The Greater Jacksonville Optimist Club, Inc.

Twenty-Five Years of Service to Youth and the Jacksonville Community

September 19, 1984 - September 19, 2009


    One evening in 1984, a telephone rang on Sunnyview Drive in Phoenix, MD. The caller asked, "How would you like to start a new Optimist Club in Jacksonville?" The receiver of the call, Dave Ward, said, "Let's get together and talk about it." That call from a Timonium Optimist Club member started the process of finding men in the Jacksonville area interested in serving youth and their community.* 

    By September 19, 1984 the Greater Jacksonville Optimist Club was chartered with 55 members - all male. Three years later Optimist International updated their bylaws. Women were invited to join the organization and now play a vital role as members and officers. Over the past 20 years Greater Jacksonville Optimist Club meetings have been held in a variety of locations including the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Company, the Manor Tavern, St. John¹s Lutheran Church of Sweet Air, members' homes and Future Home, our current meeting place.

    Shortly after we received our charter, the club was invited to participate in the Jacksonville Independence Day Celebration. We began by organizing the Children¹s Bike Parade and selling food as a fundraiser. As the Independence Day Celebration grew and needed additional support, we accepted a more active role in sponsoring the Celebrations. July 2004 marked the 29th year for this successful and popular event.

     One of the club¹s earliest and longest running youth projects involved working with the teenage boys from a group home in Harford County called FACETS . Activities included playing softball, volleyball, Christmas dinners, baking cookies, kite flying and bike rides. When the FACETS home closed a few years ago, we moved on to work with the youth at the Villa Maria School. The club has organized lots of fun activities and recently opened a children¹s library at the school.

    The club also serves youth in the Jacksonville area through participation in many Optimist International sponsored programs: Youth Appreciation Week, Oratorical Contest, Essay Contest, Respect for Law, Junior Golf, and the Childhood Cancer Campaign. We annually sponsor a local
sophomore to attend the ³Hugh O¹Brian Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY).  Recently we worked together with other Optimist Clubs in Baltimore County developing an annual ³Shop With a Cop² project for needy children. And our members have provided food baskets and Christmas gifts for needy families in the area.

     In addition to serving our community, our members enjoy a variety of club social activities including an Annual Crab Feast and Family Picnic, parties to celebrate holidays, wine tasting, Orioles games, a boat ride and evenings at dinner theaters.

    As we reach our club's 25th anniversary, we are 54 members strong and look forward to many more years of service to youth and our community. We especially thank the members of the Timonium Optimist Club for their continued support and for inspiring us with their Optimism 25 years ago.

There had previously been an Optimist Club in the area until the 1970¹s.

Our 25th Anniversary Logo

Click here for the 25th Anniversary Slide Show Part 1 (slides 1-300)
Click here for the 25th Anniversary Slide Show Part 2 (slides 301-601)


Our 20th Anniversary Logo

Click here
for the 20th Anniversary Slide Show