- by Brooke Clifford, Coronado Eagle
- Dec 18, 2020 Updated Dec 18, 2020
Coronado has been home to a chapter of the Optimist International organization for 50 years. On Sept. 28, 1970 a group of 26 Coronadans, led by Dave Nash and the first president of the club, Tom Meadows, chartered the Optimist Club of Coronado to serve the community’s youth. Today the Optimist Club of Coronado continues in its mission with current president, Robert Kracht and current Club Representative to the District, Diana Drummey.
Coronado has been home to a chapter of the Optimist International organization for 50 years. On Sept. 28, 1970 a group of 26 Coronadans, led by Dave Nash and the first president of the club, Tom Meadows, chartered the Optimist Club of Coronado to serve the community’s youth.
Today the Optimist Club of Coronado continues in its mission with current president, Robert Kracht and current Club Representative to the District, Diana Drummey. Both longtime members of the chapter here in Coronado, Kracht and Drummey were drawn to club’s ideals and opportunities to serve in ways that bring people together. “The camaraderie; the fact that we are a community club that makes the children a priority. I believe that is what draws us together. Our Optimist Creed also inspires people and that is another draw for new members,” Drummey said.
Kacht was initially invited by his parents to join the Optimists, which he saw as a good fit then and has remained a good fit if his current position as president of the club is anything to go by. When it comes to his connection to the club, Kracht said of favorite part, “[it’s] helping our youth, but specifically having youth participants come in to our meetings to receive funding and/or make presentations to the Club.”
Since its inception, the Optimist Club of Coronado’s motto has been “Friend of Youth.” For decades members of the club have found ways to volunteer time and resources to youth events and causes. “The Optimist Clubs were established to help kids in need and over the years it has evolved into so many areas,” Drummey continued. “For example, childhood cancer; Scouts projects; sports, leadership, academic teams and groups; oratorical and essay contests.”
The Optimist Club of Coronado has ties with many of Coronado’s academic, athletic, and leadership programs for youth with liaisons for programs such as Sixth Grade Camp, Robotics clubs, sports teams, Boy and Girl Scout troops, annual essay contests, and more. “If you need people power to score, announce, handle a stop watch, or mark a track field,” Drummey told me, “we are your go to club!” This year also marked the 49th annual Oratory Contest held by the Optimist Club where ten students showcased their public speaking prowess imagining a world without borders. “I am always amazed at what great speakers these kids are. The topic changes each year, but the kids are so eloquent and professional when presenting their speech,” Drummey said of the competition.
Outside of such programs and organizations, the Optimist Club of Coronado also typically puts on a variety of events for the community throughout the year. “My favorite thing we do is the free Thanksgiving kids’ movie at Village [Theatre],” Kracht said. The event was one that had originally been started by the club in the 1950s and been picked back up by the club again in 2012 after the Village Theatre re-opened. Kids have been able to enjoy screenings of movies like “Frozen,” “The Grinch,” and “Arthur Christmas” on Thanksgiving morning. “[We were] not able to do it this past year, but are looking at outdoor alternatives when the weather warms up.”
As for Drummey, “I love the Sports Fiesta,” she told me. “It has also evolved over the years and has had different events different years.” Typically involving a 5K run, one mile swim, triathlon, and other sporting elements such as beach volleyball, the Sports Fiesta the club has organized is nationally recognized and is the longest, continuous running triathlon in the world. The club is hoping to be able to reinstate the event in 2021. In addition to these longtime favorite community activities are the Ciders & Snaps event at the Coronado Open House and Holiday Parade, an annual highway cleanup along the Strand, and volunteering with the Flower Show.
Despite the uncertainties provided by COVID-19 throughout the year, the Optimist Club of Coronado has remained true to their creed in retaining a strong and positive attitude in the face of hardships. According to Kracht, “The government’s response to COVID-19 has put substantial stress on service clubs. However, our District Governor informed me that our Club so far has handled things better than any other Club in our District.”
The members of the club have been able to maintain having weekly meetings with help from technology as well as find safe ways to support the community through these tough times. “We have weekly ZOOM meetings with guest speakers,” Kracht mentioned. “We have also adjusted by taking our gratitude for community support for our Club and turning that into a program to support local businesses with weekly dine in or take out. So far, we have done 28 such events.”
With four recent additions to the club’s members in Coronado and two more currently in the process of joining, the Optimists are looking to 2021 with hope and ever bigger numbers to achieve their goals of providing opportunities for youth to be their best and build community through positivity. To learn more about the Optimist Club of Coronado you can visit their website at https://www.optimistclubofcoronado.org/ or send an email about membership to Robert Kracht at firstname.lastname@example.org. The club is currently holding a special promotion for first responders, educators, and those under the age of 30 for a full year’s membership at 75% off when joining by Dec. 31.