The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online Wednesday, May 20, with President Le Ila Dixon sharing the story of It’s From the Sole organization which has given away tens of thousands of sneakers.

Andre McDonnell, its founder, relates its beginning: “In 2012, after playing basketball with friends, I spotted a homeless man with no shoes on his feet. A sense of urgency came over me that nudged my soul to take action. I took the sneakers off my feet and offered them to this gentleman. Feeling the same gravel that was under his feet, nothing compared to the gratitude he expressed with this small act of kindness and returned smile.”

“It made me realize,” he goes on to say, “there are many unfortunate people similar to this man, without so much as a decent pair of shoes. I knew in my heart there had to be something more I could do to make their walk through life a little easier. From that one moment came It’s From The Sole.

“For the first two and a half years I handled the collection, cleaning, and distribution alone and at my own expense. To aid in some of my efforts, I now recruit high school and college students, teaching them how to give back while performing community service for a cool organization.”

“Thanks, Andre McDonnell,” says President Le Ila, “for what you do to make the world a better place. We all play a part!”

Optimist Richard Magrill reports, “I find myself more and more missing seeing our Optimist members and long for the time when we can be together again, but I spend my extra time in fellowship with the early Optimists who started the club in 1945. I am up to 1953, about one-quarter of the way through writing our history, and only yesterday dealt with July 21,1952, the meeting at which our oldest member, Dr. George Bennett, joined our club (it was just two weeks after he started his medical practice in Marshall). What a long connection he has with the club! I am enjoying the help of Optimist Adam Adair, his grandson, and we hope to share his story next week.”

This week thanks to the good help of Optimist Rachel Hankins, we give you Optimist Ben Dickson’s story.

“My name is Ben Dickson and I am a proud Noon Optimist Club member. I was born in March of nineteen eighty three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a young child my family relocated to Mount Vernon, Texas. My mother home-schooled my sister Julie and I. This allowed me to graduate from high school at the age of sixteen.

After graduation I got my first job and have been a hard worker ever since. When I am not working, I do enjoy spending time with my family and checking off all the things on my honey to do list.

My wife Keri and I met at a bible study many years ago at the home of a dear mutual friend. The attraction to her beauty and sweet soul was immediate for me.

However, it took her a while to warm up to my quirky personality. I continued my attempts of wooing her and eventually she gave in to going on a date with me. Several years later in October 2014 she became my wife.

Since then we have been the proud parents of a crazy dog trio. Patches, Sugar and Sadie are happy now to announce they are the protectors of a beautiful and perfect tiny version of my wife and me.

Kylie Dickson was welcomed into the world and into our families in January of this year. (It was a Wednesday, so I had the most legitimate of reasons for missing that week’s Optimist Club meeting.)

Besides being the husband of Keri and the father of Kylie, I am also the owner of a local insurance agency. Farmers Insurance Dickson Agency opened it’s doors in July 2015.

I am proud to provide insurance coverage to the automobiles, homes and businesses in Marshall and the surrounding area. Being an insurance agent is rewarding in so many ways. Especially when you are able to save a family money on their monthly bills.

In January 2014 I joined the Noon Optimist Club of Marshall with the encouragement of Charles and Le Ila Dixon and have particularly enjoyed participating in S.M.I.L.E. (Student Mock Interview Learning Experience) each year. The MHS Seniors are impressive and inspiring!

I joined the club to help make a difference in the lives of the younger members of this community.

The Optimist Club not only has many outstanding programs that help all ages of children with things from meals to scholarships, but it is always looking for unmet needs and ways of assisting.

Last fall it held its first birthday party for Harrison County foster kids. That is something I am proud to be a part of. Being a father myself, I feel that it is important to always lend a hand in helping the younger generation in any way possible.

The Optimist Club also has brought many friendships with some very interesting people that I probably would not have ever crossed paths with had it not been for my club membership.”