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Group sees proverbial glass as half full

POULSBO — A new chapter of Optimist International has started right here in Poulsbo, and it’s gearing up to make a difference.

They call themselves the North Kitsap Optimist Club, and chartered May 30 with 29 members already on the roster. With a call to serving local youth in any way they can, members of the club are now planning future events designed to encourage optimism in children as a healthy state of mind.

“Our primary focus is to bring out the best in youth,” said club president Adele Heinrich. “We go out into the community and help kids wherever needed.”

Following Optimist International’s mission of providing hope and positive vision, the club will hold its first garage sale fund raiser Aug. 4 in the Prudential Real Estate parking lot at State Route 305 and Lincoln Road. Proceeds will go toward future youth services, including a kids’ kite flying day and college scholarships to be awarded to winners of oratory and essay contests.

Heinrich said the club plans to work with the North Kitsap School Board to facilitate opportunities for its members to mentor, read and have lunch with students.

“Working with the school board is our main goal,” she said. “It’s spending time with a kid who doesn’t have parents to spend time with them. It’ll be on an individual basis.”

The club’s leaders met with Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade to determine which youth needs were should be addressed first. Heinrich, who’s been a member of the Optimist Club in Portland, Ore. for 15 years, said it was the value of what the organization did for kids that first led her to join. Now she looks forward to the possibility of starting a junior optimist club in the area next year.

“We have fun, do a lot of fun things,” Heinrich said. “We’re like a Rotary club or Kiwanis. We have a really interesting mix of people. It’s a good thing.”

The North Kitsap Optimist Club’s current members include an attorney, a teacher, a few retirees and bankers, and a real estate agent, among others, Heinrich said. They meet at 7 p.m. every first and third Wednesday of the month at the Poulsbo Inn. Membership fees are $65 per year, with a $15 signup fee.

“We need people to join, be involved,” Heinrich said. “New members are welcome to come.”

The next meeting of the North Kitsap Optimist Club will be held July 18. For more information, visit www.optimist.org.

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