Optimist Club of Copperas Cove celebrates organization’s 100th year
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Optimist Club of Copperas Cove held a celebration 100 years in the making at the club’s thrift store in Cove Terrace Shopping Center on Friday morning.
The celebration began with a short ceremony, attended by members of the community along with Coryell County commissioners Kyle Matthews (Precinct 1) and Ray Ashby (Precinct 4), and Maureen Jouett, director of Bring Everyone In The Zone, which provides support to veterans along with peer-to-peer groups, one of which meets at the club’s thrift store.
Sandor Vegh, president of the Optimist Club of Copperas Cove, shared about the history of the Optimist Club, an international organization which began in 1919. The national celebration will take place in Louisville, Kentucky, Vegh said. He added that the Copperas Cove club had its start at a gathering in former city councilman Willie Goode’s backyard.
Vegh has been a member of the club in Copperas Cove for at least 16 years, and said that the focus of the club began with childhood cancer. Then the organization decided to expand support to include childhood health and wellness, with several offshoots from that.
Vegh said childhood health and wellness includes childhood obesity, healthy eating, physical fitness, healthy heart, and more. The other element of health and wellness focusses on chronic diseases, among them childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and sickle cell anemia. Another aspect is focusing on mental health awareness, such as depression, bullying, and abuse.
“I think our club has jumped a little bit ahead of this, when before a couple years ago we did bullying (prevention),” Vegh said. “Susan (Ayres) was the brainchild of it. We had a sessions at the library and at the Boys & Girls Club.”
Vegh said that annually, the Copperas Cove club gives about $20,000 to local organizations such as Cove House, McLane’s Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network, as well as the Copperas Cove Public Library’s summer reading program. Funds are raised via the thrift store.
Susan Ayres has been a member of the club since 2013 and presently serves as the group’s secretary. She said she came on board with the Optimist Club when stopping by its thrift store to do an interview for a news article and noticed the store didn’t have many volunteers.
Ayres, a former educator and a member of the Copperas Cove Library’s Friends of the Library, said the part of the club that she enjoys the most is seeing how it helps children with the summer reading program.
“I’m excited about doing this program. We’ve been able to buy books. We also help with the Crossroads Book Bin (at Crossroads High School,” Ayres said. Also, when groups discard books, the club collects them and distributes them places like the VA Hospital.
Many of the club’s initiatives mesh well with other areas where she volunteers, such as with the Noon Exchange Club and its focus of child abuse prevention.
The Optimist Club Thrift Store is always in need of volunteers and those who would like information on volunteering can stop by the store on Friday or Saturday, or call Sandor Vegh at 254-290-8791.