LAURINBURG — The Optimist Club of Laurinburg, welcomed new officers and announced plans to increase membership for the coming year.
During the 54th Annual Spouses Night and Installation Banquet on Monday, Optimist Club members and their guests enjoyed a few laughs while announcing awards and its new executive board. Ten of the 13 new officers were sworn into the club in front of the crowd of 50. They are Randy Johnson, president; Bill Carmichael, president-elect; Steve Cole, past president; Jerry Riggins, internal vice president; Wayne Sparkman, external vice president; Bear Hughes, secretary; Mark Ward, treasurer; and Eric Byrd, Brooks Baines, Tommy Brigman, Chuck Witmore, Carles Todd, Boyd McLaurin as directors.
“It’s been a great year, we had a great year of fundraising and all of our projects went really well,” said Cole, the outgoing club president. “This club is all about spreading optimism and we like when people stick with it.”
The club awarded the Life Member Award to David Breeden for longevity in the club. In recognition for Breeden’s faithful service, he was announced exempt from monthly dues.
“It’s been a quick 30 years,” Breeden said. “It seems like it was just yesterday I was sworn into the club.”
Tommy Brigman was named Optimist of the Year. That award is given in recognition for exceptional and extraordinary contributions during the past year.
The Riggins-Quick Eagle Award went to club member Brooks Baines for “long-standing, faithful, and extraordinary service” to the club.
Optimist International is a worldwide volunteer organization made up of more than 2,500 local clubs whose motto is ‘friend to youth.’
“Too many kids do not get the love they need at home, too many kids are on drugs, too many kids need a second chance, too many kids need a pat on the back, a scholarship, a positive day in their lives and someone to say I care,” said District 18 Gov. Al Ludlum. “The more members we have, the more kids we can serve.”
The first Optimist Club was formed in 1911 in Buffalo, New York. The Laurinburg club has been around for 54 years.
“When your club was formed it was created with high ideal, it was established to promote the purpose of our organization and all that it symbolizes,” Optimist Lt. Gov. Phil Best said at Monday’s dinner. “This club is here to accelerate academics, government, participate in community service activities and encourage all activities that benefit the youth of our nation.”
Officials said the district will be turning 100 in four years and set a goal to reach 100,000 members by the time it hits a century.
“Look around this room, there’s a lot of bald-headed and gray-headed men,” Cole said humorously. “Guys, we’re aging quick, and it’s s a great thing, but we need more millennials in here.”
The club welcomed seven new members this year, but they hope to at least double that number by next year.
“I would like each of you to select your bat, step up to the plate, wait for your pitch and get a hit,” Cole said. “It doesn’t have to be a home run, just serve your goals in your club.”
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.