The new Encinitas Optimist Club is launching an ambitious membership campaign this fall that will ultimately benefit local children.
“We want new members with young ideas with a brighter focus on the future,” said club President Dr. Nicole Wahab. “We want more ideas about how the Optimists can serve the community.”
Optimist International is an association of more than 2,900 Optimist Clubs in 33 countries dedicated to “Bringing Out the Best in Kids.”
Wahab reports that the club will be working closely with the Encinitas Union High School District to fill gaps in funding brought on by education cuts.
An educator herself, Wahab is principal of Mt. Everest Academy in San Diego. In addition, she owns Stellar Scholar on South Cedros in Solana Beach, which prepares students for college.
“We are working with the Encinitas superintendent of schools to identify needs,” she said. “The budget is bleak so we are looking at opportunities to offset costs to make education real. We want to be needs-based because with an ever-changing budget, things can change.”
Another beneficiary of the Optimist Club is ConKerr Cancer, a project that makes pillowcases with cheerful designs for children who are hospitalized. The Southern California district of the Optimist Club has generated materials for more than 7,000 pillowcases.
In addition to working with the Encinitas Union School District and ConKerr Cancer, Wahab says her goal is to generate new ideas about how the Optimists can serve the community.
The first Encinitas chapter of the Optimist Club opened in 1955. However, as the years went by the original membership grew old until the club ended two years ago. One surviving member, Warren Raps, is an honorary member of the new Encinitas chapter, which was chartered May 12, 2010, with 27 members.
The Del Mar-Solana Beach Optimist Club serves as the sponsoring club for the new chapter.
“Optimist International has 100,000 members,” President Charles Pease said. “Ninety percent of the money raised goes back to the community. No one has a salary, and there are very little administrative costs. Members at the zone, district, regional and international level are all unpaid volunteers there to support the local clubs.”
Pease says behind the effort to establish an Encinitas chapter was Jim Walker, incoming governor of the California Southern District, which represents 30 clubs, and Mac McGrory, incoming president of the Del Mar-Solana Beach Optimists.
The Encinitas Optimist Club hosted its first fundraiser on Aug. 20, which was a wine tasting at the Horner House called, “Toast to Kids.”
“We also want to partner with businesses to underwrite the cost of more fundraisers,” Wahab said. “We have the opportunity to start other annual events like the Toast of Kids.”
In turn, business sponsors would receive publicity, a tax-deduction and the good will that comes with being associated with a nonprofit in the community that benefits kids
“What we also need is energy,” Wahab added. “Rolling up sleeves and changing the lives of kids in Encinitas.”
The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Coco’s Bakery Restaurant at 407 Encinitas Boulevard.
Members of the Encinitas Optimist Club will be volunteering at Oktoberfest on Sept. 26 and hosting a booth.
For more information about the Encinitas Optimist Club, e-mail Dr. Nicole Wahab at [email protected] To learn what Optimist Clubs are doing throughout the world visit: calso.org (California Southern District) and optimist.org (Optimists International).
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