Optimist Club of Westfield

Friend of Youth—Bringing Out The Best In Kids

Optimist International logo

There are a number of projects that we do every year to aid the community, and especially the youth, of Westfield.


Optimist Club members demonstrate their commitment to community service by providing a record number of holiday food baskets to almost 100 Westfield area families and individuals in need. The annual Holiday Food Basket program has been a community service project for the Optimist Club of Westfield since 1991.  This project is made possible through the generosity and funding of the Optimist Club, the Rotary Club of Westfield, personal financial contributions from members and friends, and support from King’s Supermarket. The project reflects the organization’s mission in helping those in need and assisting members and families in our community.



As a club that is founded on the principals of volunteerism and community service, the Optimist Club is pleased to recognize young men and women who have embraced these ideals at an early age.  The Optimist Club Youth Volunteer Award is given annually to a high school junior or senior who is a resident of Westfield and has dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort to volunteer in the community.  Many of the nominees show a long history of volunteerism through their schools, churches and the community at large.  Since1995, the Optimist Club has recognized outstanding young people who distinguished themselves through volunteer service to the community.  The recognition includes a cash award presented to the recipient at the April dinner meeting and a plaque presented at the Westfield High School Awards Night ceremony in May.  The award is named in honor of Thom Hornish, a former Westfield High School teacher, in recognition of his dedication to youth, club service and involvement as a past president and long-time member of the Optimist Club. 


Westfield 7th grade students enrolled in Public Speaking are encouraged to “speak their mind” as part of the Westfield Optimist Club Oratorical Contest.  The Optimist Club has sponsored the Oratorical Contest for Westfield students since 2000. Faculty and administration judge the initial rounds of speeches based on content and presentation and select five finalists from each intermediate school. Each of the finalists will receive recognition of their accomplishment and the top three winners presented with a medal and a cash award.


The Optimist Club signature project is the annual Project Graduation BASH, the all-night substance-free party for the Westfield High School senior class on the evening of graduation.  Project Graduation BASH is a special tradition for Westfield High School seniors.  The event is organized and sponsored by the Optimist Club of Westfield.

The purpose of the party is to provide a fun, safe, drug and alcohol-free atmosphere for the senior class to celebrate their high school graduation.  Over 9,000 Westfield High School graduates have had fun and safe celebrations at Project Graduation BASH.  Since 1989, approximately 85% of the graduating class has attended BASH. 

Many Optimist Club members, teachers, and friends volunteer their time by serving as chaperones or in other supporting roles to ensure the tradition of BASH continues.  Parents and business sponsors enable this event to continue in our community every year through their generous contributions.  A special program book distributed at the Westfield High School graduation ceremony recognizes these individuals and businesses.

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The Optimist Club established the Intermediate School Teacher Awards to recognize the nobility of the teaching profession and the importance of teaching intermediate school students.  Since 1996, the Optimist Club has presented the award to teachers from Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools.

The award gives recognition and credit to two distinguished intermediate school teachers who are dedicated to providing an educationally stimulating and supporting environment during the critical state of adolescence.  The criteria for recipients of this award are outstanding teaching, interest in children and continued pursuit of professional growth.  The nominee must be a full-time teacher in the Westfield Public Schools in grades 6 - 8 for a minimum of five years.  A committee of three Optimists, two intermediate school principals and previous award recipients select the Teacher Award recipients.  

The recognition includes a cash award and a plaque presented to the recipients at an Optimist Club dinner meeting and the Westfield Board of Education honors the teachers with a reception.

The Optimist Club awards a limited number of Community Service Grants to local non-profit organizations that fit our criteria for youth development and community service.  We are proud to be able to provide resources for selected projects and proposals from local non-profit community organizations whose focus is to aid and encourage the positive development of youth.  Grant requests are reviewed in the spirit of the Optimist Club’s purpose as “Friend of Youth”. 

As part of the decision process, the Grants Committee reviews the application to develop a clear understanding of the way in which the funds are to be used.  The Optimist Club Grants Committee, in accordance with its goal of Service to Youth and Community, is interested in providing grants for programs and projects that are directly aimed at serving youth in the community. Since funds available for distribution are limited, the Optimist Club does not provide grants for the funding of general operations and expenses; staff salaries; or reimbursement or retro funding for projects substantially or already completed.  No applications for capital improvements or operating funds will be considered. 

If you have any questions regarding grants or the application process, contact optimist@westfieldnj.com


The Westfield Halloween Parade is organized and sponsored by Optimist Club of Westfield.  The annual parade and related activities continue a long-standing Optimist Club tradition of providing fun, entertaining, and safe Halloween family activities for the community

The annual Optimist Club Halloween Parade is part of Westfield’s AddamsFest celebration featuring a children’s costume contest, roaming costumed characters and entertainment provided by the Westfield High School Marching Band.