Meet Birmingham’s stellar service clubs, including three of the largest in the world

Read Time 7 Minutes

Meet Birmingham’s awesome service clubs. Photo via Rotaract Club of Birmingham’s Facebook

One thing that Birmingham doesn’t fall short on is our outstanding service clubs that bring some extra magic to the Magic City. Let’s meet each club and learn what they’re all about. Maybe you’ll even end up joining one that resonates with you.

1. Rotaract Club of Birmingham

Rotaract Club
One of the largest Rotaract Clubs in the world. Photo via Rotaract Club of Birmingham’s Facebook

Did you know that Birmingham has one of the largest Rotaract Clubs in the world? Members are encouraged to practice responsible citizenship and catalyze positive change. The Rotaract Club of Birmingham is a premier organization for young adults in the city. They use three words to describe the essence of their club: Learn, Socialize and Serve.

Members are constantly learning from great community leaders because there’s always room for extra knowledge. Although the Rotaract Club hosts some great events, their goal is to develop meaningful connections to open doors to effective collaborations. With service at the core of what they do, the Rotaract Club partners with local nonprofits and organizations for monthly service projects.

Notable projects from the Rotaract Club of Birmingham

The Rotaract Club has three signature initiatives that help educate our communities:

  • Ready to Read places a library of books along with a reading buddy in 2nd grade classrooms in Birmingham City Schools.
  • The Ready to Succeed initiative provides mentoring and ACT prep to help high school students prepare for college.
  • The Achieve Alabama initiative helps source and provide access to state specific scholarship databases which in turn help make college more affordable for families throughout the state.

Rotaract Club of Birmingham in a snapshot

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2. Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

The unveiling of the Kiwanis Centennial Park at Vulcan Park and Museum. Photo via Kiwanis Club of Downtown Birmingham’s Facebook

The Kiwanis Club of Birmingham has served the Birmingham community for over a century, including their instrumental contributions to creating Birmingham’s park systems in the 1920s in collaboration with the Olmstead Brothers. Could you really imagine the Magic City without our wonderful green spaces, including Linn Park, Avondale Park, the Botanical Gardens and more?

Fast forward to 2020 and the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham has grown into the largest Kiwanis chapter in the world!

“The Kiwanis Club of Birmingham seeks to inspire, develop and support the civic growth and health of Birmingham with a special emphasis on improving the lives of children, and thereby ensuring the well-being of our community for future generations.”

Rajeeyah Shahid, Communications Director at Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

Kiwanis Club of Birmingham’s mission is to unite a diverse group of business, civic and community leaders to move the city forward. Members keep important conversations going and focus on Birmingham’s youth through outreach programs.

“We actively recruit Birmingham’s best and most influential leaders to further the club’s mission of service and community building. The club’s membership includes current and former senior leaders of public and private companies and professionals across a number of industries including government, education, tech, and civic and social organizations.”

Rajeeyah Shahid, Communications Director at Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

Notable projects to know about

Vulcan
Vulcan keeping watch over Birmingham. Photo via Vulcan Park + Museum’s Facebook page

The club was behind one of Birmingham’s amazing revitalization projects that took place at the iron giant, Vulcan. Members helped raise over $5 million for the expansion of Vulcan so we can enjoy the perks of extra green space and the trail systems around the landmark.

“To commemorate its 100 years, the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham built Kiwanis Centennial Park and Kiwanis Vulcan Trail at Vulcan Park & Museum—a transformational project for Birmingham that is catalyzing positive civic change.”

Rajeeyah Shahid, Communications Director at Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

Other impressive happenings that Kiwanis has been up to, include:

  • Sponsoring the Birmingham Ed Foundation’s Career Development Conference
  • Sponsoring Circle K programs at UAB and Birmingham-Southern College
  • Helped distribute 2,000 books for the Reading is Fundamental Program
  • Awarded 5 outstanding local high school seniors with scholarships through their 50th Annual Youth of the Year program
  • And more!

Kiwanis Club of Birmingham in a snapshot

3. Rotary Club of Birmingham

One of the Rotary Club’s notable projects in Downtown Birmingham. Photo via Bham Now

Since 1913, the Rotary Club of Birmingham has played a pivotal role in eliminating polio, expanding access to Pre-K and combating cervical cancer. After all, their motto is “Service Above Self.”

The Rotary Club of Birmingham is the largest Rotary Club in the world. With over 600 members, the Club is directly involved in numerous projects throughout Birmingham. The one you’re probably most familiar with is the Rotary Trail in Downtown Birmingham.

“Possibly the most visible Rotary club contribution of the last five years is the creation of the iconic Rotary Trail, which is getting more use than ever and is spurring on economic growth in the heart of downtown.”

Jon Blankenship, President of Birmingham’s Rotary Club

Notable projects in the area

Members lending a helping hand during the Resident Boarding Home Project. Photo via Birmingham’s Rotary Club

Besides the beautiful Rotary Trail in downtown Birmingham, the club just completed the Holiday Boarding Home Project where they delivered new Christmas clothing and gifts to over 100 people in boarding homes in our community.

The club is also in the midst of their annual Red Kettle campaign for the Salvation Army. You know those red buckets that you’re drawn to by the sound of ringing bells? That’s the Red Kettle campaign we’re talking about. Other projects include:

  • The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Program
  • “Build Peace” initiative to sponsor young people from 13 local high schools to teach peace building skills
  • Mentorship as part of the Birmingham Promise and Birmingham Education Foundation
  • Weekly lunch donations to local organizations like First Light Shelter and YWCA
  • And more!

“We hope that 2021 will bring us back together having lunch in the same room at the Harbert Center.  We know that the needs in our community will likely be greater than ever going into 2021, and we intend to re-double our service efforts to help Birmingham come back strong from the pandemic.”

Jon Blankenship, President of Birmingham’s Rotary Club

Rotary Club of Birmingham in a snapshot

  • 645 total members + 20 honorary members
  • Get involved: Invitation only so get to networking!
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram

4. Civitan International

Civitan Club
A mission that expands beyond borders. Photo via Birmingham Civitan Club’s Facebook

Civitan International has a mission that expands beyond borders—to build good citizenship through volunteer opportunities and emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities. Civitan has clubs in over 35 different countries so people from different backgrounds can come together for one cause.

Although Civitan reaches several countries, the international club is headquartered right here in Birmingham with their International Research Center located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. That makes the Birmingham club the oldest Civitan in the world.

“Our international flagship service project, The Civitan International Research Center, is located here at UAB and ranks as one of the world’s leading research facilities for Intellectual and Developmental Disorders such as Rett Syndrome, Autism, Down Syndrome, and many other brain related issues.”

Terry Schrimscher, Birmingham’s Civitan International member

Civitan’s notable contributions

“I like to think service to others is our absolute greatest contribution. Our club has done service projects for Jimmie Hale Mission, First Light, Hope Lodge and several others. We are always looking for new projects and new ways to serve as well. That has been difficult during the pandemic. Also, Birmingham Civitan was host for the International Convention in 2017 which was one of our largest conventions in many years and was the first time Birmingham played host to Civitans from around the world in more than two decades.”

Terry Schrimscher, Birmingham’s Civitan International member

Birmingham’s Civitan International in a snapshot

5. Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club

Teamwork makes the dream work. Photo provided by the Sunrise Rotary Club.

Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club is part of the world’s first service club organization with over a million members around the globe. The club works locally and internationally with the missions to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation conditions, provide education as well as job training, promote peace and even help eradicate polio.

The club usually meets every Tuesday morning over a warm breakfast to enjoy speakers from all different backgrounds. Due to the pandemic, they’ve been hosting speakers virtually, but the outstanding quality of their speakers remains the same.

“What distinguishes us, is our members. We have GREAT folks, who are willing to make a difference in our community. Some clubs are great at donating $$$. Although that is included in our group, we also volunteer our time. The most recent event, even during COVID, was participating in the UAB Grand Challenge.”

Nathan Marcus, President of Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club

Notable projects coming from Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club

The first project of UAB’s Grand Challenge took place in Titusville. Photo provided by the Sunrise Rotary Club.

Recently, Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club participated in UAB’s the Grand Challenge. In 2018, there was a large call for action—one that puts Birmingham on the path to become a healthier city.

The club saw an opportunity to help so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They got involved with UAB and breaking ground on the first project of the Grand Challenge to plant trees in Titusville. You’re probably wondering about the significance of this, but it’s initiatives like this that are the perfect head start to empowering a community. This in turn will hopefully encourage more walking within the community which is an important step to the overall goal of making Alabamians healthier.

You can read more about UAB’s Grand Challenge and Sunrise Rotary Club’s helping hand, here.

To date, we have been involved in numerous smaller projects.  We have decided to focus, going forward, on a larger project. That’s the Sunrise Rotary Plaza on the Jones Valley Trail.

Nathan Marcus, President of Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club

Sunrise Rotary Club in a snapshot

Are you involved in any of these clubs? Let us know how you’re making a difference on social @bhamnow + sign up for our FREE newsletter to stay in the loop.


  • Chaise is a brunch-loving Content Producer and helps manage the Bham Now Instagram account.