Lincoln West Optimist Club
The Lincoln West Optimist Club (LWOC) was chartered in September, 1969. The club has approximately 75 members, and is proud of the Lodge and property at Branched Oak that it makes available to youth groups, as well as its tradition of serving youth in the Lincoln area.
LWOC is one of five clubs in Lincoln. Those clubs together make up the Star City Optimist Youth Foundation which built and operates the Optimist Sports Complex just off Highway 77 south of the city. LWOC members are ardent supporters of Foundation programs which include Homer's Heroes baseball for handicapped youth, Pitch, Hit and Run and Punt, Pass and Kick programs and Fun Day in the Park.
Charter member Dick Van Horn helped organize the club and had the foresight to pursue the idea of leasing a club site while Branched Oak Lake was still under construction. The new Lodge, built and dedicated in 1995 is named in his honor.
Lincoln West sponsors a Halloween activity at the Lodge in October, a Holiday program for youth from the Lighthouse in December, and a movie for foster children in March. The August Duck Pluck Fundraiser provides tickets to the Lincoln Childrens' Zoo for many youth who might not otherwise be able to have that experience.
LWOC is one of the largest of the 44 clubs that make up the Nebraska District. The District sponsors Essay and Oratorical contests and the Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The organization is one of about 3000 making up Optimist International (OI). Worldwide, Optimists have been 'Bringing out the Best in Kids' since 1919. Currently there are about 90,000 members, conducting nearly 65,000 service projects each year, serving nearly six million young people. Optimists also reinvest approximately $78 million in their communities annually.