Full house
It was a great night of food and laughs at the Russell Optimist Club’s Rib Night on Sat., June 15. Courtesy Genest photo

RUSSELL – It was a packed house on Sat., June 15 for the sixth edition of the Russell Optimist Club’s Rib Night. Club member Rachel Genest estimated that 110 people came out to the fundraising event at the Russell arena for an evening of ribs and comedy. Guests were treated to a delicious meal featuring ribs, catered by Meatings Barbecue of Orléans, and entertained by three comedians from Yuk Yuk’s during the evening. Genest explained that through Yuk Yuk’s fundraising program, the Optimist Club hired three comedians to entertain guests. Host comedian for the night was Kyle Hickey, followed by opener Dylan Gott and main act Peter White.

The Russell Optimist Club is a regional group of the the volunteer organization Optimist International. Genest explained that the international organization is made up of over 80,000 members in 20 counties, and that the international club is celebrating its centennial year in 2019.

Genest noted that the Russell Optimist Club holds two fundraising events each year; the first, a Trivia Night, is typically held in January, followed by the Rib Night in June. These fundraisers help the club to provide family friendly activities throughout the rest of the year including Movie in the Park, Easter egg hunts, Halloween events, Christmas for The Kids, as well as assisting local schools.

Genest advised that the Rib Night event brought in just over $3,000, and all of the proceeds will be poured right back into the community. Genest served as president of the Russell Optimist Club last year and she is presently involved in the Optimist Club at the district level (Eastern Ontario); she is set to return to the Russell club for the 2019/2020 year to again serve as president beginning in October.

The Russell Optimist Club consists of 15 members, and they have been actively planning the Rib Night for the last two months. When asked about her passion for involvement in the Russell club, Genest stated “I love giving back to my community,” adding that the club’s values were always present in her family growing up as her godfather was a former governor of the Optimist Club.

Genest also added that as a single parent, it was important to her to find an organization that prioritized good values, and also provided budget friendly activities for children. “Three quarters of our activities for kids are free,” she noted. The club is preparing to take a break for the summer, and the next activity on the horizon is Movie in the Park to take place in September.

Genest wished to thank the Rib Night’s sponsors, ProStone Landscaping & Contracting, OLM Farms (McNeely Family) and Joey Abrams, Royal LePage real estate representative.