The Downtowners Optimist Club of Regina
"Bringing out the Best in Kids"

A Brief History of Optimist International

The first "Optimist" club on record was the Optimist Club of Buffalo, New York, organized in 1911. This energetic group, correctly assessing that the concept would be contagious, soon sponsored two other clubs, one in Rochester and one in Syracuse, New York. Banding together in one of the organization's most fateful moments, they became the Optimist Clubs of New York State.

By 1916, with the world needing optimism more that ever, other clubs began to spring up all over the United States. The International Optimist Club, as the forerunner to Optimist International, became a recognizable entity at the first annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky. June 19, 1919 is considered the birth date of the organization.

Growing with dramatic flourish, the Optimists blossomed into a highly respected and influential group by 1922, boasting 49 clubs and 4000 members. Seeking to break from the primarily social orientation of the organization, many of OI's visionary leaders endeavoured to change its goals to the much more altruistic objectives that guide the organization today.

In 1922, Optimists adopted the oft-quoted "Optimist Creed", and only two years later, "Friend of the Boy" became the motto of this increasingly service-oriented group. These developments, coupled with the establishment of the first Canadian Club (Toronto, 1924) and the birth of Junior Optimist clubs seemed to guarantee the growth and prosperity of the organization.

Having first established the Oratorical Contest back in 1928, the organization began to rapidly develop other programs as well.

Today known as the Friend of Youth, more than 50,000 members in over 2000 clubs continue to serve their communities with innovative programs that meet the needs of a rapidly changing society.