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Wellesley Optimists support new sports pad, membership on the rise

Since its reformation in 2010, the Wellesley and District Optimist Club’s mandate has been to pursue projects benefiting youth in the community. The culmination of their most recent effort came on May 23 at a presentation at the Wellesley Community Centre, where interim president Wayne Kneisel made a donation towards the township’s multi-use sports pad.

The play area will be located at the Wellesley Community Centre grounds. Coun. Jim Olender, who accepted the $5,000 cheque on behalf of the township, told the club it would hopefully be completed be the end of June.

“Seven years ago when I got elected, as I did my canvassing, people were saying, ‘We’ve got nothing for the kids to do,’” said Olender. Congratulating the club for fulfilling its youth mandate, Olender added, “The vulnerable years are from 12 to 19. The kids have nothing to do. We need to work on giving these kids something to do in the community.”

Olender also called on the community to explore projects to benefit teenagers who are not interested in sports.

“We really need to look at that, and create something they can look forward to and occupy their time with. They’re not lucky like the kids in town who can hop on a bus and go to a show, or go to a club. Here, they’re stuck unless the parents are driving them all over the place.”

Concluding his remarks, Olender expressed gratitude for the Optimists’ role in the township. “Small communities like this really hinge on volunteers, because they’re the ones that drive whatever happens.”

Kneisel thanked charter president Matt Livingstone, past-president Paula Tweedle, past vice-president Bridget Diebold, and past secretary Andrea Seip for their fundraising efforts, and described the international organization as “a family.”

“I want to thank every member that was involved in raising these funds – people volunteering, trying to make life better for the youth in the community by many different facilities and different activities,” said Kneisel.

Also at last week’s meeting, the club welcomed Katie Byrd, Karen Heipel, Emma Foy, Marilyn Olender, and Tricia Chakraburtty as new members. An election for the next president will take place later this month.

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