You can’t have too much optimism these days, and three local service clubs are reaching to find some more of our community’s optimists.   That’s why the Battle Creek, Harper Creek, and Pennfield Optimist Clubs are holding a “New Optimist Welcome” (NOW) Rally for Optimism on Thursday, June 10th at Leila Arboretum.

Bob Zuhl, a pastor for more than 65 years, joined the Battle Creek Optimist Club 45 years ago.  “I wanted to be a part of the community,” remembers Zuhl.  “I had church and that was growing and everything but I wanted to be a part of what was happening in the community.   The club was an opportunity to be more informed, to relate to some different people, and develop some different friendships.”

Mike Olsen, who retired after a career in law enforcement, joined the Harper Creek Optimist Club seven years ago.” I became interested in it when I saw all the things that they did, not only for kids but for the whole community as well. “   One of those things is the huge undertaking of organizing the annual Battle Creek Christmas Parade.   “That's a big one,” said Olsen.  “But we do so many different programs for the kids and the schools too.   With my former line of work, it just seemed like kind of a natural draw.

So what is the stated purpose of Optimist Clubs?

  • 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 humankind, the community, and the world.

The area clubs have posted a little more about what they stand for, on their Facebook pages.

 “Optimists are people with a purpose. We volunteer our time to bring out the best in youth through sports, the arts, STEM, and literacy programs. We coach. We believe. We challenge youth and ourselves to be our personal best.”

The local clubs typically meet once a week, but members are encouraged to just come when they can.   The Battle Creek group meets at lunchtime.   The Harper Creek and Pennfield groups meet in the early evening.

Thursday’s Rally for Optimism is a chance to learn more about Optimist Clubs, and having all of the local groups come together is something different.  “This is a new adventure,” said Zuhl.  “We're being told that the Battle Creek area clubs are one of the first to do a combined or collaborative event like this.”

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The Michigan Optimists governor will be at the Arboretum on Thursday, along with the governor-elect for next year. 

“Time is very valuable, so we don't want to take a lot of it,” said Zuhl.  “But we do want to share optimism and we do want to share information about the three clubs, where people are always welcome.   I don't think people realize what these three clubs--Pennfield, Harper Creek, and Battle Creek do. It's exciting to see the tremendous projects and the impact they make with kids projects, scholarships and activities, and so on.”

We asked former pastor Zuhl, “If a cranky pessimist shows up Thursday, will you try to turn them and set them on the right path?  After all, it’s always been your job, right?

“It really has,” said Zuhl.  “I can't get away from it.

  • Who:  The Battle Creek, Harper Creek, and Pennfield Optimist Clubs
  • What:  New Optimist Welcome (NOW) Rally for Optimism
  • When: Thursday, June 10th, 5 pm-7 pm
  • Where: Leila Arboretum, 928 West Michigan, Battle Creek
  • Why:  To invite new members and let the community know what Optimist Clubs do


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