October 28, 2014

Man sells 20,000 tickets to an Optimist Club pancake breakfast

Here's one of those odd stories about an Optimist Club member that just makes you smile. Mr. Bill Binner of the Fond Du Lac Optimist Club has sold 20,000 pancake breakfast tickets.

It started in 1971. Like many service club volunteers, Mr. Binner was given 45 tickets to sell to the club's first annual pancake breakfast fundraiser and he found the number daunting. Diligently serving his new Optimist Club, with a suggestion from his wife, he went door-to-door to meet his neighbors and sell his allotted tickets.  He went on to sell 200 tickets that first year and every year since he has topped his sales goals reaching the 20,000 mark for this year's annual event.

This marks 43 years that the Wisconsin Optimist Club has hosted Pancake Day. The event will take place Saturday, November 8, 2014, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., North Presentation Parish Center, 706 Minnesota Avenue, North Fond du Lac.

Photo Credit: Doug Rafik/Action Reporter Media. Read more here.

October 25, 2014

Press on to optimism

Join an Optimist Club
The seventh tenet of the Optimist Creed tells you to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

My question today is why would that sentiment be held only for mistakes? Why not press on from one success to the next? From one victory to the next? From one achievement to another?

Yes, optimists are good at keeping their hope alive in the face of failure. That faith is what allows them to try again and again when needed.

But optimists use that same faith to know that they can always do just a little bit more. When they win a gold medal, they try even harder to shave one, two or three seconds off their best time the next time around.

The same goes for coordinating projects in their community. When ten children show up at the first bicycle rodeo, they aren't discouraged. They press on and attract 100 to their next event and with that positive, upbeat attitude, they progress onward and upward to make a real difference in their community.

Don't you want to feel that sense of achievement? Then I invite you to join an Optimist Club. Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or send me a message and I'll help you get one started in your community.

October 18, 2014

Share a memory, share a laugh, share optimism

A week has passed since I shared my thoughts about being home in the St. Louis area. This week I've moved on to my college town - Peoria, Illinois.

Yes, I'm a Bradley University alumni and it's been at least fifteen years since I visited the campus. Quite by accident, I've arrived just in time for Homecoming. The school is abuzz and colors are proudly being worn by students, professors, parents and alumni alike.

The campus has developed so much since my last visit with a new entrance, exhibition arena and recreation building, among other things. Now there is a tennis complex right across the street from campus! I was a varsity player and we had to drive to practice so that is a positive change. Actually, everything I see is a very positive change for students, the school and the community. It's great to see growth and economic development that enriches the quality of life.

One thing that remains the same is the heritage that Lydia Moss Bradley established in 1897. Bradley and Westlake Halls stand as proud remembrance to its founder. I remember walking through campus with friends, on my way to classes in those very buildings and it makes me smile to see students still doing the same.

While I'm in Peoria, I will also attend the Illinois District - Optimist International quarterly meeting. I'm looking forward to seeing my old friends, in an old town that means so much to me. I know that I will share some memories and a laugh or two and that makes me smile as well.

Won't you join an Optimist Club and share a laugh with a friend as well? I hope so. Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or send me a message and I'll help you get one started in your community.

October 11, 2014

Don't be lonely: Join an Optimist Club

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I'm visiting friends in the St. Louis metropolitan area this week. It's home, although it doesn't really feel like it anymore. I've been living in Idaho for fifteen years and so much has changed in my old stomping grounds.

Roads have different names, entire malls have closed and others have opened in different locations, and the city itself seems to have somehow become more compact. It doesn't take as long to get from the Illinois side of the Mississippi River to the West County suburbs.

On its face, it would seem that this is all a good way to build community. After all the Cardinals baseball team is in the playoffs this year and one can certainly feel that the area is one Cardinals Nation. However, in reality, I feel distant and alone. My friends say, it's not the same, Linda, people have moved on. How sad and true and necessary that statement is.

Do you know what I'm going to do to make it feel like home again? I'm reaching out to the Optimist Club. The Illinois District is hosting it's quarterly meeting on October 17-18, 2014 and I plan to be there. I know I'll find some old friends and make some new ones. Most important, I'll feel like a belong because with them, I feel a sense of purpose. We share a vision of community service that brings hope and optimism to all.

If you are feeling lonely, don't be alone. Join an Optimist Club. Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or send me a message and I'll help you get one started in your community.

October 9, 2014

Ken Garner declares war

Reverting to the random, abstract presidential theme used by Optimist International presidents before him, Ken Garner has decided that this administrative year will focus on "the best."

Whether it be "bringing out the best in kids," which part of the vision statement, "With hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in children;" or a salute to the tenet of the Optimist Creed that says, "Promise yourself to think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best;" Garner hopes to eradicate apathy and pessimism by encouraging the best in all endeavors.

He explains more in his first video to the organization as president.

Garner uses the word war to describe his approach. He says, "I declare a war on apathy and pessimism."

As a public relations communicator, I might have suggested a different tactic; war seems to me the polar opposite of hope and optimism. It's funny how our words play differently in individuals' minds.

In any case, I support his efforts and expect only the best. Good luck to all Optimist Clubs in your annual pursuit of optimism.

October 4, 2014

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day

There is a song that begins with the refrain, "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May." The Temptations were talking about "My Girl;" but I find sunshine in the warmth and positive vision of an Optimist Club.

Part of my commitment may be attributed to the words of the Optimist Creed. Through them, I am reminded to keep my spirit high and to expect only the best. However, words on paper, even when recited aloud, are only words. It takes action to make the promises a reality.

Every week,  I work with a group of like-minded individuals to make a difference in my community. Sometimes we are hands-on with a project. Other times we learn, discuss and plan. And sometimes we just take time to celebrate not only our accomplishments, but also our friendship. Each is equally important, but it is the camaraderie that leads us to want to do even more together. It's that camaraderie that motivates others to get involved.

If you look around, you may notice that there are usually enough volunteers who will pitch in when a project is started; but getting them involved in the discovery and planning process is a little harder. Pointing to busy schedules, people are reluctant to add another meeting to their week. That's one of the reasons that Optimist Clubs, as well as other service clubs, are experiencing decline in membership. The simple solution is to make your Optimist Club meeting a source of social good.

Social good is defined as a specific "good" that is beneficial to a whole community. With that broad of a definition, it might be wise to realize that we each belong to a number of different communities, or groups if you prefer, that come together to make the whole. In the case of the service club, your membership makes you a part of that community. The social good you experience will be personalized to you through your interaction with the group. The group will decide to do projects that contribute to a larger group. The larger group may continue that radiation affect. Building from a nucleus like an Optimist Club, your community can thrive, and just like the picture in today's image, the rays of sunshine will be seen and felt by all.

If you want sunshine on a cloudy day, look no further than your local Optimist Club.

October 1, 2014

Earn a communications scholarship through Optimist International

Optimist International began a new administrative year today, October 1, 2014. Congratulations and thank you to all of the Optimist Club officers who have been chosen to lead in their communities around the world.

One of the first and most pressing items of business for all should be the promotion of the Optimist International Scholarship Programs. These great opportunities begin at the Optimist Club level and allow students and members to interact as the children improve their communication skills.

optimist international oratorical contest

First up is the Optimist International Essay Contest. It takes place in the fall and early winter with the topic "Optimism Should be a Priority." Click here to see the complete Essay Contest rules and then contact your local Optimist Club to learn when your essay must be submitted.

In the spring comes the oratorical contests, the traditional Optimist International Oratorical Contest and the Communications Contest for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) students. The topic for both is "How My Optimism Will Help Me Press on to the Greater Achievements of the Future."

Click here for the Optimist Oratorical Contest rules.
Click here for the CCDHH rules. 

Remember, you must check in with your local Optimist Club for their submission and contest dates.

All contests award a $2,500 scholarship at the district level. Funded by the Optimist International Foundation, more than $150,000 is given away each year in the form of college tuition for students who have competed in an Optimist International Scholarship Contest.

If you are an Optimist Club, you may download the template for the promotional flyer here.


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