Rainbow Optimist Club
SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO, INC.
Bettering the lives of LGBT2Q+ rural youth, their families, and their communities in Elgin, Middlesex, and Oxford Counties.
Meet the Board
Founder & Treasurer
Martin Withenshaw has been an advocate for human rights for over 50 years. In 2019, Pride London Festival recognized Martin’s activism and appointed him the Grand Marshall for the 25th annual London Pride Parade.
As part of his activism, Martin was approached by Paula Jesty, Kid’s Mental Health of Canada Optimist Club and Mary Lou Abrams, the Governor of the SWO Optimist Clubs at the time, to form an Optimist Club serving the LGBT2Q+ community. On the eve of Optimist International’s 100 Anniversary, The Rainbow Optimist Club - Southwestern Ontario was born. They received their charter on September 10, 2018 to become the first in the world to join the Optimist International family.
Martin was the President for 2 years, will always be the Charter President, and is the current treasurer. He is retired but still works hard to promote inclusion and diversity in our communities.