The History of the Greater Northeast Optimist Club of Detroit

Greater Northeast Optimist Club of Detroit was organized on June 14, 1999 (formally known as Jehovah Optimist Club). In attendance at the organizational meeting were Richard Bloom, Field Representative; Bill Baumgattner, Lieutenant Governor; Fatima Plater, New Club Builder Chairman; Lorenzo Frazer, Judge Alex Allen, Nancy Allen, Lawrence Wells and Fred Tandy. The elected chartered officers were Luke Shannon, President; Carolyn White, Secretary/Treasurer; Velma Tabron, First Vice President; and Rodney Donald, Second Vice President. It was established that the Board of Directors meetings would be held on the second Monday of each month and membership meetings on the third Friday of each month. The chartered installation of officers banquet was held in September 1999 at Marios in Detroit. Forty members were chartered into the club.

One of the first things Jehovah Optimists did was to adopt the William Davison Elementary School. Members were involved with tutoring services, collecting winter clothing for students, supporting the school financially when needed, and supporting the school’s Micro Society program which mimics today’s business environment.

Greater Northeast Optimist Club is involved in other projects such as Respect for Law, Oratorical and Essay contest, Tri-Star Basketball, Job Readiness Training, Summer Work Program, Christmas Caroling at nursing homes, collecting caps for the Armanos Cancer Institute.

In addition, the club collaborates with programs sponsored by Oasis of Hope Christian Church (formerly known as Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church), which have been in existence for the past several years. Those activities include Teen Ministry, Basketball Ministry and Hallelujah Night (an alternative Halloween program for the youth) to service the church as well as the community. Also, the Club in conjunction with the Church has started a Tutorial Program to assist students in the church and the surrounding community in reading, math and to encourage better study habits.

The Club formally began providing youth employment in northeast Detroit and Hamtramck in June 1999. The program expanded in 2000 to include career exploration, job readiness and paid work experiences for 20-25 youth. The program was funded by Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church. These youth provided landscaping and lawn services for elderly residents in the community for four weeks.

In June 2002, the Jehovah Optimist Club obtained a grant from the Work Alternative Youth Program to provide summer employment to youths in the northeast Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck communities. With the grant money, it was able to provide 18 youths with jobs at various sites for over two months. The work sites included Highland Park Schools, Detroit Medical Center, Davison Elementary School, Detroit Advantage Academy and the Detroit Nursing Commission. This project was most rewarding because we were able to provide job training, develop interpersonal skills, lectures, presentations by a variety of positive career role models, and offer real life business experience.

In order to operate the club successfully, we have had many fundraisers such as candy sales, a bowl-a-rama, and theater parties that have brought financial assistance to promote the many youth programs.

Greater Northeast Optimist Club has embraced the Mission of the Optimist International Foundation, “To develop optimism as a philosophy of life. To promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs to inspire respect for the law; to promote patriotism and work for international accord and friendship among all people; to aid and encourage the development of youth in the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well being of human kind in community life and the world.” Consistent with it’s Mission of “Surrounding Our Community With Love” and its motto “A Friend of Youth”. The Greater Northeast Optimist Club continues to provide services to the youths in the community.