October 31, 2010

Respect and fun can go hand-in-hand

Optimist Clubs and Districts have fun as they provide service to children and their communities. Over the weekend, the California South District had a little Halloween fun at a get-together the evening before their first quarterly administrative session and general board meeting.

To the right is a picture of Cal South District Governor Jim Walker taken with my Android phone at dusk (sorry it is not a better picture). He was a scary, funny and welcome witch at the evening social event.

On Saturday, he was a well-respected leader with great plans for helping the clubs in the district REACH more children. He shared the inspiration for his plan of work:
R - Respect each other
E  - Enthusiasm Show for all that we do
A - Accomplish what we plan and enjoy the success from a job well done
C - Communicate and connect with your club members, officers, community and  youth
H - Hard work will produce a positive outcome

Good luck to Governor Jim and the Cal South District. May you REACH your goals in the coming year.

October 30, 2010

Trick or treat through the ages

The Windsor Police Department and the Optimist Club of Windsor, Ontario are planning to treat the tricksters this weekend with more candy than they can handle at the 28th Annual Halloween Party. The party is held every year at the Windsor Community Recreation Center. 

The focus is on safety with lots of fun and candy included. The event began in 1982 as a way to keep children off the streets.  According to police chief John Michaels, "The event is a fun and safe alternative to walking the streets of Windsor, and because it is indoors, there is no need to create a costume big enough to fit over those bulky winter coats." 

As a bonus and a tribute to the great success of the event, they are now privileged to see children of their first participants coming for the fun. In fact, the whole community looks forward to the event. 

October 29, 2010

Celebrating with friends

The Optimist Club of Beaverton, Oregon was chartered on February 2, 1967 and charter member Vern Williams was there. Yesterday the Beaverton Optimist Club honored Vern with a party on his 90th birthday. What a legacy! What a happy day.  We wish you and your Optimist Club many more.

Thanks to Beaverton Optimist Club President Alan Zehntbauer for the photo.

October 28, 2010

A quick slideshow of optimism

We are all about inspiring optimism here. I hope these quotes will ignite yours.

October 26, 2010

Add your Optimist Club to your Facebook profile

Please allow me to introduce you to Bradley Craig Beck of Erie, Colorado. He too knows the value of using his Optimist Club membership as part of his business profile.

Don't be afraid to click over to see what he is doing, how he is doing it, and find out about how to create a haunted house at the same time.

Like Dr. Cram in yesterday's post, Mr. Beck is using Blogger and Facebook to interact with his customers and friends. Just think of the reach each one of his posts have as they are broadcast to nearly 600 readers. Think what that can mean for his Optimist Club...or yours.

Encourage your members to include their Optimist Club membership on all of their personal, business and professional profiles - including Facebook.

October 25, 2010

Getting published has never been easier

My Google Alerts turned up an entry today about an Optimist Club member in Red Deer, Alberta Canada.  I thought I'd make mention of it here for a couple of reasons.
  1. Dr. Robert Cram is proud of his membership in the Optimist Club. He believes they do good things in the community or he wouldn't publicize his involvement on his website homepage. 
    • Is your Optimist Club doing things that make your members want to cheer? Don't just ask yourself this question; ask them, and then ask them to mention the Optimist Club in their personal profiles and business websites. 
  2. His website is being hosted by Blogger, the Experience Optimism host of choice.
    • This is important because Blogger is free technology. Every one of your club members, in business or not, could choose to publish what your club does and how proud they are to be a part of it.
I think that asking everyone to be an Optimist Club blogger might be a bit much, but just think of the possibilities for interaction if only a few members in every club made the commitment. I'm available to help potential rookies get started. Be sure to forward my information to your bulletin editors and club presidents today. 

October 24, 2010

Make volunteering a family affair

Do you and your spouse volunteer together? Do you volunteer your time to an Optimist Club?

It is not unusual for only a wife or husband to belong to an Optimist Club even though both give their time freely to the efforts of the club.  That is why Optimist International has created a Spousal Membership Option that gives a break in dues to the second spouse to join an Optimist Club.

We think that is a great idea and hope that you'll encourage your spouse to join today.  Please click on the picture to download your spouse's membership application for your Optimist Club.

October 22, 2010

Optimist Clubs plan to recognize children

Optimist Clubs are preparing to recognize children in their communities as part of the Annual Youth Appreciation Week scheduled for the second week in November. With busy schedules all around some clubs will celebrate early and others may wait and celebrate months later, but according to an Optimist International spokesperson, the important thing is that the kids are recognized.

Some children are recognized for grades or athleticism, but the programs that touch the most children and adults are those that recognize kids for doing the right things. One of those programs was recently held in Southern California by the Pamona Breakfast Optimist Club where Cammar Lewis was honored for turning over $100 that he found to school officials. The school was able to locate the rightful owner, a senior citizen.

Good kids, good deeds, good program.

October 21, 2010

Marketing secrets that can change the world

Melinda Gates makes an observation: Coca Cola is ubiquitous. She says there are 1.5 billion servings of Coke consumed every day and that correlates to one serving for every person in the world every week. Coke can be found in even the least developed countries.

Coke's 3-step plan for growth:
  • Understanding and use of real-time data
  • Encouraging local entrepreneurship
  • Marketing plans and advertisements that appeals to the relevant market segment
Watch this Ted video and see how Gates believes Coke's model can be used to save lives and change the world.

October 18, 2010

Good government starts with the Optimist Creed

The Optimist Club of Caldwell, Idaho had a special guest today.  Senator Mike Crapo stopped by to discuss current events, the economy and what the government is doing to affect change. He said from the beginning that his talk was not optimistic and he was right. While he did not give a political stump speech that one might expect during an election year, he was tough on the lines that divide our current Congress and Senate decisions.  There are some scary economic realities that face our electorate and our leaders.

Senator Mike Crapo reads the Optimist Creed
One of our purposes as Optimist Club members is to promote good government and civic affairs so hearing from our elected leaders is the right thing to do. But it is also right to remind them that they are there to promote good policy, work to compromise and alleviate hardship. I especially enjoyed Optimist Club member Casey Crookham's final question to the senator. He asked, "What policy or policies are are you especially proud of from your time in office?"

Senator Crapo's reply was so one that is so important to Idaho. He said that he was proud of the rural economic development initiatives that have come from the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Commerce. Both have been quite effective in helping develop infrastructure in Idaho, especially in cities that are facing rural-to-urban challenges.

Yes, we are optimistic about the future in Idaho. And just to prove our point, Senator Crapo led us in the Optimist Creed.  I hope he takes the message back to Washington D.C. with him.

October 17, 2010

Your stories are needed!

Sometimes, try as I might, I don't find a project or story to write about and it makes me feel sort of sad. After all, I know so many great things are happening. Many people are coming together to do good in their communities and many are volunteering their time to an Optimist Club.

Can you help me out of this dilemma?  Will you help me out?  Please send your stories and pictures to me so we can share our good deeds with the world. I can't wait to hear from you!

October 16, 2010

Make mom proud

The Optimist Club of Austin, Texas is encouraging membership in their club. They have been serving the community since 1935 when then sitting governor James V. Allred decided the community needed to work together to help homeless children who were wandering the streets during the Great Depression.  He chose the Optimist Club above all other service clubs for their motto, "Friend of the Delinquent Boy."

That motto remains today with an emphasis on all children. As "Friends of Youth," Optimist Clubs conduct projects that are most needed in their community.

However, according to the Austin Optimist Club you should join the Optimist Club today. They say, "Give back to your community in the most amazing way you can imagine. Make Mom Proud!"

Do  you want to make Mom proud?  Find a club near you and join today.

October 15, 2010

Rim County Optimist Club to hold lip sync fundraiser

Attention high school students: This fundraiser is giving away money!  If you win the second annual Lip Sync Contest organized by the Kiwanis, Rotary and Optimist Clubs of Payson, Arizona, you may just win $1,000.

The contest will be held on February 27, 2011 at the Payson High School. It is open to all high-school aged students who attend public, private or home schools. For full details, please contact Joan Young, Rim County Optimist Club, (928) 472-2264.

More than 300 people attended the first contest. In addition to an evening of entertainment, everyone could participate in a silent auction and a 50-50 raffle. All money is donated to scholarships for students in the Payson School District.

So why is this club announcing their fundraiser so early?  According to Ms. Young, Public Relations Chair for the Optimist Club, they are announcing the contest early so that the students have time to choose a song, prepare a costume and practice.  There are also a limited number of seats for guests so don't wait too long to reserve yours.

October 13, 2010

Check out those pumpkins!

The Evening Optimist Club of Fort Morgan, Colorado has a pumpkin patch and at this time of year it is a pretty popular place. Students from all of the elementary schools in Morgan County have been visiting the patch and picking a pumpkin to take home with them.

The Optimist Club also uses the pumpkin patch as a fundraiser. After the schools' visits, leftover pumpkins are sold to the public.

Thanks to the Evening Optimist Club for the picture and story.

October 12, 2010

Optimist Clubs are about people and projects

The Optimist Club of Deerfield, Illinois performs so many activities in their community. They are the go-to-people for other organizations when they need a helping hand with a project or to fulfill a quick need that arises for a child or group of children, but they never stop doing what they do as annual activities to benefit the youth in their community.  Here is a video they produced of their major fundraiser - Christmas tree sales - and some of their favorite projects and people. Enjoy.

October 11, 2010

Ft. Wayne, Indiana to be home to a new Boundless playground

The Optimist Club of Ft. Wayne, Indiana donated $40,000 to the city's parks and recreation department to build a Boundless Playground in their community.  That sounds like a whopping sum, and it is, but the playground is expected to cost $1.3 M.  Yes, you read that right.

So what makes a playground worth so much money? Please take a look at the architectural rendering of this 42,000 sq. ft. playground. A spokesperson for the Ft. Wayne Parks and Recreation Department says, "Fort Wayne's Boundless Playground at Kreager Park will have three pods of playground equipment and activity areas, a sprayground, accessible ramps and walkways, a picnic pavilion and accessible parking. Landscaping will add to the sensory experience of the facility as will the multiple types of surface used in the various pods, including sand, poured-in-place rubber, mulch and natural turf."

Now let me tell you what a Boundless Playground will do. It is a playground not only for children of all physical abilities, but also those who suffer from sensory disregulation, vision and hearing impairments, autism, and cognitive and mental deficits. Best of all, it is designed to encourage children of all abilities to play together rather than in separate areas of the park.

The Boundless Playground project started as dream of a 14-year girl, Taylor Reuille. Her dream is a public one and you can read all about it at taylorsdream.com. She put her dream into a website, shared it with the Ft. Wayne Parks and Recreation Department, shared it with the community and together they went on to collect a $70,000 Pepsi Refresh grant. Now with donations and grants they have raised more than $1 M and the groundbreaking took place on September 30.  The whole community is looking forward to a spring 2011 opening.

Now that my friends is optimism at its finest.

Photo credit: Ft. Wayne Parks and Recreation Department

October 10, 2010

An Optimist Club as a catalyst

The City of Maryville, Missouri has a great idea to spruce up their community and keep the momentum going year-round.  Called the Pride of Maryville (POM), it asks individuals, schools, churches, and organizations to adopt a neighborhood.

Why am I not surprised that so far most neighborhoods have been adopted by the Optimist Club?  Members are bringing their friends and fellow members to work parties in their neighborhoods and having fun with the project. So much so that now it's catching on and students are picking up the same model.

Use your Optimist Club as a catalyst to do good in your community.  Giving of ourselves in service is a rewarding experience.

October 9, 2010

Fundraising With A Teddy Bear Parade

It's the first one for the Winston-Salem Optimist Club and maybe the first one of its kind. As a way to give back to the community, the Winston-Salem Optimist Club has asked the 1,100 children that participate in their club sponsored soccer program to bring a new teddy bear and walk in a parade. The teddy bears will be donated to Ronald McDonald House and other organizations with needs. Please watch the video for details.

October 8, 2010

Golfing for fun and dollars

The Optimist Club of Hillsboro, Oregon recently held the "Bring out the Best in Kids" golf tournament at the Meriwether Golf Club and raised $4,500 to benefit the youth in their community.

Meriwether Golf Club

This is only the second year for the tournament. According to tournament director Bill French, they are quite happy with the results and very grateful to corporate sponsors West Coast Bank and Gray and Company. They also had 31 hole sponsors and a number of door prize donations.

In addition to raising money for their projects, the golf tournament is a great way to raise awareness for the Optimist Club as the players and members mingle throughout the day.

October 7, 2010

How do you want to be remembered?

Before we can serve others, it helps to know our own strengths and weaknesses as well as our own goals and desires. One of the best questions I've asked myself lately is "How do I want to be remembered?"  I didn't create this video, but I sure agree with its conclusion. Kindness is worth remembering.

I hope you enjoy this "thought bubble" created by New York Times best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Don't be afraid to leave us a comment and let us know what you think or better yet, tell us how you want to be remembered.

October 6, 2010

How to make writing interesting for students

I have been accused of being terse. I find that somewhat laughable these days as I write more of what comes to mind and publish it immediately; however, I used to agonize over finding just the right word and writing the most information into the smallest amount of space possible. I didn't aim to be brusque, merely concise.

Writing for a blog requires a different style. Words must be commonly understood, but not so simple to lose intellectual stimulation. Thoughts and ideas can develop and grow from one post to the next, and plans can emerge as the author is imagining the follow-up story. Blog posts can be fluid. However, they are still best, in my opinion, when brief.

So you guessed it. I have another suggestion today aimed at our popular Optimist International Essay Contest. I like the essay contest. I think asking students to write 500 to 600 words on a well-developed theme is a good model for a contest; but again, it does not take 4 to 6 months to write such a paper. Shorten the time allowed and set a deadline and we will get more contestants.

But my real suggestion today is not just to change something we already have, but rather to add something new like a blogging contest.  Start with these parameters: The Optimist International Blogging Contest will familiarize students with writing and technology tools that they will be using in the future and encourage ethical behavior on the internet.

We must begin to incorporate digital media into our everyday activities or we as adults and Optimist Club members will be left behind. At the same time, our students must learn to be safe and respectful in person and when they are hiding behind the computer screen.

October 5, 2010

We need deadlines

When I happened upon the Leo Buscaglia quote that I chose today, I was taken back to high school, where a teacher first introduced me to the wisdom and faith of Buscaglia's thoughts. Isn't that often the case? One thought, one fragrance, one wisp of a memory comes from an outside source.

That same instructor also introduced me to the Optimist International Oratorical Contest. He saw that I liked to write, and that I didn't mind speaking in front of an audience.  He encouraged me to participate. I didn't - but I don't remember why not. If I were to imagine a reason, it would most likely be that I was too busy, and that is most likely the case for children today.

Some Optimist Clubs struggle to get three people into their competitions.  Other clubs have 800 participants. Some children are overwhelmed with sports, projects and homework today and to add one more extracurricular activity often seems overwhelming.  So as Optimist Club members we must make it both easier and more urgent for children to participate.

My thought? Change the timing. Make the oratorical contest a 2-month event that begins on March 1 and ends on April 30.

Optimist Clubs often pin their success on whether they are able to get their contest into the school curriculum. They give the information to teachers in August or September for a contest that will not be completed at the district level until May. Nine months preparation for a 5-minute speech? I don't think so. You've lost my interest already.

We get more done when we have deadlines. Any time we can take away the opportunity to procrastinate and increase the opportunity for immediate gratification, we win.

October 4, 2010

A cause for celebration in Wausau

We've highlighted ice fishing and community festivals for the Wausau Noon Optimist Club on this blog. Today we recognize them for celebrating 50 years of service to their community.  According to an article in the Wausau Daily Herald, the purpose of the Wausau Noon Optimist Club is to "make the lives of Wausau youths better through fun activities ranging from the athletic to the educational."

In fact, 140 members come together to do that every week. Tony Stasney, President explained that the prevalence of technology makes the Optimist Club's work even more important. "Today, more than ever, it's important that we have things and events for kids in the community that get them out of the house," he said.

Throughout the years of service, the Wausau Noon Optimist Club has donated more than $1 million back to the community. The work with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, sponsors the Optimist Oratorical and Essay Contests, hosts basketball tournaments, provides dictionaries to schools, and most recently held a skateboard tournament to bring children and adults together for some contemporary fun.

Congratulations and good luck in your next 50 years.

October 3, 2010

Celebrating 30 years of service

Charles R. Wiles: we know him as a past president of Optimist International. The Cape Girardeau Noon Optimist Club know him as the founder of their Optimist Club and last week, they all came together to celebrate the club's 30th Anniversary.

Over the years, the Cape Girardeau Noon Optimist Club has raised more than $500,000 for youth programs in their community and recently raised $140,000 specifically for the Melaina's Magical Playground project.

Optimist Clubs are friends of youth. In Cape Girardeau they show their support through soccer leagues, oratorical and essay programs, playground projects and other needs in the community. Thank you Mr. Wiles for helping start such a positive movement so many years ago.

October 2, 2010

Oktoberfest is a major fundraiser for Optimist Clubs in Tucson

Seventeen Optimist Clubs come together to put on a city-wide Oktoberfest in Tucson, Arizona.  All of the activities can be found at Hi Corbett Field, 3400 E. Camino Campestre from September 30 to October 3.

Along with the usual German food and drink, festivities include 100 Arts and Crafts Booths, a children's play area and entertainment all weekend long. Money raised at this event supports the community through the projects conducted by the area Optimist Clubs. On Thursday, all admission fees are donated to the Optimist International Childhood Cancer Campaign.

Click here to visit the Tucson Octoberfest website and learn all about how the Optimist Clubs entertain the communities they serve.

Click here to read about Oktoberfest in the Tucson Citizen.

October 1, 2010

How do you measure success in your Optimist Club?

For many years, probably more than fifty (but who's counting?); Optimist International has determined success by net membership growth and the accountability for achieving this success has rested solely on the shoulders of the individuals lucky enough to be chosen as governors of their districts. After finishing my year in this less-than-enviable role, I am here to tell you that there is a better way.

Yes, our organization needs members to carry out our mission; but is it fair to judge success by someone else's goal? Let me disclose that it appears that the district that I have led for the past twelve months has met our goals. We have ended the year successfully in Optimist International terms that can be quantified. 

I am happy to report that we have also done much to improve the quality of meetings, communication and participation. We have progressed; but at what cost? Have some been left behind?

Using blogging and social networking principles, the Pacific Northwest District has made a positive connection to many Optimist Club members who were left out before because they did not attend district gatherings. But in doing so, we may have alienated some of those regular attendees who are so intent on just showing up because that is the way it has always been done. I am sorry about that, but at some point, we do have to say it's 2010, we have the technology and ability to move forward and engage with all who are interested in what we are doing.

Not everyone can travel. Not everyone wants to travel. It is our responsibility to find ways for our members to learn, participate and contribute their knowledge and skills wherever and whenever it is convenient for them. 

It is time; let's take the Optimist International organization forward in the way that is most meaningful for current and potential participants. Let's use technology to provide options and promote contemporary ideas before we promote people simply because they have seniority. Only then will we progress to future success. 


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