Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Feb. 23


Posted Feb.6

Posted Dec. 16

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney






(Posted 7:30 a.m., June 7)
Blackburn Optimist Club a true asset to the community

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

By service club standards the Blackburn Optimist Club is a relatively small organization with just 34 members. But what the club lacks in size it's members make up for in their tremendous dedication to their community and the contribution they make to a variety of programs.

For instance, the club donates $2,000 every year to the Blackburn Fun Fair through money they raise at their weekly bingo at the Friends Bingo Hall in Vanier.

For a lot of people their only contact with the club is during the Blackburn Fun Fair where the club's members have been operating a fruit stand for the past 12 plus years.

The Fun Faiir purchases the fruit and then the Optimist club members spend hours cutting it and preparing little containers which they sold this year for $2 each.

"We keep the price as low as we can for the kids," says the club's treasurer Diane Charlebois. "It's nice to have something affordable that's also healthy."

During the Fun Fair, the Blackburn club gets help from Optimist clubs in Vanier and Beacon Hill. The extra manpower helps in preparing the fruit which is all seasonal.

The club and the stand is there for the kids and young families looking for a healthy alternative to hamburgers and hot dogs.

"A lot of people look for us now and new people at the fair appreciate we're there," says Charlebois.

The club provides a contribution to the Fun Fair for any of the fruit that is leftover which they then donate to the local food bank or other foor programs.

Besides the Blackburn Fun Fair, the Optimist club also donates money to local church groups, schools and Girl Guide and Scout groups.

"All the fundraising we do, the money goes back into the community. That's what a service club is all about," says Charlebois.

One of their programs helps pay for kids who want to participate in end of year school activities like a field trip to the Calypso Water Park.

"They have to demonstrate they are trying to raise money on their own and then we'll step in and make sure they can go," says Charlebois.

The club also contributes to the Opitmists International Canada's bursary program which awards a $2,500 scholarship to a lucky recipient in each District every year. The Blackburn Optimist Club is in District 49 Eastern Ontario.

The Club is also involved in the Optimists' Internet Safety program, which warns against cyber bullying and inappropriate content, and the Toupaix program which educates children in primary grades to be careful about what they watch on television.

"We may be small, but we're very involved," says Charlebois who has been with the Blackburn club since 1994 and at various times has served as club secretary, president and even governor. "One of the things I love about the club is we're very hands on. We do what we do because we love doing it."

The club is always looking for new members and anyone interested in finding out more information can contact Diane by e-mail at mdvillajoseph@kingswayarms.com. One question they get asked a lot is the time commitment required to be a member. The answer is only two hours a month.

For more information about the Optimist Club visit http://optimistcanada.org.

Optimist club members (l to r) Paul Lapensee, Michel Belanger, Carole Guindon, Marc Charlebois, Stephanie Belanger and Diane Charlebois pose with Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely at the Blackburn Fun Fair. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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Posted Jan. 12

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