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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Optimist Club recognizes outstanding area youth during annual appreciation dinner

Pictured are the nearly 50 young individuals who were recognized for their altruism and leadership skills during the Essex Optimist Club’s Youth Appreciation Dinner, held at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) on the evening of Tuesday, April 16.

by Sylene Argent

The importance of giving back to the community, lending a hand when needed, and taking pride in one’s hometown are not lost notions to the nearly 50 youths the Essex Optimist Club recognized during its annual Youth Appreciation Dinner last Tuesday evening.

  Every year, the Essex Optimist Club connects with area service clubs, Cubs and Girl Guide programs, WETRA, churches, schools, sports organizations, the Essex Area Food Bank, and other service organizations to learn what youth members of the community have contributed in a big way over the past year.

Pictured are some of the local dignitaries, service club members, emergency responders, and members of Town staff, who volunteered to serve the meal during the Youth Appreciation Dinner last Tuesday evening.

  The young honourees were warmly welcomed to the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, which was brightly decorate with blue and gold balloons and place-settings that noted the youths being recognized are stars.

  Essex Optimist member, Sandy Larivee, emceed the event. She took the time to read a brief biography of each youth recognized to note why there were nominated for the prestigious award. Though each youth had contributed to their communities in different ways, there were noticeable strings of similarity between all those recognized, including that these youth have taken on leadership roles, achieved greatness, demonstrated altruism, and made a positive difference through their friendly nature.

  Though the nearly 50 youths recognized demonstrated those similar qualities, they all made those accomplishments in different ways, like through volunteering, helping others in need, sharing, caring, and doing their best to encourage others.

  “Aren’t those stories amazing,” Larivee said after recognizing all of the honourees. She hoped the youths would continue to volunteer their time to better their communities.

  As the former Executive Director of the Essex Youth Centre, Larivee said she was able to hire many young people over those years for summer jobs. One of the main points she looked at when going through resumes was their volunteer record.

  As a show of appreciation for all the positive things these outstanding youths have contributed back to their communities, local emergency responders, firefighters, police officers, service club members, and local dignitaries served them their dinner.  

  During the event, Larivee also presented a cheque to Essex (M) OPP Community Policing Constable Sarah Werstein on behalf of the Essex Optimist Club, which will go to support the Values, Influences, and Peers programs she is teaching to area grade six classes.

  “We are honoured to support the VIP program,” Larivee said.


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