History of St. Clair Beach Optimist Club
The Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach was formed, under the sponsorship of the Optimist Club of Windsor, on April 5, 1978 with 45 charter members. The Reeve at that time, Fred Cada, along with Council, was very supportive in helping establish a civic club in the community. Over the years, the members, representing a cross-section of the community, have given generously of themselves in the promotion of healthy activities and in the provision of services essential to a well-balanced community.
The first project undertaken by the Club was a major fireworks display at Green Acres Park on Victoria Day, 1978. Residents received the event with much enthusiasm. More activities were added to this event over the years, including musical entertainment, children’s games, and eventually the ever-popular Community Garage Sale.
The sale of raffle tickets, a Trip of the Month Club, Bingo & Monte Carlo Nights, selling hot, buttered corn at the Tecumseh Corn Festival and Charity Golf Tournaments are a few of the many ways the Club has raised funds in support of its various community projects.
January 1st 1999 saw the amalgamation of the original Town of Tecumseh, Village of St. Clair Beach, and Township of Sandwich South into today’s Town of Tecumseh, thus expanding the territory serviced by the Club. The Club’s desire to increase membership has helped ensure that it can continue to effectively serve the community.
“Friend of Youth”
The Club’s Board of Directors receives many requests for support from various groups within the surrounding community, each year. The Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach prides itself as being a “Friend of Youth” and sponsors many sporting activities for local children, including soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, golf and recently, Kidsail. The positive impact of these initiatives is evident by their continued popularity and success. The soccer program was originally organized under the direction of Optimists Ian and Scott Shennan and has since grown from a hand full of children to a league of over 1000 boys and girls of various ages.
In addition to sport teams, the Club is proud to support local Scout, Cub, Brownie, Girl Guide and Venturer groups. The Club was also instrumental in supporting the Local Teen Centre, providing it with multiple computer workstations, printers and furniture. The Club hosts an Annual Oratorical contest each year. Children of various ages, from all area grade schools are invited to compete for cash prizes.
In 1983, the Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach brought the HOBY, Youth Leadership program to Canada. Established in the United States in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian, the goal of this program is to seek out and develop the leadership potential of youth. Locally, grade 10 students nominated by High Schools throughout Western Ontario gather for 3 days of seminars and other activities designed to enlighten and challenge.
Apart from youth programs, the Club is also actively involved in numerous community service projects. Barbecues as well as picnic shelters available within Optimist Green Acres Park were Optimist Projects. The Club is also responsible for many pathways, benches and litter containers available to residents, throughout the community. Club members built the Community Centre Facility itself with many volunteer hours.
The `88 - `89 Art Project, facilitated the purchase of many fine pieces of art currently on display in the Municipal Library. Supporting the Tecumseh BIA, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra's Christmas Concerts at St. Anne's Church and public skating sessions at the arena are other examples of the Club's involvement within the community at large. The "Let's Move Tecumseh" program is a joint project with the Town of Tecumseh. By helping to secure a grant from the Province of Ontario, the Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach was able to assist the Town's Recreation Services Department in providing T'ai Chi Lessons, a Walk Program, as well as an Adult men and women hockey program. In cooperation with the local OPP detachment, the Club was able to obtain a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Justice to be applied toward a "Graffiti Busters" project to help eradicate graffiti in the community.
Other local community causes, which receive the Club’s support, include the Goodfellows, the Terry Fox Run and The Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion event and the Kiwanis Music Festival.
A visible symbol of the positive and far-reaching effects of the Optimist Club’s presence in the community is the antique 1951 International, fire truck, donated to the Club by the Village of St. Clair Beach. It has become synonymous with the Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach as it appears at many Club and community functions as well as in several regional parades each year.
Over the years, the Club has continued to provide a forum for social interaction and has been successful in strengthening the overall cohesiveness within the community. This objective of continually improving the relationship between community members is indeed an admirable task. The Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach has benefited the Community of Greater Tecumseh tremendously and will continue to do so for many years to come. The Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach has been recognized, along with all participants involved in community service, and extends thanks to the residents of the community who continually support all of the good work, which goes on within the Town of Tecumseh.