October 25, 2012

Optimist International is a powerful force for good

Optimist Clubs conduct community service projects on a local level with an emphasis on programs that help children live up to their full potential. That doesn't mean that a club might not focus on pets, adults, the environment, health and wellness, and the many other elements that come together to make up the community at large. Quite the contrary; everything that we do as an Optimist Club should help our members and our stakeholders have a better quality of life.

Optimist Clubs sometimes form for single purposes like sports or to complete a project in the community. When the project is completed, there may not be a need for an Optimist Club unless those who came together know what else an Optimist Club can do. That's why I believe every Optimist Club, old, new or in-between,  should follow the purposes of Optimist International:
  • To develop optimism as a philosophy of life, utilizing the tenets of the Optimist Creed;
  • To promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs;
  • To inspire respect for the law;
  • To promote patriotism and work for international accord and friendship among all people;
  • To aid and encourage the development of youth, in the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world.
And be true to the mission statement of the organization:
  • With hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in children. 
I'm part of a group on LinkedIn for Optimist Club members and recently there has been discussion about a new Optimist Club that was formed to serve the American Cancer Society through fundraising and other means. The club is creating its own mission statement. According to a club spokesperson, this club will embrace some elements of Optimist International's mission statement, but it will have goals that are distinct. 

Every Optimist Club is autonomous. That's a given and both a beauty and downfall of the organization. The beauty of autonomy is that it is easier to organize a club when you can adopt another's reason for being. The downside is that doing so dilutes the purposes, reputation and identity of Optimist International. 

I believe in the purposes of Optimist International and would encourage every new club builder and every member to remember what we stand for as Optimists. Spread the words, dreams, and deeds of Optimist International first and foremost. 

Affiliation with Optimist International is a powerful force for good in its own right and we should celebrate its potential and accomplishments just as we celebrate the potential and accomplishments of those we serve. Don't give away the opportunity to be an Optimist Club. It's a special feeling that can, given the chance, lead to a rewarding way of life. 
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