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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Optimist Club has strong roots

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

(Photo)
Past presidents, current presidents, and soon-to-be presidents of Brazil's Breakfast Optimist Club. From Left: Bill Morthland, former president; Kenneth Turner, former president; Rita Rothrock, former president; Vickie Lawhorn, incoming president; Judy Tribble, current president; Frank Peebles, former president and founding member; and Ray Dennany, former president.

Note: This report is the first in a series on local service clubs. If you are a member of a service club in Brazil, please e-mail Evan Wade .

And to think, it all started because of a commute to Terre Haute.

Welcome to the Breakfast Optimist Club, a group of 50 members. Known mostly for their Clothe-a-Child program, the club has been in Brazil for "13 or 14 years," according to Brazil chapter founder Frank Peebles.

"I attended the Optimist Club meetings in Terre Haute years ago, when I worked there," Peebles said. "I took a job at a bank here in Brazil and they didn't like me commuting to Terre Haute every week to attend a club, so I just started one here."

Peebles has recruited "over 100 members" to the Brazil branch and others, and has served as President of many of the same chapters.

Marion "Sarge" Eveland, one of the Brazil chapter's charter members and unofficial spokesman for the group, finds speakers for the club's Sunday breakfasts and is generally a well-known name around the community.

"We try to help everyone with different projects," he said. "And we never do anything for one person. It's always groups."

The group's motto, "Friend of Youth," reflects the B.O.C.'s involvement with children of the community. They host several events, including an annual golf scramble and the previously mentioned Clothe-a-Child program. One of their more popular programs, the Respect for Law Camp, sends several grade school students to learn about police officers, their work, and their technology.

Though he has accomplished quite a bit through his work in the Optimist Club, Peebles struggles to recall an event he remembers more fondly than others.

"Years ago we got some money and built the Staunton ball park," Peebles said, when asked what accomplishment he was the proudest of. "The shelter, playground, ball diamond... we did the whole thing out there. I guess I'm pretty proud of that."

Far and away, the Optimist Club's biggest event of the year is their Clothe-a-Child program. Every year around Christmas, the group spends approximately $10 thousand to clothe needy children in the community.

"We get a list of children from the churches, and then service clubs in the community divide the names up," President Judy Tribble said. "It's our biggest event of the year. We do other stuff, but that's what we're best known for."

The club's smaller endeavors include selling poinsettias, 3 by 5 flags, and food and drinks at area festivals. This year they will be selling caramel apples at the Popcorn Festival.

Optimist International, their parent group, does some work with singular subjects as well, providing trips for children diagnosed with cancer to a summer camp. Additionally, they participate in the "pop tab" program, with proceeds going to Riley Children's hospital.

"We haven't got a lot of the big stuff like that nailed down yet," Tribble said, referring to the Brazil chapter. "It takes quite a bit of money to send a kid to that camp. We're hoping to in the future, though, definitely."

The club, which meets at the American Legion every Sunday morning to have breakfast and listen to a speaker, has "12 or 13" charter members, according to Eveland. Tribble says that she enjoys the work that she does with the club for various reasons:

"I enjoy the social aspect of it," she explained. "And I love helping kids. I have four kids of my own so I know how it is."

Eveland enjoys it too, but maybe for more reasons than he lets on.

"I'm just a go-getter," he said.



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