A new club in Waukee aims to help youth throughout the community.


“I think it has the potential to make a difference where people don’t recognize there may be more of a need in Waukee, such as providing food to more children or even partnering with other organizations to make a bigger impact,” International President of Optimist International Rebecca Butler Mona said of the Waukee Optimist Club.


The Waukee chapter held its first official meeting on Monday, Sept. 9. As a chapter of Optimist International, members of the new club will work to help a variety of youth programs throughout the local community. These programs could impact athletics, scholarships or even childhood health and wellness. The Waukee Chapter will also provide opportunities for Junior Optimists, an active youth service organization for high school aged students and younger.


Optimist Clubs first came together in the early 1900s. From there the organization grew to include over 2,500 chapters that complete around 65,000 community service projects each year. Today, Optimist International is considered a worldwide volunteer organization that not only focuses on children but also the communities around them.


“As optimists we are always looking for ways to expand our positive impact. In addition to inviting people to our own club, we look for other communities that would be benefitted by bringing in a new club,” Butler Mona said. “As much as Waukee is growing, it seemed like a great place to approach and see if there would be interest.”


For some, the Optimist Club provides the perfect opportunity help support the community around them.


“The first reason that I was drawn to the club was the word Optimist in their name,” Waukee Optimist Club Member Billie Reed said. “I personally attempt to live my life daily with a positive attitude and make an effort to share that with everyone that I come in contact with.”


For others, the club is a way to once again become involved with local volunteer organizations.


“Throughout my time in college I worked on numerous projects such as Best Buddies, Dance Marathon, as well as helped Opportunity on Deck grow. I love volunteering and helping kids so I thought this would be a good way to do that after college,” Waukee Optimist Club Member Chase Erickson said.


Fellow member Randy Lovell added that while his three children were growing up, he volunteered with their school and sports activities.


“But since they have grown, I miss helping kids out,” Lovell said.


To help start the Waukee Chapter, informational meetings were held throughout the community at the library, farmer’s market and YMCA. The Waukee community needed at least 15 members for the new club. Officers were also elected as part of the Sept. 9 meeting.


Officers elected to serve as the Board of Directors for the new Waukee Optimist Club include:President: Chase EricksonSecretary: Kathy MockTreasurer: Mary SecressVice Presidents: Billie Reed, Jim AdamsDirectors: Evelyn Graff, Michelle Scranton, Janelle Martens, Katie RitzmanAdditional charter members: Brenda Jackson, Randy Lovell, Cal Oral, Cassie Meylor Lourens, Gareth Lourens, Kathy Ford, Sonja Coobs


“What’s really neat to see is it ranging from people just out of college to parents with children in school to people who are retired. So, I’m really excited about its potential,” Butler Mona said of the new chapter.


The Waukee Optimist Club will meet the third Wednesday evening of each month at 7 p.m. at Thomas Place. Those interested in learning more about the Optimist Club and how to join the Waukee Chapter can visit the Waukee Optimist Club on Facebook.