For 65 years, the Fulks Run Ruritan Club has been serving our community by advancing Ruritan National’s goals of “Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service.” Organized on March 27, 1958, the first meeting of the club was led by charter members Garnett Turner and Andrew Thomas. Since that time, the club has been instrumental in many efforts to improve and support our local community.
Some of our many accomplishments include aiding in the funding and construction of Fulks Run Elementary School in 1961, purchasing the current 55-acre park and maintaining it for public use since 1989, providing needed services to the community, sponsoring school-related trips, fundraising for and supporting local families in need, awarding scholarships to local seniors, and hosting innumerable lawn parties and events, to name just a few examples. Most recently, the club has been actively involved in providing a location and championing the development of an emergency medical services (EMS) station in Fulks Run, Virginia, to help improve timely access to fire, rescue, and medical services on the northern end of the county.
At our regular meeting in April, we welcomed District Governor Jeff Roadcap and District Lt. Governor Larry Cave who honored our 65th Anniversary by presenting a certificate of recognition “in acknowledgement of devoted and unselfish service which has resulted in making their community a better place in which to live.” It is this call to service that marks the commitment of every member of our club and leads to an investment in something greater than ourselves. Long-time residents and members reflect on their experiences of growing up in the club and watching it grow over time, while newer members feel grateful for the opportunity to get to know their neighbors and the community better.
Having been in the club for more than 53 years, Larry Custer recalls that “Ruritan has been a part of my life since I was four years old. I attended meetings with my dad on Son’s and Daughter’s Night until I was about 15, and that’s when I joined the club and I’ve been an active member doing what we do to make our community a better place to live.” Similarly, President Lena Custer says, “I have been a Ruritan member for 25 years, and during these years, we have helped so many people in our community. Chicken barbecues, lawn parties, truck and tractor shows, and yard sales are just a few of our fundraisers over the years. I have many fond memories of this fine club and its current and past members.”
As a former teacher at FRES Marilee Billhimer reflects: “Being a Ruritan is a way of giving back to the organization that was so generous to my students while I was teaching at Fulks Run Elementary School. There were quite a few years where funds were low at school and the Ruritans always came through for the children. It’s my hope to repay a bit of what was provided to my classroom, so today’s students and the community can continue to benefit from having an active, caring Ruritan Club.”
Club member David Kyger says, “As a member of the Fulks Run Ruritans for 32 years I have worked a lot of hours frying ham, barbecuing chicken, picking up trash, mowing and weedeating! During all of this work I have had fun, made new friends, and helped a lot of people. I can’t imagine this area without the beautiful park and all the good the club does in our community!” And Chuck DeHart admits, “Being a Ruritan means joining in service to the community. Working in common cause can be fun and it can be hard work. But, who said service was supposed to be easy?”
Although it is true that this commitment requires effort, there are many benefits to be gained from service to community. As relatively new members of the club, Jake and Jessica Delano appreciate “getting to know more folks in this community, both in the local Ruritan group as well as the larger community” and “the opportunity to help out other folks who need it and make the community a great place to live.” Pastor Scott Budde adds: “Being a Ruritan has meant connection and service within our community. Being the chaplain has been a blessing, and offering my help as such has been an honor. As a relative outsider coming into the Fulks Run area from the north because of ministry, I have found friends, co-workers and co-laborers that I can depend upon to keep me informed, conscious of the needs they have seen, and aware of trends in conversation within their circles. It helps all of us to be better together and prevents isolation. Many lawn parties and chicken barbeques later, I have memories that will make me smile for a lifetime.”
A common theme emerges among club members when they are asked about their experiences: connection and community investment. In short, being part of the Ruritan club is a great way to get to know your neighbors while also serving your community in meaningful ways. We know the call to service does not come easy. Still, the benefits of living a fulfilling life in service to your community means you are laying a sturdy foundation for future generations to appreciate and enjoy, and luckily, there is also a clear footpath to follow that has been successful for 65 years!