Optimist Club Feted for 50th Anniversary

OCEAN CITY- After serving the youth of the community for five decades, the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club was presented a proclamation by town officials this week.

At the outset of Monday’s meeting, Mayor Rick Meehan read into the record a proclamation in honor of the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club’s 50th anniversary. Club members held a special banquet commemorating the golden anniversary and 50 years of serving the community.

“I am honored to have the president of the club, Bill Hickey, here with me this evening to present this proclamation,” he said. “In one way or another, we’ve all worked with the Optimist Club or been part of what the club has done and continues to do, or our families have.”

The Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club was formed in April 1972. Since its inception, the club has grown from 30 members to over 100 members, including men and women. Throughout its 50 years, the club has supported local youth by coaching and supporting youth recreational athletic teams, high school teams and cultural endeavors in the community.

The showpiece of the club’s charitable work is producing the annual Ocean City Boat Show, dubbed the “boat show that works for kids.” The Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club this winter hosted its 39th boat show, which supports local youth through contests, awards banquets, recreational and sports activities, scholarships and more. For example, the club has donated $150,000 to Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, and roughly $2.5 million in scholarships to Pocomoke, Snow Hill and Stephen Decatur High Schools.

In addition, the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club each year provides youth identification programs, conducts the Worcester County High School Art Contest, purchases books for local school children, conducts annual oratorical and essay contests and supports other local academic endeavors. It is estimated that the club has donated over $8 million to support local youth over the years. Meehan said the club will continue to be a leader in the community going forward.

“You’ve been a tremendous asset to our community,” he said. “This is just the first 50 years, and I’m sure you’re ready for the next 50.”

For his part, Hickey said the club will continue its efforts.

“On behalf of our over 100 members, both men and women, I accept this and gratefully appreciate it,” he said of the proclamation. “We look forward to spending the money we make for the youth of this community.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.