Optimists take action to help community
By Mary Matsumoto
Optimists Stacy Schweitzer (left) and Scott Zipperer hold the club banner.

The dictionary defines an optimist as one who has “the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things.”

For members of the Kiel Optimist Club, that means more than a philosophy— that means community action.

Making up an international organization, Optimists number around 87,000 volunteers, sharing a desire to “Bring Out the Best in Kids.” To that end, worldwide 2,900 clubs provide 65,000 service projects, spending $78 million to benefit over 6 million young people each year.

On a local level, the organization has provided dedicated service to charitable causes in Kiel for 31 years, offering approximately $400,000 to local families through programs and projects.

Every year, for instance, the Optimists join the local Lions Club to spend hours organizing the Kiel Picnic. Actually, it’s a never-ending project because once one event ends, planning begins for the following year’s picnic.

Picnic to run Aug. 9-12

This year, the picnic will begin on Thursday, Aug. 9 and culminate on Sunday, Aug. 12. Besides providing a memorable experience for the residents of Kiel each year with good food, music, rides and association, the proceeds go to community projects.

In addition to the picnic, the club will sponsor an Easter egg hunt at 10 a. m. on April 7 in Hingiss Park and invites the community to take part. Then, in September, together with the Lions, they hold their annual all-you-can-eat chicken and ham dinner with all the trimmings at Millhome Supper Club. The event also includes raffles.

The between $15,000 to $25,000

generated each year from the events goes back into the community to fund projects which include everything from donations to the Kiel Food Pantry to the Kiel Public Library’s reading program, from Kiel Safety Patrol, Youth Baseball and the High School’s Science Club to the Domestic Violence Center and much more.

The club regularly helps students go to Washington, D. C. in April to spend an educational week learning about government through the Close Up program. Here, they tour famous monuments and memorials, walk through the halls of Congress and meet Washington insiders.

The Kiel Optimists also contribute money to send two junior boys and two junior girls to the Badger State program where they spend a week in a dorm setting on campus to learn about government on a state level.

Keeping kids safe

For the past six years, the Kiel Optimist Club has worked to provide documented identification of young children and seniors through the SafeAssured I. D. Program.

Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing each year, which means 2,000 each and every day. The faster the word gets out through law enforcement and media alerts, the more likely a missing child will be found safe. The SafeAssured Program provides the information needed to make the search quickly and efficiently by taking action ahead of time.

SafeAssured Child ID and Senior ID kits meet and exceed the standards set up by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Each kit includes all 10 electronically imaged fingerprints, a digital photograph, a streaming video showing mannerisms and the gait with a linked audio file with the child’s voice inflection and accent, the physical description, street address, date of birth, any life-threatening medical conditions, identifying

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