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Newport Optimist Club Keeps It Positive and Committed

The Newport Optimist Club has been in existence since 1925 and its sole mission is to bring out the best in kids. To that end, the club provides youth-centered support in the form of financial assistance and community service.

"We are about 30 members strong," said Tete Turner, President of the Newport Optimist Club. "We try to do about 12 events yearly, with the whole purpose of supporting the youth in the city. We have no paid members, so all of our money goes to recognize and support the young people in the city."

Their spaghetti dinner, held this year on April 30 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., is their biggest fundraiser.

"This is our only true fundraiser," said Tess Hollingsworth, co-­treasurer and secretary for the organization. "We don't make a lot of money and we tend to spend triple what we bring in, thanks to private donations, but the spaghetti dinner is something people actually look forward to. We still charge $7 for adults and $3 for children. We always hold it at St. John's United Church of Christ at Park and Nelson Place, and the chefs at the Pepper Pod restaurant still cook the meatballs and sauce."

The Newport Optimist Club meets every Tuesday at the Pepper Pod restaurant on Monmouth Street beginning at noon and ending by 1 p.m. Anyone who would like to be a part of the Optimists Club can come to the meetings or can call Tess Hollingsworth at 513-­289-­4853. According to Turner, the club has five different dues structures, so most everyone can join. He said even pessimists can come, and usually they end up changing their attitudes.

"We have two members who have been in the club for over 40 years, 2 that have been members for over 30 years and two more who have been in club for over 20 years," Hollingsworth explained. "We could really use more members. It is a big commitment, but it shows that you really care, and that you believe in your community. I moved here six years ago and was looking for a constructive way to do something worthwhile for the community and Tete steered me to the Optimist club."

Some of the activities of the Optimist Club include a community basketball event called "Pass, Dribble, and Shoot" for Newport Middle School and Holy Trinity school with awards for participation and athletic skills, and scholarships and other monetary awards for academic success and community service at every parochial and public school in the city of Newport. Last Christmas marked the fourth year of a program called shop with an optimist, where twelve to fifteen kids are allowed to spend $200 on themselves and their families. The optimists support the Newport swim team called the Penguins, collect aluminum cans, help ring the Salvation army bell at Christmas time, and visit classrooms to talk about optimism. They have donated money to Newport Middle school so that their trip to Washington, DC didn't cost so much and more students could afford to go. They paid for kindergarten classes to go to the zoo, and sponsor essay contests for students.

The Optimist Club has a creed that members try to live by. It includes things like being so strong that nothing disturbs your peace of mind, and talking health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. It also states making all your friends feel that there is something special in them, and counsels looking at the sunny side of things to help make your optimism come true. It tells members to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble. With by laws that counsel so much optimism, it is no wonder they do such good things for the community.

"My favorite part of the creed is that you spend so much time in the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others," Tete said. "It is worth spending a minute thinking about it."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

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