Members of the Stephenville Optimist Club gathered Saturday to celebrate 50 years of service to the youth of their community and surrounding areas.

Past-President Cheryl Hatton spoke briefly about the history of the Stephenville Optimist Club and provided a slide show of of the projects Optimist-raised funds have helped accomplish along their 50-year path. Over those 50 years, the Stephenville Optimist Club raised well over $1 million for special youth projects.

The club was officially organized Dec. 15, 1966. with 28 charter members. It started as a breakfast club at a steak house but changed to a noon meeting in 1969 which was held in the Sam Houston Room on the Tarleton State University campus. With rapid growth, another move was made to the Travis Room at TSU in 1970 where the club met until May 1984 at which time it moved to the Holiday Inn.

The present-day club meets at City Limits in its banquet facility every Wednesday at noon.

Over the years, the Stephenville Optimist Club has sponsored hundreds of projects such as scouts, athletic teams and events, scholastic events, school field trips, Big Brothers Big Sisters, college scholarships, oratorical contests, fireworks for the 4th of July celebration, the All-Star League for physically challenged kids (a sports program we share with the local Lions Club), and the Stephenville Optimist Club’s Toys for Kids Christmas toy program.

They have also provided funds for the high school band, PTOs, Project Graduation, academic scholarships, the purchase of library books and various cultural events. In addition to these projects, the club has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various building projects at the city parks, public schools, soccer complex and Tarleton State University.

Past Presidents who were recognized during the celebration included Lamar Johanson, Neal Guthrie, Les Gandy, Scott Allen, Don Coan, Billy Mobley, David Tomlinson, Jimmy Chew, Ron Wulf, Monty Bedwell, Charlie Finnegan, July Danley, Tom Konz, Sherrie Barton, Glenn Newberry and Cheryl Hatton.