By Mike Pearson, News staff
One of Stoney Creek’s best-known service clubs has turned 60.
Since 1954, the Optimist Club of Stoney Creek has become synonymous with little league baseball and youth sports. Each year in August, club members serve up mouth-watering poutine, German sausage and sub sandwiches at the Winona Peach festival. Stoney Creek’s Optimist Little League is named in the club’s honour and the club’s meeting hall sits in the centre of the Stoney Creek Optimist baseball Park.
Its motto is Friend of Youth, but the club’s activities also include food bank fundraisers, like the annual Ham Roll.
The club received its charter on May 12, 1954. With 45 current members, it’s still thriving today. The Stoney Creek club has since outlived the Grimsby Optimist Club which sponsored Stoney Creek’s original charter.
“It’s been a very successful club,” said Al Wood, secretary of the Optimist Club of Stoney Creek. “The focus is supporting youth in the community. Basically, we do fundraising projects to raise money so we can turn that back into different organizations.”
With more than 275 little league registrants, the Stoney Creek Optimist Little League (SCOLL) has outgrown its surroundings at Little League Park. The organization now uses diamonds in Binbrook and at Cherry Heights Park.
Along with providing financial support to SCOLL, the Optimists have assisted with major ball diamond improvements at Optimist Park. A new scoreboard is set to be installed this year thanks to a Heritage Green Community Trust grant. The park also features an outdoor basketball court. SCOLL hosted the 1990 Canadian Little League championships.
This Wednesday, May 28, the club welcomes the community to an open house event at the Optimist hall at 890 Queenston Rd. The informal evening will feature a dinner buffet, a slide show of memories and speeches from club representatives. The event begins at 7 p.m. and all are welcome.
Along with little league baseball, the Optimist club has sponsored a variety of youth sports as well as secondary school bursaries. Each year, the club sponsors about six students to attend the Central Ontario Youth Leadership Seminar, a leadership camp for Grade 10 students.
The club meets at Optimist Hall on the second Wednesday of each month, excluding July, to enjoy a catered meal and listen to presentations from various guest speakers.