December 25, 2016

Happy everything

Today is a day of celebration: a time when families and friends come together to share the love of the season. Many do so with presents. Some do so with a meal and hug or handshake. And some do so simply by giving thanks in their own way for the opportunity to remember the past and to imagine the future.

Today is today, and whether that day is December 25, or June 25, or any and all in between, I wish you Happy Everything. May you please and always #ShareOptimism with the world.

happy everything experience optimism

December 12, 2016

Holiday vs year-round optimism

In thirteen days, we will celebrate Christmas. It's a commercial time of year and one cannot open their newspaper, web browser, mail or email without seeing advertisements promising the same or similar one-day sales over and over again. It's easy to see how holiday fatigue can easily set in.

experience optimism merry christmas

Optimist Clubs, and other service clubs, often find the holiday season the busiest time of year. They host fundraising events like Christmas Tree lots and activities like Breakfast with Santa, among other things, to the delight of children everywhere.

Members find they are energized by the excitement they bring to others through their service; however, I have noticed they often fail to take that holiday feeling of joy, wonder and enthusiasm with them as the new year starts and programs switch to a less vigorous state of activity. Optimist Clubs spend the next few months with Scholarship Contests for essay writing and public speaking. The children are the stars of these programs too, and they are also the originator of all creative ideas as Optimist Clubs move into the role of facilitating the contests. It's easy to find academic work inspiring, but sometimes, not as much fun.

For me, I find all activities performed by an Optimist Club to be inspirational and by their name alone, optimistic. This is my reminder to you to share your optimisim all through the year. Holiday optimism is nice, but a positive, upbeat attitude is welcome at any and all times.

Many cheers to you today, tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on and on.  #Shareoptimism.

November 26, 2016

Adventure begins in an Optimist Club

I love to travel. I have recently returned from a month-long vacation to Spain and Italy and it was amazing. Visiting sites, like the Montserrat Monestary and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, that were built in 985 and 1065 respectively, is awe-inspiring. Perhaps even more amazing are the many tours to the museums where one can see the magnificent works of great artists and sculptors like Michelango and Donatello, among others. I can't begin to express the beauty of the churches where looking at the floor is as wondrous as looking at the alter and ceiling. An adventure awaits at every turn.

At home in the USA, we have beauty and wonder, too; but our history is just not as old. We make up for it in experiences that we share every day.

For me, some of the greatest experiences have been had by sharing optimism with others in the pursuit of bringing out the best in youth, community and ourselves as members of an Optimist Club.

What we do today as Optimist Club members helps preserve our legacy so perhaps in hundreds of years visitors my find our communities as inspiring as we find Europe today.

Won't you help us preserve our culture? Join an Optimist Club and get involved by finding an Optimist Club at the following links.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.
Click here if I might help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.
Click here to be a Friend of Optimists.

November 9, 2016

Offer the world your best

experience optimism world bestEight years ago, I was elated on this day because the United States had elected Barack Obama to lead it into the future with hope and change and all types of promises that get made in during the election cycle. I knew his promises were overly idealistic, yet I anxiously awaited to see how many could be fulfilled.

The past eight years have been good. Following the market decline in 2008 and the ongoing nature of the war in the Middle East, good is probably all that we could hope for.

Now we have elected a new president that wants to make America great again. President Obama has set the stage and given us the opportunity before us to do just that.

On this day, a day that many are calling historic, I encourage each of you to make it your mission to build a society that is hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted.

Whether you live in the United States, in North America or somewhere else in the world, we all  deserve the respect that such a society would foster. And I truly believe that respect will lead to the collaboration that sets all other plans in motion and allows each of us to seek our potential and fulfill our dreams. 

I ask you to move forward with purpose, my friends. Move forward with optimism and kindness and always, give the world your best. 

November 8, 2016

Vote for the United States of America

It is November 8, 2016 - the day that citizens of the United States make their choice for the next president who will lead the country and the world for four or more years. It has been an ugly journey to this point in the election with candidates that do not seem worthy, in my opinion, of the highest office in our land and arguably in the world.

I believe both Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton have flaws, too many to mention. I believe both have strengths and pray that integrity rises to the top of those strengths for the winner and the runner-up. Our nation's dialogue needs to change. We must respect one another and all people and cultures of the world. We must be wise in order to use our powers for good.

This is my limited plea to you to make your voice heard. Vote today and then set to work in your community to ensure we live in a safe and progressive society where differences can be expressed and collaboration can be shared without shame. Don't vote for a candidate that you minimally hope will win. Vote today, and every day, for the United States of America.

October 29, 2016

Trick or Treat

October brings changing colors, cooler weather and Halloween with all the ghouls, goblins, witches and pumpkins that one can imagine.

It's that last one that brings out the Optimist Club members today. In Windsor, Ontario, the Riverside Optimist Club is hosting a free pumpkin decorating contest for the kiddos. Now that's a Halloween treat for sure.

Optimist Clubs can be found in most cities, helping to bring out the best in youth, community and you. If you want to be a part of the BEST movement, find an Optimist Club near you and join today. If you can't find a club, please let me know and I'll help you start one in your community.

September 21, 2016

Share-a-Smile Optimist Club shares selfies

selfies share a smileAccording to research, taking selfies and sharing them with friends helps increase happiness.

Go ahead and laugh - it's okay - and then think about it. We've often been told that smiling helps us improve our mood until we feel the emotion. What is a selfie? Hopefully, it's a picture of you wearing a smile.

The research was conducted by Yu Chen, Gloria Mark and Sanna Ali in “Promoting Positive Affect through Smartphone Technology,” published July 4, 2016 by the Psychology of Well-Being.

Chen says, "Our research showed that practicing exercises that can promote happiness via smartphone picture taking and sharing can lead to increased positive feelings for those who engage in it.”

The study was conducted with college students and the authors explained this information was good for students to know as they return to school. Taking selfies can help reduce the stress from many different pressures they might feel.

The Share-a-Smile Optimist Club at Narrows Glen, Tacoma, Washington decided to give selfie-taking a try to see if increased happiness in a senior residence setting. We sure love to see the smiles!

September 18, 2016

Optimist International President honors Senator Bob Dole

Bob Dole
Optimist International President Dave Bruns presents
Senator Bob Dole the "Honoring our Heroes" award.
Each year, Optimist Clubs are asked to choose at least one club member or a member of the community to be recognized for their unwavering optimism and commitment to the community's welfare. As with most projects, the name of the award and the criteria for receiving it can be of the Optimist Club's choosing.

This year, on behalf of Optimist International, International President Dave Bruns recognized an outstanding American with the Honoring our Heroes Award.

bob dole

On September 17, 2016, President Bruns presented Senator Bob Dole with a plaque that recognized his service to our country, dedication as a Friend of Optimists and his efforts to "Bring out the Best" in the youth of Kansas, the nation and the world.

Thank your for your service to our country Senator Dole.

September 11, 2016

It's an Honor to be ...

honor club optimist international

When September rolls around, Optimist Clubs begin their final march to the end of the administrative year. Some try to earn recognition for the service they have provided. Others say that they don't do what they do for awards.

This message is to remind every Optimist Club member that earning the Honor Club recognition is not about earning an award. It is merely an acknowledgement that your Optimist Club is fiscally sound and that it is living up to its promises to serve the community and advance the purposes of Optimist International around the world.

The needs of our individual communities vary, but the purposes do not. The purposes of Optimist International are:
  • To develop optimism as a philosophy of life utilizing the tenets of the Optimist Creed
  • To promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs
  • To inspire respect for the law; to promote patriotism and work for international accord and friendship among all people
  • To aid and encourage the development of youth, in the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world
Don't you agree, the world would be a better place if we were all living up to those purposes? 

On the anniversary of 9/11 - the most devastating terrorist attack to occur on United States soil - we honor those who lost their lives by reminding you that peace is within our reach. And first and foremost, we must work together to share optimism. With a positive attitude, and a little hard work and compromise, the rest will fall into place. Of this, I pray. 

August 29, 2016

You can be anything - be an optimist

The new school season is upon us and as our young learners head back to the classroom, so do their teachers and mentors and encouragers of all ages. Over the next nine months, a great amount of time will be spent in reading, writing and arithmetic; and for some, sports will absorb many remaining hours.

Of course, all will become better versed in digital media because technology is the way of the future, but who will help shape our students' attitudes and behaviors?

Teachers, coaches, friends and parents help shape the worldview of the youngsters within their reach. Isn't it best to share a positive outlook?

Hope defines the American way of life and that hope should begin at an early age. One might imagine how difficult it is to teach hope given how the nightly news spreads its tales of trouble and woe. Imagine being a child during the 2016 election season. What does that teach her or him about becoming an adult?

We must teach kindness, respect and optimism to our little ones so that they may grow up to be open-minded, tolerant, forgiving and positive. In a land where we can grow up to be anything, we must be an Optimist, first and foremost. It is the only way to share hope.

Do you want to be part of the Optimist movement? I hope so! Ask me how you can join today.

August 24, 2016

Like a bundle of wood, we're stronger together

optimist internationalFor two years, Optimist International has offered a great deal for individuals who want to become
Friends of Optimist. For only $300, an Optimist Club can purchase a Community Impact Bundle and activate 6 members with it. That's only $50 per membership for someone to learn about an Optimist Club and its projects and Optimist International and its purposes.

As I was thinking about the word bundle today, a story I heard of a father and his three sons came to my mind. In the story, the father was concerned because the brothers were always fighting, disagreeing and putting their own needs first. So he brought them three pieces of wood and asked them to break the sticks in half. The strong young men did so quite easily. He then produced a bundle of sticks and asked each boy to break it. They couldn't. When banded together, the bundle of sticks was strong. It held firm. And so would the brothers and the family.

Optimist Clubs are like families. We join together under the Optimist International umbrella and we serve many communities around the world, but we never do this alone. We do it with other Optimist Volunteers and community members that want their communities to be the best they can be. In that way, each Optimist Club is like the bundle of sticks. Together we achieve more.

That's why it is so important that we add new members to our Optimist Clubs. Don't be shy - use the Community Impact Bundle and save money for the great projects that your Optimist Club will do this year and next; but hurry! The Community Impact Bundle will end on September 30, 2016.

Here are the details:
  1. For bundles purchased during the 2014-15 Optimist year, each Friend must be activated by December 31, 2015. Clubs will not be refunded or credited for any Friends that are not activated by 12/31/15.
  2. For bundles purchased during the 2015-16 Optimist year, each Friend must be activated by September 30, 2016. Clubs will not be refunded or credited for any Friends that are not activated by 9/30/16.
  3. Friends count toward membership in the Optimist year in which they are activated.
  4. Clubs will not receive any reimbursement for Friends in the Community Impact Bundle.
  5. Once activated, the Friend Membership is valid for one calendar year from the date it was activated.
  6. If a Friend decides to renew after one year, it will cost the regular $100, and the Club will receive $40.
Purchase a Community Impact Bundle with the form at this link.

Activate new members with the form at this link.

August 20, 2016

Be a positive influence

join an optimist club
There is no doubt that I like the way the Optimist International mission statement has been revised.

Old: With hope and positive vision, Optimist Clubs bring out the best in children.

New: With hope and positive vision, Optimist Clubs bring out the best in youth, our community and ourselves.

I take a few liberties when I write the phrase. For instance, it should actually read "Optimists" instead of "Optimist Clubs." In the old phrasing, it read "kids" instead of "children."

For me, the positive difference is felt in our communities and if I could rewrite it again, I would simply say Optimist Clubs bring out the best in your community and you.

That way, the ubiquitous you refers to everyone, children and adults alike, and the shorter phrase keeps it snappy. Besides, optimist may be in our name, but not every club promotes hope. Hope and positive vision may be byproducts, but many clubs promote sports or other projects first rather than psychology or optimistic behavior.

As much as we are the same, every Optimist Club is different. We adopt the culture of our community and its members. We are uniquely local, meeting needs of those nearest to us.

We are positive influencers of good deeds. We are Optimists. And we are needed. Won't you share optimism with your community? Join an Optimist Club today.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.
Click here if I might help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.
Click here to be a Friend of Optimists.

August 11, 2016

Back to School Special

experience optimismOptimist International has introduced a new membership incentive just in time for the new school

Between now and September 30, 2016, teachers may join an Optimist Club for only $30 due to Optimist International. Clubs must also pay the $15 processing fee and any dues to districts that are required.

The incentive is timely and a wonderful way to introduce educators to an Optimist Club. Building relationships with teachers leads to more opportunities for service. Adding teachers in your club:
  • Strengthens our connection with local schools
  • Opens doors for attracting more students to our youth projects—including Oratorical, Essay, Sports, Health, Safety and other programs
  • Attracts and builds strong allies from the field of Education
  • Provides the foundation for new Junior Optimist Clubs
  • Allows us to serve more children
Clubs should contact Optimist International Membership Director Danny Schuette to enroll new teacher members under this plan.

August 5, 2016

Optimist Honor Clubs are the best

experience optimism
It's no secret that I believe the best way to a healthy Optimist Club is to earn the Honor Club recognition. I write about it regularly on the Experience Optimism blog and even more so at the PNW District Optimist Clubs page.

Yesterday, I wrote to all of the members who belong to Optimist Clubs in the West Coast Region, Optimist International to encourage them to help their leaders attain the Honor Club goal.

I believe that every member, not just the club officers, should be involved in helping their club be the best it can be. By consistently earning the Honor Club recognition, an Optimist Club demonstrates its commitment to its community and its members by providing relevant programs, honoring citizens for their optimistic behaviors, and attending to administrative and financial obligations in a timely manner. Most of all, an Optimist Honor Club replenishes itself by welcoming new members.

If service clubs are to continue to thrive, all of these steps must be followed and it all begins with the invitation: Do you want to join my Optimist Club? I hope so. When we share optimism, we make a difference in our communities and ourselves.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.
Click here if I might help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.
Click here to be a Friend of Optimists

July 25, 2016

Like Michelle Obama, Optimist Clubs must be role models

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the Democratic National Convention and among other things she said:
"And make no mistake about it, this November, when we go to the polls, that is what we're deciding — not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives."

Like our government leaders, teachers, parents and other role models, Optimist Clubs share the responsibility of helping children reach their full potential. Our motto is Friend of Youth because we take that responsibility with fervor and pride. Our projects are designed to bring out the best in youth, community and ourselves for a reason. We want our world to be the best it can be today and far into the future.

Please volunteer to make the Optimist difference by joining an Optimist Club today.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.
Click here if I might help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.
Click here to be a Friend of Optimists

June 25, 2016

It will help you feel happy

Shhh! I'm going to share a secret with you, but don't tell anyone. It's my birthday!

That's right, on this day, many years ago, a pink bundle of joy landed in Granite City, Illinois to two of the finest parents ever. Over the next 38 years, they taught me so many lessons about caring, giving and achieving, among others. And before they left me, much too soon, they also taught me to be happy.

#shareoptimism #joinanoptimistclub

One might wonder, can you teach someone to be happy? I say yes, you can. The world is a tough place with many corners that may lead one down the wrong path. As one struggles to find their way, they risk desperation, frustration, and a number of setbacks that might cause pain and generate a negative outlook on life.

Faith allows us to overcome those obstacles; but not everyone has the gift of a supportive family. That is one reason that I heartily endorse the support of an Optimist Club.When one joins an Optimist Club, they find people who help them be their best. As we give ourselves in service to our communities, our best rises to the top. We share smiles. We share happiness. We share optimism.

I hope you make today and every day a good day. Feel happy, join an Optimist Club.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.
Click here if I might help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.

May 25, 2016

Peaceful, easy feeling

Peace. That's what we want in our lives and for the world. When I'm at the ocean, I feel an incredible calm and the tenet from the Optimist Creed, "to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind," reigns. That's why I wanted to share that peaceful, easy feeling with you.

And just for good measure, here's the rest of the Optimist Creed:

Promise yourself
  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others  
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

April 30, 2016

Cocoa Beach Optimist Club Fishing Derby

It's only fifteen seconds, but it is fifteen seconds of one of the best Optimist Club projects that I've seen. The Cocoa Beach Optimist Club, Florida, coordinates a huge fishout with a $10,000 prize.

Take a look at all the fun and imagine what your Optimist Club can do in its community.

April 18, 2016

Optimism breeds joy

John Baldoni is the chair of leadership and development at N2Growth. He has been recognized internationally as an educator and executive coach. In this message, he shares what we believe optimists should know, but may need to be reminded of, in order to live joyfully and to help others live joyfully, too.

It's pretty simple stuff that he suggests. He says that people want to derive meaning for their lives and that leaders can help those who follow them by demonstrating the following behaviors:
  • Care about your work 
  • Care about your people
  • Communicate by listening and sharing
  • Support them with resources and recognition

According to Baldoni, optimism breeds joy.

Be joyful, my friends and fellow optimists.

April 9, 2016

Say something good

Merle Haggard passed away this week.

It seems that more and more celebrities who are my parents' age are turning up in the obituary column. Of course, I lost my parents more than twenty years ago; but somehow, still reading the names and listening to music, among other things, from their era has always made me feel grounded and close to them.

If I lived near where I grew up, I might find affinity in other things. Last year, I took a four-month gig in St. Louis and was surprised at the many changes that had occurred over my fifteen-year absence. Favorite restaurants had closed. Busch Stadium was torn down to make way for a new, improved baseball venue. Casinos rest stately on both sides of the Mississippi River and the interstate highway system now surrounds the metropolitan suburban area as had always been planned.

All is good, even if the memories bring a bit of sadness as I remember what used to be. Growth and change spur rebirth and fuel the evolution of our culture and comparing the old and the new help us tell our stories: we say where we came from and where we've been, how we got there, and how or why we returned.

It is both  noble and optimistic to share our stories. Merle Haggard said, "When you get your chance to say something, say something good."

On first blush, I thought Mr. Haggard was reminding us to share optimism and to tell about the good things that happen in our lives. Then I thought, that doesn't sound like a country and western song at all. Such a dichotomy!

Then I gave it some more thought and it occurred to me that good has different meanings. According to, as an adjective, it means "to be desired or approved" or "having the qualities required for a particular role." As a noun, it means "that which is morally right" or "benefit or advantage to someone or something." And as an adverb, good means "well."

Country and western singers are storytellers and their stories span the entire human condition and social environment. That includes happiness and sadness alike and to entice the audience to listen to both emotions, storytellers must do their craft well. No, excuse me, I meant to write, as did Merle Haggard, they must say something good.

In this case, I believe his call is for excellence in thought, word and deed.

RIP Merle Haggard, 1937-2016.

April 1, 2016

Spring into action

April 1, 2016 - Some say that today is April Fool's Day.

I prefer to believe that today is a call to action. Today is the day that we come out of our winter hibernation and spring into life.

We make plans for the days ahead knowing that the sun will shine more often than not. We know that the green grass and budding flowers will continue to paint our landscape with a kaleidescope of color.

We can't help but be happy at this time of year. Do you know what else will make you happy?

You will be happy when you join an Optimist Club. 

Joining an Optimist Club serves as an extra reminder that one should think and share positive thoughts with those around them. It is not only a reminder, but a extra push, that one should work with others to offer community service in order to make their community great again. It is also a wonderful way to find friendship and fellowship with people who want to celebrate what is right with the world.

Please let this post be your reminder to Spring into Life: Join an Optimist Club today.

Find an Optimist Club here.

Send me, Linda Vaught, an email and I'll help you start an Optimist Club in your community.

March 27, 2016

A wish for spring

love hope experience optimism
As the flowers emerge from their winter beds each year, spring offers new visions of hope.

Our fresh eyes scan the landscape to assess the beauty in our surroundings. On such days, we feel love for our families, love for our friends and love for our neighborhood, country and land.

All of this combines to present eternal optimism.

We are part of a world than regenerates itself.

We have unlimited potential to thrive in this world.

We have unique talents to share with those around us.

We have hope, love and optimism.

My wish for you - and for me - is that our hope, love and optimism will shine and grow throughout the year.

March 22, 2016

Optimist Clubs take action every day

optimist in action
Last year, Optimist International encouraged its clubs to participate in Optimist in Action day. The idea was that an Optimist Club would perform a community service activity one day - any day - in May.

I thought that seemed a bit silly; after all, Optimist Clubs find action throughout the year in all the programs and services they perform.

Today I looked for the activity on the Optimist International website and I discovered that Optimist in Action day actually became a thing in 1992. According to the History of Optimist International, its purpose was to include others in an Optimist Club project at least once per year:
In 1992, a new and innovative program, titled Optimists in Action Day, was introduced as a pilot program to unite Optimists and other volunteers in the community in a single day of community or youth service.
If your Optimist Club is like mine, it probably includes Optimist Club members and community members in its projects most of the time. Instead of promoting our clubs on one day of the year, I suggest that we make our activities more visible every time we host an activity or event or volunteer in the community.

For example, Clyde Adams posted this sign on Facebook today. This weekend, the Four Towns Optimist Club will host an Easter Egg Hunt and this sign will be there letting the public know that the Optimist Club is in action.

Get one for your Optimist Club today!

March 16, 2016

I dare you to be an optimist

One only has to turn on the television or radio in the United States today to hear pessimism surrounding the presidential electoral process. It can set a fairly poor tone for the day.

I believe that we are better than that. Eight years ago, I believed in Barack Obama's message of hope and today, I still believe it is possible to strengthen our communities. I have hope for the future because I belong to an Optimist Club.

An Optimist Club helps bring out the potential in ourselves so that we may help others bring out their potential too.

I took the dare many years ago to be an optimist. I've wavered; I've had trying times, but I can always turn to the Optimist Creed and my faith is restored.

I invite you to take the pledge today. I dare you to be an optimist.

Click on the link to find an Optimist Club near you and join: Find an Optimist Club.

Click on the following link if I may be of help for you to start a new Optimist Club in your community: Contact Linda Vaught.

March 8, 2016

These ladies are #OptimistHeroes

experience optimism #optimist hero

This year for International Women's Day, I again turn to my Optimist Club roots and recognize two ladies who are doing an outstanding job sharing their optimism with others in the West Coast Region of Optimist International. Both hail from California -- Carol Morack, Governor, Pacific Southwest District and Beth Mills, Governor, Pacific Southeast District.

Leading a district for Optimist International can be a challenge because despite the great number of women who are now involved in the organization, advancement can still seem very political. As we are ruefully aware, success is not always recognized by what you know, but rather, by who you know.

It is my sincere belief that women must champion women. However, it is my strong plea, men must also champion women in order for there to be true equality at work and in volunteer leadership positions, among other things.

Morack and Mills are currently leading the West Coast Region in membership growth. They each have game plans for finishing the year in positive numbers.

Morack's plan includes starting new Optimist Clubs, two at a time. She believes that creating pairs of clubs will make them stronger as they will have others with whom to share their experiences. She gathered commitments from builders at the recent district meeting and now she must encourage them to follow through.

As it celebrates its 30th anniversary of being recognized as a district, Mills is rebuilding fellowship in an effort to find and nurture new leaders. It's easy for the same people to step forward, but in order for the organization to expand, we have to hand over the reins to new people and ideas.

I salute both ladies for their optimism and wish them them the best. I know you will succeed!

March 7, 2016

Optimist Club receives the Golden Milkbone Award

In a bit of a role-reversal, students from the Maryville, Missouri Middle School recently recognized the Maryville Optimist Club for their community service.

The Community Recognition Action Team bestowed the Golden Milkbone Award to the Optimist Club following the 2016 Optimist Oratorical Contest.

According to the Action Team, the Optimist Club lives their motto Friend of Youth by maintaining great relationships with all Maryville schools and involvinvolving the students in many contests, activities and events.

Optimist Clubs pride themselves on recognizing students during Youth Appreciation activities, among other things. Receiving an award from the very students they serve is indeed an honor. Congratulations to all.

To find out more about the Golden Milkbone Award, please visit the Maryville Middle School website.

Photo credit: Maryville Middle School

March 5, 2016

Have a little fun with your pancakes

I have mentioned before how much I love an Optimist Club Pancake Breakfast. It brings the community together for a good cause and there's sweet syrup to boot!

One of the real attributes of a pancake breakfast, spaghetti supper, chili cook-off or other club fundraiser with food is it increases fellowship within our clubs. Our members get to laugh and enjoy one another and build true bonds of friendship as is demonstrated in this quick little video from the Cerritos Optimist Club. Enjoy.

March 3, 2016

Impressions and brands

Robotic clubs, school groups with a technology focus, have caught the attention of a great number of Optimist Clubs. Some are starting Junior Optimist Octagon (JOOI) Clubs within them while others are supporting the school efforts with donations.

The robot shown here is from the Lightning Bolts Robotic Club in Gresham, Oregon. The exhibit shows pictures of the club developing the robot and participating in tournaments. That's awesome.

It also shows the organizations that have sponsored it and that's what I want to talk about here. Notice that there are three sponsors that are visible: the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club and something that is pink and not readily identifiable.

I know that pink thing is the Gresham Optimist Club. Isn't it too bad that the Optimist International logo is not as easy to read as its counterparts?

Optimist Clubs and members often lament the fact that Optimist Clubs are a best-kept secret. Well folks, the best way to keep it a secret is to NOT use the standard logo for the organization.

If you want Optimist Clubs to be recognized around the world, don't hide it behind your club's branding. Use the official logo, loud and proud. With more than 2,300 communities served by Optimist Clubs around the world, we could make millions of impressions daily. For our brand to be known, we must offer a consistent impression and that begins with using the official logo of Optimist International.

February 29, 2016

Feels like home to me

experience optimism
I have written here before how my first Optimist Club made me feel welcome.

I have also written about how I took a break from active service and the Optimist Club welcomed me when I was ready to return.

However, I do not believe that I've talked about how visiting a district meeting can have the same feeling.

The past two weekends have found me in California, visiting the Pacific Southwest and Pacific Central Districts - Optimist International. This coming weekend, I head to Reno for the Regional Optimism Summit and then on to Idaho for a Pacific Northwest Super Zone meeting.

All that travel can make one tired; however, when one travels for optimism, one is recharged and reenergized over and over again. Sharing positive thoughts and discussing the projects that bring out the best in children sparks a sense of satisfaction. It's important to do good and to give back.

At times like this, one phenomenon stands out above all others: the feeling of family. No matter where I have traveled, Optimist Clubs feel like home to me. There is comfort in sharing values and dreams. There is comfort in meeting the extended family through district gatherings and there is comfort in opening doors, minds and hearts with our shared purposes and the overwhelming goodness of the Optimist Creed.

I invite you to join the family. Join an Optimist Club today.

Find an Optimist Club near you.
Send me a message and I will help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.

February 24, 2016

How to target a mature audience

I highlight a great number of Optimist Club projects on this blog. Typically they are geared towards bringing out the best in youth or community. However, we have to raise money to do all these good deeds and while I don't highlight that many fundraising projects, I thought this one deserved a nod.

Coordinated by the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club, the public is invited to enjoy a food and wine festival on Sunday, March 6, 2016.

The Sanibel Uncorked Food and Wine Festival has been taking place annually since 2010. It features wine, music, cooking demonstrations and a silent auction. While it is aimed at the community to enjoy, it also captures the attention of tourists visiting the area in the winter months. 

For further information, or to buy a ticket, please call 239-472-0836. 

This is an example of providing social activities for members and the community with an adult flair. Working with youth is important and rewarding, but nurturing the interest of a mature audience is critical in the survival of our programs. Optimist Clubs need the support and interest of caring adults in order to continue to do what we do best as friends of youth. 

February 14, 2016

Love is in the air

join an optimist club
When you join an Optimist Club, you experience love every day. Love comes from a sense of belonging and when you share experiences, both the good and the challenging, the bond grows stronger.

One might think that these types of experiences are  reserved for individuals - people - to share with one another. They are not usually ascribed to a person and a group or a person and an organization. However, when you think about it, it is perfectly natural to have overwhelming love for your family.

For many, an Optimist Club is like a family. Through our mutual caring for our community, we respect, care, and yes, love one another.

If you are looking for love, look no further than your local Optimist Club. Find your nearest Optimist Club here or send me a message and I'll help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.

I hope you feel hope and love today and that you #shareoptimism every day. Happy Valentine's Day.

February 7, 2016

Super Kids are the focus of the Breakfast Optimist Club

experience optimism super kidsIn Quincy, Illinois, the Breakfast Optimist Club sponsors a Soap Box Derby.

Over the past three years, it has grown from 65 to 122 participants and enlarged from a 1-day event to 2-days.

The competition takes place at the 18th Street Hill near Bob Mays Park, and that is a perfect location to generate some speed and excitement for the Super Kids Soap Box Derby Competition.

Who are the Super Kids who take part?
Special needs children from local organizations.

According to race director Ray Wilson, Quincy, Illinois will soon be known as the epicenter for the Super Kids Soap Box Derby. Although the Derby is a fundraiser for the Breakfast Optimist Club's cancer fund, the Super Kids are not charged an entry fee. Local sponsors like Hy-Vee and Home Depot, among others, make it possible to treat the children to a great event and support another great cause. "This whole project sounds enormous to many," said Wilson, "but it is not difficult when people's hearts are in the right place."

Wilson went on to explain that many of these parents have difficulty involving their sons and daughters in sporting events. The Super Kids races are very positive event for them, the children and the community.

That's what being an Optimist Club member is all about: Bringing out the best in youth, our community and ourselves.

Photo: Michael Kipley

January 30, 2016

Your call to action

#share optimism #join an optimist club

There's a famous quote attributed to Lily Tomlin that reads, "I said 'Sombody should do something about that.' Then I realized I am somebody."

That's what happens in your community when people come together as an Optimist Club.

  • They see needs and work together to find solutions. 
  • They see achievements and work together to provide recognition. 
  • They see hope and work together to celebrate its promise. 

An Optimist Club, just as its name implies, offers a positive way of thinking so that all may sieze the promise of their potential. Coming together with others to #shareoptimism provides a cheering section for you as an individual and for others in the community. One of the lines of the Optimist Creed says that we should be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as we are about our own. When you join an Optimist Club, you work with others to make that tenet, and nine others, come true.

This is your call to action. Do more than read about problems in the paper. Get up and help! Join an Optimist Club and #shareoptimism with the world.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or email me and I'll help you start a new Optimist Club in your community. Thank you.

January 25, 2016

What a great idea!


Eureka! I've found the perfect way for you to give back to your community and build up your positive outlook at the same time.

What is it? Join an Optimist Club!

When you join an Optimist Club, you find people who look on the bright side of life and encourage others, especially children, to be the best they can be.

When you join an Optimist Club, you make friends who share their positive vision with their community and work to solve problems and challenges in a way that makes their neighborhood, and yours, the best place to live.

When you join an Optimist Club, you gain leadership skills and learn to coach others, children and adults, to think and prove that they can be leaders too.

When you join an Optimist Club, you learn that it's a way of life to #shareoptimism with others and that is a powerful message to give.

When you join an Optimist Club, you make a difference in your life and work with others to make a difference in theirs. That is a great idea.

Join an Optimist Club and make a positive difference today.

January 24, 2016

Optimists celebrate Snow Day 2016

There is no shortage of snow on the US East Coast this week as a blizzard hit calling off school and  sending children of all ages to play outdoors and record their shenanigans as the #blizzardof2016.

However the Optimist Club of New Holstein, Wisconsin celebrates every year with a Snow Day. This year found children, hosted by the Optimist Club at the Optimist Park Chalet, and their parents enjoying popcorn and hot chocolate along with arts & crafts and simple games on SnowDay2016.

I can't think of a better way to spend a snowy afternoon than with children and optimists. Can you?

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you and join! 

Photos: Mark Sherry

January 16, 2016

Start a new Optimist Club

One of the most rewarding projects that any Optimist Club can undertake is to start a new Optimist Club in a new community. The location for a new Optimist Club may be adjoining your neighborhood or city, or it may be across the county or state line. For some, it isn't even that far as they work to start new Optimist Clubs with groups of people, united by ideas and goals rather than location.

Whatever the group, fostering involvement in doing good in our communities provides a source of pride for the new Optimist Club builders. Sponsoring club members tell stories about their projects and purposes of an Optimist Club and testify why they support the cause; that is, they explain why they are members. Their stories strengthen their own club in the process.

Increased fellowship and shared achievements bring the members together as they promise to continue their commitment long into the future.

If you have an idea that you would like to get off the ground, or a group of people who are looking to get together for social good, consider helping them start a New Optimist Club. The community, children and they will thank you for the special gift of service through an Optimist Club.

Click here to join an Optimist Club.

Click here to find out about starting a new Optimist Club.

Click here if I can answer any questions or schedule a time to come to your community. 

January 8, 2016

Bowling for a break

At Thanksgiving, we showed you Bowling for Turkeys.

For Christmas, we bring you bowling for a break. This glimpse into a little project by the Mendota Optimist Club is an example of how Optimist Clubs step up to engage children at times when they are looking for something to do, like Christmas break.

The Christmas holiday can be kind of long, or short, depending on your perspective. Keeping it full of fun activities heightens enjoyment.

This bowling and pizza party took place on December 30, 2015 and drew 134 children, 6-16 years of age. Buy pizza and offer free bowling; yes, it's just that easy to make a difference in your community when you belong to an Optimist Club.

Join an Optimist Club today. 

Photo: Jennifer Sommer, the Mendota Reporter

January 3, 2016

Smiles are what being an Optimist is all about

The motto of Optimist International and its 2,500 Optimist Clubs around the world is Friend of
Youth. The history of the organization says that the first group of Optimists formed in 1911 to deter young boys who were vandalizing their stores. The merchants came together to combat a social issue and found that they could do so much more with their positive attitudes to make their community, Buffalo, New York, a better place to live.

As we go forward many years to 2016, we learn that Optimist Clubs not only help delinquent children choose better pathways, club members also help recognize children for just doing good things. The annual, and sometimes monthly, program conducted by Optimist Clubs is called Youth Appreciation.

In December, the Optimist Club of Greenville, Tennessee announced its recipients for the fall months. Shown in this picture with Optimist Club members are Halie Sane and Gage Pomrof for October; Ariel Foster and Cole Franklin for November; and Kennedy Franklin and Benjamin Lougheed for December. These students, chosen from the Boys & Girls Club depict what its like to be a child, full of play, hope and potential. Their recognition by the Optimist Club of Greenville says, "You're doing a good job. Keep it up."

For me, the photo, with the crinkly nose of the middle girl, is one of the best parts of being an Optimist Club member. Bringing smiles to our children and opportunity to our communities brings out the best in ourselves.

Find out more and join an Optimist Club today.

Photo courtesy of the Greenville Optimist Club. 

January 1, 2016

Welcome to 2016, Optimist

experience optimism

The Optimist Creed has so many wonderful words and aspirations for us to follow throughout the year.  To choose only one tenet to live by is futile; we must embrace different lines at different times in order to do our best.
Promise Yourself 
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
As we ring in the new year, 2016, it is time to forget about the mistakes of the past. Instead, think about the future and press on to the greatness and opportunity that is promised.

Happy New Year, friends and Optimists. I hope to see you soon.


alabama alberta anguilla arizona arkansas arts B.W.I. barbados british columbia california canada day cayman islands ccdhh celebrations change charitable Christmas Trees childhood cancer campaign childhood literacy childhood wellness campaign children citizenship college colorado communication community building community development community service do the right thing donation doodle 4 google drug abuse easter education enchantment engagement essay contest experience optimism Facebook faith fellowship festival fishing fitness florida food drive football friend of youth friendship fundraiser fundraising generation gap georgia good government grand cayman gratitude Halloween happiness hawaii health and welfare healthy club checklist holiday hope idaho illinois indiana inspiration internet safety iowa iron eyes jamaica jay leno join an optimist club jooi joy junior golf kansas keep america beautiful kentucky leadership louisiana maine manitoba marketing maryland membership mentor michigan minnesota mississippi missouri Montana motivation music sunday n carolina n dakota nebraska new jersey new mexico new optimist club new york ohio oklahoma ontario opportunity optimism optimist club optimist clubs optimist creed optimist international optimist international convention optimist international foundation optimistic story of the day oratorical contest oregon outreach partnerships patriotism pennsylvania playground pnw district promotion public relations quebec quotes recognition recycling respect respect for law s carolina scholarship school supplies schools service clubs share optimism social media south carolina South Dakota st. maarten stories success talent show teachers Ted tennessee testimonials texas traditions twitter virginia volunteers w. virginina washington website wisconsin young adult youth appreciation youth safety youth sports