Family and friends gathered at Danbury Senior Living in Brunswick February 20, when the Brunswick Optimist Club presented awards to the top three winners of its annual essay contest, and also presented a check to the high school for a recently established community project it is launching.

Before beginning the program, Optimist Dean Holman asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of club member Norma Lesnak, who unexpectedly passed away; Lesnak was an integral part of the club's activities that focus on bringing out the best in youth.

Holman then introduced Brunswick High School Principal Keith Merrill and student Logan Spittle who came up with the idea to establish a discreetly operated, extended food bank within the high school. Along with food, the bank will make other necessary items such as clothing available to students in need.

Spittle, who is working on earning his Boy Scout Eagle rank, was influenced and supported by his mother, a mental health specialist at the high school.

Principal Merrill and Scout Spittle accepted a $500 check from the Optimist Club to be used on this food bank project. He and Spittle both expressed gratitude for the club's support in helping them in their efforts to give back to the community.

The next presentation was to the winning Brunswick High School students whose essays were chosen from a field of 17 entries by a panel of judges. Erika Eyssen took first place and was awarded $200, Audrey Miles was second and received $100, and Jessica Kinney came in third and was awarded $50. Eyssen will move on to the District Level to be held in the Columbus area to compete for $2,500 in scholarship money.

Eyssen and Miles each read aloud their well-written, powerfully moving prize-winning essays to the audience, describing how and why optimism is necessary to keep the world moving in a positive direction. All the girls' compositions demonstrated evidence of maturity; the audience agreed their words expressed hope for a great future for the community.

These programs conducted by the Optimist Club are typical of the activities they undertake every year in their efforts to bring out the best in youth. Other endeavors include a fishing derby, a back to school rally, youth appreciation lunches, oratorical competitions, childhood cancer banks, and so much more.

To learn more about the Brunswick Optimist Club call 216-551-8225, or visit