Optimists welcome new leadership, honor outgoing president

The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club this month launched its 35th year of supporting local youth with the installation of new officers and honors given to long-time members.

Farmington Hills resident Ken Wasmer will serve as president for the coming year. He and incoming board members Carol Ahmed, Barrie Armstrong (past President), Diane Bauman, Richard Burrous, Anna Durham, Roxanne Fitzpatrick, Bruce Fowler, Cathy Neal, Tom Neal, Phyllis Pheeney, and Laura Stewart were installed during a September 12 meeting held at Greek Island Bar and Grille, located in the Farmington Hills Golf Course club house.

Optimist Installation Dinner
Pictured from left: Tom Neal, Phyllis Pheeney, Barrie Armstrong, Cathy Neal, Ken Wasmer, Richard Burrous, Roxanne Fitzpatrick, Carol Ahmed, Laura Stewart, Bruce Fowler and Anna Durham. (F/FH Breakfast Optimist Club) 

Roxanne Fitzpatrick, Michigan District Optimist Lt. Governor, presided over the Swearing In Ceremony.

Optimist Leadership Awards
The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club honors high school juniors who are student leaders, giving them a cash award with which they “do something good” for their school communities. 

The club organizes or sponsors 37 events during the year, said Armstrong, who was chosen for the Optimist of the Year award by past club presidents. A highlight of his year, he said, was the August 7 Optimist Club Golf Outing, which raised $18,000.

Officer Harbaugh Optimist Club POY
Optimist Officer of the Year Brian Harbaugh (center) is pictured with Club President Barrie Armstrong (left), and Police Chief Chuck Nebus (right). (City of Farmington Hills)

“It’s the thing we work so hard at all year long,” he said. “It’s our only fundraising event of any magnitude.”

Armstrong said the group got involved for the first time this year in the Optimists Walk for Childhood Cancer. The first-time fundraiser pulled in more than $2,000.

F2H Optimists Cancer Fundraiser
Pictured left and right, Optimists Walk for Childhood Cancer co-chairs Jim Walker and Carol Ahmed congratulate Joanne Wiegand, winner of a Detroit Tigers blanket raffled off to raise funds.

“Our club lead the whole state,” Armstrong said, adding that next year’s walk may be held in the Farmington area as a result.

East Junior Optimists at Ideal Bite
East Middle School’s Jr. Optimist Club partnered with The Ideal Bite in Farmington Hills to deliver healthful snacks on January 22 to Farmington Hills firefighters.

While grateful for the honor, Armstrong said he took a “team approach” during his year in office, with everyone pitching in.

“Everything we do is for the kids of Farmington and Farmington Hills,” he said, “and it shows.”

Club activities include Jr. Optimist Clubs in local schools, Essay and Oratorical Contests for local students, and support of PTAs and the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation; a Kids Fishing Day; community service projects; and special events to honor local school administrators, police and firefighters.

Optimist Oratorical Contest
The Optimist Club hosts an oratorical contest annually for Farmington area students. Winners move on to regional and state competitions.

Other club awards presented during the installation dinner included:

  • Life Member – Laura Stewart
  • President’s Award – Anna Durham
  • Years of Service: Gerry Wasen, 30 years, Diane Bauman, 20 years, and Richard Lerner, 10 years

The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimists meet Wednesdays, 7:30 a.m., at John Cowley and Sons Pub in downtown Farmington. Each meeting includes a speaker and breakfast. Guests are welcome to attend and learn more about how to get involved in helping the community and especially local youth.

To learn more, visit f2hoptimists.org.