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Optimist Club of Valley Forge News

Check the articles below.
Optimist Club Honors Michael Fabrizio
Youth Appreciation Awards
Adopt A Highway
Valley Forge Optimists Given Citations by the Governor
2013 Essay Award Winners
Optimist Club Honors Dr. Jane Callaghan at 2013 Partner in Education Dinner
Student of The Month February 2013
Two Upper Merion Area 9th Grade Students Receive Optimist Youth Appreciation Awards
Crush Childhood Cancer Event
Octagon and Optimist Clubs Join Forces to Clean Highway
Upper Merion Detective Receives Optimist Respect for Law Award
Optimist Trout Rodeo Has Kids Reeling
Tri- Star Basketball Skills Contest Draws Upper Merion Players Age 5-11
Optimist Club Serves Dinner at Central Presbyterian Church in Norristown – Honoring Martin Luther King
UM Girl Scouts Become Optimists for a Day
Kids Have Fun Decorating Pumpkins at the Upper Merion Farmers' Market

Optimist Club Honors Michael Fabrizio

Michael Fabrizio was honored last night for his 14 years as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Upper Merion Area School District. Mr. Fabrizio is the principal of the lower house of the Middle School. As a member of the Middle School Instructional Support Team and Student Assistance Program, he is responsible for over 600 fifth and sixth grade students. Under his guidance, the lower house faculty work to improve attendance, behavior and PSSA scores. Mr. Fabrizio voluntarily mentors our middle school students assisting them with academic, social and behavioral needs.

Michael Fabrizio is also the Vice President of the Valley Forge Optimist Club and a member of the Board of Directors. He is responsible for developing the Optimist calendar of activities for the year that is designed to bring out the best in youth. He organizes and facilitates the Tri-Star basketball skills contest, the Highway Cleanup of Route 23, the Pumpkin decorating event at the Farmer’s Market and the Youth Appreciation Award Ceremony Dinner.

Dr. Karen Geller, the principal of the Middle School was the master of ceremonies for the Partners in Education evening. Dr. Geller welcomed the 62 attendees to the dinner that was held March 13, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia. Dr. Geller said “The Partner in Education Award is not given annually. The Valley Forge Optimist Club bestows this award only when a teacher, administrator or specialist in the Upper Merion Area School District is particularity deserving of recognition. In the case of Michael Fabrizio, this honor is well deserved”

School District Superintendent Dr. Jane Callaghan; introduced previous winners of the Partners in Education Award who were in attendance. “These award winners all have some things in common” said Dr. Callaghan “They accomplish things that make the District better, and they are loved by their peers, the students and the parents. They are all truly ‘Partners in Education’”

Thomas Hough, a past president of the Valley Forge Optimist Club read the proclamation sponsored by State Representative Tim Briggs from the Pennsylvania legislature recognizing Michael Fabrizio’ s accomplishments.

Maura Buri, President of the Valley Forge Optimist Club, commented that “Tonight’s dinner shows the close working relationship between the Valley Forge Optimist Club and the Upper Merion Area School District. We enjoy great support from the District for our youth programs.” Buri continued “Our Alpha Clubs at the Roberts, Caley and Candlebrook Elementary Schools, the Junior Optimist Club in the Middle School and the Octagon Club in the High School have over 300 combined members. These clubs provide many opportunities for leadership and challenges for the young people in our community to perform at a high level.”

The evening started with a program of classical music presented by the High School Chamber Group under the direction of Ms. Diana Helmetag and ended with the reading of the Optimist creed.


Youth Appreciation Awards

Two Upper Merion Area High School 9th grade students, Emma Straw, and David Marques, received Optimist Youth Appreciation Awards at a celebration dinner held November 6th at Michael's Restaurant in King of Prussia.

The Youth Appreciation Award, which is sponsored by the Valley Forge Optimist Club, recognizes a high school freshman boy and girl who exemplify character, citizenship, scholarship, leadership, and community service.

Maura Buri, Optimist Club President, Michael Fabrizio, Vice President and Assistant Principal at Upper Merion Area Middle School, and Salvatore Rotondo, former School District Administrator presented the awards. (Continue to next scroll)

Optimist 1: Optimist Vice President Michael Fabrizio, Winner David Marques, Winner Emma Straw, Optimist Club

"We are very proud of all that these two young people have accomplished," said Mr. Fabrizio. "It is a pleasure to recognize these motivated leaders who serve as strong role models for their peers.”

Emma Straw is an excellent student who is kind, respectful, responsible and positive. She always has something nice to say to everyone. Emma is very involved in extra curricular activities. She is a member of Octagon Club, SADD, DECA Business Club, and the Cross Country and Track and Field Teams. Her service includes the SPCA Fundraiser, Salvation Army Toys for Tots, the MS Walk, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Recycling Program, Canned Food Drives, and the Township Fair. Her academics, athletics and service make her a role-model for her peers and members of the Upper Merion Community.

David Marques is positive, polite, respectful, and enthusiastic in all that he does. David has been very kind, sensitive and helpful to his peers. He is dedicated to his school work and exemplifies the Optimist Club attributes with a smile everyday.

In addition to his academics David is a member the Viking High School Marching Band, Concert and Advanced Bands, Concert Choir and the Upper Merion Area High School Underground Players. He also works with the high school’s Viking Channel.

David is also involved in much community service in such activities as the Upper Merion Community Fair, as a Challenger Day volunteer, through food and clothing collections for the needy, and as a participant in the annual MS Walk.

Optimist Club members are called "Friends of Youth." They work for good citizenship, respect for law and the positive development of young people. The Valley Forge Optimist Club sponsors many opportunities for area young people to perform at a high level including oratorical and essay contests as well as sports skill contests.

Optimist 2: Past winner Nick Tornambe, winner David Marques, past president LaVera Seymour, winner Emma Straw, past winner Hope Lu, past winner Lana Fabia


Adopt A Highway

On Saturday, November 9, colleagues from the Valley Forge Optimist Club collaborated with members of the Upper Merion Area High School Octagon Club for an important Service Project. Together the group participated in the Penn Dot sponsored “Adopt A Highway” Program, working tirelessly to clean up a section of Route 23 in King of Prussia. Thanks to their efforts and hard work, over 20 bags of trash and recyclables were collected. The Valley Forge Optimist Club has participated in the “Adopt A Highway” Program for over 20 years and plans to continue its association with this important initiative for many years to come.

Valley Forge Optimists Given Citations by the Governor

Congratulations LaVera, Garfield, and Randy.

Kathleen Marchec, Govenor for the Northeast Region, presented citations to President LaVera Seymour, Secretary Garfield Jackson, and Treasurer Randy Charles. The citation were given for their work on behalf of the Optimist Club of Valley Forge. Congratulations LaVera, Garfield, and Randy.

2013 Essay Award Winners

Seniors Kush Gupta and Danielle Sanfelice

The Optimist Club of Valley Forge gave out awards to Upper Merion Area High School Seniors Kush Gupta and Danielle Sanfelice. Kush was the first place award winner and Danielle was the second place award winner. The topic of this year's essay was "How Can I Help My Friends Realize Their Value?"
















Optimist Club Honors Dr. Jane Callaghan at 2013 Partner in Education Dinner

L-R: Michael Fabrizio, Optimist Club Vice President, Dr. Karen Geller, Upper Merion Area Middle School Principal, Dr. Jane Callaghan, Superintendent of Schools, and LaVera Seymour, Optimist Club President

Dr. Jane Callaghan was recently honored by the Valley Forge Optimist Club for her 30 years of service in the field of Education. Beginning her career as an English teacher Dr. Callaghan later served in a number of administrative capacities at Nazareth School District including Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Middle School Principal.

Dr. Callaghan was hired at Upper Merion Area School District and served for seven years as Assistant Superintendent. She was responsible for the development and implementation of rigorous and relevant curriculum.

Dr. Callaghan now serves her district as the Superintendent of Schools bringing much energy and passion to everything that she does. She takes pride in her work and has high expectations driving the district to excellence. Dr. Callaghan also leads Strategic Planning and her vision is one of perseverance, a strong work ethic and lifelong learning for all stakeholders.

Dr. Karen Geller, Middle School Principal and the Master of Ceremonies, welcomed 50 attendees to the dinner that was held on February 21st at the King of Prussia Crowne Plaza. Dr. Geller said “Qualifications for the Partner in Education Award include an exemplary leader in education who contributes to the positive character development and the academic achievement of all students.” In the case of Dr. Callaghan, this honor is well deserved. Dr. Geller read a citation from the House of Representatives, Sponsored by Representative Tim Briggs, recognizing Dr. Callaghan’s accomplishments.

Mr. Michael Fabrizio, Middle School Assistant Principal and Optimist Club Vice President, recognized previous winners of the award who also attended the dinner; Charles Tucker, Dr. Geller, Diana Helmetag, John Funk, Phil Piazza, and John Adiletto. “These award winners inspire excellence in every student every day. Their accomplishments make the district better, and they are loved by their peers, the students and parents. They are truly “Partners in Education” said Mr. Fabrizio.

The evening began with a program of classical music presented by the High School Chamber Group under the direction of Mrs. Helmetag. The group included Samantha Garzillo, Deanna Cantello, Rebecca Skaf, and Jason Soong.

LaVera Seymour, President of the Valley Forge Optimist Club, commented “Tonight’s dinner shows the close working relationship between the Valley Forge Optimist Club and Upper Merion Area School District.”

Optimist Club members are called “Friends of Youth” and have the objective of “Bringing out the Best in Youth.” The Optimists work for good government, respect for law, as well as the positive development of young people. The Valley Forge Optimist Club provides recognition and scholarships for area students and sponsors many events including oratorical and essay contests as well as sports skills contests that allow children to perform at a high level.


L-R: Michael Fabrizio, Optimist Club Vice President, Dr. Karen Geller, Upper Merion Area Middle School Principal, Dr. Jane Callaghan, Superintendent of Schools, and LaVera Seymour, Optimist Club President

Photo #1: L-R Michael Fabrizio, Optimist Club Vice President, Dr. Karen Geller, Upper Merion Area Middle School Principal, Dr. Jane Callaghan, Superintendent of Schools, and LaVera Seymour, Optimist Club President

Photo#2: L–R Front Row: Optimist Club members and past recipients: Diana Helmetag, Dr. Jane Callaghan, Dr. Karen Geller, LaVera Seymour, Charles Tucker, Back Row: John Adiletto, Detective Les Glauner, Thomas Hough, John Funk, Michael Fabrizio







Student of The Month February 2013

Often, life-changing events send people on the journey towards self-discovery. For twelve-year-old Ximena Rodriguez, it was her family’s move to the United States from Simon Yehualtepec, Puebla Mexico, when she was seven years old. Since then, she has been actively discovering who she really is, and remains determined to ignore what society tells her that she should be. The rewards of such a discovery are clear. Ximena is joyful, peaceful, and confident. Not insecure or depressed for not meeting a rapidly changing and socially constructed “image,” she is proud of who she is. Ximena knows that her life has purpose, and that she is headed towards a bright future.


Two Upper Merion Area 9th Grade Students Receive Optimist Youth Appreciation Awards

Two Upper Merion Area High School 9th Grade students, Hope Lu and ZeShawn Kazim, received Optimist Youth Appreciation Awards at a dinner held November 14th sponsored by the Valley Forge Optimist Club. The Youth Appreciation Award honors the high school freshman boy and girl who exemplify leadership, scholarship, character and positive attitude. The teachers and the staff recommend the winners for selection.

Past recipients joined this year's winners for the annual Valley Forge Optimist Club Youth Appreciation recognition dinner that was held at Michael’s Restaurant in King of Prussia.

"We are very proud of all that these two young people have accomplished," said Mr. Michael Fabrizio, Assistant Principal of Upper Merion Area Middle School. "I am glad that they are being recognized as 9th graders since many deserving students have to wait until their senior year to receive awards and recognition."

Sal Rotondo,

former principal of Bridgeport Elementary School presented the awards. "These individual award plaques go home to remind the winners that they have special positive character traits and leadership potential," said Mr. Rotondo. "Their names will also be added to the plaque in the lobby of the high school that contains the names of all the previous Youth Appreciation Award winners.

Hope the daughter of Zhonghui Lu and Xia Zhu of King of Prussia. While in middle school Hope was a member of the Cross Country, Spring Track and Lacrosse Teams. She was Track Captain in 8th Grade. Hope was also a member of National Junior Honor Society, a Presidential Award Winner, Student of the Month in grade 5 through 8, a flute player in the band, was a member of Stage Crew, Girl Scouts, Secretary of Jr. Friends at the Upper Merion Township Library, a volunteer storyteller/presenter during Cultural Week for the township and a Vacation Bible School volunteer.

Currently an all honors student, Hope is the Secretary for the Class of 2016, a member of the Octagon Club, French Club and Princess Project; a service groups through which costumed actors visit children in hospitals and orphanages. She is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and will play lacrosse in the spring. Hope is a clarinet player in Advanced Band. She hopes to continue with such service learning projects as Toys 4 Tots, Xeroxing assistance and tutoring.

Hopes teachers say that she is an attentive and engaging student who helps her peers, is an enthusiastic, conscientious and thorough learner, and a pleasure to have in the classroom.

ZeShawn is the son of Khurshid Kazim of Wayne. In middle school ZeShawn was a member of the National Jr. Honor Society, Middle School and Park and Recreation Baseball and Basketball teams, and Middle School Soccer, and Track and Field teams. Currently ZeShawn plays soccer and basketball for the high school, Competitive Edge Sports Basketball, and is a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Valley Forge.

ZeShawn’s teachers say that he displays many fine qualities in the classroom. They praise him for his excellence as a student and his friendly, respectful manner. He is a role model for his peers and has earned their respect as well as that of his teachers.

Optimist Club members are called "Friends of Youth." They work for good government, respect for law and the positive development of young people. The Valley Forge Optimist Club sponsors many opportunities for area young people to perform at a high level including oratorical and essay contests as well as sports skill contests.


Crush Childhood Cancer Event

Participants in the Crush Childhood Cancer event, sponsored by VFOC

The Crush Childhood Cancer event was held Saturday 4/12/12 at the UM Township Building Park. The event was sponsored in part by the VFOC and organized by Samantha Paradis. Ms. Paradis is a middle school student that was honored by the VFOC as Youth of the Month in March for organizing this event. The VFOC offered kids that attended the event the materials to create a Mother's Day card or any other card they wanted to design. Optimists that worked at the CCC event were Faith Seymour, Promise Seymour, Ken Seymour, LaVera Seymour, Scott Sibley, and Tom Hough. The Optimist International youth event insurance policy provided liability coverage for the event.










A mother receives her daughter's handmade card,
while another child completes her work of art.

Octagon and Optimist Clubs Join Forces to Clean Highway

Upper Merion Area High School Octagon Club members joined with the Optimist Club of Valley Forge in their spring highway cleanup of Valley Forge Road (Route 23) starting near Bridgeport, PA.

The Optimist Club of Valley Forge conducted its twentieth annual spring highway cleanup last Saturday with the help of the Octagon Club in the Upper Merion Area High School. Randy Charles, chair of the project said, "It is always great to have the Octagon Club and their advisor, Ms. Kenny, work with us. It made the collection of all the bags of trash and recyclables more enjoyable and the work go much faster." Mr. Charles added, "we look forward to this event as a way of improving the quality of life in the community."

Upper Merion Area High School Octagon Club members joined with the Optimist Club of Valley Forge in their spring highway cleanup of Valley Forge Road (Route 23) starting near Bridgeport, PA.



Ms. Eileen Kenny, (second from left) the Octagon Club advisor, is joined by Upper Merion High School students (from left) Clair Cundill, Adam Reynolds, Mickey Bellace and Emily Canale.   This group aided the Optimist Club of Valley Forge in its semi-annual cleanup of trash and recyclables along a section of Valley Forge Road in Upper Merion Township.

The Optimist Club of Valley Forge cleans a section of PA Route 23 from the Bridgeport Borough line through Upper Merion Township in the spring and fall. PennDOT recognized the Club's continuous effort by adding a "10 year" sign on both ends of the highway in 2001. "Soon, we will be proud to have a '20 year' recognition sign in the background of our group pictures," said Mr. Charles.

Ms. Eileen Kenny, (second from left) the Octagon Club advisor, is joined by Upper Merion High School students (from left) Clair Cundill, Adam Reynolds, Mickey Bellace and Emily Canale. This group aided the Optimist Club of Valley Forge in its semi-annual cleanup of trash and recyclables along a section of Valley Forge Road in Upper Merion Township.



Upper Merion Detective Receives Optimist Respect for Law Award

From left, Judge Bill Maruszczack, Katie Dougherty, Detective Brendan Dougherty, LaVera Seymour, president of the Optimist Club of Valley Forge, and Lt. Jim Early of the Upper Merion Police Department join in saluting Mr. Dougherty as this year’s Upper Merion Police Officer of the year and recipient of the Optimist Club Respect for Law Award.

Detective Brendan Dougherty of the Upper Merion Township Police Department received the Optimist Club of Valley Forge Respect for Law Award at a dinner meeting at Michael's Deli last night.

The award is given annually to the Upper Merion police officer of the year as selected by the 64 members of the police force. The award was presented by District Judge Bill Maruszczack, a charter member of the Optimist Club and former member of the Upper Merion Police Department. Mr. Dougherty was accompanied by his wife Katie.

Lieutenant Jim Early listed Detective Dougherty’s highlights of his eleven-year career with the Department. He spent 7 years in the uniformed patrol, 2 years as a detective in the juvenile division before being retained as a full Detective in that division. His police partner is Detective Les Glauner, a past president of the Optimist Club and current liaison to the Upper Merion Youth Aid Panel.

Lieutenant Early proudly spoke of Dougherty’s academic achievements. He received not only his BA but also a Master’s Degree from St Joseph’s University and is now taking post graduate courses from the University of Massachusetts. “Brendan is an excellent police officer and one of a small number that are ever recognized as an Officer of the Year. He is a fine young man, an outstanding student and our most accomplished bagpiper,” said Early.

From left, Judge Bill Maruszczack, Katie Dougherty, Detective Brendan Dougherty, LaVera Seymour, president of the Optimist Club of Valley Forge, and Lt. Jim Early of the Upper Merion Police Department join in saluting Mr. Dougherty as this year’s Upper Merion Police Officer of the year and recipient of the Optimist Club Respect for Law Award.

Optimist Trout Rodeo Has Kids Reeling

Participants and parents line the bank of the pond behind the Upper Merion Township building for the Trout Rodeo organized by the Optimist Club of Valley Forge.

Some 50 kids braved a cold but calm morning to fish for trout at the Trout Rodeo sponsored by the Optimist Club of Valley Forge. The annual event was held at the pond behind the Upper Merion Township Building on the official opening day of trout season in southeast Pennsylvania, Saturday morning (4/2). About 40 adults, primarily parents and grandparents, helped but were not allowed to fish until the youth program ended at 10 AM.

"This was a beautiful day for the beginning of trout season but the cold made the 250 fish we stocked yesterday afternoon somewhat less aggressive," said Susan DeMedio, Optimist Club Chairperson of the event. "We award 8 major prizes for the largest fish and smallest fish caught by the boy and girl in two age groups; under 8 and those age 8 to 15. All the kids get to select fishing tackle gifts whether they catch a fish or not."

Participants and parents line the bank of the pond behind the Upper Merion Township building for the Trout Rodeo organized by the Optimist Club of Valley Forge. The free event pits anglers 15 years and younger against the 250 trout stocked by the Stony Creek Anglers of Norristown.

The winners of the Trout Rodeo pose with Optimist Club members

"The Trout Rodeo is an annual program of the Optimist Club that has being going on for many years," said Dan Russell, Director of Upper Merion Parks and Recreation. "We are pleased to have them organize and run the event at the pond behind the Upper Merion Township Building and we always list it in our Upper Merion Park and Recreation Spring program calendar."

Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company, sponsored this year's event. Henderson Road Store Manager Raymond DiSandro attended the event with his three year old daughter. "The Optimist Club of Valley Forge can and will continue to provide events for area youth like the Trout Rodeo," said Tom Hough, a past president of the club. "The financial support from good corporate citizens like Wachovia allows our club to do more things for more kids."

The winners of the Optimist Club of Valley Forge Trout Rodeo are (from left) Ethan Clementi (biggest fish, boys 8-15); Isabella Veneziale (smallest fish, girls 8-15); Morgan Heavner (biggest fish, girls 8-15), Spenser Harrity, (smallest fish, boys under 8) and Mac Barry (smallest fish, boys 8-15). Back row are Optimist Club members Scott Sibley and Michael Fabrizio.


Morgan Heavner of King of Prussia displays her 20 inch rainbow troutChristian Urquhart caught a 13 inch trout at the Optimist Club of Valley Forge Trout Rodeo









Morgan Heavner of King of Prussia displays her 20 inch rainbow trout and Christian Urquhard displays his 13 inch trout at the Optimist Club of Valley Forge Trout Rodeo.







Tri- Star Basketball Skills Contest Draws Upper Merion Players Age 5-11

Winners in the Boys and Girls 5-7 and 8-10 age groups in the Tri- Star Basketball Skills Contest show their trophies.

The Optimist Club of Valley Forge annual Tri-Star Basketball Skills contest drew several dozen aspiring basketball players to the Upper Merion Middle School gym March 26. Boys and girls in three age groups — 5 to 7, 8 to 10, and 11 to 14 — tested their passing, dribbling and shooting skills in the hope of being among the top three finishers. The Optimist Club of Valley Forge presented trophies to the top three boys and top three girls in each age group. The youngsters participated under the watchful eye of about 30 parents and friends. Nine members of the Optimist Club scored the contest and presented the awards.




Winners in the Boys and Girls 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 age groups in the Optimist Club of Valley Forge Tri-Star Basketball Skills Contest show their trophies. Optimist Club members in the back row are (from left) Sal Rotondo, Scott Sibley, Randy Charles, Judge Bill Maruszczack, Ken Seymour and Bill Gittens.

Boys age 5-7 winners (from left) Jimmy Bartley, Andrew Wu and Cole Gemmill are congratulated by Optimist Club member and retired Upper Merion School Principal Sal Rotondo.

"We are very pleased with the cooperation of the kids that participated in this event," said Michael Fabrizio, Assistant Principal at the Upper Merion High School and project chair of this year’s Tri-Star Basketball skills contest. "The kids displayed good basketball skills and the competition for the trophies was friendly."

Boys age 5-7 winners (from left) Jimmy Bartley, Andrew Wu and Cole Gemmill are congratulated by Optimist Club member and retired Upper Merion School Principal Sal Rotondo.






Optimist Club Serves Dinner at Central
Presbyterian Church in Norristown – Honoring Martin Luther King

Optimist Club members and young volunteers prepared and served meals to 70 Norristown residents, honoring Martin Luther King's call to serve those in need

The Optimist Club of Valley Forge in collaboration with the Central Presbyterian Church served dinner to 70 Norristown residents Saturday evening honoring Martin Luther King’s call to serve those in need. Four adult members of the Optimist Club and four young volunteers from King of Prussia helped prepare and serve the meal. The volunteers were organized by LaVera Seymour, President of the Optimist Club of Valley Forge to help carry out the ongoing program of the Central Presbyterian Church.

"While our Optimist Club is organized to provide opportunities for youth in the area, our members help people in need in many ways," said Seymour. "We have members that serve on the Youth Aid Panel of Montgomery County, others that continue to travel to the Gulf coast to help rebuild after Katrina. Today we honor Dr. King by serving some of the people of Norristown that need a hot meal and some kindness."

The Optimist Club of Valley Forge sponsors many opportunities for area young people to perform at a high level including oratorical and essay contests as well as sports skill contests. With 45 members, the Optimist Club of Valley Forge seeks new members that want to help the Club provide more programs for our area youth.

Elsie Drayer, Tom Hough, and Ken Seymour serve beef and vegetables at the kitchen of the Central Presbyterian Church at 900 W. Airy. Four members of the Optimist Club of Valley Forge and 4 young volunteers from King of Prussia helped prepare and serve the meals to 70 Norristown residents.

UM Girl Scouts Become Optimists for a Day

Upper Merion Girl Scouts baked cookies for the Martin Luther King program

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration of Upper Merion Township, several Girl Scout groups of Upper Merion became Optimist for an evening and collaborated with the Martin Luther King Committee to bake cookies. The event was held at Hope Community Church on Henderson Road.

The community partnered together to present the Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday Program at the Upper Merion Middle School on January 19, 2011. My fellow Optimist, Dr. Karen would say, "this is indeed a community who cares."






Kids Have Fun Decorating Pumpkins at the Upper Merion Farmers' Market

Children decorate pumpkins at the Upper Merion Farmers' Market

Over fifty youngsters decorated pumpkins last Saturday at the Upper Merion Farmers' Market. The Optimist Club of Valley Forge organized the free event and provided the pumpkins and materials for the participants. "Each kid took their finished masterpiece home with them," said LaVera Seymour, president of the club. "They had fun decorating their pumpkins with markers, stickers and other materials without any cutting or carving."

Optimist Club of Valley Forge is part of Optimist International that has as its mission statement "Bringing out the Best in Youth." Club members work for good government, respect for law and the positive development of the young people of our community. The Optimist Club of Valley Forge sponsors many opportunities for area young people to perform at a high level including essay contests and sports skill contests.

Nathan Laughlin of King of Prussia (left) works on his pumpkin while his brother Corey considers what to add next.