“My heart is in Ruritan,” said Linda Melton, secretary for the Charleston club and district governor for the Cherokee Ruritan District. “I believe that everyone should be a part of some community service.”
Melton joined the civic organization in 2001 and said she counts it a great honor to be a part of the club during this historic anniversary. Treasurer Edna Derrick said it is an accomplishment to have 60 years in a small community.
The Charleston Ruritan Club was formed on Feb. 22, 1951. A group of men, mostly farmers, wanted to be a part of a civic organization, but did not qualify for membership in the local Rotary Club. So these 21 founding members established the Charleston Ruritan Club to serve the community, according to Melton. Although he is no longer a member of the organization, one of these founding members, J.R. Alexander, is still alive.
The past 60 years have brought many changes to the club. When it was first formed the Charleston Ruritan was a strictly male organization, but now both men and women enjoy participating and serving as a part of the club. In fact, according to current club President Chris Scoggins, now the club is predominantly women.
Scoggins said the club had a special meeting in February which both the national president and national director of Ruritan attended. Scoggins, who has been a member since 2000, said over the years many great people have been a part of the club. Although he was a honored to be the president in the 60th year of the organization it did not really sink in until the club received a certificate from the national office. For Scoggins, Ruritan is a way to give back to the community in which he lives.
The Ruritan partners with local area schools to serve students throughout the year. The club also has a scholarship program. The biggest project the club participates in each year is the Foothills Country Fair. This summer the club will also be a part of the Wild River Days and the Hiwassee Tractor Days.
Club leaders said the Charleston Ruritan Club is always accepting new members.