Optimist Club of Paso Robles holds first fundraiser at Park Cinemas on Sunday

PASO ROBLES — On Sunday, April 16, the Optimist Club of Paso Robles held its first Easter Movie Fundraiser at Park Cinemas in downtown Paso Robles.

“The Optimist Club is a service organization that is dedicated solely to helping kids within the community. We do that through scholarships. We do it through covering any youth activity,” Club member Chuck Sawyer explained. 

Active since 1991, the Paso Robles Chapter supports local youth in any way they can. In the past, it has supported Boy Scouts, baseball teams, and any youth activity it can. The club provides scholarships annually through their essay contest. Proceeds from the fundraiser on Sunday will go towards its mission of supporting local youth.


The Paso Robles Chapter is part of the International Optimist Club organization. 

“We are just a small club that is part of a huge international organization … We try to support as many youth organizations as possible,” Sawyer said.

This is the club’s first year holding the movie fundraiser. The event was inspired by Norma Moye and the Paso Robles Main Street Association’s events held at Park Cinemas. In the past, the club has held its popular Chinese Auction, but with a decline in volunteering members, the club does not have the capacity to continue holding the event at this time.

Theater-goers watched the classic 1948 film “Easter Parade,” starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. In this film, Astaire plays a rising Broadway star who tries to break away from his former dance partner, played by Ann Miller, so he can be with newcomer Judy Garland. With musical numbers by Irving Berlin and a star-studded cast, this film is known as one of the best musicals of all time and an Easter favorite.

Prior to show time, guests opened their Easter egg giveaway. Colorful Easter eggs were filled with a gift certificate and four lucky winners found a golden egg, which won them an egg-stravagant gift basket.

“As most service clubs, we have been losing members both because of COVID,” said Sawyer, who is looking for new members to join their efforts. “A lot of people have moved away. We’ve had some death. We are aging out.” 

Currently, the Paso Robles Chapter has 20 members, but Sawyer is hoping to bring the club back to its 30- to 35-member size.

“As a service organization, we are one of the few that are solely dedicated to kids,” said Sawyer. “I always tell people if you want to find an avenue, if you are an empty nester, to be able to go out and still work with kids and help kids, this is the perfect organization for it.”

Optimist International, is a service organization started in 1919 that is dedicated to improving the lives of youth in the community. The Paso Robles Optimist Club provides scholarships to high school seniors, supports all types of youth activities, holds a Free Kids’ Fishing Derby twice a year, and donates backpacks for CPS kids in San Luis Obispo County. The fishing derby is coming back this weekend, Saturday, April 22, at Santa Margarita Lake. They have been holding it for 16 years, again with the purpose of supporting and raising funds for local youth.

“Anything that we can do to help kids is what we’re going to do,” says Sawyer.

If anyone is interested in participating in events sponsored by the club or wishes more information on joining the club, please contact Chuck Sawyer at (805) 591-9590 or Linda Stermer at (805) 238-2410. The club holds dinner meetings on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. Locations are variable.