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Optimist Julie Brock is part of the glue that holds the club together.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online Wednesday, April 22, with President Le Ila Dixon informing us that Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In 1970, as a 25-year-old graduate student, Denis Hayes organized the first Earth Day. The resounding success of that event, which brought out 20 million Americans — 10 percent of the United States population at the time — helped spark the modern environmental movement.

Wednesday was also the birthday of Queen Isabella of Castile and León who supported and financed Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the Americas. (It is a date on the calendar she shares with our youngest member, Optimist Adam Adair. Happy birthday Adam and Isabella!) On a personal note: Le Ila says, “My family, grandchildren included, have visited the castle in Segovia where Isabella grew up and later hosted Columbus as he pled his case for assistance. Optimist Charles Dixon’s brother, David, lives a couple of hours drive away in Madrid.

Members suggested that one concrete thing the club could do this week was make a gift to the Food Pantry. The email vote was unanimous for the largest option. As Optimist Adam Adair noted in making his vote: “$1,000 sounds good to me; these are extraordinary times.” Later, an anonymous Optimist, inspired by the club’s action, matched the gift so they were able to send $2,000.

Optimist Richard Magrill continues with his collection of the stories of the club’s members, new and old. So far this weeks emails reveal, all members coping with the pandemic as well as can be expected. This week a born and bred Marshall Maverick, Julie Brock, the club’s second longest serving president shared her busy life.

“I was born Julie Heaton, to the late Larry Heaton (Reggie Heaton – step mom) and Jackie Shadowens Gray (Charles Gray – step dad). I attended Marshall ISD and graduated in 1994. Throughout my school age years, I played baseball, soccer, softball, and played the clarinet as a member of the Big Red Pride Band. All of which I had to leave before my senior year as I was in the work cooperative and went to school in the mornings and worked in the afternoons.

My first job, during my senior year of high school, was at Louis A. Williams & Associates, Inc. (LAW, Inc.). After graduation, I started school full-time at Panola College, for computer programming and business administration with accounting. During this time I had to leave LAW, Inc. and started working part-time first at Brookshire’s and then at Gibson’s Pharmacy. I was able to receive a certificate after one year at Panola and came back to work at LAW, Inc. where I have been ever since. This May will mark my 25th year there.

I married Cory Brock in May of 1996 and we had our daughter Josie Brock in May of 2000. I guess you could say May is my month! My then supervisor, at LAW, Inc., was a member of the Noon Optimist Club of Marshall (note: Louis A. Williams LAW, Inc. founder was a long term and enthusiastic club member). My supervisor talked me into joining the club in Nov. 2008. I have served in many capacities over the past twelve years — first as secretary/treasurer writing the weekly bulletins for about six years and then as president for four years. Presently, I am the representative to Optimist International Foundation. I love getting to see and visit with the high school seniors of our Young Texanne and Texan program. I also really enjoyed the birthday party that we organized for area foster children last fall. Hopefully, we will get to have many more!

In Oct. 2014, Sarah Collins came to live with us after her mother passed away. In December of the same year, we made it official and I became her legal guardian. It was like raising twins as Sarah’s and Josie’s birthdays were exactly one week apart. During their high school years, we were able to go on a few trips together. With the choir we went to Washington D.C. in Mar. 2017 and the week after they graduated we went to New York in June 2018 with some of the performing arts students.

I have been a softball coach for the Marshall Youth Softball Association. I served on the Marshall ISD SHAC (Student Health Advisory Council) while the girls were in high school and also as a representative for the Optimist Club. The SHAC helps our club with our Triple M Back Pack program through which we feed children in need on the weekends.

I have served as the Relay for Life co-chair for a couple of years now. I got involved with Relay partially because Mr. Louis A. Williams died of cancer. Usually we have a kick-off, Survivor Dinner and fundraising and of course planning the Relay. This year, however, we have had to postpone a lot of the activities and we are up against the possibility of having to forgo the entire Relay for Life event. Next year, of course, should be bigger and better. Please consider joining and sponsoring this worthy cause.

I am also a board member of Buddy Power Promotions, a local performing arts company. We try to hold a few plays during the year, fundraising and promoting theatrical performances. So far, we have done The Curious Savage, Steel Magnolias, It’s A Wonderful Life a Radio Play, The Mousetrap and The Wild Women of Winedale. Again, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recently had to halt rehearsals for the play Harvey written by Mary Chase. We had hoped to present the play during the last of May and first of June, so please watch for news of when it will be rescheduled. You will not want to miss this.”