July 31, 2011

Take a 3-minute vacation

The best thing about hosting my own blog is also the worst thing. I have to find, create and share content consistently. That's why I really enjoy when I find something in my Twitter stream that moves me. Yesterday, @BillSledzik posted this link to a YouTube video from a funky little bar that he visited. Great song, interesting place and my choice for tuneage here on Music Sunday at Experience Optimism. The song is "You Bug Me Baby," recorded by the Holiday Band. The bar is Tom's Burned Down Cafe, Madeline Island, Wisconsin.

Enjoy your vacation, Bill! Everyone else - please enjoy your Sunday and the three-minute getaway to Tom's Burned Down Cafe.

July 30, 2011

Deliver value and create news

The Wausau Noon Optimist Club makes a lot of headlines because they are so active in their community. They give back in so many ways and the media takes notice.

This week in Wausau, kids under 17 got to swim for free thanks to the Optimist Club. It's one of the easiest projects that a club can do because all it requires is the entry fee, some advertising, and the facilities, the media and the kids do the rest.

But there is an underlying marketing concept at work here. When you do good things, people talk about you and they want to be associated with you. About sixteen seconds into the video, Optimist Club Board member Scott Campbell has the opportunity to tell what the Optimist Club is all about. That positive message, with the kids playing in background, is priceless.

The Wausau Noon Optimist Club is delivering something of value to the community. They are creating news.

July 29, 2011

Making a difference in the lives of youth

Their motto is "Making a difference in the lives of youth."

Yes, the Little Haiti Optimist Club is making a difference in  Miami Beach, Florida.

One of their early activities enabled students to produce  their own video segment for Reel2Real TV. This is only  one of the ways this new Optimist Club, formed in April 2010, is giving back to their community. They also provide sports opportunities, education and tutoring, an empowerment conference for girls, ongoing community beautification programs, toy drives, family activities and more.

From Reel2Reel TV Show from Little Haiti Optimist Club on Vimeo.

July 28, 2011

Hot jazz in a cool setting

The Optimist Club of McCall, Idaho is planning an outdoor music festival right in the heat of the summer on August 13. The good news? McCall is a resort town, nestled in the mountains on Payette Lake. It's cool and crisp even with the sun at it's brightest and it is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.

The music festival is planned as the first annual Jazz on the Green featuring popular regional musicians including Paul Tillotson and Steve Eaton. The venue is the McCall Golf Club and lawn and deck seating are available. 

The McCall Golf Club approached the Optimist Club with the event idea and together they are raising funds for the Snowden Wildlife Sanctuary and the youth activities of the McCall Optimist Club. 

Tickets are available at the Pro Shop, 208.634.7200.  Spend a weekend in McCall and enjoy. 

July 26, 2011

Junior golfers tee-off at THE OPTIMIST

Five junior golfers named Optimist champions.
Winning their age division at
Evan DeRoche of Key West, FL (Boys 14-15),
Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, ON (Girls 13-14),
Philip Barbaree of Shreveport, LA (Boys 12-13),
 Clare Amelia Legaspi of the Philippines (Girls 10-12),
and Parathakorn Suyasri of Thailand (Boys 10-11). 
The Optimist, a premier tournament for junior golfers age 10-18 is underway in at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  There are five hundred and ninety-eight players, representing 30 nations involved in the tournament this year.

Most are sponsored by an Optimist Club, having advanced through club and district level play. Some have qualified at-large with championship scores. One of the greatest things about the tournament is the ability to raise positive young sportsmen and women, starting at the early age of 10 years.

All players spend a week at the program; golfing, of course, but also learning from leaders in the field, motivational speakers, and from each other. There's some fun time like longest drive competitions and some serious team-building activities like the Optimist Golf World Cup, where two-person teams play for their country and their teammates.  Team Chile placed first in a play-off with Team Indonesia. Only one stroke behind was Team Mexico.

Tomorrow, the 16-18 year-old players will learn their tee-times tomorrow and play will be underway on July 28. Until now, the younger players have shown their stuff. Check out the results of The Optimist 15 and under players here.

Tee times for girls 15-18 will be posted July 27. 
Tee times for boys 16-18 will be posted July 28. 
Visit Optimist Junior Golf to learn more. 

Picture provided by Optimist Junior Golf and Optimist International.

July 25, 2011

A two-way testimonial

I didn't have to read it at Copyblogger to know that what people say about you matters. I've been a fan of word-of-mouth marketing for a long time. In the blogging age, word-of-mouth is of course the written word and isn't that even better? It is social proof that readers, clients, journalists, and potential members of your Optimist Club can return to, and send others to, time and time again.

Yes, in the age of social media, the testimonial is a very effective relationship-building tool.

I found this Optimist Club testimonial tucked inside a company newsletter for Burgerville. Burgerville is a fast food restaurant chain that takes special pride in participating in their local community.

Kevin Schmid, Burgerville Manager, Gresham, Oregon wrote about his involvement in the Gresham Optimist Club in the June edition.  He said:
I have been partnering with the GResham Optimist Club for five years and currently I'm on the board. The Optimist Club is dedicated to bringing out the best in kids. Some of the club's activities include:
  • The Gresham High School Options Program, an alternative choice for at-risk youth encouraging them to remain in school
  • The Explorer Post, a work-site based program where youth explore community organizations and careers
  • Essay and oratorical contests for middle and high school students awarding college scholarships
  • Beat the Heat, a street racing alternative
  • Mock Interviews at area high schools
Kevin also received some testimonials in return from members who told how Burgerville is a great partner to the Optimist Club. Optimist Joe Anderson said, "Without Burgerville's support, the Optimists couldn't provide this level of service to the kids in our community."

The article ended with information on how to join and participate with the Gresham Optimist Club; it was a win-win for all.

Click here to download the Burgerville newsletter in full.

July 24, 2011

An unusual talent

It's been a strange week for me. You've probably had one or two like it before; you know the week that could have really used an extra day? Anyway, it's already Music Sunday here at Experience Optimism. I found this young lady - Lulu - and her unusual cup stacking talent a couple weeks ago and saved her for a day like today.

Her talents are what YouTube are all about. Broadcast yourself. Share your talent with the world.

Here's Lulu sharing an usual talent and strong voice in "You're gonna miss me." Happy Sunday.

July 20, 2011

Feeding children close to home

Chilliwack Optimist Club donates
to the Feed the Children Program
My friend Brian Phillips (center) has a favorite project that he ushers through the Chilliwack Optimist Club every year. It might hit with some resistance along the way, but with his drive and personality, the club contributes in a major way every year to make certain that children can get a free lunch every day from the Feed the Children Program at Bowls of Hope. 

Why would there be any type of resistance to such a great campaign? Anytime that an organization raises large sums of money to give away to another organization, people might wonder why. After all, money is needed to operate their own club or organization. 

This is what makes an Optimist Club so special. Because of their local involvement in community causes, and their drive to fit in where they are needed most, Optimist Club members choose the projects that they want to be involved with. And for the Chilliwack Optimist Club, the Bowls of Hope Feed the Children Program comes out on top every year. 

This year, the Chilliwack Optimist Club donated $20,000 to the program. Last year they donated a little more, but that included the van that you see in the picture. The program requires between $30,000 and $35,000 each year, so corporate sponsors are sought as well. The meals are cooked in the Chilliwack Community Correctional Facility kitchen, involving more people in positive service learning opportunities. 

Ten schools are provided approximately 450 meals each day during the school year. According to school administrators, the program has had an added benefit: absenteeism has gone down. More children are in class and learning. What a great project! 

July 18, 2011

Fundraising gets dirty

Although I now live in Idaho, my original Optimist Club was the Optimist Club of Granite City, Illinois. I served in quite a few district roles in the Illinois District, including District Secretary/Treasurer in 1995-1996. Because of my history, I try to pay special attention to projects in Illinois. Sad to say, the southern part of the state does not get as much press as the northern part of the state. It might have something to do with The Patch, the local, online reporting network. Kudos to the writers and publishers of The Patch for publishing local stories of interest, especially those positive stories performed by service clubs.

Today, editor Steven Jack submitted this dirty, mud-filled video of an Oswego Optimist Club fundraiser. Find out more about the popular annual mud volleyball tournament and fundraiser here.

July 17, 2011

Summer Nights sing along

Nothing says summer like John Travolta and Olivia Newton John singing "Summer Nights" from Grease. Nothing sparks your imagination more than Legos. The two together are a perfect diversion for Music Sunday.

I hope you enjoy the stop motion video entertainment as much as I did. Sing along, dance, and remember your high school days.

July 16, 2011

How to avoid burnout

How many times each day do you read someone is going off grid, meaning they plan to push away from the computer and do something else only to see them return in a matter of days or sometimes hours?  I've seen a few individuals be successful at escaping the social media time suck, but I'm in the category that I like to be connected and I try to manage my online time appropriately.

Last Friday, Katya Andresen addressed the topic in "How to Avoid Social Media Time Suck" and gave three simple steps: plan ahead, use technology to align your social media networks, and empower your staff to develop social media content.

Yesterday, Philanthropy magazine addressed burnout, and raised a similar caution when Nathan Hand, Vice President, School on Wheels said, "You must be purposeful about unplugging." Hear his 60-second suggestion here.

We have busy and challenging lives. As I continue to encourage Optimist Clubs and other service clubs to blog and connect through Twitter and Facebook, I also want to caution their leader, don't let the medium run you. To stay enthusiastic, be sure to take time for yourself, your family and the typical activities you do with your friends at your club events.

July 14, 2011

Optimists encourage safe disposal of prescription meds

Dispose-A-Med flyer,  Oro Valley, AZ.
Optimist International is considering adding a new program to the list of activities that Optimist Clubs can do that will receive support from the International office.* The program, Dispose-A-Med, is a pet project of the Oro Valley Optimist Club, Oro Valley, Arizona.

The Optimist Club provides outreach and community awareness for the Dispose-A-Med project that is coordinated by the Oro Valley Police Department, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Other community partners include the SOBER Project, Meth Free Alliance, Fire and Wastewater Districts of Oro Valley. They invite private citizens, schools and businesses to participate too.

It's a simple project: Bring your unused or expired prescription and over the counter medications and we will dispose of them properly. ("We" refers to the law enforcement agency.)

The Oro Valley Optimist Club hosts the drop-off station on many scheduled and advertised dates during the year. They also offer free blood pressure screening and pharmacists and student pharmacists are on hand to answer any prescription questions that participants may have.

Law enforcement agencies are holding Dispose-A-Med programs across the country. The Optimist Club involvement helps generate more awareness for potential dangers to children, like "pharm parties" where the price of entry is something from your home's medicine cabinet. Kids find and share prescription drugs that they find for free at home.

The project also allows opportunities to partner with law enforcement in keeping our children safe and encouraging respect for law.

During the 2011 Optimist International Convention the Board of Directors heard from Don Cox and Oro Valley police Sgt. Amy Sloane about the Oro Valley Dispose-A-Med program. The Board referred the program to the Programs Committee for further review.

*Optimist Clubs are autonomous and can perform projects that they feel are needed in their community. Some projects, like the Optimist Oratorical and Essay Contests, receive support from Optimist International. If this program is adopted, such support would be provided to all clubs. 

July 13, 2011

Be the first to know

Brooks L. Patterson is the County Executive in Huron County, Michigan. He recently visited the Huron Valley Optimist Club to give a state of the county update. His presentation gives me the opportunity to remind our readers and clubs how important it is to have guest speakers. Speakers allow your members to be on the cutting edge and among the first to know of things happening in your community. It's easy to see this speaker was very well received.

Brooks Patterson speaks to the Huron Valley Optimist Club.

Mr. Patterson spoke of many positive activities for kids in Huron Valley including a walking program in grade schools. Now in its 11th year, 28,000 third and fourth-graders have walked on their recess to help fight childhood obesity.  There is also an annual half-marathon for kids and families.

Mandarin Chinese is being taught in the schools and there is a great turnout of kids in a competitive robotics program.

Optimist Clubs and their members work to bring out the best in children and so does the community of Huron Valley, Michigan. What a great opportunity for collaboration!

Thanks to the White Lake Patch for the story idea. 

July 12, 2011

A storybook anniversary

Some Optimist Clubs celebrate milestone anniversaries by hosting a recognition dinner, but not the Optimist Club of Wausau, Wisconsin. In honor of their 50th Anniversary, the Wausau Optimists joined the Marathon County Public Library to create a new entrance into the Children's Library section.

The entrance includes a yellow brick road and characters from seven favorite children's books. According to Optimist Club member Bob Stansey, they want to inspire reading, especially for at-risk kids. He explained, "They walk that yellow brick road right into the children's library and learn how important reading is to them. That the world is open to them."

Click here to find out more about the Wausau Noon Optimist Club.

July 11, 2011

Leadership begins at an early age

Cordone Richardson elected to
JOOI Board of Directors.
Being part of an Optimist Club, or any service club, is what you make it. It can be work or play, fulfilling or not, but always it will be memorable. As optimists, we hope that it is memorable in a positive way.

I am always intrigued by the different ways that Optimist Clubs are perceived around the world, especially in the Caribbean. The Optimist Clubs in Jamaica, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Anguilla, and Antigua sometimes seem like quasi-governmental agencies, working with the education department, justice department and other departments focused on human affairs. The Optimist Clubs in the Caribbean District can be seen making a societal difference by the articles that appear in their newspapers. There is certainly a degree of respect and formality that I don't always see in other countries.

This headline caught my attention this morning, 'Optimist Cordane Richardson soars to leadership on International Board of Directors.'   A full page article describes Cordane's campaign and election to the JOOI (Junior Optimist Octagon International) Board of Directors. When many papers would have given the achievement only a paragraph or two, the Anguilla News recognizes how our service clubs build young leaders who set an example to their peers to do and achieve more too.

According to the article, he is the first member from Anguilla and the Caribbean District to serve in this capacity. It is an honor for Cordane, his family and community and a superb steppingstone to a career of service to others.

Photo credit: Anguilla News.com

July 10, 2011

Make every night count

As I write this, I know that I will soon be on an airplane, returning to Boise, Idaho. You see, I've been away for ten days attending the Optimist International Convention in Baltimore and then staying over an extra four days in our nation's capital.

My time in Washington, DC has been hectic. I played the tourist as I jumped on the Metro and traveled short trips to the monuments, the White House and Capitol, and of course the National Mall and Smithsonian Museums. One day I walked in circles in the rain and then the next day I wished for rain as temperatures soared around 100 degrees. I've seen concerts, a festival, walked down Embassy Row, pretended I was a spy and fell in love with The Newseum. It's great to be an American.

I'm going to miss this town. It reminds me of a younger me, the one that wanted to live here right out of college, but somehow failed to make the move. As I walked into my hotel last evening, I heard this playful song and smiled. "We may only have tonight," sang the Plain White T's.  That's so true. We have to be sure we make every night count.

Please enjoy the Plain White T's and Rhythm of Love.

July 8, 2011

Log on and share an Optimist Club story today

Sharing secrets, tips and trends has become a way of life for early adopters of social media. Last month, I shared a presentation that I gave at the West Region - Optimist International Future Leaders Seminar 'What's Club Got to do With It?' with hopes that my Optimist Club readers would see how easy it is to use the tools like Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. I followed up with a hands-on demonstration at the Pacific Southwest District Meeting and am interested in visiting other districts and clubs to help them get started. Send me a message to discuss!

During the Optimist International Convention, staff member Maggie Fairchild introduced the ease of social media during a social media class. Her presentation can be viewed here.
How optimist clubs can utilize social media

The message is simple; the medium is easy and the benefits are huge. The more we share stories about the great things that Optimist Clubs do around the world, the more organization will grow. And then, we'll be able to serve more children in more communities around the world.

Log on and tell us a story today!

July 7, 2011

The longevity of service clubs

One of the endearing features of the Optimist International Convention is the opportunity to see, meet, and talk to others who share the passion for being a "Friend of Youth." This is something that one really feels when they attend the "Old Timers Breakfast." This year, as most every year, the individual who had attended the most conventions was Hugh Cranford with, I believe, 60 to his credit.

Hugh Cranford, left, and members of the
Charlotte Optimist Club
The "old-timers" joke with one another about being the last one standing, but it is no joke that our Optimist Clubs, like all service clubs appear to be graying.

The graying of service clubs has been lamented for many years. It's a cry I heard more than twenty years ago when I attended my first Optimist International Convention. I remember looking at the assembly and thinking that I was a minority, both in gender and age. Twenty years later, that is not true. Today, there are still people who are older than me and people who are younger than me, but those in my age group are still in the majority. It's me and my peers who are aging; not the organization.

Graying of service clubs?  I think not. However, continuing maturation of long-involved individuals is inevitable, fulfilling, and proof of life for all. The longevity of service clubs hinges on the the ability of our clubs to remain relevant throughout our lives.

Photo credit: The Charlotte Optimist Club

July 6, 2011

An Optimist Club member's work is never done

It's July 6. The 93rd Annual Optimist International Convention has come to a close. Optimist Club members came together to tweak policies, elect officers, learn about new opportunities to work with our communities and share our spirit of positivity.

It was a good weekend, and at home, our Optimist Clubs continued their fine work. For example, in Bixby Oklahoma, a new shoe drive began.  According to Dr. Tom Outhier, school begins on August 11 and shoes are needed, any size for school-aged children. The Optimist Club distributes the shoes before opening day through the Bixby Community Outreach Center.

In Middleton, Idaho, the Optimist Club set up a refreshment stand at the annual 4th of July parade in order to help raise funds for a new middle school tennis program with the potential players as the lead salespeople.

In Huntsville, Alabama, the new "Everybody Can Play Playground" opened with an 8-year child with Downs Syndrome as one of the first taker. The Kiwanis and Optimist Clubs raised $450,000 to construct the playground and plan on raising another $250,000 for a splash pad.

The Morning Optimist Club of Sioux Falls, South Dakota planned a carnival to raise money to send kids with cancer to camp Bring it On. The carnival will be held August 27.

In Canada and the Caribbean, throughout the United States and all countries with Optimist Clubs, great work continues with the spirit of optimism. Our cause, our mission is strong.

July 3, 2011

"We're just one big family"

It's the Fourth of July weekend and I'm in Baltimore, Maryland to participate in the Optimist International Convention. It would be so simple to pull out a patriotic song for Music Sunday and call it good. However, I really believe the value of belonging to an organization like an Optimist Club comes from sharing things that make us happy.

This is a happy song, and just as I share my passion for volunteer service with others, I also wanted to share this uplifting message with a thousand of my closest friends and you, of course, on the Experience Optimism blog. The message: "Look into your heart and you'll find love. We're just one big family," sings Jason Mraz.

Performed live in Japan, here is Jason Mraz with 'I'm Yours.'

And here is an aspiring young ukulele artist practicing to become the next Jason Mraz. Enjoy.

July 1, 2011

Be an optimist: Find the bright spots

Optimist Club members from around the world are gathering in Baltimore, Maryland this weekend for the 93rd Annual Optimist International Convention. At this time the organization will train incoming district leaders, honor those who met defined goals in the year before, and hopefully motivate everyone to help this year's leaders achieve goals for this year.

Optimist Club members, on behalf of the Optimist Clubs they represent, also use this time to tweak the bylaws and elect candidates for the International Board of Directors, International Vice Presidents-elect and the International President.

In this time of declining membership in social service organizations, one might ask, who would be prepared to lead such an organization? Who indeed?

I believe the leader should be above all, an optimist. As Dan Heath says in the attached video "How to Find Bright Spots", we have to find, celebrate and reward positive achievements. We spend too much time on looking for fixes to perceived problems when reinforcing the positive actions would achieve so much more.

As for Optimist Clubs, there are districts and individuals who succeeded. A wise leader would assemble those individuals pronto; and ask them to help reproduce their model for all.


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