April 23, 2014

Pancakes advance our communities

As I grew up, the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast and Jaycees Fish Fry were social gatherings that families didn't miss. In addition to helping out the clubs in their fundraising efforts, attendees would visit with friends and families and in social parlance, they would just hang out and be seen.

For a small business owner, being seen in the community was an important part of their public relations plan. During the event, my father would field questions about new appliances and television problems; my mom would inquire about families and kids and both of their actions solidified relationships. There was no doubt that the majority of those they met at the service club event would visit State Radio and Television when it came time to purchase their next TV or appliance.

Times have changed. Service clubs hold fewer food-related fundraisers. My work with the Middleton Area Optimist Club has led me to believe that part of the reason is that it's not cost effective. By the time one purchases supplies and complies with food preparation rules supplied by the health district, the price of the ticket is likely higher than one would want to pay to eat pancakes on a parking lot. Not to mention, the one or two dollars that the club receives from each ticket isn't a big return on investment.

However, I must say that the way we socialize has changed as well. We text and email and reminisce with our friends on Facebook, making the annual pancake breakfast rather obsolete. That's why I was so heartened to see that the Optimist Club of Lebanon, Oregon finds its Strawberry Festival Breakfast to be part of the appeal to belong the club.

At the recent Biz Expo sponsored by the chamber of commerce, the Lebanon Optimist Club was there in force to explain what they do in the community. The Optimist Club Strawberry Festival Breakfast banner was there, front and center, publicizing the event; but more important, reminding visitors that when they support the community, they support each other.

I don't want to slow down technology. I'm all for advancing its power; but I would sometimes like to slow down time so that we are mindful of where we live and how a pancake breakfast put on by an Optimist Club has the potential to improve our relationships. Perhaps, coming together for pancakes  could advance our community one relationship at a time. Perhaps some traditions need to be revived for service clubs and all.

April 19, 2014

I'm "Happy" for the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences

Encouraging children comes in all forms. There is the daily work that teachers do with their students every day and the small gestures that Optimist Clubs perform to honor and engage with them throughout the year. And then there are those who can go a step beyond and provide not only encouragement, but true delight.

That's exactly what Ellen DeGeneres and Pharrell Williams did for the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences. And being Ellen, she had a camera crew there to record it so she could share her experience with the world.

Please watch, clap and be happy. Moments like these are what it's like to experience optimism.

April 17, 2014

Hunt, scramble and dash

Optimist of North Augusta, SC hosts annual Easter egg dash
This weekend, children throughout the US and Canada will be dashing, hunting and scrambling for eggs as many Optimist Clubs host one of their favorite activities: the Easter Egg Hunt.

Ask any Optimist Club spokesperson and they will say it's the best 60 seconds of the year. After weeks of planning and hours of setting up, the children arrive and wipe out the colorful, candy-filled eggs in record-breaking time. Smiles are seen all around as the kiddos claim their prizes and Optimist Club members and parents look on with delight.

The Optimist Club of Meridian, Idaho proudly claimed on its Easter egg scramble flyer that it is the 37th consecutive year to host the event. That's an important record to publish for it acknowledges that the Optimist Club has been strong and contributing to the community for a very long time. It signifies its staying power and demonstrates value in belonging to the Optimist Club. Don't be afraid to brag a little about your Optimist Club's commitment to those it serves.

So when the whistle blows this weekend, don't be looking the other way or you'll miss all the fun.

Photo credit: Derrek Asberry for The Star
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