It seems fitting that Rome attorney Lee Treadaway was inducted as the Rome Noon Optimist Club’s 100th active member Monday since his first exposure to the international organization serving youth was as a youth himself growing up in Rome.
“In high school I spoke at an Optimist Club,” said the father of four who works in estate and probate law for Cox, Dyington, Twyman & Johnson. “My wife Kristy has been a member for about a year and I’ve been meaning to join for awhile because they do so much for youth in the community.”
It was Club President Bob Puckett who finally convinced him to join, Treadaway said, adding Puckett was his elementary school principal back in the day.
“Bob said ‘You know, if you join now you’ll be our 100th member,” Treadaway said as he inched his way toward the lunch buffet enjoyed by 47 other members at State Mutual Stadium’s Three Rivers Club. “I knew that was a big goal for the club, so I figured it was a good time to join. I jokingly told Bob I had been waiting to be the 100th.”
Founded Dec. 3, 1948, the 70-year-old club made the decision earlier this year to get in on the “100 for 100” membership campaign launched by the international organization that recently turned 100 years old itself.
The local organization serves area youth through scholarships, special recognitions, oratorical contests and donations to nonprofit organizations that serve at-risk youth such as Restoration Rome, among other things.
To celebrate the local club’s accomplishments in growing its membership, Monday’s meeting featured a cake and a special appearance by Optimist International GATEway District Governor Gwen Gable.
Gable applauded the group for all its done for area youth by growing the organization to what it is today.
“Everything changes in this world, but there’s one thing that has not changed and that is clearly the commitment that the members have in this called path to support this community to impact the lives of so many children and themselves and the entire community,” said Gable, who laughed about her own introduction to the Optimists 10 years ago. “Someone at my workplace was kind enough to invite me to a 7 a.m. meeting. Well, I don’t do 7 a.m. very well and overslept. I completely forgot about it.”
But like a good Optimist, the co-worker persisted until Gable showed up. Once there, she was hooked.
“I will tell you it’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my later adult life,” said Gable, who had to fight off tears when Puckett told the group Gable has been 100% committed to the organization despite also working full time as an Atlanta realtor.
It was Gable who had helped grow the organization in Tennessee, Puckett told the crowd.
“I promise you, no matter when you ask her to be someplace and no matter what time it is, day or night or weekend, she is there,” Puckett said of Gable before turning over the podium to her.
The GATEway District is comprised of East Tennessee and all of Georgia, with the “GA” representing Georgia and the “TE” standing for Tennessee. It is said that the Rome group is one of the most active clubs in the district.
Floyd County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson was the member who sponsored Treadaway as her 15th inductee. This earned her a special pin Monday and bragging rights on her own Facebook page.
“I was fortunate to be the Optimist that recruited Lee,” Penson posted. “Lee becomes my 15th recruit into Rome Noon Optimist Club! Congratulations Lee!”
As members enjoyed their lunch Monday, several new guests were welcomed and the longest-serving member John Heneisen was acknowledged.
Heneisen was 22 when he first joined Optimist back in 1965 in Kentucky when he was an assistant dean of students at a college there. He explained later that he simply wanted to find other ways to serve young people.
“Some organizations just raise money and give the money to various groups,” the father of two and grandfather to five said as he enjoyed a piece of cake, adding he joined the Rome club in 1984. “This Optimist Club actually works directly with the youth and I like working with kids.”
Before Treadaway headed out the door to get back to work, Gable gave him one more pin for his lapel. This time, it was the special “governor’s pin” and a bit larger than the other club adornment.
Treadaway smiled and reiterated how honored he is to now be a member of the Noon Optimist Club.
“The purpose of the group and the programs it’s involved in and the mission to improve the lives of youth is what attracted me to it,” Treadaway said, adding with a chuckle, “I found out it’s more than just a free lunch.”