Gov. Ricketts with Nebraska Optimist past governors

Nebraska District Optimist past governors gathering with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and young Brennan Fenster (center) are (from left) Robert "Fritz" Kluge, Bob Grundman, Les Dome, 2018-19 Optimist Governor Beryle Lantz, Marvin Wastell, Al Penner, Richard Raasch and Judith Conway Kluge.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has proclaimed 2019 as "Optimist Year in Nebraska."

In June of 1919, several members of various Optimist clubs assembled in Louisville, Kentucky, to organize Optimist International and establish the first annual Convention of Optimist International Clubs. This year's convention will again be held in Louisville, Kentucky, June 30-July 3.

The first Optimist International club to organize in Nebraska was the Optimist Club of Lincoln, which chartered on March 3, 1926, and is still active 93 years later. For over a century, Optimist International clubs have been dedicated to their mission of providing hope and positive vision to all children through community service programs.

Over 75,000 Optimist volunteers in the United States, Canada, Caribbean nations and countries throughout the world conduct more than 65,000 community service projects each year, spending $78 million in their communities. Six million youngsters are positively impacted by these Optimist programs. From oratorical and essay contests to law and youth appreciation programs, Optimists respond to the needs of local and global communities. Optimists also host a youth golf tournament and support finding a cure for childhood cancer.

Each club operates autonomously and independently with activities based on the needs of its community.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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