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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Optimist Club recognizes outstanding youth

by Garrett Fodor 

The Essex Area Optimist Club hosted its ninth annual Youth Appreciation Awards event last Tuesday evening at the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201), Essex. The event is hosted to bring various community group and service clubs together to recognize outstanding youth members for their civic contributions. 

  This year’s edition of the event honoured 47 youths. Each recipient received a personal nomination from a local organization for their community involvement. 

The Youth Appreciation Awards included a dinner. Local first responders and politicians put aside their regular duties for the evening to serve the tables of honourees.

  Rick Bonneau, a member of the Optimist Club and a local firefighter, commented the youth who were recognized during the event make the community proud. “They give so much and they are so young. They’ve chosen the right path. This event gets bigger every year. It’s amazing. I’ve been a part of it for nine years.” 

  Maria Giolarndo, who was recently named Miss Canada and is a chairperson for the Optimist Club in St. Clair Beach, was a special guest at the event. Giolarndo was on hand to present each youth with their awards with the help of Sandy Larviee, member of the Essex Optimist Club.

  Giolarndo said the Miss Canada title was just the beginning for what she has in store. “I plan on traveling Canada, spreading our [the Optimist Club’s] vision and message of positivity and kindness to others. I hope to move up the spectrum of the Optimist Club and continue chairing events.

  “I’m very proud of my community, these are the future leaders and this is what I hope to do, inspire others,” Giolarndo commented. 

  Giolarndo and Larviee both reiterated the welcomed involvement in the Optimist Clubs. The Clubs are responsible for organizing various events for youths and families throughout their communities. For more information on the Essex Optimist Club or how to get involved, contact Sandy Larviee at 


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