December 31, 2009

Welcome to 2010

In the new year, I hope that you have 12 months of happiness, 52 weeks of fun, 365 days of success, 8,760 hours of good health, 525,600 minutes of love, and 31,536,000 seconds of joy.  May you always dance with all of your heart. Cheers!

Inspired by Donna C. Drury of Lawrenceburg, KY.  Thank you. 

Make your club approachable

The Optimist Club of Monaco South in Denver, Colorado sent me a link to another well-done club newsletter.  Take a look at GUMS

What do I like about it?
  1. It is easy to read.  I like short bursts of information and this one tells plenty about upcoming events and includes short quips of what has happened that people want to know about like how much money was raised and did the club meet their goals. 
  2. It makes you smile.  Whether it is the humorous story, the trivial facts or the smiling faces in the photos, I was happy when I finished reading it.
  3. It is respectful.  With a nod to the club's past presidents, Optimist International's theme and the Optimist Creed, you know this club has a proud heritage.   
  4. It is informative.  The newsletter has a calendar of coming events and a well-written article about an important issue in the community. 
However, what I like most about this newsletter is that it is clear that this club is approachable.  According to the very first paragraph there are greeters at the door welcoming members and guests.  Later on in the newsletter it reminds members to invite friends and potential new members to the meetings.  And by always including where the club meets, it ensures that guests reading online or that have been given the newsletter are able to come to a meeting too.  

I believe that approachability is the key to helping our Optimist Clubs grow and provide more service in our communities.  Make a New Year's resolution for your Optimist Club now.  Resolve to be open and inviting; resolve to be approachable.

December 30, 2009

Richard Paul belongs to an Optimist Club

What does an Optimist Club newsletter look like?   There are at least 3,000 different answers to that question; that is as many answers as there are clubs.  I believe, however, they most often they serve as a bulletin and offer a quick look at what is happening and how to get involved with a nod to what's happened in the past. For clubs that publish weekly, their newsletter or bulletin serve for recording minutes and announcing the next meeting agenda. 

With the advent of desktop publishing software, some publications have become very professional.  I recently came across one that caught my attention, not only for the design, but also for its content.  The Optimist Club of Central Macomb, Michigan publishes a monthly newsletter that looks good, reads well and contains relevant information to help their club succeed. 

Tucked inside the Central Macomb Optimist Club newsletter is also a member feature insert.  It was this feature article, posted on a member's website, that brought me to their newsletter.  The highlight member of the month for December 2009 was Richard Paul, a motivational speaker who says we need to lighten up and use laughter to reduce stress.  I think he's a good fit with the Optimist Club mission. 

If you are sitting there thinking what a shameless self-promotion, please think again.  These connections are what make our Optimist Clubs grow.  Connecting with others who share our passion and care enough about their relationship with your club to promote it in an appropriate manner will help us spread our mission, add fans to our cause and recruit members for our club.  Don't just think about it; in 2010, please be sure to promote your members by adding a member feature article to your Optimist Club newsletter.

December 29, 2009

How one Optimist Club attracts sponsors

Your business can sponsor Optimist Club activities.  By being a sponsor, your business will gain exposure and allow the Optimist Club to bring a needed service, product, or event to your community.

The Optimist Club of Lakeside, California is currently seeking sponsors for their 2010 Bulls Only Rodeo.  Take a look at their sponsor prospectus. Please give them a call if your business might benefit from being associated with this project. 

If you are another Optimist Club looking for ideas, the prospectus is an example* of one way to gain corporate sponsorship for your events.  Use your imagination and knowledge of your community to make it work for you.  Good luck! 

*This Optimist Club claims they are a 501c3 organization.  Optimist Clubs are automatically organized as 501c4 organizations under the IRS code.  Please check with Optimist International to be certain your club has completed the extra steps for becoming a 501c3 if you need that status to accept charitable donations.  Events like a rodeo would most likely attract sponsors that are advertisers and as such would not need or request the charitable deduction. 

December 28, 2009

Everybody can play

This is a project that can bring the entire community together.  Spearheaded by the Optimist Club and Kiwanis Club in Huntsville, Alabama, the "Everybody can play playground" is under now construction. 

Find out all about the project at

December 27, 2009

What is an Optimist volunteer?

The Uptown Optimist Club of Great Falls has designated a page on their website to define who an Optimist is and what an Optimist does. Take a look at the site here. Or scroll down for their take on what it means to be an Optimist Club member in Great Falls, Montana.

An Optimist is...

a volunteer joining a group of civic-minded men and women banded together in the modern tradition for progressive thought and action in community service. Community service is their byword, objective and creed, recognizing that they must contribute something to the life of the community from which they and their families draw daily benefits. There is no greater opportunity for personal participation in community affairs and service than that to be found in an Optimist Organization. Each organization assures a position of strength and prestige through its affiliation with Optimist International, a federation of groups of like-minded Optimists throughout Canada, the United States and the World.

An Optimist does…

whatever needs doing in the community. If a need exists or if something will help the community, Optimists usually do something about it. Optimists joining together perform a wide variety of services to the Youth of their communities, thus our motto “Friend of Youth.”

An Optimist Volunteer is…

One, who develops Optimism as a philosophy of life, One, who promotes an active interest in good government and civic affairs, One, who inspires respect for law, One, who promotes patriotism and works for the good of International accord and friendship among all peoples, One, who aids and encourages the development of our Youth, in the belief that the giving of oneself is the service to others, will enhance the well being of humankind, community life and the world.

Does this describe you? Then I hope that you choose to join us.  Make Optimism a part of your life by joining an Optimist Club near you.

December 26, 2009

Optimist Clubs make a difference through the Childhood Cancer Campaign

Christmas is over.  That means back to other business for our 3,000 Optimist Clubs around the world.  One of the projects that many will be involved in is the Childhood Cancer Campaign. Through the campaign, $1M has been donated to research at John Hopkins University to eliminate childhood cancers; and throughout the country, other sums have been donated to local programs, hospitals and families. 

Like all Optimist Club programs, the Childhood Cancer Campaign is directed by the club. Club members decide how money will be raised, where it will be designated in their community, and how they will interact with the families.

In January, Makenna Sivumaki of Great Falls, Montana will celebrate two years of being cancer-free.  The Uptown Optimist Club of Great Falls was there to help her and her family through treatment.  Optimist Clubs are making a difference every day through small gifts to real people and big contributions to large causes.  You can help Optimist Clubs make a difference too by joining an Optimist Club today.

December 24, 2009

Share your joy every day of the year

There is no doubt that Christmas has become a commercial event, but Christmas is not alone in the holidays that have received the overt attention of marketing professionals and sales gurus. 

That's why it is up to us - you and me and all Optimist Club members and optimists at large - to make certain the magic of every holiday is celebrated with compassion, understanding and love. 

I send best wishes to all.  Whether you recognize Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or a celebration with another name, my wish for you is the same; may you always experience optimism around you and share your joy with others.  Please do it today and every day.  Thank you.

December 23, 2009

Christmas Chinese luncheon

True or false: if you are going out to eat on Christmas Day you have to go to a Chinese restaurant.

The notion popularized byThe Christmas Story is probably more true than false. That's why this link in particular caught my eye "Support the Optimist Club of Mona Christmas Chinese Luncheon."   I clicked on the link and discovered that an Optimist Club was holding a fundraiser before Christmas with a Chinese luncheon delivery. 

What a great idea!  Chinese take-out, delivered straight to you during your busiest season.  It's a way for your Optimist Club to provide a service, make money for your club's youth projects and have a little fun with Christmas customs and beliefs.

Students change their lives with The Options Program

The Optimist Club of Gresham, Oregon sponsors a student of the month program that is slightly different from most.  Called The Options Program, it has been running in the Gresham High School for 21 years. The Optimist Club helps teachers and counselors work with at-risk-youths to keep them in school, help them avoid being tardy, and raise their grades. The Optimist Club helps especially with motivation and attitude by providing positive reinforcement. 

Daphney Adams was recently recognized by the club for changing her attendance habits and bringing up her grades from Ds and Fs to As and Bs. Daphney, now a senior, is looking forward to attending college and majoring in graphic design.  She thanked her mom and a mentor from Big Brothers Big Sisters for helping her change her habits.

Find out more about The Options Program at the Gresham Optimist Club website.

Photo courtesy of the Gresham Optimist Club.  Shown with Daphney Adams is Ed DeSantis.

December 22, 2009

Optimist Clubs work to ensure all children enjoy the holiday season

For thirty-six years, families in the Prince Calvert, Maryland have been buying their Christmas trees from the Calvert Optimist Club. Generations return to the Optimist Club's designated spot on the Safeway parking lot. This year they are selling 1,050 trees and making wreaths from the fresh cut boughs.

In Champagne, Illinois, Optimist Club president Laura Auteberry spoke with the newspaper to promote their club's Christmas tree lot. "We are the only fundraising tee lot in town," she boasted.

All around the country, Optimist Clubs get in on the Christmas tree action. According to Ms. Auteberry, there are needy kids in every area, and Optimist Club programs provide joy and excitement for those kids. The Christmas tree sales are one way to go about ensuring that all youth get to enjoy the holiday season.

December 21, 2009

Young leaders emerge

The Optimist Club of Radcliff, Kentucky is helping develop leaders with their Youth Appreciation Week activity.  Five students from North Hardin High School visited Radcliff City Hall, Fire Department and Police Department and learned more about how the city administration functions by rubbing elbows with the mayor and having lunch at the fire station.

Smiling for the camera are Mayor Sheila Enyart, Tamisha Brooks, Christina Maguire, Marteze Patton, Sterling Lewis and Alan Fortier.  The photo is courtesy of the Radcliff Optimist Club. 

December 20, 2009

What is old is new again

Recognizing outstanding students has never gone out of style with Optimist Clubs.  I found this post in the "Fifty Years Ago" section of The Examiner, serving Independence, Blue Ridge and Grain Valley Missouri. 

The Blue Ridge Optimist Club honored three outstanding young citizens at a recent meeting in observance of Youth Appreciation Week. Those honored were Mary Jo Campbell of William Chrisman High School, Marilyn Hill of Raytown High School, and Bobby Magness of Raytown Junior High School. Reasons they were chosen, Campbell is an outstanding student and fine golfer; Hill for her above average scholastic standing and extra-curricular activities; and Magness for his work in scouting and in his community.

For more than fifty years, Optimist Clubs have been bringing out the best in children.  Youth Appreciation Week is just one way that we help recognize their accomplishments in headlines.  Find an Optimist Club near you and help the youth in your community make headlines for doing the right things today. 

December 19, 2009

Forty years in the kid business

The Adrian Optimist Club of Adrian, Missouri is celebrating 40 years in the kid business.  They are also celebrating 40 years of being connected and being an integral part of their community.

Take a look at the Adrian Journal online where more than 10 pages of Optimist Club activities have been recorded since 2007.  There are entries about the student of the month program, Christmas activities, the sixth grade dictionary program, bicycle rodeos, independence day parades, essay and oratorical contests and all other Optimist International programs.  There are entries about meetings and installations.  You will also find that the Adrian Optimists contstructed and manage a 14,000 square foot building that is used as a community center and banquet hall and have helped to finance and build other community infrastructure projects like the heliport.

Yes, the Adrian Optimist Club is vital, relevant and successful in their community.  But personally, I want to compliment them on the kid connection.   Making a difference in the lives of children is why we do what we do as Optimist Club members and the Adrian Optimists do it well. 

Picture courtesy of the Adrian Optimist Club Bike Rodeo.

December 18, 2009

Now is the time to provide more service to youth in the Caribbean

Our Optimist Clubs in North America celebrate the holiday season with gusto.  It is an opportunity to throw parties, give gifts and help children feel the wonders of the season.  It is also an opportunity for our capitalistic nature to emerge as we sell Christmas trees, wreaths, candy, popcorn and all sorts of accoutrements of the season.

But in other countries, the holidays are not so commercial.  They are celebrated with joy and reverence, and for some the mission of the Optimist Club is not temporarily hijacked by frivolity.  I found this to be true in Jamaica where the Optimist Clubs in the Caribbean District recently heard from Lloyd B. Smith, President, Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  Mr. Smith gave a solemn message and challenge by saying that social clubs will have to play a role in helping youths find their identities.  Doing so will help alleviate social problems in Jamaica.

The presentation came as part of the Caribbean District's first meeting of the 2009-2010 administrative year.  This meeting provides training for club officers and others to carry forth the mission of service to children by building and maintaining youth and adult Optimist Clubs.  District Governor Gene M. Simpson explained, ""Our club mainly focuses on youths and their development and, while we acknowledge that there are similar organisations out there that offer similar services, we want our organisation to be the service club of choice as it relates to what our core function is about."

Thank you for your service to the youths of the Caribbean District and best wishes for success and happiness in the coming year. 

Read the full article "Social clubs need to help youth find themselves."

December 16, 2009

Santa's new ride has a siren

When he is not in his sleigh, the favorite mode of transportation for Santa Claus is the firetruck!

It must be because has been chauffered by local fire departments throughout North America for the past month as he made his early visits to be a part of many Optimist Club Christmas Parades and help set the tone for the Christmas season. 

Mothers are Optimists

I recently saw The Blind Side, the movie depicting the true story of Michael Oher, football star for the University of Mississippi  and first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.  The movie is a must-see, even for lackluster football fans like me. 

The story was full of compassion, kindness, ability, and circumstance and the unrelenting drive and determination of Leigh Anne Touhey, the mother that took in a homeless young man and gave him not only a place to sleep, but a family and a career. 

That drive gave me a new appreciation of those mothers we label as soccer moms and inspired me go back and find the picture that I am sharing with you today.  The Optimist Club of Marco Island, Florida is a sports club and the two ladies shown here are credited with starting two new programs for kids this year. On the left is Kim Burke, Optimist Soccer League president and on the right, Diane Trzyna, basketball president. 

The Marco Island Optimist Club presented them with framed jerseys in appreciation.  I want to recognize their accomplishments by saying thank you to Kim, Diane and all the mothers out there that make sure their children have the opportunity to play sports, excel in school, practice a musical instrument or carry on a hobby.  You are true Optimists. 

December 15, 2009

Make scholarship opportunities readily available to students

This post is more for schools and school districts around the country.  Dear reader, if you have any influence with one in your community, please make this suggestion to them; recommend that they include a page on their website devoted to scholarship opportunities. 

This is a link to a scholarship page at the West Caldwell High School in Caldwell, South Carolina. 

And then also encourage a policy which ensures that no opportunities be turned away.   While it seems like such a simple suggestion, I have been amazed at the different counselors and school district superintendents, teachers and others that have said that an award offered by a group is not enough to get their attention or we don't have time to add another contest to our curriculum.  Students have different interests and abilities and what appeals to one may not interest the next.  It is our responsibility to offer opportunities for all. 

Optimist Clubs promote opportunity.  I hope our schools will do the same.

December 14, 2009

Holiday Park has more than 250,000 lights

Visitors will find more than 250,000 lights at  Holiday Park in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Known most of the year as Krug Park, the Parks and Recreation District begins working in mid-October to ensure a magical experience for kids of all ages.  But what makes it tick are the community volunteers that bring the event to life, especially the St. Joseph Optimist Club members who work every evening to provide volunteer security and other services that are needed for an activity of such great magnitude. Great job! 

Holiday Park has been a tradition in St. Joseph for 29 years.  Click here for a picture of the light show entrance.   

December 13, 2009

Share the potential of Optimism

Optimist International is filled with statistics.  There are nearly 100,000 members in 3,000 Optimist Clubs spread out over 38 countries.  Together they perform more than 65,000 youth oriented projects each year.  It is estimated that the average member impacts at least 35 children annually. 

But sometimes it is a lot simpler just to say why it is important to belong and Bob Miller, President, Kalona Optimist Club, Kalona, Iowa recently did just that.  "Be an Optimist Club member and give back to the community," he said in an interview with the Kalona News.

So true!   Find the Optimist Club closest to you and join today.

December 12, 2009

Three outstanding volunteers receive honors

The West Ashley Optimist Club in South Carolina recognized three young ladies for being outstanding volunteers.  The twist - they were outstanding volunteers for organizations other than the Optimist Club. 

Shown here are  Samantha Shealy who volunteers at MUSC Children’s Hospital; Allison Wagenlander who volunteers at BonSecours - St. Francis Hospital; and Carolina Raycroft who volunteers at the South Carolina Aquarium.

The recognition came as part of Optimist International Youth Appreciation Week.  Through the Youth Appreciation program, Optimist Clubs around the world recognize students for doing good things in their community.  The criteria, award, and celebration is designed and bestowed upon the recipients by the local Optimist Club.

Photo submitted by the West Ashley Optimist Club.

December 11, 2009

Youth programs in Lillian, AL receive donations from local Optimist Clubs

The Optimist Clubs of Perdido Bay and Lillian, Alabama celebrated Optimist International Youth Appreciation Week by making donations to worthy causes that help children.  Sharing in the $7,000 bounty were the baseball and soccer teams who play at the Lillian Recreational Park, Baldwin County Special Olympics, Baldwin Technical Center, Special Education programs at Elberta Elementary School and Elberta Middle School. Also Foley High School “Magnolia Room”, Foley Middle School “Magnolia House”, Lillian-Perdido Bay Library, Lillian Recreational Park Lighting and Athletic Equipment Funds, Association of Retarded Citizens of Baldwin County (ARCBC) Thanksgiving Dinner turkeys, Mary’s Shelter Gulf Coast, Elberta Middle School. And Women Build Habitat for Humanity, Medical Supplies for Elberta Elementary School Nurse, High Hopes, an autism program at St. Benedict School, and Robertsdale High School Special Education Program. 

You might say that Christmas came a little early for these organizations thanks to the Optimist Club.

December 10, 2009

Are you looking for a scholarship?

Right here, right now, smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, Optimist Clubs are promoting one of their signature programs: The Optimist International Essay Contest. 

Each year, Optimist Clubs  ask children through 18 years of age on December 31 to write a 500-word or less essay on a topic chosen by Optimist International.  This year the topic is “The Internet: Today’s Evolution or Tomorrow’s Menace?”

Competition for all Optimist International Scholarship programs begins at the club level*.  Optimist Clubs can offer prizes for winning entries. The essay that comes in first place is then forwarded to the District Competition where it competes for a $2,500 scholarship.  Winning District entries move forward again to the international competition and the possibility of earning an additional $6,000 scholarship.  That's a pretty nice reward for 500 words!
*Not every club participates in the Optimist International Essay Contest. 

December 9, 2009

Find a giving tree this Christmas

Santa's toy shop is a busy place at this time of year.  That is why the Optimist Club of Windsor, Ontario has opened up its very own version of St. Nick's workshop.  The Windsor Optimist Club is proud to sponsor Santa's Toy Shop and Star Tree Program.

Both programs encourage residents in the community to visit the giving tree and select and purchase a gift for a child or senior who might not otherwise receive one.  Star Trees are located throughout the community. The Optimist Club will be distributing gifts at the Windsor Community Recreation Center, 250 N. 11th Street from 5 to 8 pm, December 18. 

Click here to learn how to give to the program in Windsor, Ontario. 

December 8, 2009

What does Santa eat for breakfast?

According to the Optimist Club of Coquitlam, British Columbia, Santa Claus eats pancakes for breakfast.  In fact, I believe most Optimist Clubs in North America believe in that menu for the jolly old elf and his friends.

Optimist Clubs have been serving up pancakes to the delight of  youngsters throughout the US and Canada for more than twenty-five years.  In addition to the pancakes, they take pictures with Santa for the children to take home and some give them early gifts.  But I think the best part about Breakfast with Santa is the opportunity for adults to interact with the wonderful young participants for their enthusiasm, smiles and squeals of delight remind us all of what being an Optimist is all about. 

Picture courtesy of the Optimist Club of Coquitlam, British Columbia. Optimist Club Chef Hal Griffin looks on as Santa greets his happy guests. 

December 7, 2009

Holiday Happenings

Most Optimist Clubs perform some type of Christmas event. Could it be because of the youth connection?  Maybe...I know that is sure what brings the most smiles to the most faces.  Here is a look at a few activities in our Optimist Club communities:
  • The Optimist Club of Parry Sound, Ontario coordinated the biggest Santa Claus Parade ever.
  • The Noon Optimist Club of Boise, Idaho helped throw a party with Santa at MSTI for kids with cancer and their families.
  • The Optimist Club of Jerome, Idaho served up free Breakfast with Santa to the entire community.
  • The Mt. Holly Optimist Club of Gastonia, N. Carolina presented free Breakfast with Santa.
  • The Optimist Club of Anguilla celebrated Fete d'Noel.
  • The Optimist Club of Twin Falls, Idaho gave Head Start students and families a dinner party with Santa and presents.

These are just a few examples of how Optimist Clubs and Christmas come together.  Please provide a comment below and tell us about the Holiday Happenings in your Optimist Club!

Photo courtesy of the Parry Sound Optimist Club. 

December 6, 2009

Coats for kids in Idaho

There is a brand new Optimist Club in Eagle, Idaho.  Officially organized on November 17, they have already started their first community service project. They are collecting new and gently used coats for kids to be distributed to children through The Landing Community Center.

Coats for Kids is also carried on by the Jerome and Twin Falls Optimist Clubs in Idaho.  All clubs collect coats through various outlets; they clean and refurbish the coats and then provide them as needed to schools, youth homes and others as requested.  The Optimist Clubs also accept cash donations and purchase coats when stock runs low or special sizes are needed. 

Some kids return their coats for a new one as they outgrow them each year.  What a great way  to pay it forward with the Optimist Club. 

December 5, 2009

Gallop and Gorge for the community

The Gallop and Gorge Thankgsgiving Day Road Race has become an annual event in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  This year, despite foggy weather conditions and with more than 1,000 present at the 8:00 a.m. start, the race attracted more runners than ever before.

The race awards winners in a number of categories, but the category that prompted me to write about this particular race was the Impact category.  According to the organizers, this race and two others in a series collect fees, donations, pledges and sponsors to contribute to the Arc of Orange County, the Optimist Club of Chapel Hill, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the El Centro Latino.  They also collect canned food from the participants and fans to distribute to local shelters. 

Who wins at the Gallop and Gorge Thanksgiving Day Race?  Everyone who takes time to participate.  Thanks!

December 4, 2009

How to promote good citizenship

The Breakfast Optimist Club of Loveland, Colorado has been promoting good citizenship at the Winona Elementary School for two decades.  Optimist Club members Ed Stone and Del Wittler usually visit with Good Citizen Awards to students, but when they learned the school needed new flags they knew it was part of their mission. 

In addition to purchasing flags, they have developed a training session to teach respect and proper care of the flag.  What a great way to spread the purposes of an Optimist Club. 

Picture credit: 

December 3, 2009

Bell ringers for a cause

Optimist Club members in Salisbury, Delaware are helping the Salvation Army this Christmas by serving as bell ringers for the annual kettle campaign.  According to Capt. Cameron Henderson, Salisbury branch commander they hope to raise $200,000 this year, up from $163,000 last year.  To accomplish this goal, they have increased the number of kettle locations and upped the number of volunteer hours that were required.

Stepping in to help for the second year in a row is the Salisbury Optimist Club.  Last year, the group donated the largest number of hours and raised the second highest amount of any group.  Optimist Club member Bob Caldwell said that the Optimist Club was up again this year for the challenge.  They began ringing bells in commitment to the cause on Black Friday.

December 2, 2009

Christmas tree sales promote community service

Christmas trees are sprouting up in Bozeman, Montana, Billings, Montana, Meridian, Idaho, Iowa City, Iowa, Plant City, Florida, and many other locations in the United States courtesy of Optimist Clubs. 

Many Optimist Clubs use Christmas tree sales as a major fundraiser each year.  In fact, according to a Google search today, there are more than 150,000 entries for "Optimist Christmas tree sales."

Optimist Clubs provide community service with a focus on projects that benefit, recognize or involve children.  Buying a Christmas tree from your local Optimist Club is a great way to give back to your community.  Buy yours today! 

December 1, 2009

Guest speakers help us stay engaged in our community

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the projects we do, that we forget that one of the reasons we come together in service is so there is a forum for learning.  That forum is our club meeting.  At our Optimist club meetings, we learn from our fellow members and friends, but we also learn from the guest speakers who visit us and tell us about their programs, projects and impact on the community. 

When I saw this great list of service club meetings in the Peoria Journal Star, I knew I just had to share it with you.  Please read through it for ideas of speakers that you may have visit your Optimist Club.  And then imagine, all of this learning is happening in the Peoria area in just one week!

The best way for your club to be relevant and engaged in your community is to listen, learn and then reach out to others in service.

Click on the picture to enlarge the list.

November 30, 2009

A celebration of service

Service clubs in Kirksville, Missouri came together on Tuesday, November 24 to celebrate their commitment to service in the community.  This year the Kirksville Optimist Club  hosted the annual event.  Other clubs participating were Kirksville Women of Today, Kiwanis International of Kirksville, Rotary Club of Kirksville, Quota International of Kirksville, Sojourner's Club, and Kirksville Thousand Hills Rotary Club.

The clubs come together annually to share fellowship, stories and accomplishments and to outline goals for the future.  "This is an opportunity for everybody to get together and just be happy about what we do," explained master of ceremonies and Optimist Club member Scott Meredith.

We're happy about what you do too.  Thanks for sharing your commitment with others

November 29, 2009

Optimist Club holds craft show fundraiser

Brand loyalty - that's what you hope to achieve when you establish any event, but especially a fundraising event.  And that is just what has happened for the Optimist Club of Windsor, Colorado.  For thirty years, the Optimist Club and the Quality Quilters of Windsor have combined forces to coordinate the best community craft show around.  This year 88 vendors helped them attract more tha 2,500 patrons by 10 am on opening day. 

There are a lot of other craft shows to attend, but according to Paula Bjorli of neighboring Loveland this is the best one. “I clipped the information on it out of the paper a month ago and saved it so I wouldn't forget it,” she said. “I've been coming here for many, many years. I just like it.”

In addition to collecting exhibitor fees and lining up sponsors, the clubs also share in the $2 entry fee from attendees. It's a simple way for the community to donate to the nonprofit efforts of the Optimist Club.

November 28, 2009

Santa to help raise money for Childhood Cancer Campaign

The Optimist Club of Bismarck, North Dakota is offering Breakfast with Santa on December 5 at the Bismarck Civic Center.  Co-sponsored by the Bank of America, the event is a fundraiser for the Optimist International Childhood Cancer Campaign.

Children and adults can enjoy breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  The donations are $5 for children and $8 for adults.  All children will receive a gift from Santa.  Tickets can be purchased at the Bank of America Center. 

November 27, 2009

Helping students achieve more in school

The Santa Rosa Education Foundation in Gulf Breeze, Florida has partnered with the Gulf Breeze Optimist Club, Mediacom Communications and Gulf Power Foundation to provide grants for teachers that will assist them in supporting student engagement and achievement.

Fifteen teachers in Gulf Breeze received awards and 134 teachers in the county shared the $33,500 treasure.

Helping students achieve success in schools is just one way that Optimist Clubs members bring out the best in children. 

November 26, 2009

My Thanksgiving wish: Please share the spirit of Optimism

Inspiring optimism is my favorite thing.  Sharing stories and experiences so that others can learn, grow and do more is what makes our world compassionate and progressive.  This one-minute video is a perfect way to pass the spirit of optimism forward.  Please share it with your friends.  Optimism...pass it on. 

The Foundation for a Better Life is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization also known as   They are privately funded and non-commercial. Their sole objective is to promote positive values, using print and broadcast media.

November 25, 2009

Young optimists honored by Winter Haven Optimist Club

One hundred and fifty elementary school students were treated to a special day courtesy of the Optimist Club of Winter Haven, Florida as part of Optimist International's worldwide celebration of Youth Appreciation Week.  Four teachers joined the students representing 75 schools in the community.

Following the "do the right thing" model, these students were recognized for being "good kids."  According to program chairman Larry Powell, the Optimist Club was not looking for straight A students or acclaimed athletes.  They wanted to recognize students that often go unnoticed, but are good citizens who do the right things every day.

The special treat for the students was a motivational presentation from two guest speakers: Rick Dantzler who spoke about literacy and reading and Otis Anthony, Senior Director of Diversity Management with the Polk County School Board who made a dramatic speech about being an eagle. "When you are an eagle, you are a beautiful person, a magnificent person and you can soar," he explained. 

Donna Kelley, a reporter with was on hand to record the events. Please read her account of the activity in the great online article here.  The picture was taken by George Aycrigg of the News Chief. 

November 24, 2009

Youth Appreciation activities

The most traditional Optimist Club Youth Appreciation celebrations recognize students for good grades, extracurricular activities and attitude.  Here are some Optimist Clubs that recently received some excellent press coverage for their recognition of students in their community. 

In the Niagara Falls area, twenty-seven students were recognized.

In Azle, Texas, students from ten area schools were honored. 

In Alamogordo, New Mexico, the Mayor's Youth Council were given kudos.

In Council Bluffs, Iowa, eighty-five students were given recognition.

More celebrations are going on in communities throughout the world.  Watch your local newspaper and send us your stories!

November 23, 2009

Students receive dictionaries from the Optimist Club

Students at the Mountain Bay Elementary School in Everest, California received dictionaries courtesy of the Optimist Club of Everest.  The gift went to all third grade students in the school district.  According to Optimist Club member David Kryshank, the children enjoy books and having a book of their own that they can take home is even more appreciated. 

The program is part of the National Dictionary Project that has given away more than 10 million books. 

November 22, 2009

Optimist Club members double as Santa's elves

The City of Auburn, Washington has published their Christmas festivities schedule and front and center is the Auburn Optimist Club.  Auburn Optimist Club members are Santa's very special helpers because they maintain his Auburn home throughout the year.  The Auburn Santa House has been an Optimist Club tradition for forty years. 

These happy elves are promoting the Santa's visit and offering photos with the jolly old elf himself before and after the parade.  Located in the B Street Plaza; the Santa House will be open though Dec. 23, with weekday hours of 3 - 6 p.m. and weekend hours of noon to 6 p.m.

November 21, 2009

That's a lot of pancakes!

This just in...As reported in an earlier post, the Optimist Club of Rome, Georgia is holding a pancake fundraiser today.  I just learned it is their 50th Annual Pancake Breakfast.  You have to admit, that is a lot of pancakes!

According to organizer Jim Bojo, each year the club tries to beat the past year's sales because the pancake breakfast supports all of the club's projects for the year.  Target for this year's event is $18,000.  Help them reach their goal starting at 6:00 am, November 21, 6 a.m. at the Rome Civic Center on Jackson Hill. 

November 20, 2009

Optimist Club donates $10,000 to women's shelter

Pine Bluff, Arkansas...The Optimist Club of Pine Bluff Arkansas recently donated $10,000 to the CASA Women's Shelter capital campaign. The only women's shelter in the community is trying to raise $700,000 for a facility that can house up to 60 occupants, twice the size of the current facility. 

I like seeing such donations for they emphasize how an Optimist Club can truly make a difference in a community.  It takes a healthy community to bring out the best in kids. 

November 19, 2009

Optimist Club throws a pizza party for students who do the right thing

The Optimist Club of Hernando, MS became the latest Optimist Club to join the "Do the Right Thing" movement.  They chose to recognize children in the Hernando Middle School for turning in their homework and never being sent to the principal's office. 

According to Optimist Club member Pam Black recognizing the Hernando Middle School students is part of the Optimist International Youth Appreciation Week, a project that the club does every year. This year is a little different she said, “Usually, everything is geared to grades. The kids who make straight As get goodies all the time. These kids don’t have any unexcused absences. They do the day-to-day things that most people take for granted.”

About 80 kids were treated to a pizza party for their efforts, but middle school teacher Jeannie Booher says that the acknowledgement will stay with the children a lot longer than that. “Sometimes these kids go home and nobody tells them what a good job they have done,” Booher said. “I’m tickled to death that the Optimist Club did this." 

November 18, 2009

Optimist Clubs appreciate youths

November is Youth Appreciation time for Optimist Clubs. Optimist Clubs perform projects that involve, benefit or recognize youth throughout the year, but at this one time every year, most Optimist Clubs try to do a special project that promotes something special for children.  The Noon Optimist Club of Laredo, Texas held a job shadow day for teens and one lucky student, Elijah Fuentes of Alexander High School got to be Border Patrol Chief for a day.

November 17, 2009

Optimist Club engages with the Warsaw community

The Optimist Club of Warsaw, Indiana raises approximately $20,000 for the youth-oriented projects they carry out each year in the community.  They meet weekly to share their fellowship, strengthen their mission, and plan for the activities that they have committed to perform.  According to their website, the average attendance at their meetings is approximately 70 members plus guests.

As I've read through bulletins, blogs and websites, I have to say that is possibly the highest attendance that I have seen at a club that follows the weekly meeting model.  I think it's because they embrace exciting projects that are relevant to their community.  With at least 25 ongoing projects, they truly engage with each other and with the Warsaw community.  Read about their great projects here.

Keep doing what you are doing, Warsaw Optimists!  Great job!

November 15, 2009

Get ready for an old fashioned Christmas

Are you ready for a Christmas parade?  The Chamber of of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, KHBR radio station and the Optimist Club of Hillsboro, Texas are!  This past weekend they kicked off the advertising encouraging folks to participate in the parade that will take place on December 9.  Entries are now being accepted for the "Old Fashion' Christmas" parade.

What is exciting about this announcement to me is that as well as providing a fun family activity, the groups are asking people to donate to two causes so that the spirit of Christmas can live on.  First is the Optimist Club Christmas for Kids program that asks for toy donations and the second is the Interfaith Ministries canned food donation request.  Yes, the season of giving is here.  Cheers!

Optimist International promotes internet safety

Optimist International has launched a new program to help keep children safe online. The best part about this program is it is truly designed to reach adults and encourage discussion between parents, guardians and their children. Watch the introductory video here and then contact your local Optimist Club for a full presentation.

November 14, 2009

Miss Oakland County visits an Optimist Club

Ever wonder about how an Optimist Club appears to an outsider?  How about a young woman who is representing youth and young adults as a spokesperson through the Miss America organization? 

Meet Angela Venditti.  She is serving as Miss Oakland County, Michigan for 2009-2010 and her personal message about empowering youth is an ideal complement to the mission of Optimist Clubs.  Miss Oakland County recently visited the Waterford Optimist Club and told them about an early drug prevention program aimed at students in kindergarten!

So what did she think of her visit to an Optimist Club?  She said, "In my two visits to Optimist Clubs in Oakland County I've noticed two consistencies: they meet bright and early (7:00 am) and are a lively group of people who are always upbeat and happy!" 

On behalf of my happy, early-rising Optimist friends, thank you Ms. Venditti for sharing your positive message. 

November 13, 2009

Meridian Optimists learn about Drug Court

Optimist Clubs do great things in their communities and one of the ways they learn about what to do is by inviting interesting speakers to make presentations at their weekly meetings.  Presentations allow our Optimist Clubs to stay involved and relevant.  Recently the Meridian, MS Optimist Club learned about Drug Court.  Take a look:

The Optimist Club of Meridian, Mississippi has developed a relationship with the local television station WTOK and together they help make Meridian a better place to live. 

November 12, 2009

Walk for Growing Hope benefits childhood cancer research and support

Since 2006, the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna, Virginia has held the "Walk for Growing Hope" as part of Optimist International's Childhood Cancer Campaign.  The event takes place annually on the first Saturday in October.  More than $140,000 has been raised since its inception.

Twenty-five percent of the funds have been forwarded to the Johns Hopkins Research Hospital and 75% has remained in the community to help local children diagnosed with cancer and their families through Growing Hope, a nonprofit organization that helps educate families, entertain the patients and provide support to the entire family affected by the cancer diagnosis of a child or sibling. 

Find out more about the Walk for Growing Hope here.

November 11, 2009

Would you like a children's identification kit with that?

On November 21, the Noon Optimist Club of Rome, Georgia will serve up their annual pancake breakfast for the community.  And this year, they will also serve up something special for families with children: a child identification kit. 

The Floyd County Sherrif's Community Posse is bringing this event to the pancake breakfast as part of the Sherrif's Youth Initiative Program.  Partnering with the Optimist Club was a logical choice because the motto of all Optimist Clubs is to be a friend of youth.

Statistics reveal that more than 800,000 children go missing every year.  The child identification kit provides up-to-date photos and fingerprints of your child and helps adults learn to store such information in an easily accessible place in case it is needed.  It also opens a dialogue between parents, children, police, and others about the vulnerability of our children so we can all work together to keep kids safe. 

Adults are required to provide proof of their relationship to the children who receive kits.

November 10, 2009

Journalist encourages membership in the Optimist Club

I love blogs for they allow everyone to tell their story in their own way.  They are also relatively free and easy to use.  Nevertheless, I was still mildly surprised and appreciative that Rick Hasse, Staff Writer for the Parma Sun Post on wrote such an engaging piece inviting people to join the Optimist Club of West Suburban Cleveland.  It wasn't just a paragraph or two, but many:

WEST SUBURBAN OPTIMISTS — Over the past 54 years, the West Suburban Optimist Club of west suburban Cleveland has done a lot for the community.
In the 1960s, the club began the Shoes for Kids program, holiday food baskets for needy families, a picnic for visually impaired students from the Cleveland Municipal School District, as well as helping Ohio Boys Town.

In the 1970s, the group built and operated the first northeast Ohio Haunted Forest in Strongsville. The club donated a 15-passenger van to Our Lady of the Wayside, and donated money to organizations like Providence House, the Ohio City Crisis Nursery, and Ohio Boys Town.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, the community outreach continued.

Today the group sponsors the Cleveland Metroparks fishing derby and other programs such as Respect for Law, which honors law enforcement officers and judges; Youth Appreciation, honoring local students for their community work, and an annual essay contest for local students.

The group meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month at Anthony’s Restaurant, at the corner of Pleasant Valley and York roads in Parma.

Each year, the West Suburban Optimist Club gives out six or seven scholarships to deserving area students, including one to a special education student at Lincoln West High School.
The group promotes an optimistic way of life in its members, young people and the community.

Call Joe Giampietro at (440) 390-1214, or Don LeHotan at (440) 734-4245 for more information.

Thanks Mr. Hasse.  Optimist Clubs appreciate your support.

November 9, 2009


We don't live in the moment, but rather we live for the moments; those moments that give us hope, spread joy and allow us to share our optimism.  We treasure such moments for they are life.


November 8, 2009

Beads of Optimism in Boise

Optimist International made a commitment to fund research at Johns Hopkins Research Hospital to eradicate childhood cancer in 2001.  To date Optimist Clubs in the United States have given more than $1 million to that cause.  But the really exciting part of that commitment was the ongoing efforts that Optimist Clubs are conducting in their communities, on a local level.

In Boise, Idaho, the Noon Optimist Club has an ongoing commitment with St. Luke's Hospital and the Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) to fund a program called "Beads of Optimism."  The beads are like a charm bracelet or necklace.  Children are given beads to symbolize different stages in their disease and recovery.  They are even given beads for the moods they are feeling.  According to a hospital spokesperson, this program makes a difference because it helps children talk about their experiences with others.  By showing the beads, they can tell the story of why they received it. 

Thanks to the  Boise Noon Optimist Club and all other Optimist Clubs for making a difference through the inspiration of the Optimist International Childhood Cancer Campaign.

November 7, 2009

Buy your Christmas tree from an Optimist Club

It's the first week in November.  Can you believe that it is less than 50 days until Christmas?  That means pretty soon many of us will be looking for a Christmas tree and many Optimist Clubs will be busy with their major fundraising effort of the year. 

For some clubs, the tree lot can mean up to 80% or more of their income.  With that revenue they fund youth serving projects throughout the year including sports programs, essay and oratorical contests, respect for law, youth appreciation and many more projects that bring out the best in children. 

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you; I'm buying my Christmas tree from an Optimist Club.  I hope you do too.

November 6, 2009

This Optimist Club R.O.C.K.s

The Optimist Club of Marco Island, Florida, and the American Cancer Society of Marco Island recently held a 50-50 raffle to raise funds for R.O.C.K - Reaching Out to Cancer Kids Camp.  The event was held during the youth football games at Winterberry Park on October 31 with the lucky winner receiving their prize that day.

But the real winners are the children who will be able to go to R.O.C.K where they get to feel like normal kids again.  At camp, there are counselors, health care providers and volunteers who make sure that every one fits in.  Many are cancer survivors themselves.  Some of the activities that the children enjoy include swimming, fishing, horseback riding and arts and crafts.  They also learn about independence and coping skills. 

Optimist Clubs are involved in the Childhood Cancer Campaign where they help raise awareness for pediatric cancer research. They also provide services as needed in their local communities.  We believe th Optimist Club is making a difference on Marco Island for young cancer patients and survivors.

November 5, 2009

Toastmasters promote Optimist Oratorical Contest

Sometimes our fellow service clubs can be our best promoters, especially when they have a special interest in the topic.  I'm sure that is why the Calgary Toastmasters placed the Optimist Oratorical Contest front and center on their website.

The topic for the 2010 contest is "Cyber Communication: Progress or Problem?"  Students who have not turned 16 by December 31, 2009 are eligible to participate.  Competition begins at the club level where the participant gives a 4 to 5 minute speech and winners advance through zone and regional competition before competing at the District level for a $2,500 scholarship. 

The Optimist Oratorical Contest teaches students public speaking skills that they will use throughout their lives.  Optimist International has conducted this program through their clubs since 1927.  They are the only service organization to award scholarships for communications. 


November 4, 2009

Calgary Optimist Club assists with a Walk and Roll for SMA

The Dinner Optimist Club of Calgary, Alberta recently sponsored the First Annual Kids In Motion Fun Run and Walk.  The event was a family affair for the benefit of children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).   The money raised will help supply wheelchair equipment for children.

Many of the children in wheelchairs participated in the Family Fun Rock and Roll portion of the event. Click here to see their photo gallery. 

Optimist Clubs are great at filling needs in their communities. Congratulations to the Dinner Optimist Club of Calgary for filling this very special need for some very special kids.

November 3, 2009

Reindeer Games to benefit Childhood Cancer Campaign

Santa's reindeer are getting ready for the big show and in anticipation of their big day they will be practicing their reindeer tricks at the Annual Tastefest and Reindeer Games sponsored by the Optimist Club of Clinton Township Area, Michigan. 

What are reindeer games?  A spectacular event that benefits the Optimist International Childhood Cancer Campaign.  Sponsors can purchase reindeers,  dress and race  them. Participants can place charitable bets on the reindeer and everyone enjoys a fabulous evening of some of the best food in Macomb County.

This sounds like a fun way to welcome the holiday season and serve a great cause at the same time.  Download the Reindeer Games and Tastefest brochure here.


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