Members of the Sunshine Optimist Club enjoyed cake and wore their new bright yellow Optimist hats as they welcomed the charter to their new club at Independent Living Services. 

The club is the first of its kind with membership made up of only people with developmental disabilities.

Herb Evans with the Conway Noon Optimist Club said the Sunshine Optimist chartered their club with 57 members. 

"Since that time, they have added maybe a half dozen more. It will probably grow to about 75," Evans said.

Since the Sunshine Optimist club’s start in early September, the club members have been very active. The members have participated in the Civic Club Chili Cook off at ArtsFest, are collecting aluminum can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and participating in the Conway Fire Department’s Fill the Boot.

Evans said as the success stories of the Sunshine Optimists appear in the statewide Optimist Banner and Optimist International magazine, he expects more clubs like this one to form.

"They will look at the Conway club as a pilot," Evans said.

Jackie Fliss, executive director of Independent Living Services, said the club is an excellent opportunity for its members to be more active in the community. 

"It fits perfectly with the goals we have as a staff," Fliss said.

Joseph Smith, vice president of the Sunshine Optimist, said he is very proud to be a member of the club.

"I am just so glad to have had the chance to be called to serve as vice president," Smith said.

Fliss said she hopes the Sunshine Optimist will set a good example as a pilot program. 

"We have good people here," Fliss said.