February 26, 2011

Music Sunday: In Motion

My brother Mike died much too young and I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I don't think of him every day. Life is fluid, we move forward, and because we may not dwell on those who are gone from our lives, it makes it that  much sweeter when something current reminds us of them.  The soundtrack from The Social Network made me think of my brother fondly and strangely, it also made me appreciate his choices in music much more than I did ten years ago. I wish I could tell him so.

One of Mike's many talents was music; his instrument was the organ (yes, many years ago) which evolved into the keyboard and synthesizer. He liked all genres, but electronic music was his favorite and Jean Michel Jarre comes to mind as one of his favorite composers. As I thought about this post,  I listened to Oxygene 7-13, and I thought of him and smiled.

I do believe I feel something similar in Trent Reznor's 'In Motion' for The Social Network soundtrack. It's vibrant and pulsing with a touch of playful whimsy in the synthesized sound. Dare I say, it is just like my brother?  He would have appreciated it and he would have emulated it. I just get to enjoy it.

This clip from the Carpetbagger with Melena Ryzik for the New York Times explains how the score was written. Please take a few more minutes to watch: An interview with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross about the Oscar nominated score.

I'm not rooting for The Social Network tonight, Oscar Night; as I said in a previous post, The King's Speech has my vote, for what it is worth. However, the movie I will watch over and over again will be the former. I can relate more to it and now that I have made a familial connection, it will be that much more enchanting.

There is just something surreal about the ability to change the world with language, and in this case, especially when that language is code. The Social Network is the movie of the decade, combined with the soundtrack of life.

February 24, 2011

Fundraising to scale

Due to culture, geography, needs and various other reasons, fundraising efforts vary by Optimist Clubs. Nothing can be more telling than the two different stories I heard today.

The first one came from Meridian, Mississippi and it warmed my heart. I learned that the Meridian Downtown Optimist Club had just completed their Annual Pancake Jubilee and after serving 2,700 happy patrons, they were $8,000 to the good. That money will be used for T-ball and other youth activities in their community.

Later in the day I learned about a major fundraiser conducted by the Ocean City/Berlin Optimist Club in Maryland that allowed the club to give away more than $100,000 in prize money. The event was the 28th Annual Boat Show. It is held in collaboration with the Ocean City/Berlin Optimist Youth Foundation, Inc.  and organized under the joint control of the Optimist Club and the Worcester County Board of Education. The State Lottery Board is also involved and tickets priced at $100 each were sold online through the Lottery. The money raised by this event will be used for scholarships. Over the past 22 years, $1,386, 000 has been given away to students in the school district.

The second event made me think wow, what a business.

Compare the two examples. Consider how much more there is to be done in between. Then imagine how you might do the impossible in your community with the help of an Optimist Club.

You can turn your entrepreneurial spirit into a new Optimist Club and meet so many needs, big and small, and release so much potential right at home. Contact me to get started today. 

February 23, 2011

JOOI students help tackle hunger

The JOOI (Junior Optimist Octagon International) students in Nebraska were part of the Souper Bowl of Caring event that took place in conjunction with Super Bowl earlier this month.

The Souper Bowl of Caring began in 1990 as a way to involve young people in the fight to tackle hunger. Since that time more than $70 million has been raised for the cause.

The students shown here were involved in packaging meals for Mercy Meals. They loaded 2,000 bags, each feeding six people, for the continuing relief efforts to earthquake victims in Haiti.

February 20, 2011

The JOOI of Reading

This month, Junior Optimist and Octagon Clubs (JOOI Clubs) have been celebrating the JOOI of reading.  Ideas are available online to help students plan events in their community.  As I was looking, I stumbled upon this idea called "Catch and Release." I imagine, like me, you thought of fishing; but what a great idea for sharing books: leave them around public places and encourage other students to pick them up, take them home and read them. 

I imagine that it would take a book drive to gather enough literature to spread around, a great number of signs, and perhaps even some students to demonstrate that it is a good thing to help yourself to some reading material. But don't wonder about what it takes to start the project; please find out online here: JOOI of Reading

This project is truly ageless. Adult Optimist Clubs can participate too. Choose a month, make a plan, and share the JOOI of Reading in your community. 

February 19, 2011

Love and inspiration

"You're the meaning in my life. You're the inspiration."  That's pretty heady stuff to hear. Maybe that is why after so many years this song came back to me today as a powerful example of how lyrics can inspire. It's no wonder that Chicago had so many hit songs and were rated by Billboard as second only to the Beach Boys in hit singles.

Is there someone that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when you think about them? Is there someone who has encouraged you to step-up and do just a little more or perhaps reach and achieve a particular goal? This song is for them. Why not tell us about a person who has inspired you in the comments?

Please share a story and enjoy "You're the Inspiration" from Chicago.

February 18, 2011

Encore! The Town Theater keeps on giving

One of my favorite Optimist Club stories of 2010 has returned to the news this week. In 2009, the Optimist Club of Chillicothe, Illinois purchased and restored The Town movie theater in downtown Chillicothe.  I believe this is a great display of how an Optimist Club can serve economic development goals.

In 2010, the club went on to have fundraising drives and a grand red carpet event for the opening. The entire community was involved.

Now in 2011, they are recognizing more than individuals for their participation in the cause and they are doing so with cash. Donations of cash  that is. Seventeen youth groups were on hand last weekend to share in the $10,000 profits that the theater earned its first year in business.

According to the Optimist Club treasurer Irv Latta, roughly each ticket purchased allows the Optimist Club to donate $2.79 to children's groups, clubs and projects. The message, everyone should see more movies!

Congratulations again to the Chillicothe Optimist Club on the success of this project and thank you for bringing value to your community.

Photo provided by the Chillicothe Optimist Club. Please read more from the Chillicothe Times Bulletin here.

February 15, 2011

Good people are often "unsung heroes"

Something that Optimist Clubs do exceedingly well is recognize children and young adults for being good people. Please notice I did not say good students or athletes - I said good people. The Noon Optimist Club of Bay City, Michigan calls their young honorees "Unsung Heroes" and this year they are recognizing eighteen of those good people from eighteen different nominating organizations.

Please click here to see a list of the Bay City Optimist Club's Unsung Heroes for 2011.

What does one have to do to be nominated? According to club president Jo Ellen Strieter it's pretty simple: the student must make a positive impact in their own way.

Making a positive impact is the goal of every Optimist Club.

The beauty of Optimist International is that every  club is autonomous. That means the group can do what is needed in their own community and still receive the recognition and backing of the umbrella organization for liability insurance, program support and leadership development. There is also a self-funded Foundation that helps Optimists help kids.

There has never been a more flexible international organization for making a difference on a local level. That is why I encourage everyone to consider joining the Optimist Club in their own community. If you don't have one, let me know. I would love to help you start a new Optimist Club so you can share your positive thoughts and actions with others. Please contact me today.

February 13, 2011

Music Sunday: A celebration of rituals

It seems that most years I scramble to see every movie nominated to win the Oscar for Best Picture before the live broadcast of the Academy Awards. This year is no different.  I started with The Black Swan and ended with The Kids are All Right. Even if I have seen them, I dutifully watch them again so they are fresh in my mind for the judging.  It is both the advanced preparation and the pomp and circumstance of the evening that make it such an incredible ritual. I must be prepared.

However, I did not realize that I had chosen a favorite movie until earlier this week. While shopping, I heard the enchanting soundtrack from The King's Speech. The music by Alexandre Desplat is just light enough to add a playful streak to the soon-to-be-King's speech impediment, yet strong enough to exude the serious time in history that is portrayed in the movie. England and soon the world were to be engaged in the great war. They needed a strong leader capable of speaking for and to the people.

Fortunately, the reluctant but duty-bound Albert Frederick Arthur George found a friend that could help him and he succeeded in leaving a legacy as King George VI in a time of great change for the world and the English Monarchy.

Finding a friend is never without frustrations. But by the end of The King's Speech, we learned a true friend loves you despite your faults, helps you overcome your weaknesses and knows when their place is in the background cheering you on.  I hope that you enjoy the soundtrack as much as I. I hope you are enchanted too.

February 12, 2011

Where would you go if you just won the Super Bowl?

Glenns Ferry, Idaho is home to 1,427 people. According to the Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor, 1,100 of those people are in the labor force. I don't think that includes native son Korey Hall who goes to work in Wisconsin - Green Bay, Wisconsin to be exact.

As a fullback on the 2011 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers team, Korey Hall is now among an elite group of men who get to wear the Super Bowl ring. And less than one week after the victory, Korey is back in Glenns Ferry taking time to relax and feel at home. This video shows how proud the community is of the young football player and why they are not surprised that he came home.

As much as I seem to write about football on this blog, my readers probably think I'm a crazy fan. The opposite is true; football is probably one of my least favorite sports. However, since moving to Idaho nearly twelve years ago, I have learned how much the game has meant to so many who grew up here and played through the Optimist Youth Football program. The Boise Optimist Club started the program in 1949 and tens of thousands of children have learned sportsmanship and discipline through football over the years. That was especially important when Idaho had less than one million residents, only twenty-one years ago. Football was the athletic program for many youngsters who didn't have programs in their schools.

And of course it is easy to cheer on the Boise State Broncos, with Coach Petersen teaching the young men how to be more than just football players. He teaches them to be good students and good people, involved at school and in the community. He teaches them respect, encourages them to achieve the extraordinary, and above all to pursue balance in their careers.

So no, it should be no surprise that Korey Hall is at home today.  It is part of the life balance that we all crave. I think it is important that this young man can show that quality to others.

What are you doing to provide an example of fulfillment to your children or friends? Are you comfortable being at home with your family or are you always searching for the next big thing? Please comment and let us know what you think.

Video credit: KTVB.com

February 11, 2011

Tough enough to wear pink

The picture comes from a story in Sports Illustrated about recruiting practices in high school football.

The young man is Akeem Jones. He is a high school sophomore who just landed a spot on the South Florida Express, a seven-on-seven football league that was formed to give school-age athletes more access to sports scholarships by giving them more opportunities to play and be noticed by scouts.

My post isn't to chime in on the practice. I wanted to note three things about Akeem, two that are evident in this picture and one that is not.
  1. Akeem is a caring person. Look at those pink socks. He is  wearing them in memory of his grandmother who died in October of breast cancer. He provides pink socks to others who are interested in raising awareness for the cause. 
  2. Akeem has bigs hopes and dreams. Look at the passion in his face. He has a goal, a gift, and the drive to do what it takes to be successful. 
  3. Akeem is a product of Optimist Youth Football. According to SI, he is 6'3", 186 pounds and has a bazooka attached to his right shoulder.
Optimists know that he was a kid that needed an opportunity to play and grow. The Optimist Youth Football program was there for him as a child, teaching positive values and sportsmanship along with football fundamentals.  Should he need them, his coaches will be there as he matures and makes decisions in his life. Most of all, they will be there cheering him on. Good luck Akeem!

Read the story about seven-on-seven football at SI.com. 

February 9, 2011

Optimist Clubs participate in "Tuscon Has a Heart" Campaign

The Casas Adobes Optimist Club, along with the other Optimist Clubs in Tuscon, are joining in the community  effort to bring 12,500 people together to let the country know that Tuscon has heart.  The project is an honor to the victims of the shooting in Tuscon January 8th. It is also meant to celebrate the strength of the community.

Compassion, courage, and heart: that is what an Optimist Club is all about so the Optimist Clubs jumped wholeheartedly into the project. They are recruiting volunteers and are acting as part of the coordinating team.

Volunteers wearing red shirts will make up a giant human red heart on the the field. The design requires 12,500 individuals, and others may be seated in the bleachers. Only 20,400 people will be admitted to the free event. Donations for the Community Food Bank are appreciated.

The Tuscon Has a Heart Campaign will take place on Sunday, February 13 at Hi Corbett Field. The stadium will open at 11:00 a.m. and the photograph will be taken from the air at 2:00 p.m.

Photo credit: KVOA.com - Please click to read "Tucson Has a Heart" event going for record-breaking gathering.

Thanks to the Casas Adobes Optimist Club for the story. 

February 7, 2011

Lessons of Optimism and Faith from the Super Bowl

Yesterday was Super Bowl Day, the day that everyone loves football if only for the friendships, food and the free look at American capitalism as projected by the much aggrandized Super Bowl ads. Don't worry, if you missed the ads, you can take a look here on Hulu.com or YouTube and see voting tabulations from various social media sites at Brand Bowl 2011 sponsored by boston.com.

For me, I am happy that the  Green Bay Packers emerged victorious for the great sense of pride it gave to the small town of Glenns Ferry, Idaho where fullback Korey Hall hails from and for the optimism that gives every young athlete.

Optimism and opportunity is what America is all about; followed closely by  pride and patriotism. That is why I believe that the Brand Bowl 2011 was won by Chrysler Corporation with Eminem, "Imported from Detroit."

Some will argue with me that it was not the most popular advertisement; and I admit, Volkswagen came on strong early with a heart-tugging young Darth Vader trying ever so mightily to use The Force and then again late with a fast-racing Black Beetle teamed up with  the wildly appropriate song "Black Betty."

I was a little surprised to watch the Twitter stream in support of the irreverent Dr. House commercial, but I admit, I smiled at it too for we have to love someone so cocksure and so right. Don't we?

And I was somewhat disappointed in my Twitter stream for unapologetically bashing the halftime entertainment from the Black Eyed Peas. I thought they accomplished what they were supposed to do: pump up the people in the stands. After all, those at home were talking, eating and playing Wii.

I don't watch Glee, and I didn't watch Glee after the game, but I understand those who did thought it was the perfect ending to an evening of entertainment.

Which brings me back to the purpose of my post. Super Bowl is a day of entertainment. It is a day to feel good about the opportunities we have as Americans to play sports, enjoy friends and overindulge, and to find good  jobs that give us the ability to purchase things and be consumers.

But after the friends go home and our diets return to normal, what are we going to remember from Super Bowl?

I hope that we remember it is the cities like Detroit and its people who make America proud and optimistic. I hope that we celebrate such people who innovate, overcome and evolve, for those are the people who give us faith in ourselves.

Most of all, I hope that we respect the past as we move forward. Our greatest strength lies in the faith those from the past have for our future. Please don't ever discount their trust that we will achieve and exceed their greatest, wildest and most promising dreams.

February 5, 2011

Seattle Students Inspire with Jazz

My travels with the Pacific Northwest District - Optimist International recently took me to Seattle where I had the opportunity to watch some live jazz from some amazing students in middle and high school. I was inspired to come home and look for more from JazzEd and the award winning Roosevelt and Garfield High Schools.  

I was especially impressed with this young trumpet player as he hangs with the incomparable Wynton Marsalis in this live recording of Duke Ellington's The Shepherd.  I think you will be too.

The recording was made, undoubtedly by a parent, during the finals concert of Essentially Ellington on May 13, 2010; Clarence Acox, director, Riley Mulherkar, trumpet. Garfield High School placed first in the competition. Yes, this is why. Please enjoy some hot jazz from some remarkable students. 

February 4, 2011

Frozen Goose Walk-Run leads the way

Hurry, hurry, hurry! There is still time to participate in the Frozen Goose Run in Rochester, Minnesota, but you have to act now because the race takes place tomorrow, Saturday, February 5, 2011. Your next opportunity to freeze your tail feathers will come in February 2012 when the Frozen Goose Run will celebrate its tenth consecutive year as part of the Rochester Winterfest.

The Rochester Winterfest is a community event organized by the City of Rochester to raise awareness for nonprofit organizations that serve the community. It is taking place February 3-13 in different indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city.

The Frozen Goose Run is a project of the Optimist Club of Rochester. Proceeds of the benefit will go to Mayo Clinic Childhood Cancer Research and Brighter Tomorrows.

The Optimist Club of Rochester is leading the way in cause related activities for Optimist International's Childhood Cancer Campaign.  For nine years, Optimist International has encouraged Optimist Clubs to donate to research to eradicate childhood cancers. Last year, the organization completed a pledge to John Hopkins Research University and stepped up their effort to encourage clubs to donate to local causes. In fact, this year, Optimist International is encouraging clubs to organize a walk to benefit the Optimist International Childhood Cancer Campaign as part of an organization-wide campaign.

No doubt the efforts of clubs like the the Optimist Club of Rochester have served as a inspiration to creating greater awareness for a cause that most Optimist Club members hold dear. Thank you for your leadership.

February 3, 2011

An easy way to show your Optimist Club is accountable

Does your Optimist Club brag about the great projects that you do throughout the year to make you community a better place to live? It's okay to do so. Really it is.

When we speak to others about the accomplishments of our Optimist Clubs, we recharge our enthusiasm and excite those with whom we are speaking with the promise of potential projects yet to come. Demonstrating that we have led successfully in the past makes it possible for potential volunteers and sponsors to envision more success. People want to associate with winners and that is okay too. It's human nature to want to be among the best - the in-crowd - the movers and shakers. After all, those who get things done are just more fun than others who merely talk about doing something; not to mention, that when I make a donation, I like to know that it is being used appropriately.

One of the age-old ways that corporations tell us about their accomplishments is through the use of an annual report. If you own stock or have invested in a mutual fund, you have probably received an annual report loaded with numbers and fine print too small to read. Not to fret! That is not the way your Optimist Club annual report should look.  Your Optimist Club Annual Report should touch on the highlights of the year, the goals for the coming year, discuss who is involved and give a brief look at how your money is spent. And the reader should be able to finish it in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

Serving as the Governor of the Pacific Northwest District last year, I decided to create an annual report for our district. It is an example of what your club can do at home using Publisher.

The accompanying presentation was given to those who attended our second quarter meeting when all recognition for the previous year was distributed. Take a look and see just how easy it is to share the state of the organization with your constituents.

I know your stakeholders will appreciate learning and they will thank you for not being bored.

February 1, 2011

How do you spell fun?

Is there a reason that fundraising begins with FUN? I think so, but maybe we should ask the Mid Day Optimist of Marshall, Missouri for their opinion. After all, they are the originators of the annual Adult Team Spelling Bee Contest - where all persons with good vocabularies and their friends go to enjoy an evening of entertainment in support of youth projects in their community.

I am always in search of new ideas to share on the Experience Optimism blog about activities that your group might do to raise awareness and money at home. When I came across the announcement in the Marshall Democrat-News for the 12th Annual Spelling Bee, I knew I had to find out more and share the project with you.

After two emails, I had the whole story from Michelle Pointer, Secretary, Mid Day Optimist Club, of how to put on a Spelling Bee fundraiser.

It is so well written, clear and concise, that I'm not going to attempt to rewrite it. Please read the project outline here: Adult Team Spelling Bee.

Of course there is more to the activity than a spelling bee. The evening includes a silent and live auction, food and adult beverages; but probably the most crucial element is recruiting teams to participate and their sponsors. The more teams in the event, the more money the group will make from their entry fees, not to mention from their bids on the auction items. And I think we all realize that we have more fun when we attend these types of events with our friends. Creating a reason to bring a group of friends together, to give them a team activity to participate in, sets a positive tone for the evening.

So yes, there is a reason that fundraising begins with FUN, even if the origin of the word doesn't support my theory.

Thanks so much to Michelle Pointer and the Mid Day Optimist Club of Marshall, Missouri for sharing their project with us.  


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