Pilot Club of Athens celebrating 75 years

The Athens City Council this week issued a proclamation honoring the Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. for its 75-year history. From left are Athens City Councilman John Coker, who made the presentation; Pilot Club of Athens President Carol Plemons, and members Linda Gray and Bridget Arnett.

The Pilot Club of Athens will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee this weekend, marking 75 years of service to the community.

The celebration - "Charting the Course for 75 years ... Pilot Club of Athens" - will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 26, in the Blue Room of the McMinn County Courthouse.

Pilot International was established by a group of civic-minded business leaders 95 years ago on Oct. 18, 1921, in Macon, Georgia. Ten years later, a group of 15 local civic-minded business leaders joined the International service organization. This organization is known as the Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. The club was chartered on Oct. 25, 1941. The charter night banquet was held on Feb. 21, 1942.

Opal Shell was the local club's first president, serving from October 1941 to February 1942. Lee Vesta Grubb became the president in February 1942, and the current president is Carol Plemons, whose term is from July 2016 to June 2017.

The name "Pilot" was inspired by the mighty riverboat pilots of that day that represented leadership and guidance. Pilot's principles are friendship and service, and the motto is "True Course Ever."

The mission of Pilot is to influence positive change in communities throughout the world. To do this club's come together in friendship and give people an outlet for service. Pilot's focus is on preparing youth and young adults for service; encouraging brain safety and health; and supporting those who care for others.

Pilot International is comprised of almost 375 clubs with more than 7,500 members. The Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. has around 20 members and meetings are the first and third Monday evenings at Western Sizzlin Steak House.

Pilot volunteers in communities around the globe to make a difference by striving to do more, care more and be more. Locally, in the early years the Pilot Club of Athens sold war bonds (1940s) and worked with Red Cross, USO and sponsored Cancer Relief. In the 1950s, the Pilot Club of Athens started sponsoring a scholarship to Tennessee Wesleyan College, now known as Tennessee Wesleyan University; the club continues each year to sponsor the scholarship.

Through the years, Pilot has held many fundraisers for the continued projects to support our community and youth. The one fundraiser the Pilot Club of Athens is known for is its homemade fudge.

Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. is the sponsor of a very active Anchor Club at McMinn Central High School. Members of both clubs do "little Pick Me Ups" for caregivers in the community. Pick Me Up program is a program of Pilot International to show caregivers in our community they are cared about.

Since 1970, Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. has sponsored and presented the Business-Professional Woman of the Year Award at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce's annual business meeting and dinner.

The Pilot Club of Athens also sponsors the Special Education Teacher of the Year Award. The winner then is sent to Tennessee District Pilot International where a Special Education Teacher of the Year Award is presented at the Tennessee District Convention from the individual entries sent by each club. In addition, the Pilot Club of Athens sponsors the Sharon Melton Myers Scholarship to a student in SkillsUSA.

Other projects sponsored by Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. include:

* Donating helmets at the annual Bike Safety Rodeo sponsored by the Optimist Club of Athens. The helmets are to help with the awareness of brain safety.

* Donating money to McMinn County Foster Parent Association for foster children at Christmas.

* Donating monies to Good Faith Clinic and Morning Star Ministries.

* Sponsoring a reception for Senior Olympians at the Senior Center Dance.

A "lasting memorial" was added to the Pilot Club of Athens, Inc. in July 2006. The memorial is meant to be an act of love and kindness for the deceased Pilot, an expression of sympathy to the family, as well as a contribution to our community. Some of the many things that have been donated are:

* A large Bible and lectern for Union Chapel United Methodist Church.

* Song books for Pisgah Baptist Church.

* Benches for Riceville Elementary School, the memorial garden at Keith Memorial United Methodist Church, and for the atrium area at First Baptist Church of Athens.

* The McMinn Senior Activity Center has received picnic tables, a quilt rack and sign for the Senior Center's "Currier Cottage."

* Silver candelabras and urn for First Baptist Church of Englewood.

* Donation toward a projection screen for the choir at First Baptist Church of Athens

* Donation for brass candleholders at Mars Hill Presbyterian Church.

* Framed picture for Sunday School Class at Clear Springs Baptist Church.

* Dr. Seuss books for Riceville School's library.

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