Steamboat Optimist Club to award scholarship, funds to teens Thursday

Club will choose between 9 teens named during the year

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— The Optimist Club of Steamboat Springs will award a $1,500 college scholarship to a Routt County teen Thursday night.

The 15-member club that has supported local youths and promoted optimism in Steamboat since 1983 will award the scholarship to one of its nine teens of the month at its annual teen banquet at 6:30 p.m. at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

The banquet also will allow the club to recognize the teens again, since each was honored at a regular Optimist Club breakfast or lunch meeting this year, member and past president Rob MacCarthy said.

“We feel it’s important to recognize young people that are role models and volunteer in their schools and their community,” MacCarthy said. He added that while other local organizations recognize students’ academic achievements, the Optimists look for students who display community leadership. “We put more weight on that than academics or scholastics. Granted a majority of them are National Honor Society or good students.”

The dessert and coffee banquet will include a speech from United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs Pastor Tim Selby.

Optimists then will award the college scholarship. They’ll have to choose between Steamboat Springs High School students Isiah Forsyth, Justin Doerr, Natalie Geer, Jeffrey Gay, Robert Glass, Kimberly Heald and Blayne Conroy and Hayden Secondary Schools students Ben Williams and Delanie VeDepo.

MacCarthy said the eight students not awarded the college scholarship would be given $100 debit cards.

“It’s really tough,” McCarthy said about the scholarship decision. “That’s what we discuss at the teen banquet. They’re all deserving. They all probably deserve a $1,500 scholarship, but we can’t afford that. This is the first year we’re giving a $100 gift card, so we’re pleased with that.”

MacCarthy said the annual teen banquet also allows the Optimists to interact with and celebrate the youth leaders in the community before they head off to college or other post-secondary pursuits.

“It’s just fun chatting with these young people,” he said. “They’re so engaged. It gives you optimism for the future.”

Teens of the month

■ September: Isiah Forsyth, Steamboat Springs High School: A member of the school’s golf and basketball teams, Forsyth has volunteered as a mentor to a sixth-grader, youth basketball coach and at the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs.

■ October: Justin Doerr, SSHS: Doerr, who would like to attend the seminary after graduating college, has volunteered with Holy Name Catholic Church, for LIFT-UP of Routt County food drives and for other programs.

■ November: Natalie Geer, SSHS: The National Honor Society member has fundraised and donated money and supplies for several groups in Africa.

■ December: Jeffrey Gay, SSHS: Gay, a National Honor Society member, has volunteered as junior bike coach with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in addition to local environmental efforts.

■ January: Ben Williams, HSS: Williams has participated in varsity baseball, basketball and football, National Honor Society and volunteered with Hayden’s Totally Kids and Routt County Habitat for Humanity.

■ February: Robert Glass, SSHS: Glass put his philanthropic and computer engineering interests together to create a 36-hour internet gaming marathon that raised $25,000 for Haitian children after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

■ March: Kimberly Heald, SSHS: Working with the Boys & Girls Club, Heald is getting a head start on her career goal of working with children who have disabilities, after studying child development in college and joining the Peace Corps.

■ April: Delanie VeDepo, HSS: A star athlete in volleyball, basketball and track and field, VeDepo also is active in several school groups in addition to community and church activities in Hayden.

■ May: Blayne Conroy, SSHS: An avid hockey player, Conroy also volunteers in the community, as an elementary math tutor, at United Methodist Church and with high school groups.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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