March 9, 2013

Ask your daughter to join an Optimist Club today

Since yesterday was International Women's Day, I'm a day late with this thought, but it doesn't matter; it's important that this suggestion take place every day and not just once a year. Today is the day for fathers and mothers to call their daughters and ask them to join an Optimist Club.

I wanted to join the Optimist Club of Granite City, Illinois long before the Optimist Club wanted a woman to join. Year after year, during their membership drive, they would visit my dad and ask him to join. His response was always, "No, but Linda would like to."

They always said that they would get back to us on that.

It took about five years for them to finally get back to us. Membership in all service clubs was declining by that time, but that didn't matter to me. I came with enthusiasm, and after a few years in the club was asked to be its president. We increased membership by five members that year and progressively made increases each year after that until I moved to another community.

This story isn't about me. It is about what an enthusiastic member can bring to a struggling club and how those enthusiastic members are often just waiting for the chance to be recognized.

Women are overlooked in service clubs, the workplace, and other settings for a variety of reasons. Some often consider service clubs to be "old boys clubs" and perhaps there is a little truth in that stereotype, but as International Women's Day points out, the inequality between men and women is pervasive throughout our societies. But it doesn't have to be.

Women need sponsors to help them find a level playing ground. That sponsor might be another woman who's made it, or not; or a progressive male colleague. And as much as we might wish we could make it on our own, the sponsor might even turn out to be a parent who helps their child - their female child - make the right connections.

I think one of the right connections is a service club. So do it. Ask your daughter to join an Optimist Club today.


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