Golfing for Summit County’s youth
Summit Lake Dillon Optimist Club, which provides free programming for Summit County children, hosted an annual charity golf tournament June 18.
By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Summit Lake Dillon Optimist Club
Every year, the Summit Lake Dillon Optimist Club has just one chance to raise enough money to cover its annual programming for local youth: its Summer Solstice Golf Tournament.
Golf foursomes tee off to pay for things like the club’s girls’ volleyball program, elementary chess clubs, Summit Middle School Recognition Program and Outstanding 5th and 8th Grade Students program, to name a few.
“We provide different opportunities — some athletic, some academic — in an effort to provide safe places for children to participate in activities that help them develop into good citizens and hopefully community leaders,” said Edward Casias, former president of the club. “One thing we really think is important as a club is to keep kids positively engaged.”
The fundraiser is also an opportunity to remind community members, many of whom may be new parents or new to Summit County, of the club’s free activities.
“We want to spread the word as to what Optimists do,” Casias said.
Free to all participants
All children who participate in Optimist Club programs do not have to pay for these services. Everything is covered by the organization, free of charge to families.
“We want children to be able to participate regardless of whether they can afford it,” he said. “We want everyone to have the same opportunities.”
This is no small feat considering there are more than 100 children in the chess program, about 450 in basketball and nearly 100 volleyball players.
Many programs are offered for elementary and middle school students, but some of the programs — such as the oratorical and essay program — reach older students in high school. Casias said last year, a high school student won a regional contest that earned her a $25,000 scholarship from the Colorado/Wyoming Optimist District.
A commitment to local youth
The Optimist International creed is “Friends of Youth,” Casias said. The organization’s longstanding commitment to the communities it serves is to encourage children to be positive, productive citizens.
“A lot of times, I think these activities allow them to interact not only with their friends, but with other individuals in their school they might not ordinarily get to know,” he said. “These kids engage with each other for a sense of community, and while doing that, they’re given a venue to either exercise their brains or exercise their bodies.”
In Summit County, the club has been providing this service to local youth for more than 43 years. Historically, athletics were a big focus, but some athletic programs — such as baseball and soccer — grew too large to remain under the club’s direction.
The club also has some unique programming that recognizing kids who go above and beyond in areas such as academics and community service. Casias said these programs help kids understand that people other than their parents are appreciative of their work and achievements. It also encourages community members to become involved with the club.
“Our meetings are the first and third Tuesday of every month, at 7:30 a.m. in the hobby room of the Community and Senior Center,” Casias said. “They’re open to the public — we’d love for anyone who’s interested in volunteering with us to become a member.”
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