Optimist Isabel Martinez with her family including her husband David Montoya and daughters Sarah Montoya, left, and Camila Arias, right.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online Wednesday April 29, with President Le Ila Dixon challenging club members to fulfill the club creed’s admonition: “Promise yourself to give every living creature you meet a smile.” “We cannot gather together for a club meeting,” she said, “but we can give each other a smile. Mine is attached.” When Optimists Melissa Al-Ahmadi, Richard Magrill and Julie Brock sent theirs right away, Richard realized how great it was to see Julie’s because in their recent exchanges of flash drives under the awning back of Louis A. Williams Associates they had been masked.

Optimist Julie is working with Suzan Harrison and Nakeena Bayless at MHS to complete the Young Texan/Texanne honors for this school year. But, rest assured, the club is working on a project which also involves six $500 grants.

The members “stepped up to the plate” last week by voting to send $1,000 to the Mission Marshall Food Pantry to relieve hunger needs for families in Harrison County. That vote prompted an additional anonymous donation of $1,000 which made the amount $2,000. It also prompted the Triple M Backpack Board of Directors — Don Parrish, Kevin Neu, Steve Horton, Charles Dixon, Le Ila Dixon, Jane Ogden, Stan Winn, Shirley Winn, and Amy Martin — to discuss making a donation. They are not able to distribute Backpack meals during March, April or May. A donation to the Food Pantry could provide much needed help to families with children who would otherwise miss receiving the backpacks. More information on this will be provided later.

Optimist Ned Calvert, whose story will be next week’s program, and Optimist Richard Magrill are discussing ideas they plan to present for consideration.

New Optimist Isabel Martinez works with long-time Optimists Julie Brock and Michele Fuller and is the latest in a long line of Optimists to come to the club from Louis A. Williams, Associates. Here is her story.

“I was born and grew up in Cali, Colombia. (Santiago de Cali is the most populous city in the southwest of the Republic of Colombia, with 2,227,642 residents according to the 2018 census making it the size of Houston.) When I came to the United States, I settled in Houston. There I became a Christian through the ministry of Pastor Ruben Albarracín and La Nueva Vida Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It was also there that I met my husband, David Montoya, also from Colombia where both of his parents served as CP pastors. Pastor Ruben brought me to know the Lord in a new, personal, and exciting way in the summer of 1998 and I joined La Nueva Vida in May of 1999.

I became very active in its ministry. I was ordained a deacon and served as a Sunday school teacher working with kids and youth through Awanas, a ministry which equips church volunteers with biblical evangelism and discipleship solutions so that today’s children may become tomorrow’s Christian leaders.

I am professionally a Montessori preschool teacher and have enjoyed my work in Montessori schools. They are named for its founder, Dr. Maria Montessori; the Montessori method is based on two simple truths: that children must be respected, and that children spontaneously love learning.

La Nueva Vida is a sister church to our church in Marshall and both are members of Trinity Presbytery. Through presbyterial contacts the CPC of Marshall became aware of David’s musical talents. He is a university-trained Spanish classical guitarist. He was called here by the CPC of Marshall to lead its new contemporary worship service and our family moved here on August 12, 2016. The contemporary service began that fall on the first Sunday in October and even during our present pandemic it continues with David, Pastor Rusty Rustenhaven, and a wonderful and dedicated praise band who live stream the service every Sunday.

God guided us to Marshall and has blessed us with a growing ministry to Hispanics here through a worship service at 10 a.m. each Sunday led by David and members of the praise band. It continues to grow through Tuesday evening Bible study and special fellowship events as the Lord adds to our numbers! (And, while the corona virus keeps us physically apart, our Hispanic Sunday morning worship at ten o’clock is, like the traditional 11:10 a.m. Anglo service, also live streamed on Facebook and made available later on YouTube.)

Why did I become an Optimist? I was elected a deacon in the Marshall Church so when the Optimist Club asked the deacons to jointly sponsor its first birthday party for foster kids last fall, I took part. David and I and Rosario Argote were on hand to serve as translators for any Hispanics who might come. (And David helped out with the popcorn machine purchased expressly for the occasion; it is just like the one we enjoyed using at La Nueva Vida.)

From that birthday experience, I learned first hand of the Optimist Club focus on helping kids and youth. I became a member and look forward to being of service!”