Optimist Club Ice Cream Social sounds great
Since the late Ralph Godzicki founded the Optimist Club of Deerfield in 1972, the group has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to people and organizations throughout the village.
It's contributed to the Deerfield Park District, to the West Deerfield Township Food Pantry, to Deerfield High School athletics, to local charities and, through scholarships, to Deerfield High seniors who themselves perform community service.
"It serves people by providing programs directly to children," said Ronald Schwartz, the club's president since 2018 and an Optimist Club of Deerfield member since 2013.
"Right now our centerpiece is an essay contest for special needs students," he said.
A commendable effort, and one people may learn more about during a celebration of the club's 50th anniversary, an Ice Cream Social from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Jewett Park Pavilion, 836 Jewett Park Drive.
Along with the main event -- we're talking ice cream treats -- Deerfield residents are invited to a family friendly event that will offer music and games, raffle prizes, gift cards to local stores, and a certificate for a Christmas tree.
Christmas tree sales, which the club started in 1978, are the Deerfield club's main fundraiser. After a COVID pause in 2020, last year the Optimist Club sold all 425 Fraser firs it had on sale at the lot at the north end of Jewett Park.
This is not unusual.
"The lot almost always sells out," said Schwartz, a retired employment lawyer.
Optimist International, founded in 1919 in Louisville, Kentucky, is a service organization with more than 2,500 clubs and 80,000 members around the world. The "Optimist Creed" is a series of statements that, would they be universally adopted, would make things a whole lot easier.
Such as: "To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best."
That attitude is then put into service to, as the club stated, "help children develop to their full potential."
The Optimist Club of Deerfield meets at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Scrambled restaurant, 660 Lake-Cook Road; and at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month at various locations.
Meetings will also occur over Zoom, a layover from the COVID pandemic that continues to affect the club. Before the pandemic, Schwartz said, events such as the club's essay contest recognition dinner at Deerfield High School had up to 350 people attend.
"Frankly, we're trying to regroup, as COVID becomes manageable," Schwartz said. "It had a big impact on our ability to deliver programs and keep our membership growing because we couldn't meet in person for about a year."
People can find out more about the Optimist Club of Deerfield at deerfieldoptimist.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, they can visit the Ice Cream Social.
"New members are very important to us," Schwartz said. "We'd love for them to come to the Ice Cream Social and check us out and enjoy some ice cream."
The Jewett Park Pavilion is covered, so regardless of some rain predicted for Sunday, Schwartz is not that concerned. If terrible weather were to preclude a gathering, the club would work with the Park District to reschedule.
But the Optimist Club president doesn't think like that.
"We try to bring out optimistic points of view to what we do," Schwartz said. "Maybe that's why we haven't planned a rain date."