Sanibel – Captiva Optimist Club – “Friend of Youth”
The Sanibel – Captiva Optimist Club is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit voluntary organization of civic-minded men and women banded together for service to the youth of this community. Optimist International is an association of more than 2,900 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to “Bringing Out the Best in Kids.”
SANIBEL CAPTIVA OPTIMIST CLUB HISTORY
The Optimist Club of Sanibel Captiva was chartered on September 30th 1997 with 37 members. The first President was Michelle Moran. Charter members included Author and Realtor Charles Sobczak and Nola Theiss, the latter leaving the club when she became Mayor of Sanibel. Two active charter members are John Basher, Treasurer and Richard McCurry, Vice President.
In July of 1998 the Club took over the July 4th Road Rally from the Chamber of Commerce. The Rally was in its 38th year in 2016 and is the longest continuing 4th of July tradition on Sanibel.
In December 1998 our Optimist Club Foundation 501 (c) (3) was established. During the 1998/1999 year the Junior Optimist Club was also founded.
During the 2000/2001 year we held our first unique fund raiser – the “Be a Cop at the 4-way Stop”. The Sanibel School Principal, Barbara Von Harten, directed traffic in a Dr. Seuss hat. We began our support of the Recreation Center’s Summer Friday lunch program and issued our first two four-year college scholarships.
In 2003 we joined with the City of Sanibel in sponsoring the City Golf Championship at Beachview Country Club. We ran the Tournament for the following two years.
On June 30, 2007 The Club held its second unique-to-Sanibel fund Raiser- a contest to be “the last person to raise the Sanibel Draw Bridge prior to opening the new fixed Causeway Bridge.”
On December 13, 2008 our first Winter Wine Festival was held at the Dunes Golf Club. Each following year it is now our Wine & Food Fest at Lilly & Co.
In December 2009 we held our first “Island Temptations Dine Around” raffle.
In addition to our various sponsored CHR activities in the past, it appears our first “Back-to-School Backpack” program support was in August 2010.
Beginning in 2010 we held the “Wave of Hope Walk” at West Wind Inn in support of Kids Cancer Care. The following three years the successor program “The Jingle Bell Walk” was held at Bowman’s Beach with F.I.S.H. (Friends In Service Here) being the recipient of our charity support for local youth.
Subsequently at the Sanibel Recreation Center (REC) we have started the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club Youth Basketball program, a fishing program “Junior Anglers,” and the REC Center Archery programs.
In November 2016 we instituted the first annual Sanibel Blues and Jazz Fest, supported by Bailey’s General Store, and benefitting Sanibel Community Housing and Resources, the Ding Darling Wildlife Society, and the club’s charitable funds.
Become a member of the club
We encourage people to become a part of our organization, to participate in activities, spread awareness and support the needs of children and young adults in our community.