August 30, 2013 2:00 am • By Alison Gene Smith - [email protected]
TWIN FALLS • The Twin Falls Optimist Club has been helping children in the Magic Valley for decades with coat drives, tailgate challenges and turkey shoot fundraisers. Now the group has been granted nonprofit 501(c)3 status, allowing people to donate directly to the club.
The status change also will enable the club to obtain money from grants, endowments, estates and foundations, said Barry Knoblich, board member of the Optimist Foundation Inc.
“What we’re finding is the needs of our children and youth in our area have just exploded,” Knoblich said. “You can’t outpace with fundraisers these needs that are all worthy.”
The process to get charity status took about a year, he said, but having a foundation of their own will help the Optimists reach more children.
To celebrate the creation of the foundation, the president of Optimist clubs worldwide will be in Twin Falls on Thursday at the Optimist Club’s regular meeting at the Mandarin House in Twin Falls.
"The group is looking for places to give formal presentations to spread the word about opportunities to donate," Knoblich said. “The mission of the Optimists is to benefit as many kids as possible with the dollars that we put back in the community,” he said. “We look for things to get the most bang from our buck.”
Recently, the group has been looking at paying for housing for children who have slipped through the cracks in the legal system and helping to finance children’s school-related activities. “We get requests we never used to see before,” Knoblich said.
The CPA firm of Tilley & Lincoln, under the direction of Douglas Lincoln, will manage the foundation. The firm is donating its oversight.
Because the Optimists is a volunteer group, it has no overhead costs, Knoblich said. “One hundred percent of what they’re giving will go straight to the projects.”