Civitan Accelerated Club focuses on leadership

Focusing on general community service apparently isn’t enough for some members of the Las Vegas-area Civitan clubs. Some of them also are fostering and emphasizing leadership skills, and a club now in the formative stages will be tailored specifically to women.

Kayla Brown-Cestero is a founder and the first president of the Civitan Accelerated Club, which focuses on developing leadership in its members, she said. Chartered in January 2006, the club has speakers on leadership or personal development at its monthly meetings and also encourages leadership through project management, fundraisers and service projects.

“Many of the people who started the club were graduates of leadership training,” Brown-Cestero said. “When we created this organization, it was so people could continue giving back to the community. We wanted something to latch onto.”

Civitan Accelerated has 31 members who range from those starting out with young families to those in their 60s and 70s, she noted. Their educational levels range from high school to doctoral degrees, and about 60 percent are women. Brown-Cestero said the fact that the club meets in the evenings — the four other Civitan clubs in the Las Vegas Valley are luncheon clubs — also offers a scheduling alternative for members. They meet at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Roundtable Pizza at 8878 S. Eastern Ave.

But along with fostering leadership skills, the members maintain a full slate of community projects. Last month, she said, members built a wheelchair ramp for a teen who has cerebral palsy. They’ve also pulled weeds and cleaned up the parking lot at an apartment complex for low-income seniors, held a food drive for a local homeless shelter and made 100 pet beds to make things a little more comfortable for the residents of a local animal shelter.

Members also created 1,500 care packages for women and children being aided by a local social services organization, putting together such items as toiletries, socks and underwear.

“We do kind of a wide range of activities, whatever the community needs,” Brown-Cestero said.

Many of the projects are supported by members of the community — a local dentist donated toothbrushes for the care packages, for example — and the club sponsors several fundraisers, including an upcoming murder-mystery dinner-theater and silent auction event scheduled for June 28.

Brown-Cestero also is in the process of forming a Civitan Club specifically for women, to help them meet needs in the community. Organizational meetings are under way; once the club is chartered, members will meet monthly for brunch.

All of the clubs, she said, are under the umbrella of Civitan International, which has about 250 members in Southern Nevada, 55,000 worldwide. The local groups occasionally meet for an area social, she said, and meetings are open to everybody, not just members.

For more information, call Belinda Veloz at 466-0837.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474.

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