Volunteer of the Week: Jeremy Truitt, Dowagiac Optimist Club
Jeremy Truitt, of Dowagiac, is a banker with Fifth Third Bank and a member of the Dowagiac Optimist Club. Truitt will be volunteering alongside other Optimist members at the club’s annual pancake breakfast fundraiser, which takes place from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Dowagiac Union High School cafeteria.
How long have you been a member of the Optimist Club?
About five years.
What made you want to get involved?
I was actually recruited by our former president, Dave Strlekar. He was actually my grade school principal, and when he had heard I moved back to town and was working in the area, he came to talk to me about volunteering and becoming a part of it. It was actually the first organization I joined. He was responsible for encouraging me to get involved.
What drew you to the organization?
The members. I knew a lot of the Optimist Club members, and the ones I didn’t I’ve gotten to know over the last couple years. Also, what they do for the community. It’s all to benefit kids in the community. We have the Halloween Parade we do every year in October, and then we do the Pancake Breakfast we have coming up on Saturday, which is our big fundraiser. The money we raise for that helps us pay for things like the Halloween Parade, and it also allows us to give a scholarship to one student every year.
How does the pancake breakfast work?
Any one of our members has tickets, so if someone wants to purchase them ahead of time we have tickets for sale. If not, you can walk in on Saturday morning. It’s been  years that this has been going on. Ever since I’ve been involved, we’ve always done the Saturday where there’s a softball tournament, and usually a soccer game — when all the spring sports are going at once, and people are there already. They can just walk right in…$5 gets you a pancake breakfast. We have pancake and sausage, and milk and OJ, all that kind of stuff. Or if you want you, can come in, get it and take it to go. All the proceeds go toward all the benefits the Optimist Club does in the community.
What’s the big thing you’ve gotten out of working with the Optimists over the years?
I really enjoy being able to give back. I grew up in the community. I was able to reap the benefits of the people who came before me who participated in things like this. I’m just trying to continue that moving forward, to pay it forward for the kids who are coming up now.
Is there anything you want to say to encourage others to get involved with the Optimist Club?
We typically meet a few times a year, usually quarterly. We have two large events that we do, and so it’s not a week-in, week-out sort of thing…the more the merrier. If anybody wants to join they can contact the president, Steve Grinnewald, or [Secretary] Jessica Kehrer, or me at Fifth Third Bank if they’re interested. It’s a great organization.
Do you know a volunteer worthy of recognition? Nominate him or her by calling Craig Haupert, community editor, at (269) 687-7720, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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