The Shelby Township Optimists Club welcomed 20 young members into their fold recently at the official installation ceremony of the “West Utica Super Stallions Junior Optimist Club.”
Proud parents and teachers applauded as the Junior Optimists – West Utica fifth and sixth graders – stepped forward to recite the Optimist International pledge and receive official t-shirts, membership certificates and congratulatory handshakes from their adult sponsors in the Shelby Township organization.
Establishing the club came about through the efforts of teachers Martha Surratt and Allison Buscemi and the students themselves, who became interested in serving others after seeing how the Shelby Township Optimists help out at their school. The group donates school supplies and members volunteer to assist students one-on-one to improve their reading and literacy skills. The Optimists even staged a parking lot “trunk or treat” Halloween event for students at the school.
West Utica principal Bradley Suggs took his students’ plan to the Shelby Township club officers and members who were pleased to sponsor the junior club and act as project advisors along with the teachers.
The grown-up organization – part of Optimists international – practice service with a capital “S” – something the students are eager to emulate. In fact, the West Utica’s Super Stallions have already begun to serve their community by collecting food for needy families and saving grocery coupons to be donated to military families.
They plan to initiate peer tutoring, a charity softball game, a recycling program and a spring cleanup of the school grounds. “They’ve come up with their own relevant and doable ideas,” said Surratt.
For now, the charter group of 20 will meet monthly. They hope the Optimist’s mission of cheerful service is infectious and their numbers will grow as more students take part and experience the feeling of doing good for others.
Optimist International is an association of more than 2,900 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to "bringing out the best in kids." Adult volunteers join Optimist Clubs to conduct positive service projects in their communities aimed at providing a helping hand to youth.
With their upbeat attitude, members help empower young people to be the best that they can be. Each year, Optimists conduct 65,000 service projects and serve well over six million young people.