't have as much participation as it once did, McCown said that members stay busy and active.
For more information about joining the Sertoma Club of Kingsport, visit the club’s website.