An end of an era; thank you Optimists

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The difficulty of service organizations to maintain, let alone grow, membership is cause for pessimism about our country’s state of affairs.
Don’t tell that to the Breakfast Optimist Club of Belen, even though that once-thriving local service club is disbanding after more than 34 years.
The numbers of members are just too few to even bother having weekly meetings.
That is a shame, for the organization is a good one, not just for its pledge to hope and positive vision, but for the good works it does on behalf of children in the communities it serves.
One of the projects that the Breakfast Optimist Club has been doing is honoring students on a monthly basis for what they do academically and in their community. That project now will go by the wayside, as will sponsorship of the Respect for Law Enforcement, the Fishing Jamborie, the Breakfast with Santa and the annual essay and oratorical contests.
In the end, the Breakfast Optimist Club, which once boasted well over 50 members, was down to just a handful of volunteers. So strong were the Optimists in Belen in the past that there were three clubs — a breakfast, noon and an evening group.
The Optimists are not alone. While other service organizations continue, membership is a challenge for them all.
They have fallen victim to aging membership without young members joining the ranks. For whatever reason, volunteerism, at least when it comes to service clubs, has declined.
People are busy — too busy, unfortunately, for service sometimes.
People also are less engaged in their communities. The disconnect also shows in volunteerism elsewhere, such as interest in local government and school boards, consumption of local media and voting.
Maybe generation “Y” will change all that. They say this newest generation, in its mid-20s and younger, is more like the World War II generation — more interested in service, volunteerism and making the world better.
If that is the case, we can all be optimistic about the future.
And so let the story of the Breakfast Optimists Club of Belen be cause not for resignation, but for more of us to volunteer to serve. A local service club is a good place to start.
We give our thanks, our gratitude to the Breakfast Optimist Club of Belen for all they have done and for the legacy they leave behind. They have positively affected hundreds, maybe thousands, of our children and our community.
And for those last remaining active members, Jack Fink, president; Sallie Rizzo, secretary; Cindy Clark, secretary; past presidents Cortez Kibble, the longest serving active member, Patsy Torres and Dave Klukas, we want you to know that your service, your enthusiasm and your dedication has not gone unnoticed.
You are a rare bunch. You are volunteers who have given years of your lives to encouraging our youth and making a difference. We, the community, are indebted to your service.
While the Breakfast Optimist Club of Belen is no longer, it’s fair to say that we’re all so much better that you were here.