Tina Conley has served Oswego for 20 years through her dedication to the Oswegoland Optimist Club and brought joy to the community through her fun personality.
The Optimist Club is an international service organization “with the primary goal of providing or supporting programs that are of benefit to the youth of the community.”
Twenty years ago, the Optimist Club approached Conley to sponsor an event.
“At that time, I was working 80 hours per week and my son was young but the club had this family comes first mentality, which I found amazing,” Conley said.
Conley has now been an active member for 20 years. She served two terms as president and is now the secretary.
“People have more time than they realize. Members of the group give a little bit and our group collectively completes amazing projects to help the kids in our community,” she explained.
Conley’s mantra: “If I don’t do it, someone else won’t.”
Conley said she’s made lifelong friendships through the club.
Members range in age from 22-80 and include people from different careers, stay at home moms, even retired members who live out of state but still participate. "There are so many people I never would have met and we have such fun working on projects," Conley said.
Conley’s favorite Optimist Club event is the annual pumpkin race, which involves attaching wheels to a carved pumpkin and racing it down a hill.
“It’s something totally different and brings a lot of excitement to Oswego,” she said.
The Optimist Club’s biggest service project is their annual Christmas Project, which assists local needy families by providing them with Christmas gifts and a turkey dinner.
This year’s project will help 87 families and approximately 200 kids, Conley said.
Conley explained that the Optimist Club works with the school district to locate the needy families and to gather information to determine gifts that the family needs and will enjoy.
Conley said that all families have been sponsored. The club is still accepting donations for food costs and volunteers to sort and deliver food and gifts.
Conley said she wishes more people would consider joining the Optimist Club, which currently has about 100 members.
“I hope people will look into the club and realize that giving just a little time really helps everyone. Plus we have a lot of fun,” she said.
Jeannie LaMarre has known Conley, through the Optimist Club, for eight years. LaMarre described Conley as “crazy awesome.”
“Tina is very passionate about the club. She breathes the Optimist Club and it is at the front of her brain all the time. She brings lots of new ideas, energy and excitement,” LaMarre said.
Conley has also served on the Allied Bank Triathlon committee and assisted with the YARN (Young and Restoring Nations) Foundation.
Conley has lived in Oswego for 25 years.
“Oswego is full of wonderful, giving people. If anyone is in need, there is always a gang of people that rally around to help. People here don’t look away and say ‘it’s not my problem.’ Everyone pitches in,” she proudly explained.
Conley can be seen cruising around Oswego on her scooter, sporting her Angry Birds backpack.