When Farmington Hills resident Barrie Armstrong retired in 2008, he went looking for something to do that would also benefit his community.
Armstrong found his calling in the Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club, a diverse group of local residents who share an optimistic attitude and a heart for community service.
“I think the things we do are tremendous, especially for kids in the community,” said Armstrong, who recently began a term as club president.
One of the club’s largest projects has been establishing Junior Optimist groups in every Farmington area school. The student groups also embrace optimism and community service. Armstrong said Farmington’s Junior Optimist club is the state’s largest.
Past president Roxanne Fitzpatrick said it’s very rewarding to watch students grow up as they participate in the contests and programs. For example, Harrison High sophomore Thomas Lichtenberg, who has been involved with Junior Optimists and competed in oratorical contests, was recently named 2018 Michigan JOI Governor-elect.
“To watch these children move up, it’s something we’re extremely proud of,” she said.
The club also honors local police officers and firefighters, hosts an annual PTA dinner, breakfasts for area veterans and school principals, and provides support to these organizations:
- Farmington Goodfellows
- Friends of the Farmington Community Library
- Farmington Public Schools (FPS) Turn Around Awards
- Miss Farmington
- Farmington Special Olympics
- High School All Night Parties for graduates
- Neighborhood House
- Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce
- FPS At Risk Program
- School PTAs
- Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation
- Farmington/Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families Youth Back Pack Program
- Student Assistance Program
While club meetings are typically held at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, the Optimists host one evening meeting per quarter open to the public. Their next event, with guest speaker Stephen Mack Jones, author of August Snow, will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, at the Longacre House, 24705 Farmington Rd. in Farmington Hills. Guests will learn about the club, meet local members for networking, fellowship and information.