Optimist International Foundation Through the Decades 1971-2021

Page 1

Optimist International Foundation Through the Decades 1971-2021


Mission Statement Helping Optimists Help Kids Seeking, receiving and managing funds and real personal property for the benefit of Optimist International and its Member Clubs in its charitable, literary and educational activities.

Vision Statement We envision a Foundation that can provide significant funding for Optimist International’s youth and service programs and is proudly supported by individual Optimists, their Clubs, and the community at large.

Tax and Charitable Status The Optimist International Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. Within 501(c)(3), the Foundation is a 509(a)(3) public charity.

History Optimist International Foundation (OIF) was established in 1971 exclusively for the charitable, literary and educational purposes of Optimist International, a community service-based organization committed to creating a more optimistic future for young people through innovative programs. OIF works with Optimist Clubs located in over 2,100 communities in the United States and the Caribbean. The Foundation has grown steadily since 1971 and is recognized as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Foundation’s Board of Directors grants funds to Optimist International each year for the development and improvement of International programs. Programs funded by the Foundation serve 1.5 million children annually. Optimist International Foundation depends on the support from Optimist Clubs and individual Members, the general public, businesses and corporations.

4494 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108 (800) 500-8130 oifoundation.org

1 Optimist International Foundation

Happy 50th Anniversary Fellow Optimists! Yes, this is your Foundation and your anniversary to celebrate. Fifty years of “Helping Optimists Help Kids!” should make all of us proud. The Optimist International Foundation was incorporated on February 18, 1971 by Optimist leaders Charles Campbell, Monroe Marlowe and Hugh Cranford. The purpose of the OIF, set forth by these forefathers, was to serve the charitable, literary and educational purposes of Optimist International. Now, 50 years later, the OIF remains true to that original intent. Our Foundation launched five decades ago by providing the funding for the Oratorical scholarships. Today we fund not only all of the District Oratorical Scholarships for the United States, the Caribbean and the Global District but for the Regional and World winners from those areas as well. This support of our Optimist Oratorical Scholarships is a wonderful illustration of how our foundation has grown in the past half century. Over the last five decades the OIF funds raised annually have grown exponentially, resulting in the expansion of the Optimist Mission at the International, District and Club level. Through the great partnership with OI, the Foundation is proud to provide support on many fronts. The list includes all OI Scholarship Programs, The World Oratorical Championship, Junior Golf, Junior Optimist and other OI programs. Plus, the Foundation funds the Club Grant, Childhood Health and Wellness Grant and Disaster Relief Grant.

All of these great accomplishments are a result of the GENEROSITY OF YOU! Currently approximately 8% of our members and 24% of our Clubs contribute to our Foundation. I would be thrilled to see us increase those numbers to at least 50% during this our 50th anniversary year. If everyone gave, at whatever level they could, what an incredible difference that would make. “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were not there the ocean would be missing something.” - Mother Teresa I am exceedingly honored to serve as the President of the OIF during this our 50th year. It’s been a tremendous experience serving with a dedicated, conscientious Board, Staff and Executive Director. My heart has been filled with gratitude as witness the extraordinary generosity of our members. Here’s to the next fifty years as we continue to build an even stronger Foundation to “Help Optimists Help Kids!” Yours in Optimism and Appreciation,

Jan Oord Graves


It’s A Golden Jubilee Celebrating 50 Years of Optimist International Foundation by Megan Pellock


n the last 100 plus years, Optimist International has given back to the youth in communities across the world. However, without the help of Optimist International Foundation, Optimist International would not have made as large an impact. From providing funding to Club grants and scholarships to supporting Junior Optimist International ( JOI) Clubs, Optimist International Foundation has been there to make those dreams a reality. In 1969, a planning committee was established by Optimist International President Monroe Marlow. The purpose was to look at the key issues and needs that the organization was facing. That led to the formation of Optimist International Foundation (OIF), a 501(c)(3) organization serving exclusively the charitable, literary, and educational purposes of Optimist International. It was later established with the Articles of Incorporation signed on February 18, 1971 by Charles C. Campbell, Monroe Marlowe, and Hugh H. Cranford. These three along with Norman L. Shipley and Gene H. Sternberg, Sr. formed the first OIF Board of Directors in 1970. During its first years, it supported

3 Optimist International Foundation

Optimist International through the Oratorical scholarships. In the first year, the Foundation raised over $15,500. Within in the first decade of its founding, the Foundation raised one million dollars. Fifty (50) years later, OIF is still a key partner with Optimist International, funding the Optimist International Essay, CCDHH, and Oratorical scholarships as well as supporting JOI programs, and is a major underwriter of the World Oratorical Championship. Fundraising opportunities through OIF include Dime a Day, Presidents Club, Friends of Tomorrow, and Christian D. Larson Awards. “The Foundation is an essential partner with Optimist Intl., providing funding for scholarships, JOI programs, Club programs, and other initiatives.” Jan Oord Graves, the President of Optimist International Foundation said, “OIF is the charitable arm of Optimist International raising the funds to support all of our youth programs.”

The Foundation has a 50 year history of supporting Clubs and programs and they are looking to be even stronger.”

The purpose of the Foundation is to “Help Optimists Help Kids!” Foundation grants are available to all Optimist Clubs for Club projects and initiatives for the youth in their communities. Other resources, such as videos and webinars, are available to Clubs free of charge on OIF’s website. “The only purpose of the foundation is to support Optimist International and its programs,” Oord Graves stated, “I always emphasize to my fellow Optimists that this is their Foundation, benefitting only Optimist International and their Clubs.”

Cameron Tyler, from Jackson, Missouri was the first overall winner of the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships in 2016. As the World Champion, Cameron won $22,500 in scholarships for competing in the Optimist Oratorical Contests. Pictured: Dave Bruns, Diana Carlin

Without the work of the Foundation, and the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation, Oratorical and other scholarship contests would not be as well funded. President Mark Weinsoff speaks on the importance of the Foundation to Optimist International, “The 50th anniversary of the Optimist International Foundation prompts me to take a moment to recognize what our partnership has done to promote positive change in the world. These accomplishments include thousands of College scholarships, millions of dollars dedicated to Cancer research, and disaster relief funds following hurricanes, tornados, fires and mudslides. Grants to Optimist Clubs from the Foundation have enabled them to create new programs to serve their communities. I am grateful for the vast impact the Foundation has on the Optimist organization and communities around the world.”

The Foundation has a 50-year history of supporting Clubs and programs and is looking to be even stronger. During its 50th year, the Foundation has continued to grow and expand, despite the global pandemic. Oord Graves added, “Even at the inception of this pandemic when people began to cancel meetings and fundraisers, the Foundation continued to support the programs and scholarships that it has in the past. In fact, we have expanded.” “In this 50 year anniversary, even with the pandemic, we were able

Charles C. Campbell Optimist International President, 1970-1971


Our Johns Hopkins Partnership renewing hope.

to go above and beyond,” Craig Boring, the Secretary and Executive Director of Optimist International Foundation added. The following initiatives have been added, “We created the JOI Past President’s Scholarship, we began supporting Junior Optimist Golf, and we increased the Club Grant amount to $1,000. These are three exciting achievements that have happened in this year alone.”

on donating a Jeff Hansen painting for the auction,” Oord Graves explains, “I reached out to Julie, Jeff ’s mother and business manager. After explaining the purposes of the OI Foundation and our upcoming 50th anniversary, Julie suggested the idea of a partnership with Hanson art. After numerous calls with Julie, we came up with a plan to use his art for the incentives, bowties, and other commemorative items.”

Despite it all, Oord Graves and those working with the Foundation have not stopped their efforts. “The OIF Board has worked diligently to be good stewards in the management of the Foundation’s resources.” In celebration of the 50th anniversary, the Foundation has partnered with the late Jeff Hanson, a visually impaired artist from Kansas City. Hanson’s artwork is featured on ties, bowties, stationery, and scarves. His art was used to create a special “Dime a Day” pin, President’s Club Award, and others. “The planning for the 50th anniversary began with a committee meeting at our OI Convention in Louisville. We were brainstorming special 50th anniversary fundraisers when the idea of an online auction was initiated. My husband Ron and I decided 5 Optimist International Foundation

Optimists in Action

“It was Jeff ’s mission to raise 10 million dollars for charity. His parents were very involved with his philanthropic goals as well.” Oord Graves said somberly, “At the end of this Optimist year, the net proceeds from the sales of our Hanson items as well as any contributions made to the OIF in his name will be tabulated and presented to Julie and Hal Hanson. These net proceeds will contribute towards Jeff ’s $10 million goal. It’s because of the work of Jeff and his family that this partnership was possible. It all came from them and their giving nature. We are so sorry to have lost this bright, awesome young artist and philanthropist. The Foundation will continue to honor to be $100, but whatever you and celebrate Jeff ’s legacy through can offer. I would love to see the increased support.” this remarkable partnership.” As part of the International Convention in Atlanta, we will celebrate "Through the Decades", including historical information, different initiatives enacted, and other programs started which will commemorate the work of OIF throughout the years. OIF will have a special reception to celebrate the milestone. A time to reflect on 50 years of “Helping Optimists Help Kids.” Looking to the Future “One of my goals as President of the Foundation this year is to encourage significant donor participation by the Optimist family. Currently, approximately 8% of our Members and 30% of our Clubs contribute. We are very grateful for that support. I would like to see an increase in the number Optimists and Clubs that contribute to our Foundation. 100% would be amazing but even getting 50% participation would be fantastic. All donations are appreciated. It doesn’t have

2010-2011 OIF Board of Directors

The dues that members pay to be a member of their Optimist Club go to Optimist International for administration and resources, while the money given to Optimist International Foundation goes toward Optimist International scholarships, Clubs, and youth programs. Having Members and non-members find the joy of giving back to something bigger than themselves greatly impacts the Foundation and their efforts. It also gives donors the satisfaction that you will help a child receive money that will help them in school or a JOI Club that is starting a new community initiative and that donation just helped them make that dream a reality. It is Your Foundation. The reason it exists is to support Optimist Programs. The Foundation is as strong as its Members and their support. Please join with your Foundation on February 18th and beyond in making a difference. Celebrate 50 years of “Helping Optimists Help Kids.” 6

7 Optimist International Foundation


Through the Decades Timeline 50 Years of Helping Optimists Help Kids Fifty years ago, on February 18, 1971, Optimist International President Charles Campbell, Monroe Marlowe and Hugh Cranford signed the Articles of Incorporation for the Optimist International Foundation. The first Optimist International Foundation Board of Directors was comprised of these three along with Norman Shipley and Gene Sternberg. The intent of these Optimist leaders was that our Foundation would exclusively serve the charitable, literary and educational purposes of OI. They believed that Optimism would grow and reach more children and communities through this endeavor. Fellow Optimists, There is no doubt that we have achieved those original goals. In fact we have probably moved far beyond where our forefathers thought we might go. This timeline – “Through the Decades” is meant to give you a snapshot of the progress and achievements of our Foundation.

Charles Campbell is the First President of OIF


$15,500 funds raised during the first year

Club banner bars for Life To Date donations initiated

9 Optimist International Foundation

Len Tilney

50 years of Optimism


t was December 1971 when my first fiancée’s landlord asked us to double date with him and his wife for a Sunrise Optimist Club of Lockport Christmas Party. Everyone had a good time. I received a phone call the week reminding me that I had to attend the Sunrise Optimist Club’s Wednesday morning meeting. I do not remember signing a membership application at the party, but I went to the meeting. My path with Foundation would criss-cross over the next 50 years while working with my Sunrise Club, the New York/New England District, the Tilney Region and Optimist International. I moved up in our club quickly. One year I served as a Sgt. At Arms, then Vice President, and President in 1974-75. I also was given the honor to be an Honor Club President. While learning in these positions, there was some information on the Foundation and the requirement for a donation to be Honor Club. The next year as Lt. Governor, we suggested OIF bingo cards at District Quarter Conferences and as their numbers were called members won prizes from the big bingo board at the front of the room. I was elected Governor in 1985-86. I became the DFR in 1986. I served as Optimist International Vice President in 1989 and knew banner patches were available for honor (red) and in memory (black) of people in our lives. Today the

Foundation also has gray banner patches for veterans. My Club previously purchased an awards banner, so it could present and memorialize, at every meeting, red banner patches given to our life members and black patches for those men who died while being members of our Club. The banner also shows our yearly donations to OIF. Now we have purchased veteran patches for all club members deceased or living who served in our armed forces. For my part I have placed numerous red and black patches on my Vice President banner. I was asked to chair the OIF Planned Gift Committee in 19992000 and became Director of the OIF Planned Giving Program 2002-2003. Later, I had the privilege to be appointed to serve on the OIF Board of Directors in 2006-2007. From 2007 to now, I have served as CFR. Our “loose change” can is passed around at meetings and any amounts collected are donated periodically to the Foundation. Recently we have instituted a program where members buy a $1.00 ticket for a chance at winning a Dime a Day pin. It is easy to sell the ticket and when enough money has been collected over a meeting or two you draw a name for the lucky winner. Our Club has been a beneficiary of the various OIF programs and scholarship which is always stressed to our membership. Certainly, our Oratorical and Essay programs have benefitted.

Our club’s tradition requires the incoming President to suggest a new program. What a great recruitment tool to have a new member bring a new idea to the club knowing funding may be available through OIF. So I must answer in the affirmative that the OIF and I have crossed paths over the last 50 years more than just a few times and I am better for it.


Optimist International Foundation of Canada established – renamed Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation

Annual contributions continue to increase and exceed $3 Million by 1989

District Foundation Representative program established


During the 1981-82 Optimist year donations reached their goal of 1 million in assets

Club banner patches for annual donations initiated

Grant and program services exceed $1 Million OIF began underwriting all oratorical scholarships and increased the amount to $1000

The Essay Contest, originally launched in 1940, was reintroduced in the 1983-84 Optimist year. The OIF provided funding for all of the awards.

11 Optimist International Foundation

Bill Edgerton Dedicated to Service


first joined the Breakfast Optimist Club of Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1975 or 1976. I was employed by the Telephone Company and averaged moving every four years for 37 years. I have been a member of five clubs, two of which I helped start. I attended my first International Convention in 1982 in St. Louis. At that convention, the Foundation was turning 10 years old. In the first 10 years, the Foundation had raised $900,000. During that convention, an elderly gentleman donated a check to the Foundation for $100,000 to bring the total to one million dollars. I was very impressed. Now I don't remember the exact time I made my first donation to the Foundation, but for the past 10 years my wife and I have been the only William H. Harrison members in our district. But last year, a second member joined the William H. Harrison Society. The governor that first asked me to be the DFR probably influenced me more than anyone else. I have been the DFR numerous times since then as well as a CFR. I have influence others to get involved because I firmly believe that you cannot ask members for money if you do not support it yourself. My goal has been to give more than the ones I was asking to give. My favorite project has probably been the oratorical contest. It is

at the top of my list of favorite projects the Foundation supports. My wife Jan was a school teacher for 34 years so seeing young children speak in front of a group of people is important and a great skill to have. Our daughter was in the Optimist Oratorical contest when she was 12 or 13 and now, she is a grandmother of three children. The contests impact so many people. I personally promote the Foundation by giving. And because I do give, I do not mind asking other people to give. Any member that you can get the message to as to all the benefits of the Foundation should want to participate. As of now, forty percent of my club members have joined the Dime-ADay. My push this year is to try to get more members and more clubs to donate something. We have way too many members that have not donated anything. The clubs that do not donate are probably not going to have members that donate. While I am no great orator or have many words of wisdom. But I know what we as members of Optimist International and must do is continue to educate our members about the importance of the Foundation and all the things it does to "Help Optimist Help Kids." We can do this by supporting the Foundation and all the efforts they have in helping Optimist International impact children in communities.


Club Pass Through Grant Program and Club Campaign Fund initiated

Annual contributions continue to increase and exceed $12 Million

Club Foundation Representative program established

Planned Giving Program established


Donor Guide to Giving Booklet published

Club banner patches in Honor/Memory established

Friends of Today and Friends of Tomorrow Program established

13 Optimist International Foundation

Presidents Club established

Grants and program services exceed $7 Million

Janet N. Smith Called to the Cause


etirement was two months away. My supervisor asked me if I wanted to join an Optimist Club. I asked what does that mean. She said come with me and you will find out. So, I went to a planning meeting. The Optimist Club of Talladega was formed, and I became a Charter member on May 19, 1997 - two weeks before I retired. A few years later I attended a district meeting. I was asked if I had my pin. I was wearing my Optimist member pin, but apparently that was not the pin in question. He said your DimeA-Day pin. I confessed that I did not have one. He proceeded to tell me about the programs in Optimist International that were supported by the Optimist International Foundation. I was sold. I walked away proudly wearing my Dime-ADay pin and a basic knowledge of the Optimist International Foundation.

of Talladega was formed! Vera Hendrix, the chairperson for the contest, became a Charter. I have served as Club Foundation Representative for several years and also as the District Foundation Representative. Information is always shared at the District meetings and has been well received as we have had several Distinguished DFRs. Over the years, Optimist programs have changed over the years. It is because of the continued support of the Optimist International Foundation that these programs, those that have come and gone, have had a positive impact on the youth in our communities. Always consider contributing to their efforts.

Roger Vaughn, a Past President of the OIF, and one of my mentors, has always shared information about the Foundation and the positive effects the programs have on the students. Roger encouraged me to seek membership on the Women’s Philanthropy Council. The first year I severed, Karen Monville was President of the OIF. One of the first programs with which I was involved, was the Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The District contest was held on the campus of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. This contest was held before the Optimist Club 14

Women’s Philanthropy Council established

Childhood Cancer Campaign started in 2000 Dime A Day established


Club Grant program started in 2007/08

Disaster Relief Fund for clubs established for natural disaster victims. First elected Board of Directors

Christian Larson recognition program established OIF exceed the $1.0 Million in unrestricted contributions for the first time led by OIF President Ron Graves

15 Optimist International Foundation

Stephanie Sullivan Just Ask


became a member of the Optimist Club of Fort Worth in 1997. My boss insisted I join after a member had approached the Police Chief in Fort Worth for a department representative. I was chosen and given a membership application because the club met in my patrol district. I had always been aware of the Foundation for years while in my club. My club always budgeted a nice donation every year to the Foundation. I worked fundraisers for my club and the money raised went to the Foundation. I had been to International Conventions and district meetings but had never donated because no one had ever asked me to. I did not start donating to the Foundation individually until I became the DFR for my club and learned everything the Foundation does. I was asked to be the DFR for Diane Clark’s year as a District Governor. I was asked to be other positions but chose to accept this one because I knew I was able to meet the expectations as well as hopefully go above and beyond in the role. I was a DFR for a total three years. I put my best foot forward, learn as much as I can, and share. I believe in leading by example and to do so as the Foundation Representative, you literally need to put your money where your mouth is.

middle school kids, and it was inspiring to see that age group have the courage to stand in front of a group of adults to speak. In the last few years, our club has been a district leader in the Essay contest with several district winners. Many of the students participating recently have been immigrants and it is amazing to hear how their personal stories are wrapped around the theme that year. I believe my favorite one at the District level is the Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) though. The way I promoted the Foundation when I was a DFR was to consistently keep clubs updated on District goals and our progress to it. I would let members know where the donations and monies were going and make them aware that dues do not pay for District scholarships. Awareness is what I tried to promote, and I saw several clubs that had not donated for years step up. The best advice I have is just to ask. Many people are like me in that unless you personally ask them, it is easy for people to ignore. Once they have donated, it is easy for them to get in the habit annually. Keeping them informed without constantly coming forward with your hand out. Show them all the good that is being done.

A favorite project that our club used to participate in is the Oratorical contest. It usually consisted of 16

Jeff Hanson Art was donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Louisville to commemorate the 100th anniversary of OI

Started the partnership with OI to create World Oratorical Championship. We underwrite up to $70,000 in scholarships. 2016 OIF pledged an additional million to Johns Hopkins for Childhood Cancer research

Additional $200,000 was given to Johns Hopkins for Bone Marrow Research



Increase the Club Grants to a maximum of $1000 starting in 2021

Created the Lifetime Members of the William H. Harrison Society with six inaugural members

17 Optimist International Foundation

Veterans Patch was initiated in 2011

Karen Monville, first female President of Optimist International Foundation

Began support of the Junior Optimist Golf Championship

Re-established the JOI Past Presidents Scholarship in 2017

Bonnie Jean Sherbert Changing Lives


y life has been forever changed by the Optimist Organization and it all started when I was in high school. I spent my teenage years in group homes, shelters, and foster homes outside the District of Columbia. There were many nights before I went into the system that I slept outside. I remember a favorite playground at a local elementary school. There was an enclosure under the kids playground bridge. It was dry and blocked the wind on a cold night and most importantly, no one could see me. Once in the foster care system, I was at the mercy of that system. The group homes I mainly stayed in were designed to be temporary and many had rules about kids staying more than 30 or 90 days. So, I shuffled back and forth. We had chores and schedules and teenage drama but our basic needs for food and shelter were met. Like many teens in the foster care system, it was me against the world and if I needed something, I had to get it myself because no one else was going to be there to help me; or so I believed. Sometime during my sophomore year in high school, I became aware that many of my friends were taking the SAT. I craved normalcy. I went to visit the guidance counselor at my school. I trusted that she knew what she was doing. So, I went and sat in her office and told her I wanted to take the SAT. She told me “Oh, well, the SAT is for kids who are going to college.” I felt crushed and defeated. She basically said that this test for people

who will do something with their lives. This person was supposed to believe in me. Maybe she was just being realistic? Well, a surefire way to get me to do something is to tell me I cannot. The following year I went to live with my grandparents in Pennsylvania. A guidance counselor there helped me take the SAT and apply for colleges. I wasn’t even sure I could do it; but my guidance counselor encouraged me to apply for some scholarships. I wrote some essays and filled out some applications. In the spring of 1992, I received a letter that I had won the local Optimist Essay contest. It was not a lot of money; however, it meant so much to me. I went to a meeting where I was presented with a plaque and a medallion. These folks did not know me. They did not know I had marginal grades. They did not know that I spent weeks sleeping in a park or sneaking into friends’ basements when it was too cold or wet to sleep outside. However, they saw something in my essay, and they believed in me. I had value. I had a future. The Optimist Essay scholarship was not the only one I received but it had the most impact. That scholarship encouraged me and helped me to believe in myself, even when others did not. I went to college at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and graduated with Cum Laude honors. I have considered myself an Optimist ever since so it was only natural that I became an Optimist member. I often think about the other kids in the group homes and shelters I saw

over the years. Did they have an Optimist Club to encourage and support them? Can I have that same impact on the lives of other children? It motivates me not only to bring out the best in children but to also lend my talents to strengthen the organization, so that we can reach even more children. You are all here because you are Optimists who believe in the power of the Foundation. Whether it is a small scholarship or a large one, you have an impact. Your efforts inspire and have a lasting impact on the recipients. The Foundation make these scholarships possible and empower the clubs to impact the children in their communities. The foundation made it possible for me to be here with you today. As Optimists, you believed in me. You helped me see that my future was not defined by my circumstances. You helped me turn that stubbornness to my benefit. So, thank you for your contributions and the impact you have on the lives of children. 18

Remembering Jeffrey Owen Hanson


ne of the highlights of our 50th anniversary celebration is our partnership with Jeff Hanson Art. During Optimist International’s Centennial convention in Louisville 2018 - 19 OI President Rebecca Butler Mona introduced us to the Hansons, Jeff and parents Julie and Hal. During one of our business sessions they shared their inspiring story with us. The Hansons began by telling us about the dreams they had for their only son’s future, filled with boundless aspirations and expectations. Sadly, these hopes turned into devastation when Jeff was 12. They discovered that he had a genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis. This disease caused a brain tumor that resulted in his visual impairment. Through his therapeutic healing process Jeff discovered a passion for painting. Eventually, this became a successful career that he and his parents worked at full time. Remarkably, he became an acclaimed artist. However, painting was not Jeff ’s only passion. He was also an avid philanthropist who just wanted to give back. Jeff donated paintings to charity events across the country, resulting in millions of dollars donated to these non-profits. We were all saddened to learn that Jeff passed away on December 20, 2020. His beautiful, giving spirit lives on in the vibrant art he created and the numerous lives he touched. I have no doubt that he continues to live on in many of our hearts.

19 Optimist International Foundation

Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all … even one painting at a time.” – Jeff Hanson

Prior to his death, Jeff had donated over 6 million dollars to charities. He was on track to reach the 10 million he planned to achieve. The Optimist International Foundation will credit Jeff Hanson Art at the end of this Optimist year for any donations made in his name as well as credit for the Hanson items we sell. The OIF will continue to honor and celebrate Jeff ’s optimistic spirit, his beautiful artwork and his dedication to supporting philanthropic causes in our communities. The OIF Board and Staff are grateful to Jeff Hanson Art for their continued support of our Foundation and partnering with us to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Let us each commemorate Jeff by sharing our love with others and giving back to our communities

Club Grant Program Serving communities through new projects The Bay City Noon Optimist Club was able to receive one of the first Foundation grants for a new project. Our project was a monthly birthday party at the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission. The Good Samaritan Rescue Mission is the homeless shelter in our town. Our club matched the funds received from this grant. We are proud to say that we have continued these monthly birthday parties for over 10 years now. At our party all the children and their parents join us for an evening of crafts, goodie bags for all, cake and ice cream, and a birthday gift for any birthdays in that month. We also either play a game (hot potato is a favorite) or one of our members does magic tricks. Children and adults alike love this monthly event. For some of the children it is the first birthday party they have ever had. The event is very rewarding when we see the smiles on the children’s faces and the hugs and thanks we receive from the children! The pandemic has temporarily stopped us from holding the parties as volunteers are not allowed in the mission at this time, but we are anxiously awaiting resuming the parties.


Women’s Philanthropy Council


he Women’s Philanthropy Council (WPC) was formed in 2005 to support the work of Optimist International Foundation. There were two primary focuses for the Council. First, to Council Members reaching out to women within Optimist International to help shape their philanthropy. Second, assist the fundraising needs of OIF through getting donations through the “Pink Purse Pin” effort. The efforts of the WPC fund two Club grants annually, as well as two female winners at the District level Optimist Oratorical Contest. WPC continues to be a key partner as OIF grows stronger over the past 15 plus years.



Junior Optimists Optimist International Foundation and the Junior Optimist Program has had a long standing partnership. OIF provides significant support of JOI for their general operating budget. Allowing JOI to serve more youth worldwide in shaping their future dreams and goals.

“Through my journey with JOI, I have learned the core traits that now make up who I am today; responsibility, integrity, determination, perseverance, and most of all, Optimism.” - O’Hara Madison Wickham, Past JOI President 21 Optimist International Foundation

Programs Logo Sheet

For reproduction use on stationery, bulletins, signs, and other materials. Additional copies may be obtained from t Optimist International Communications Dept., 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 USA

Programs Logo Sheet Programs Logo Sheet

For reproduction use on stationery, bulletins, signs,signs, and other materials. Additional copies may be obtained from For reproduction use on stationery, bulletins, and other materials. Additional copies may be obtaine Optimist International Communications Dept.,Dept., 4494 4494 Lindell Blvd.,Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 USA USA Optimist International Communications Lindell St. Louis, MO 63108

Partnering with Optimist International


he Foundation and OI have 50 years of working together on many fronts. None more important than the Scholarship Contest; Oratorical, Essay, CCDHH and the World Oratorical Championship. Millions of dollars have been invested in assisting youth pursue their college dreams from the Scholarships won at the District and International level of these programs. The future leaders of our society have gained self-confidence and honed important skills from these contest that shaped their lives forever. The Foundation is proud of the partnership with OI. And more so of the lives that partnership affected.


Childhood Cancer Campaign The Childhood Cancer Campaign (CCC) was developed in 2001 with the following four-pronged focus: 1

Providing support to children with cancer


Providing support to cancer patients’ families and care partners


Providing support to health care providers


Providing support for childhood cancer research

In 2004 the CCC Program created the “The Optimist International Research Fellowship in Pediatric Oncology” in partnership with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. An initial Pledge of $1.0 Million was announced by OI President Dwaine Sievers. That pledge was completed in 2009. A follow up commitment of $500,000 was initiated in 2012 to continue the fight against Childhood Cancer. That effort is still ongoing. In 2018 OIF made an “above and beyond” donation of $200,000 to Johns Hopkins to launch new research in the area of Pediatric Bone Marrow procedures. Childhood Cancer continues to be a key part of the new Childhood Health and Wellness program. 23 Optimist International Foundation

Childhood Health & Wellness


he Childhood Health & Wellness Program was created to build on the highly successful Childhood Cancer Campaign to expand our impact. Clubs and Districts will now have the opportunity to initiate projects and services to improve the quality of life for children in their communities across a broader spectrum of needs.

Childhood Health & Wellness includes four focus areas (not limited to the examples below): • Healthy Lifestyles (Child Obesity, Healthy Eating, Physical Fitness, Happy Heart Advice, March of Dimes) • Chronic Diseases (Childhood Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Sickle Cell Anemia)

Picturing healthy, happy youth

The Optimist Club of San Antonio has a new Childhood Health and Wellness project, thanks to a grant from the Optimist International Foundation. The Club will partner with the Green Spaces Alliance Picture Your World program. Club project Chair, Shirley Bratton, tells us that the goal of this project is to actively connect children with their natural environment, teach them about the nature around

• Mental Health (Depression, Bullying, Abuse) • Disabilities – Physical, Intellectual & Developmental (Autism, Special Olympics)

them, while endowing them with the tools, photography instruction, and art concepts necessary to engage their imagination, and express themselves creatively. The participants will receive instruction on photography techniques. As a group, they will embark on a nature hike, enjoying the beauty while looking for interesting subjects to photograph. The goal of this project is to promote healthy lifestyles in our youth.

The benefits should be multiple: • hiking • promoting physical health • enjoying nature • promoting mental wellbeing • creating photographic art • promoting self esteem


Optimist International Foundation Presidents a nd Themes

1970-1971 Charles C. Campbell

1971-1972 Norman L. Shipley

1972 –1973 S. Phil McCardwell

1973 – 1974 Ronald Thompson

1974 – 1975 Ralph Glasscock

1975-1976 Patrick L. Grady

1976 – 1977 Richard S. McAnany

1977 – 1978 Don L. Arnwine

1978 – 1979 Dudley Williams

1979 – 1980 James E. Creed

1980 – 1981 Lionel Grenier

1981 – 1982 Seymour Silverman

1982 – 1983 Donald E. Strub

1983 – 1984 Donald J. Hand

1984 – 1985 Ardyn J. Long

1985 – 1986 James E. Attarian

25 Optimist International Foundation

1986 – 1987 Lester R. Craft

1987 – 1988 Kenneth G. Loach

1988 – 1989 Lester R. Craft

1989 – 1990 Kenneth G. Loach

1990 – 1991 Fernand Rondeau Theme: Light The Candles (20th year)

1991 – 1992 Kenneth E. Monschein Theme: Our Greatest Contribution

1992 – 1993 Tate Thigpen Theme: Touch Tomorrow

1993 – 1994 Donald B. Mills Theme: A Time To Grow

1994 – 1995 John R. Reel Theme: Our Children, Our Future

1995 – 1996 Charles R. Wiles Theme: 25 Years of Investing In Tomorrow

1996 – 1997 Jean Mercier Theme: Be Important In The Life of A Child

1997 – 1998 J.C. Boone Theme: Together We Can

1998 – 1999 Clifton I. Katz Theme: Our Foundations...The Rainbow of Optimism

1999 – 2000 J. Wayne Smith Theme: Building Tomorrows Path Today

2000 – 2001 Jim Hubbard Theme: Our Investment in The Future

2001 – 2002 Andre Dubois Theme: Children…Our Vision of Tomorrow


2002 – 2003 Bob Garner Theme: Shaping Our Kids Future

2003 – 2004 Jerry Henderson Theme: Building The Future

2004 – 2005 William Teague Theme: Building The Future, Where Every Kid Counts

2005 – 2006 Lester Craft Theme: Building the Future, Right Here! Right Now!

2006 – 2007 Paul Harbin Theme: Bringing Out the Best In Kids!

2007 – 2008 Ronald Graves Theme: Bringing Out the Best in Children

2008 – 2009 Bill Scott Theme: Bringing Out the Best in Children! Achieve the Extraordinary

2009 – 2010 William Teague Theme: One More Lap for the Kids

2010 – 2011 Gary Addison Theme: All Aboard for the Kids

2011 – 2012 Frank Ruman Theme: Reach for the Stars! Mission: the Kids!

2012 – 2013 Roger Vaughan Theme: All Hands On Deck - For the Kids

2013 – 2014 Karen Monville Theme: Get Fired Up For the Kids!

2014 – 2015 Melvin J. Betts Theme: Helping Optimists Help OUR Kids!

2015 – 2016 Edwin E. Finn Theme: Teeing it up for the Kids

2016 – 2017 Don Crall Theme: Teach By Example

2017 – 2018 Sandy Williams Theme: Reaching New Heights Together

27 Optimist International Foundation

2018 – 2019 Melvin Bannister Theme: When Kids Speak…Optimists Listen

2019 – 2020 Bill Meyers Theme: Go For the Gold

2020 – 2021 Janet Oord Graves Theme: 50 Years of Helping Optimists Help Kids

Future Presidents

2021 – 2022

Marc Katz

2022 – 2023

Debra Merritt

2023 – 2024

Teri Davis

2024 – 2025

Ben DeRemer


Optimist International Foundation Board

MARC KATZ President Elect




JIM KONDRASUK Director, Past Optimist International President 2016-17

CRAIG BORING Secretary/Executive Director

50th Anniversary Steering Committee Chair Person: Jan Oord Graves Staff Liaison: Craig Boring

Ed Finn

Janet Smith

Sandy Cyphers

Sandy Williams

Karen Monville

29 Optimist International Foundation

Bob Floyd

Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back I have always loved that saying. And I think it encompasses what our 50th Anniversary Year is all about. Celebrate! As we reach this significant milestone, take time to CELEBRATE! There is so much to be proud of our accomplishments over the last five decades of service. Optimist International and the partnership with the Optimist International Foundation has helped thousands upon thousands of children. This is thanks to the many awesome programs that the Foundation supports such as the Oratorical, Essay and CCDHH Scholarship contest. Likewise, through the support of the Junior Optimist program. Also, through the Childhood Health and Wellness and Childhood Cancer Campaign grant programs, many children have a brighter future. Plus, assistance to communities far and wide through the Club Grant and Disaster Relief Program. So Optimists…….Shout out to the world for all we have collectively accomplished.

Remember! The 50th Anniversary milestone gives us an opportunity to REMEMBER! It gives us a chance to say thank you to those that have made the success of the Foundation possible. We are so appreciative of the many gracious donors over the decades that have allowed us to support the Optimist mission. We also want to take time to say thank you to the many leaders that have stepped forward to forge the Foundation into a great organization. Their energy and passion has made the Foundation who we are today. So, Optimists……Thank You!

Fight Back! We cannot rest on our laurels. We cannot be content that we have done all we can. There is much more to do. We must continue to FIGHT BACK! We as Optimist have the opportunity to assist future generations of children with much needed support, guidance and encouragement. Reach deep and ask yourself, “what can I do tomorrow to make a difference?” So Optimists……do all that you can to make this a better world! My hope is the next 50 years of Optimism and the work of the Optimist International Foundation will be as awesome as the first 50 years. Yours Optimistically,

Craig Boring

Secretary/Executive Director

Optimist International Foundation Staff Craig Boring Executive Director

Patti Ashby Donor Services Coordinator

Shenita Taylor Senior Director, Donor Services

Zoe Williams Administrative Assistant

4494 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108 (800) 500-8130 oifoundation.org