Optimists looking to expand in county

August 10, 2001|By DORA DEPAOLI, Staff Writer

Members of the Sunrise Optimist Club in El Centro are interested in expanding the number of Optimist clubs in the county.

Bill Condit, Sunrise Optimist president and Optimist governor designate for San Diego and Imperial County, thinks there is much more the clubs can do for local youths.

The Optimist motto is "Field of Youth."

"There have been studies that show one club member should effect 30 youth," Condit said. "We have roughly 30,000 kids in Imperial Valley. We need more members to do what we should with young people."

There are two Optimist clubs in the county, the Optimist Club of El Centro and the Sunrise Optimist Club. Condit served as charter president of the Sunrise Optimist Club about 15 years ago.


"As in all service clubs, we try to expand," Condit said. "One of the big problems that all service clubs and fraternal organizations have is dwindling membership. My hope is to increase membership in the existing clubs and start new clubs."

Holtville has been targeted for the first new club. An informational meeting was staged Aug. 1 in the Holtville Civic Center. Efforts will be made to start an evening club in El Centro and daytime clubs in Brawley and Calexico.

Condit said new clubs need help the first year and the Sunrise Optimists plan to do just that.

"We will be there to assist and encourage," he said.

Traditionally, Optimist clubs meet once a week. When a core membership is started in Holtville, the members will make decisions on when and where they will meet and what their dues will be.

John Jordan, Holtville's city manager, is an enthusiastic member of the Sunrise Optimists.

"I would love to see one started in Holtville," Jordan said. "All the money they make is donated right back into the community, anything that has to do with youth."

The Optimists were an all-male organization until about 10 years ago, Condit said.

"About half the Sunrise Optimists are women," he said. "Women who join service clubs are sincere in wanting to help."

Lupe Ibarra of Holtville attended the first meeting at the Civic Center and was pleased with the exchange of ideas. She looks forward to becoming involved with the Optimists.

"We need to get the children in our community involved in as many activities as we can," Ibarra said. "I grew up in Holtville and I remember saying there is nothing to do here. I want to change that. We can make things happen if everyone puts forth a little effort."

The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles