About the Ruritans

The Ruritan Mission

Ruritan is a national organization dedicated to improving communities and building a better America through Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.

What is Ruritan?

Ruritan National has nearly 30,000 members throughout the United States, that work to improve more than 1,100 local communities. Since the organization’s beginning in 1928, Ruritan Clubs have served America with Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service. Ruritan is a civic service organization made up of local clubs in urban areas, small towns and rural communities.

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 and work. The slogan of Ruritan is “Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.” 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.

Unlike most civic service organizations, Ruritan rarely has national programs. Rather, each club surveys its own community as to the needs of that community and then works to meet some of those needs. Nearly all clubs work locally with FFA, 4-H and other organizations serving youth. Nearly one in every three Ruritan clubs sponsors a Boy or Girl Scout unit.

History

The first Ruritan Club was chartered May 21, 1928, in Holland, Virginia. Since that first club, Ruritan has grown throughout the United States of America, and in doing so, has become “America’s Leading Community Service Organization.”

Tom Downing of Suffolk, Virginia, and Jack Gwaltney of Holland, Virginia, are known as the co-founders of Ruritan. Gwaltney and Downing recognized the need for an organization where community leaders could meet and discuss ways to make their community a better place in which to live.

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.

South Norfolk Ruritan Club

Since 1979, the South Norfolk Ruritan Club has been helping to improve its community by supporting numerous youth, scholarship, social and environmental programs; by honoring local law enforcement and public safety officers, troops, and veterans; and most importantly by supporting and helping our local communities. This year the club has participated in Paint Your Heart Out, the rebuilding of Cascade Park, clean the Bay Day, Arbor Day tree plantings, South Norfolk Golf Tournament, the Phelps Brothers community Fest and has awarded two scholarships to students from Oscar Smith High School.

Club meetings are on the 4th Monday of the month starting at 7:00 PM at the Khedive Shrine Activity building on Woodlake Drive in the heart of Chesapeake.