Mark your calendars and set your schedule now for the Optimist Zone Seven Quarterly Meeting on Wednesday August 15! The Gettysburg Optimist Club will be hosting the event to be held at the Pavilion at Lake Heritage at 6:30 pm. Lake Heritage is located at the junction of Pennsylvania route 97 and US route 15, two miles south of Gettysburg.

Optimist members, spouses or guests from Gettysburg, York, Lancaster and all over Zone Seven are invited to the Gettysburg Optimist Annual Pig Roast. Daryl Aurand and Mark Cropp are preparing a menu of barbecue pork, baked beans, coleslaw, roasted potatoes and assorted desserts.

Plenty of good food, great fellowship and Optimist business will be on tap for all those who attend. If you are from a visiting club in Zone Seven, please contact Mark Cropp at [email protected] or Elmo Vestal at [email protected] by Monday evening, August 13, to let us know you will be participating. Upon arrival tell the gate keeper at Lake Heritage that you are with the Gettysburg Optimist Club. The pavilion is located just inside the gate to your right.

We are looking forward to meeting all our “Friends of Youth” this coming Wednesday.

The new mantra of the Gettysburg Optimist Club may well be, “Neither thunderstorm, lightening, hail nor high winds will deter a dedicated Optimist from performing their duties of serving the communities youth.”  The August 1, regular meeting at the pavilion at Lake Heritage was briefly delayed due to a strong and violent storm that moved through the area Wednesday evening but, with only a little fear,  the meeting and the business of Optimism was concluded.

Nancy Forgang, Meals & More Director, spoke to the group about her programs impact on the areas youth.  As in the past, the Optimist Club of Gettysburg elected to support the Meals & More Program this year.  Bruce Bradshaw presented Nancy with a check for $2100.00 to help with the costs of the nine week program.  The agenda also included topics such as; The Summer Soccer Parking Project (scheduled for August 25th & 26th), the Zone Seven Optimist Meeting on August, 15, the Officers and Directors Nominations for 2013 and the upcoming organizational meeting for the 2013 Gettysburg Optimist Golf Tournament.  Members in attendance voted to approve the recipient of the Optimist Family Night Trivia Contest Donation.  More details on this topic in an upcoming post.

The group feasted on fried chicken, meatballs, potato salad, baked beans, fresh garden salad and a very large chocolate cake (consumption to be continued at a future event). The meal was  provided by Walt Jones and Kris Accardi.  To view the official agenda for the evening, click on Optimist 080112 Meeting Agenda.

Mark your calendar for the next meeting on August 15, 2012 at the Lake Heritage Pavilion.  This evening will be our annual “Pig Roast” and we will host Optimist members from Zone Seven which includes York and Central Pennsylvania.  Members spouses, significant others and guests are welcome to attend this annual event.  Daryl Aurand will act as head chief for the evening so you do not want to miss this one!

Yours in Optimism,

J. Mark


It’s time for the Gettysburg Optimist Club to get back to business after a month of vacations, holiday and the Optimist Family Night.  Wednesday, August 1 is the first regular business meeting in August and the first regular meeting since late June.  As the Optimist year begins to wind its way to a new administration, there remains some very important business to complete.

Walt Jones and Kris Accardi will be preparing the meal for those who attend the meeting next Wednesday, and expectations are rising for a grand culinary experience.  Nancy Forgang will be in attendance to present the details on the Meals and More Program.  We will be presenting her with a contribution to this important youth project.

Other topics for discussion will include; the upcoming Optimist Zone 7 meeting on August 15, finalizing the slate of officers and directors for the 2012-2013 Optimist Year, the upcoming Fall Soccer Parking Project and approving the recipient of the Family Night Trivia contest donation.

Members who are willing to step up and take a leadership role for the coming year should contact Craig Sweet at [email protected].

So mark your calendar, grab a prospective member and come spend an evening with the “Friends of Youth”.  The event gets underway at 6:30 pm at the Lake Heritage Pavilion.

See you there,

J. Mark

Nearly 30 Gettysburg Optimists and their family members shared a great evening of food, fun and fellowship on Wednesday, July11.  The event was held at the home of Wayne and Sue Hill in Gettysburg where Wayne demonstrated his considerable skills on the barbecue grill.

Traditionally the annual Family Night is the only meeting of the Gettysburg Optimist Club in the month of July and is dedicated to bringing the families of members together for a festive evening of casual conversation and fine food.  But dedicated Optimist members are never able to miss an opportunity to lend their financial support to a deserving charity, and this years event was no exception.

After a fine dinner the group gathered around the pool for a late evening Trivia Contest.  The trivia master for the evening, Tom Barako, divided the group into four teams and challenged them with questions on American history and World literature (taking some descriptive liberties here).  The winning team of Bill Pyron, Katie Barako, Mark and Beverly Grazulewicz and Don and Ginny Davis demonstrated their remarkable knowledge of the subject matter and earned the opportunity to select a deserving charitable organization for a $1000.00 contribution from the Optimist Club.  They will be announcing the recipient of the donation at the regular membership meeting on Wednesday, August 1, at the Lake Heritage Pavilion.

Our sincere appreciation to Wayne and Sue Hill for opening their home and hosting the Optimist of Gettysburg Family Night Fellowship.

It’s happening next Wednesday, July 11th, and it takes place at Wayne and Sue Hill’s home at 10 Oak Trail in Gettysburg.  The Annual Optimist of Gettysburg Family Night is one of the most popular member events of the year.  Wayne will be preparing chicken quarters on the grill and all attendees will be asked to bring a favorite side dish or desert to share.  Please let us know by Monday, July 9th ([email protected]) if you are planning on attending so we may communicate what each member can contribute to the menu.

The pool is open and the water should be warm, given the hot summer temperatures we are experiencing.  The traditional “Optimist Family Trivia Contest” will be held and the winner (or winners) will have the opportunity to select a favorite charity to receive an Optimist Club donation.  The invitation is open to all members and is also a great opportunity to invite prospective members.

So pack up the family, a few lawn chairs, your bathing suits, towels and your appetite and join us for an evening of great food and the finest in Optimist fellowship. Dinner and the evenings festivities will get underway at 6:30pm.

We’re all looking forward to seeing you!


On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress at a meeting in Philadelphia selected a committee which included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.  They were charged with drafting a document that would formally sever ties between the colonies and Great Britain.  The final draft, written by the hand of Thomas Jefferson and known as The Declaration of Independence, was officially adopted by the Continental Congress by a unanimous vote on July 4th. After its passage, Ben Franklin was asked, “Well Dr. Franklin.  What have you given us?” He replied, “You have a republic, Madame.  If you can keep it”.  And so, the great experiment in American Democracy was born.

In 1870, Congress established July, 4th (Independence Day) as an official holiday and ever since we Americans celebrate the birth of our nation with parades, barbecues, festivals and fireworks.  Too often, lost in the celebrations is the meanings of the words that many of us were taught to recite in grade school  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Few at the time gave much prediction that this fledgling group of 13 colonies, through their Continental Congress, had much hope for even a brief period of success with their new republic.  But the constitutional government that followed with its individual liberty, elected representatives and limited powers survived the challenges of time, opposition and war.  On June 24, 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent his last letter to Congress in celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Declaration of Independence. In it he wrote,

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. … For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

In celebrating this July 4th holiday let us rededicate ourselves to the basic fundamentals of our great society and work together in unity to resolve the many challenges facing our nation in these modern times.

As Optimist Club members let us remind our youth of the truly unique gift that has been granted to us in The Declaration of Independence; the rights of individual freedom, liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness.

May you all have a wonderfully memorable and safe Independence Day celebration.

Yours in Optimism,

Mark Cropp, President

It is time for the 7th Annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand in Gettysburg.  Optimist members will remember Caton and Jared’s visit and presentation to the Optimist Club earlier this year when they received the Club’s donation to their cause.  The winners of the Optimist Family Trivia Contest at last summers Optimist Family Night selected Caton and Jared’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand as the recipient of the clubs Family Night donation.

Caton Raffensperger and Jared Herr have been raising money for childhood cancer  for most of their young lives.  Since their start in 2006 the duo has raised more than $30,000.00 for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.  This years effort will be held on Friday, July 6, 3:00-6:00 and Saturday, July 7, 1:00-6:00.  The stand is located on Caton’s Grandma’s Front Porch at 429 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg.

Please join Caton and Jared for the 7th Annual ALEX’S LEMONADE STAND to raise money to help fight childhood cancer one cup at a time. Personal and business donations are welcomed.  Additional information may be found by visiting


Our Optimist Club meets outdoors in the Summer beneath a Pavilion that seems at times to capture the heat and harbor more than its share of Summer bugs.  So it was on Wednesday, June 20 when 18 of us gathered by the lake to wolf down Daryl’s grilled “dogs and burgs”, a cold brew, and fresh watermelon.  We said congrats to our newlyweds – Kris Accardi and Mindy Dicken – and greeted Holly Fox and Lynne Aurand, our guests for the evening.

Now we did conduct our business: the Soccer Parking receipts, which went well, the golf tournament update, preliminary plans for 2013, the $450 donation for the Kindergarten Book project , and the Rec Park Optimist Amphitheater painting done by the USS Eisenhower visiting sailors. But we could have done this by email.

We have some goodies coming up – the Family picnic at Wayne Hill’s home on July 11th ( more to come on this), the Gettysburg “Meals and More” Summer project for kids presentation at the August 1st meeting, and the Zone meeting on August 15th (y’all come!).  But we could have shared this news on the website, or even a real snail mail letter!

But we gather.  We gather by choice.  We swap stories.  We eat sitting on creaky wooden tables.  We have handshakes all around and we give every living creature a smile (except the bugs).

The treasure in gathering for meetings, even in the Summer heat, is fellowship – the unsaid part of our creed.

Please join us July 11th for our annual Summer Family Picnic. We’ll pick up right where we left off.

Joe MacDowell, secty.

The next regular meeting of the Optimist Club of Gettysburg is Wednesday, June, 20.  The meeting will get under way at the Lake Heritage Pavilion at 6:30 pm. Daryl Aurand will be preparing the meal for all the members in attendance. An advanced copy of the evenings agenda can be accessed by clicking on  Optimist 062012 Meeting Agenda.

Hope to see you there!


As we enter the fourth and final quarter of this Optimist year we still have much to accomplish as “Friends of Youth” in Gettysburg. Although the list of things to do is getting shorter, each remaining challenge is certainly no less important to our club, our members and the community.

Since 1958, The Optimist Club of Gettysburg has served the needs of our youth with energy, generosity and commitment to the principles of Optimism. We have made a difference in thousands of young lives throughout the years and we have been successful in instilling the principles of optimism, personal growth and community service in the hearts and minds of the youth we have served and mentored.

Today our organization and other service organizations are confronted with the realities of a challenging economy, social change and increased personal demands on volunteer’s time. As we all struggle to balance the many changes and challenges in our personal lives, the needs of our community and its youth go unabated. Each week another request from someone or some organization wanting to know if the Optimist of Gettysburg can help out with their worthy project presents itself. Surely it can be said that successfully filling a need, produces more needs to be filled.

The Optimist Club of Gettysburg has always achieved it objectives because of the dedication and efforts of an active and interested general membership and member leaders. As we move forward into a new Optimist year we ask you to consider your level of commitment to serving the needs of our community through Optimism.  Opportunities include, club officer and board positions as well as project chair positions and co-chair positions. Please consider reserving a prominent place in your busy life this coming year to help continue the proud tradition of the Optimist Club of Gettysburg.

You are invited to contact Mark Cropp, [email protected], or Craig Sweet, [email protected], to volunteer your desire to “step up” and set an example for others to follow through your leadership.