Optimist Magazine – Second Quarter 2023-2024

Page 1

Second Quarter 2023-2024

Celebrating 100 years of Optimism in Canada

Are you ready to welcome new members to your Club?

If so, you will love our new incentive program: Spring into Optimism!

This program will encourage Clubs to recruit new members in March, April, and May by waiving the registration fee of $15 for each new member added to their rosters. This is a great opportunity for clubs to save money and grow their membership, while also bringing new ideas and perspectives to their projects and activities.

How to Participate

Participating in this program is easy and simple. All you need to do is:

• Fill out and submit the official enrollment form by May 28, 2024.

• Add new members to your club between March 1 and May 31, 2024.

• Ensure that the new members pay their dues in full by September 30, 2024. This will ensure that they are eligible for all the benefits and opportunities that our organization offers, such as attending District and International Conventions.

That’s it! Once you complete these steps, you will be part of the Spring Into Optimism program and enjoy the rewards of having a larger, more vibrant Club.

What are the Benefits?

By participating in this program, you will not only save money on registration fees, but also gain many other advantages, such as:

• More membership diversity: Having new members from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives will enrich your Club’s culture and foster a more inclusive environment.

• More creativity and innovation: Having new members with fresh ideas and insights will spark your Club’s creativity and innovation, and help you tackle challenges and opportunities in new and better ways.

• More engagement and satisfaction: Having new members who are eager and enthusiastic will boost your Club’s engagement and satisfaction and make your Club more attractive and enjoyable for everyone.

Join Us Today!

We hope that you are excited and inspired by this program and that you will join us in making it a success. This is a unique and valuable opportunity for your Club to grow. Don’t miss it!

Thank you for being part of our organization and for making a difference in the world. We look forward to welcoming your new members to our organization.

Let’s spring into optimism together!


By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in youth, our communities, and ourselves.


Optimist International will be recognized worldwide as the premier volunteer organization that values all children and helps them develop to their full potential.


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 agreement 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.

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.

On the Cover
Colborne Optimist Club of Ontario Canada Celebrating 100 years of Optimism in Canada. Photo provided by Carl Green.
Optimist The Official Publication of Optimist International
Second Quarter 2023-2024, Vol. 104, No. 2 2 President's Message 3 Calendar of Events 3 Leadership Webinars 4 Grouper 5 OWLS Program 6 Global Spotlight 7 Optimist International Oratorical 8 Junior Optimist International Summit 10 Meet the Staff 13 Optimist International Foundation 14 Optimist Junior Golf 16 Optimism is Hope 18 2024 International Convention 22 Optimist Day 24 Welcome New Members 26 Sheboygan Optimist Club Turns 100 28 Club News 29 Rewind 30 Preserving Optimist History Optimist (ISSN 1085-5017) (CPN 40032242) (USPS 808-320) is published quarterly in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer by Optimist International, 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108, a non-profit and incorporated association of Optimist Clubs in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. Periodicals posted at St. Louis, MO, and at additional mailing offices. Digital periodicals posted online at Optimist.org. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Optimist, 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108. © Copyright 2024 Generous support from the Optimist International Foundation made this publication possible. Managing Editor Cheryl Brenn Editor J. Ryne Danielson Designer Jason Cook Editorial Office 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 Office (314) 371-6000 Fax (314) 371-6006 Email magazine@optimist.org Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 2

Is Your Club Ready for New Members?

Since joining my local Optimist Club in 1996, I’ve watched the world change before my eyes. Some of the changes have been big, others small. Our organization has kept up in some ways, fallen behind in others. But one thing has been a constant, not just since I joined, but since Optimist International was founded more than a hundred years ago: People have always wanted to give back to their communities.

People have always wanted to leave the world a little bit better for the next generation, and they always will. Each one is a potential Optimist, a potential new member of my Club or yours. But are we ready for them?

As the world has changed, so have our lives. Today’s volunteers are busy, juggling work, family and social commitments. They’re still interested in the important work we do, but if we approach them with a meeting schedule, we risk becoming just another item on their to-do list. When talking with a potential member, it’s important to find out what motivates them as an individual and meet them where they are.

Technology can make this easier, but only if we embrace it. Does your Club accept electronic dues payments? Have you tried communicating through text messages or via group messaging apps like Discord, Slack or Band? Do you offer virtual or remote meetings through Zoom? Do you share your minutes electronically? Not everyone answers a phone call, and today’s email inboxes are flooded with spam, so we need to embrace new methods to keep volunteers involved and informed.

New members can bring a wave of enthusiasm and fresh ideas, but only if we meet them with open hearts and open minds. Is your Club ready to embrace change? Are you prepared to try something new? Are your current members ready to listen as well as to speak?

5 Little o’s of Opportunity to Welcome an Optimist with a Capital O

Opportunity for Relationship Building

Start with a mentor. A mentor can help new members learn all those silly acronyms we use and help them identify who to bring their ideas to and how to get involved in events.

Opportunity for Impact

Make it clear how volunteers can impact the lives of others. Explain how your events and projects help youth, families, and communities.

Opportunity for Hope

The culture of your Club meetings and events must provide HOPE. It’s at the beginning of our mission statement: “By providing HOPE and Positive Vision ….” What does the future hold for your members? How are you making your community a better place? How will you show your members you care about them? Every Club needs a plan to offer hope and a positive vision that is engrained in their Club’s culture.

Opportunity for Purpose

Every member has their place. Not everyone wants the stage. Not everyone wants to hide from the stage. Whether your member is looking for new leadership opportunities, personal development or an outlet to explore new ideas, an Optimist Club should identify and celebrate each member’s contribution.

Opportunity for Open Communication

Communication is a two-way street. Not only should your membership be hearing from the Club on a consistent basis, but your Club should also be listening to your membership!

Yours in Optimism,

President's Message
2 • Optimist

Calendar of Events

A look at what’s coming up for Optimist International


• Q3 Apr/May/June

• Deadline for Districts to submit winners for Essay Contest

• National Volunteer Week

• Global Youth Service Day

• Webinars: Staying Optimistic in Difficult Times and Adding Officers via the Club Officer Elect Revisions (COER) Form in Optimist Leaders


• Optimists in Action Month

• Optimist Junior Golf: Hugh Cranford All Scholastic winners announced

• Webinars: Celebrate Community: Developing Community Partnerships and Updating Bylaws in Optimist Leaders

• Deadline for Districts to submit winners for Oratorical Contest

• Early bird registration deadline for International Convention

• Webinar: Everything You Need to Know before Attending the International Convention 2024

• National Children’s Day

• Optimist International Board of Directors Meeting

• Deadline for Districts to submit winners for CCDHH

• Deadline for Clubs to submit winners for Visual Arts Competition

• Optimist International Convention

Leadership Webinars

Save the dates for our leadership webinars! Webinars are held on the second Monday of each month, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Central Standard Time. Registration information is available on the upcoming events page of the website, so mark your calendars! Send an email to leadership@optimist.org for more information.

 Monday, April 29, 2024

Adding Officers via the COER Form in Optimist Leaders

Presented by Leadership Development and Club Support Staff

 Monday, May 13, 2024

Celebrate Community: Developing Community Partnerships

Presented by EDs/CEOs of Optimist, Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary

 Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Updating Bylaws in Optimist Leaders

Presented by Leadership Development and Club Support Staff

 Monday, June 10, 2024

Everything You Need to Know before Attending Convention 2024

Presented by the International Convention Committee

 Monday, September 9, 2024

PGI and PDP Revamped!

Presented by Deanna Morrow, Jan Oord Graves, and Heather Myers

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 3

Positivity and connection are now considered healthcare. Really.

Research shows that participating in groups like Optimist Clubs improves our mental, physical, and social health It's called "Social Fitness," and it's connecting with others while embodying positivity, hope, and a commitment to community service

OPTIMIST This is heathcare? M E M B E R S H I P D U E S ? W E H E L P C O V E R ‘ E M ! Get Paid for Having Fun G r o u p
t h M
d i c a r e A d v a n t a g e a n d M e d i c a r e S u p p l e m e n t p l a n s t o h e l p c o v e r u p t o $ 1 0 0 o f y o u r m e m b e r s h i p d u e s . T h i s b e n e f i t m i g h t
e i n c l u
d i n
o u r
e a l t h b e n e f i t s - w h y n o t t a k e a d v a n t a g e o f
t b
e r w o r k s w i
d e
y s i g n i n g u p ?
To see if your plan covers the Grouper social fitness benefit, visit hellogrouper.com/Optimist Call (833) 519-1072 Email optimist@hellogrouper com Visit hellogrouper com/Optimist Exclusive benefit for current Optimist International members in the U S with an eligible Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan 4 • Optimist

OWLS Program We Need Your Club’s Feedback!

Many Optimist Clubs already work closely with their local schools, but what if there was a way to highlight and amplify that work? That’s the goal of a new program called OWLS – Optimists Working for Learning Success.

Introduced at the 2023 International Convention, OWLS will create an educational umbrella program to track member engagement and school and community impact, and it will provide a focus for Clubs in search of a Signature Program to draw in new members.

The OWLS program will allow Optimist International to develop partnerships with more schools and court endorsements from national educational associations, becoming the premier community service organization working to support local schools.

School projects that Optimist Clubs are already working on include:

• Reading Buddies

• Community (School) Gardens

• Math Tutors

• Buddy Benches

• Care Closets

• Chaperoning Field Trips

• Dictionary Programs

• Classroom Paraprofessionals

• Mock Interviews

For Clubs that have opted into the OWLS pilot program for the 2023-2024 school year, or for Clubs working in schools but not part of the official pilot program, we want to hear from you!

As we plan to roll the program out nationally at this year’s Convention, we need your help to identify challenges and best practices and develop training materials for Clubs that want to follow in our footsteps.

Please CLICK HERE to complete an OWLS Community Engagement form for each school-related project starting October 1, 2023.

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 5

Optimists in Europe, Asia and Africa: Focus on Education

Education is a key component for the development of young people, regardless of their location throughout the world. There have been several Optimist Clubs beyond the borders of North America that have taken on the role of educator, with projects that provide training and information to prepare young people for their future.

Optimist Club 501 Belize for example, held a sewing class for young ladies last fall and is planning a second session this spring. The class provides instruction on

everything from how to read a measuring tape to how to create short pants and other items of clothing. The class runs for 10 weeks for young people ages 10-16 and provides graduates with a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.

Homework can be a challenge for some students early in their academic life. This is one reason for the Optimist Club of Malta’s ever-expanding Ikber Maghna project.

Global Spotlight 6 • Optimist
Speakers encouraged young people to grow from good students to good citizens at an event sposored by the Optimist Club of Dang and the Optimist Club of Julsipur in Nepal.

“Today we have around 120 children who are growing up within this project, and we help them share their problems with each other and socialize,” said Club President Reuben Buttigieg. “Generally, when problems are shared with friends, the burden feels much lighter. And then we have the helpers who help both with homework and studies, as well as in extra curriculum activities that we organize during the year.”

The project, which is now operating in seven areas of the country, is made possible through partnerships between the Club, local businesses and government leaders.

Efforts continue in Asia to help foster positive development of young people through local Optimist Clubs. A case in point from the Optimist Club of Dang and the Optimist Club of Tulsipur in Nepal. The Clubs combined their efforts to inaugurate a good

student program at Saraswati Secondary School. Speakers encouraged dozens of young people to be good students so that one day they can be good citizens. Club members, teachers, parents and staff participated in the daylong event.

Since the start of the Optimist year, three new Clubs have been organized in Nepal, with more on the way, according to Governor Prakash Ghimire.

Optimist International has also reestablished its presence in the southern African nation of Zambia, where two Clubs now operate in the capital of Lusaka, and presence in the West African nation of Senegal. The COVID-19 pandemic was largely responsible for the closure of former Clubs in those countries.

All these new Clubs would not be possible without the support and mentorship of Clubs in North

– Reuben Buttigieg, Optimist Club of Malta President “
Generally, when problems are shared with friends, the burden feels much lighter."

America and the Caribbean. Our organization is always looking for Clubs to sponsor new Optimists on the other side of the world. If your Club would like to learn more about international sponsorship, send an email to newclub@optimist.org to start the conversation.

Young women in Belize participate in a sewing class sponsored by their local Optimist Club.
Global Spotlight Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 7
A student gets help with homework at the Optimist Club of Malta's Ikber Maghna afterschool program.

Optimist International and Saint Louis University have partnered to host the 9th Annual Optimist International Oratorical World Championships this July. This year’s topic is “How to Change the World with Optimism.”

We welcome you to join us this summer on the campus of Saint Louis University, or watch the live stream on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/@OptimistIntl

Since 1928, youth from across the country and around the world have been perfecting public-speaking skills while gaining confidence and exploring their own selfexpression. The contest gives students under the age of 19 the opportunity to share their views on a preassigned topic and compete for $315,000 in college scholarships.

Each Optimist District has the opportunity to send their first-place winners to St. Louis to compete in the regional competition. The nine regional winners each receive a $5,000 scholarship and go on to compete in

the World Championship Contest for first-, secondand third-place scholarships of $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

All scholarships are funded by the Optimist International Foundation and the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation. Their support has allowed the competition to continue into its 96th year.

Visit optimist.org/oratorical for more information on the 2024 Optimist Oratorical World Championships.

8 • Optimist

2024 Junior Optimist International Summit

Saint Louis, Missouri, July 18 - 21, 2024

For the first time, we are excited to offer the JOI Summit in conjunction with the Oratorical World Championship! Bringing these two signature programs together allows the participants of each to share their passion with each other, providing a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the JOI program with Oratorical contestants and their families.

JOI attendees will have the opportunity to attend the Oratorical World Championships on Friday morning, bringing a bigger audience to the Oratorical contestants’ inspiring speeches. In addition, JOI attendees will participate in peer focus groups, youth leadership and communication workshops, civic engagement and professional development programs, off-site community projects, team-building activities and a fun-filled adventure at the City Museum!

JOI participants will enjoy on-campus lodging at SLU, and the university’s 70,000-square-foot Center for Global Citizenship – with its top-of-the-line A/V system, Jumbotron and unlimited Wi-Fi – will elevate the summit’s communications and technology experience.

Junior Optimist International
MORE INFO Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 9

Meet the


Optimist International’s dedicated staff are our members’ support system, always ready to answer questions and help in challenging situations. Take the time to learn a little about them, including their roles, where they look for inspiration, and how they remain optimistic even on bad days.


International Programs

What is your job?

I hold a position in the International Programs Department, encompassing multi-cultural volunteers and members. I direct the department’s two main events, the JOI Summit and the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships. I am the staff liaison for the International JOI Board of Directors, Scholarships, and Community Action Committees. I oversee the Essay, Oratorical, and CCDHH contests, including scholarship allocations. I communicate and collaborate with JOI and Scholarship District Chairs to continuously improve the program and contests.

How long have you worked at Optimist International?

I started working at OI in November 2005 in the Junior Optimist Department.

What is a favorite memory from your time at Optimist International?

I have so many great memories with the JOI Board of Directors throughout the years! I enjoy working with this dynamic group of future leaders!

10 • Optimist

As an optimist, what are you most looking forward to in the future?

I am looking forward to this summer and raising awareness of JOI and the Oratorical World Championships in July! Having these two events in conjunction with each other is exciting and increases the program’s presence and visibility. I’m looking forward to JOI to the Oratorical contestants and their families meeting and learning about our programs!

How do you deal with bad days in an optimistic way?

I like to engage in powerful natural mood boosters, like a rigorous workout or a long nature walk. Physical activity recharges my mind and body, while nature gives me a sense of calmness.


Optimist Junior Golf Senior Director

What is your job?

Senior Director of Optimist Junior Golf

How long have you worked at Optimist International?

Thirty-Seven years – I started as a Word Processing Secretary and worked my way up through the Meetings Department and then into the Junior Golf Program.

What is a favorite memory from your time at Optimist International?

There are a lot of wonderful memories. It’s hard to name just one. I’ve always enjoyed working with the volunteers, golfers and their families.

Who are some optimistic role models that inspire you?

My role models are everyday people throughout the community. I see role models as people that are kind and eager to help even when no one is looking. I admire people that have goals, ambition and a strong work ethic. My grandparents have been my role models throughout my life.

What is a book, song or quote that makes you feel optimistic? The song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy

As an optimist, what are you most looking forward to in the future?

In my personal life – trying to live each day to the fullest. Live, Laugh and Love. Life is too short not to be happy. Professionally – to see the organization turn around and the Junior Golf Program grow. Watching golf on TV and recognizing names of Pros who have been a part of our past tournaments. Being a part of making dreams come true for young golfers.

How do you deal with bad days in an optimistic way?

I think about my family, all my friends, my dog, my home, my work and my Church. I think about how great I truly have it, and I thank God every day for all he has given me.

Who are some optimistic role models that inspire you?

My husband – I met my husband at Optimist International. We were married almost 25 years prior to his passing. He never met a stranger.

My mom and dad – Hardworking, loving, caring and always put us kids first. Unfortunately, I lost them way too young.

Dolly Parton – American singer-songwriter, actress and philanthropist, she is a beloved cultural icon whose powerful voice, songwriting and personality have won the hearts of people all over the world. And no I’m not related to her.

What is a book, song or quote that makes you feel optimistic?

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light. – Dumbledore

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 11


Youth Programs and Community Activities Coordinator

What is your job?

I am the Youth Programs and Community Activities Coordinator; I work with JOI, answering club inquiries and helping prepare for the JOI Summit. I also help with our scholarship competitions, making sure that winners of competitions receive their scholarships and I help with the Oratorical World Championships.

How long have you worked at Optimist International?

I’ve worked at Optimist International for nine months.

What is a favorite memory from your time at Optimist International?

My favorite memory of working at Optimist International was going to Washington D.C. for the JOI summit and making dog toys with all the JOI members as our service project.

As an optimist, what are you most looking forward to in the future?

In the future I look forward to going on adventures and doing things that make me happy.

How do you deal with bad days in an optimistic way?

On bad days I like to finish the day by doing something I really enjoy like fishing, hiking, or riding my bike.

Who are some optimistic role models that inspire you?

My role models are my grandparents; they have worked hard and dealt with life difficulties but always keep a positive outlook.

What is a book, song or quote that makes you feel optimistic?

A quote that makes me feel optimistic is by Ernest Shackleton, “Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.”

Can You Hear Us?

You don’t want to miss Shane Neuman and Theresa Jarratt’s thought-provoking series on the Optimist Creed – tune in to the Choose Optimism Podcast, where we explore the power of positive thinking and its impact on every aspect of life.


Choose Optimism Podcast (RSS)

Choose Optimism Podcast (Apple Podcasts)

Download it and listen anywhere!

12 • Optimist

Arts & Scraps An Optimist International Foundation grant-funded project

The Metro Riverfront Optimist Club recently received a 2023 Optimist International Foundation Matching Grant of $600 to launch a recycling project for special education students at Chrysler Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan.

Eighty third- to fifth-grade students, as well as their teachers and parents, held a recycling scrap drive, gathering items that are normally discarded in landfills, based on a donation list developed by local nonprofit group Arts & Scraps

Following the scrap drive, students had the opportunity to visit the Arts & Scraps’ ScrapMobile and select shop materials to use in art projects. Guided by their teachers and Arts & Scraps advisors, the students will explore their imaginations while learning the importance of recycling, art education and volunteerism.

The students’ efforts will culminate in an artist reception and auction of the finished artworks, along with the publication of an artist guidebook containing photos of the artists and their works.

All proceeds from the auction and sales of the art guidebooks will be donated to Arts & Scraps.

Optimist International Foundation
Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 13

Optimist Junior Golf Volunteers

The success of our junior golfers wouldn’t be possible without the help of our outstanding volunteers. Don’t miss out on this worthwhile opportunity!

You don’t have to be a golfer to help. The Optimist Junior Golf Program relies heavily on the support of our dedicated volunteers, who provide a positive impact to our youth.

Volunteers receive:

• Discounted room rates: 1-5 nights is $90 per night; 6-10 nights is $87 per night; more than 11 days is $85 per night.

• Stay on the same property as the golf courses – the resort fee is optional for 2024.

• Breakfast, lunch and dinner for the days you work.

• Complimentary parking

• Two tournament shirts (for working two or more days)

• Discounted golf on July 21, 2024, and July 26, 2024, only.

Also, there are direct flights into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. If you fly into Miami, a rental car is not needed.

Positions available (inside or outside):

• Registration (on certain days)

• Marshals

• Shuttle drivers

• Scoring

• Range Area

If you are interested in becoming a part of our volunteer team or have questions, please call Optimist Golf at 800-500-8130, ext. 207, or email golf@optimist.org. You’ll experience the rewards of your efforts as you watch your junior golfers compete!

Optimist Junior Golf 14 • Optimist

More than a Competition

Junior Golfers competing at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships face a tough field of golfers from all over the world. To help get their mind off their game, there are plenty of special events planned.

The tournament includes three phases of competitive Junior Golf, top-notch sleeping rooms, delicious buffet meals, two Adult-Child Golf Tournaments, a long-drive

Sponsor a Golfer

competition, glow ball event, trivia night, video arcade room, USGA rules officials, dedicated volunteers, college coaches and an awards ceremony.

As you can see, the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships are more than golf. They’re about meeting new friends from all over the world and making memories that last a lifetime!

Help a child advance to the Championship by sponsoring them. Contact your local District Junior Golf Chair for more details. This is a once in a lifetime chance for our junior golfers. Find the nearest qualifier at http://www.optimist.org/golf-qualify.cfm

Contact your District Chair to volunteer at your local qualifier or help a child advance.

Help a child fulfill their dreams!

Optimist Junior Golf Championships at the Doral Resort and Spa in Miami, Florida

July 16-21, 2024

July 21-26, 2024

Boys 10-11 12-13 and Girls 10-12

Boys 14-15

Girls 13-14

July 26-31, 2024

Boys 16-18

Girls 15-18

For more information on the Optimist Junior Golf Program, call 314-881-1307 or email golf@optimist.org

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 15 Optimist Junior Golf

Optimism is Hope

Optimist International’s purpose is to develop optimism as a philosophy of life, and to use that philosophy’s hope and positive vision to bring out the best in youth, communities and ourselves.

But what exactly is optimism?

The word itself comes from the Latin word “optimus,” which means “best,” and the philosophy, in its modern sense, emerged in the 18th century when German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz took a break from inventing calculus to propose that the world, as it existed, was the best of all possible worlds. Though suffering existed, Leibniz insisted, it must ultimately serve the greater good.

Others, like Voltaire, found it hard to reconcile Leibniz’s positive outlook with the reality of natural disasters, famine, and political repression. All those things still exist today in one form or another, so if you feel a bit more like Voltaire than Leibniz, that’s understandable.

Indeed, optimism taken to the extreme can lead to self-deception, psychologists say. They call this form of emotional dysfunction “toxic positivity.”

But how on earth could positivity be toxic? Positive people are helpful and fun to be around. Why wouldn’t we want to be positive all the time?

The problem is, it’s just not possible. We all have good days and bad days, and when we inevitably have that bad day, the shame and guilt we feel from losing our positive attitude can make things worse. Though we may want to stay upbeat, anger and sadness are rational responses to bad circumstances.

Toxic positivity also stigmatizes failure in ways that keep us from growing, and it can lead us to blame victims and attribute others’ lack of success to character flaws instead of simple bad luck.

16 • Optimist

The truth is, anger and sadness can be powerful motivators for change. If we don’t let ourselves feel those emotions, we limit our ability to improve our situations or better our communities.

Imagine if Thomas Paine, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Nelson Mandela had put on fake smiles instead of trying to change the world for the better.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian doctor who survived the horrors of the Holocaust, offered a more realistic and ultimately more helpful definition of optimism. Despite spending three years in a concentration camp, during which time he watched the Nazis murder nearly his entire family, Frankl somehow managed to “maintain

hope and find meaning in life, despite its inescapable pain, loss and suffering.”

To Frankl, the question wasn’t how he survived, it was why: hope and meaning

Frankl’s view was similar to that of Amy Downs, the Oklahoma City Bombing survivor who spoke at the 2023 Optimist International Convention. She echoed Frankl when she defined hope as “believing the future can be better than the present and that you can play a role in making it better.”

Downs explained an exercise that her boss gave her a few years after the bombing.

“If you had a magic wand,” her boss asked her, “what would you change for the better?”

Once you know what you want to change, Downs said, identify the smallest possible step toward making that change happen and take it.

According to a new book by neuroscientist Tali Sharot and behavioral economist Cass Sunstein, progress, no matter how small, is one of the keys to life satisfaction. That might mean learning a new skill, reaching an important milestone, or simply crossing a dreaded task off our to-do list.

We need forward motion in our lives. When we stagnate, our happiness decreases. When we can’t see what’s next or where we’re going, it’s hard to believe that things will really get better.

Sharot and Sunstein cite a study conducted at the University of Virginia where individuals were placed alone in sparsely furnished rooms. They had no phones, no magazines, no television. The only thing to break up the boredom was a button participants could press to

administer a mild electric shock –to themselves.

Rather than stare at the wall, most people chose to shock themselves at least once, the researchers found.

According to Sharot and Sunstein, not only do people enjoy change, they actually come up with more creative solutions to their existing problems when learning new skills or pursuing new projects. Something as simple as taking a walk, making a new friend, or picking up a new hobby can help us see our problems in a new light and make us feel more hopeful.

This insight is important in a couple of ways.

First, it gives us a more realistic definition of optimism that doesn’t seem so out of place in the 21st century. Being an optimist doesn’t mean ignoring the bad things about the world, or blindly assuming everything will turn out for the best. Rather, it means believing we have the power to change things for the better – and the responsibility to do so.

Second, it gives us a path toward empowering the next generation in making that change happen –truly bringing out the best in youth, one of the key tenants of Optimist International.

Many Optimist Clubs partner with schools across the country to provide educational programs like JOI, Junior Golf and OWLS, but many optimists may not realize the importance of education itself to their defining philosophy. Because these programs not only support young people’s basic needs, they also give them the opportunity to make new friends and learn new skills. More importantly, they provide hope.

And, optimism is hope.

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 17

Optimist International 106th Annual Convention

Why Attend - "What's in it for me?"

Be Inspired – Three Keynote Speakers

Be Informed – Officer Training and Workshops

Fellowship – Reconnect, Meet New Friends & Socialize

Celebrate – 100 Years of Optimism in Canada

Adventure – Niagara Falls

Your Voice Counts – Annual Business Meeting

Most of All – Have Fun!

18 • Optimist

Tours, Attractions & Experiences

Discover the breathtaking splendor of Niagara Falls, Canada, where adventure meets natural beauty in a symphony of awe-inspiring experiences. From the heart-pounding excitement of the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which take you into the misty heart of the falls, to the panoramic vistas atop the Skylon Tower, every moment is filled with wonder. Journey behind the falls for a perspective few ever witness or soar above the roar in a helicopter tour for a bird's eye view of this natural marvel. By night, witness the falls illuminate in a kaleidoscope of colors, a testament to their enduring allure. In Niagara Falls, Canada, each day promises unforgettable attractions and experiences that will etch themselves into your heart forever.

Wine Tours:

Cellar Door

Wine Experience

Niagara Vintage

Wine Tours

Grape Escape Wine Tours

Winery Tours of Niagara

Peller Estates

My Wine Country

Niagara Wine Tour Guides

+ Many, many more by searching ‘Niagara Falls Canada Wine Tours’

General Tours:

Magnificent Tours

Segway Tours


Helicopter Tour


(Zip Line to the Falls & other Adventure Courses)

Clifton Hill

Noteworthy Sites:

Butterfly Conservatory

Journey Behind the Falls

White Water Walk

Whirlpool Aero Car

Niagara Parks

Power Station

Botanical Gardens

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

Bird Kingdom

Maple Leaf Place

The Great Canadian Midway

Niagara Falls Museum

Niagara Children’s Museum

Ghost Tours at Fort George


Fear Factory

House of Frankenstein

Ghost Walks Niagara

Skylon Tower

Convention 2024 Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 19

2024 Keynote Speakers

Together, these speakers embody the spirit of optimism that is at the heart of our organization. You can read about each of them here, but don’t miss the opportunity to hear from these three remarkable individuals in person this summer in Niagara Falls!

Sunjay Nath

Sunday, June 23 – The youngest Canadian to earn a Certified Speaking Professional certification, has captivated audiences worldwide. His insights on leadership and performance will motivate you to reach for your dreams.

Sunjay Nath started his international speaking business at age 19, and in 2005, became the youngest Canadian (third youngest in the world) to earn a Certified Speaking Professional certification.

Nath has addressed over a million people around the world since 1995 and was inducted into the Canadian Professional Speakers Hall of Fame in 2018.

Nath is an author and performance expert, holds an MBA and a Mathematical Engineering degree, and in his inner circle, he is known as the High Commander of Palindromes.

Nath often speaks about his insights on leadership and performance and is known for his trademark “10-80-10 Principle.” He’s on a mission to empower organizations to inspire their people so they can achieve their desired results.

In addition to feeding the entrepreneurial spirit, Nath has acquired and runs a boutique fleet of transport vehicles. This venture gives him first-hand experience in team performance, employee engagement and organizational culture – which he brings to his presentations.

Nath is the father of three high-energy sons, and when he’s not on stage, you can find him playing ultimate frisbee and full-contact chess.

Convention 2024
20 • Optimist

Rhonda Scharf

Tuesday, June 25 – A Confluence of Education and Entertainment.

Rhonda Scharf is not just a motivational speaker; she is a catalyst for change, infusing her sessions with humor and actionable insights. With a career spanning more than three decades, she engages audiences worldwide through her unique blend of education and entertainment – an approach she calls "edutainment."

Scharf’s speeches, brimming with humor and realworld examples, foster a participatory environment where attendees become active learners. A member of the Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame and a Certified Speaking Professional, Scharf’s expertise is unparalleled, and her approach has resonated with audiences and organizations ranging from Interpol to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Based in Ottawa, Canada, and Fort Myers, Florida, Scharf’s keynotes turn ordinary observations into extraordinary lessons. Her talks, such as “Sometimes You’re the Windshield, Sometimes You’re the Bug” and “Maximizing Your Inner Super Hero,” inspire an optimistic outlook and motivate attendees to unlock their potential for positive change.

Scharf’s compelling style ensures her messages of innovation, positivity and self-improvement inspire meaningful action. Attendees often leave her sessions feeling rejuvenated and equipped with practical tools for personal and professional growth – a powerful testament to her skill as a communicator.

Orlando Bowen

Monday, June 24 – From Injustice to Empowerment

In 2004, Orlando Bowen had just signed a contract for a fifth season playing football for the Toronto Argonauts when a life-altering assault brought his professional sports career to an end.

Wrongfully beaten by undercover police officers, who planted drugs and framed him for a crime he didn’t commit, Bowen’s injuries left him unable to play football, but he didn’t let the injustice deter him.

Rather than giving up, Bowen channeled his experience into founding the One Voice One Team youth leadership organization, which fosters resilience, leadership and teamwork among Canadian youth.

“Many kids don’t have hope – hope for things to be better, hope for a brighter future, hope for possibilities for themselves to do great things,” Bowen says. “They just don’t see it.”

Bowen’s approach is simple: teach young people that everyone can make a difference if they find their passions and embrace their potential.

“Let go of the negativity, forgive with your whole heart,” he says, “and each one of us has the power to help others.”

Bowen’s message to adults is the same. From the classroom to the boardroom, his powerful talks and workshops offer practical tools for getting off the sidelines, developing one’s talents and making a difference for others.

Convention 2024
Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 21

Optimist Day

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s International Optimist Day! Your tireless efforts to bring out the best in youth, communities and yourselves are the reason we celebrate. Optimist Day is always the first Thursday in February, so mark your calendars for February 6, 2025, but remember that Optimist Day is more than just a date on the calendar; it’s a reminder to share hope with others every day!

22 • Optimist
Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 23

Welcome Q2 New Members

Since October, Optimist International has welcomed 2,343 new Members and created 13 new Clubs around the world. If you’re one of those new Members, or part of a new Club, welcome! Each of you brings valuable skills and fresh ideas to our organization, and we’re grateful for your desire to bring out the best in youth, communities and yourselves.

Welcome to Optimist International, a community-service nonprofit committed to creating a more optimistic future through our many innovative programs. You are joining a global network of more than 50,000 Optimists who share your passion for making a difference.

We hope you enjoy your Membership! And remember, you’re not alone in your journey. Our international staff is here to answer your questions, provide marketing and communications support, and help with any issues you encounter.

Thank you for being an Optimist!

24 • Optimist

Here are some highlights of what Optimist International has to offer:

• Scholarship Programs: Optimist International sponsors several scholarship contests for students, such as the Essay Contest, Oratorical Contest, and Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. These contests provide opportunities for young people to showcase their talents and win educational scholarships. You can help organize and promote these contests in your local community and support the winners as they advance in their academic and professional careers.

• Junior Optimist International: Junior Optimist International (JOI) is the youth branch of Optimist International, which empowers students to become leaders and volunteers in their communities. JOI Clubs are typically sponsored by Optimist Clubs but operate independently, with their own officers and projects. As an Optimist Member, you can mentor and guide JOI Members and help them develop their skills and potential.

• Optimist Junior Golf: Optimist Junior Golf is one of the largest and most prestigious junior golf events in the world, attracting thousands of participants from more than 40 countries. Optimist Clubs host

qualifying tournaments for junior golfers, who can advance to the annual Optimist International Junior Golf Championship in Miami, Florida. You can get involved in this program by volunteering at local tournaments, sponsoring golfers, or playing in our parent-child tournament.

• Leadership Development: Optimist International provides various resources and opportunities for personal and leadership development. Through the Optimist Institute, you can access online courses, webinars and workshops on topics such as communication, teamwork and project management. You can also take on leadership roles at the Club, District, or international level and gain valuable experience and recognition.

These are just some of the programs that Optimist International offers. We hope you also participate in our other community activities, and we look forward to seeing you at our next International Convention, scheduled for June 22-26, 2024, in Niagara Falls, Canada!

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 25

Sheboygan Optimist Club Turns 100

From skating derbies to innovative school supply programs, the Sheboygan Optimist Club’s century-long commitment to youth, their community, and themselves shines bright.

May 1985 Optimist Park dedication – featuring Harold Heinecke (Noon Club member), unknown man, and Mrs. Barbara Trautman (the woman who campaigned to establish a City park in her neighborhood)

Encouraged by members of the Milwaukee Optimist Club, thirty local businessmen met at the Sheboygan Association of Commerce offices in February 1924 to begin their quest. Sheboygan was the fifth club established in Wisconsin, and the 81st in the United States.

The Sheboygan Optimist Club quickly lived up to its original bylaws which stated that they “will determine and do all in our power to eliminate the causes of delinquency” and “strive to make the Optimist Club known to the world as the Friend of the Delinquent Boy,” as stated in the club’s original bylaws. The club created a skating derby for local boys (that was held for more than 25 years), as well as an ‘Optimist Uncle’ program to offer support and guidance to boys who were referred to the program.

The club formed youth clubs, sponsored movie premiers and donkey baseball as fundraisers, planned dance parties at the Sheboygan Armory (complete with city bus service at midnight to take the kids home safely!) and talent shows at Central High’s auditorium. Several Junior Optimist clubs were sponsored in the early years, as well as spreading Optimism via new adult clubs in Manitowoc and Green Bay in 1947. Looking to give other local businessmen a more convenient meeting time, the “Noon” Optimist Club established the Sheboygan Evening Club in 1962.

The current Sheboygan Optimist Club continues to “bring out the best in youth, our community and ourselves,” by emphasizing service to kids in various forms, improving Optimist Park and offering members online personal growth sessions via the international organization’s website. Over the years, the club has sponsored Tri-Star Sports skills competitions, provided scholarships through the Essay and Oratorical contests, worked with Junior Optimist clubs, donated thousands of dollars to youth organizations and grown Optimism to seven other communities in the lakeshore area.

Fundraising has evolved as well, with the club refocusing from its Pancake Day fundraiser that was held annually for more than 50 years, to now sponsoring a comedy show with regional television personality John McGivern.

26 • Optimist

“We are proud to still be here through our 100th year and still making a difference where we can,” said Club President Scott Stangel. “Volunteerism is a challenge in today’s world, and we’ve been able to change our club’s focus to fit our current membership’s needs and remain a viable organization providing service to Sheboygan’s kids.’

The club is possibly best known for creating Back to School Basics, a program designed to provide free school supplies to area families, now in its 27th year. The club’s current partnership with the Sheboygan Area School District Community Recreation Department has only strengthened its ability to ensure continuity of service to the kids. John Koehler, director of the SASDCommunity Recreation Department, said he “has been extremely proud to partner with the Sheboygan Optimist

Club whose members came up with this small creative way to support our Sheboygan families to allow them to start their children’s school year with this little bit of extra help.”

Along with the Sheboygan Evening Optimist Club, the “noon” Club has contributed thousands of dollars to additional playground equipment and upkeep at Optimist Park on Sheboygan’s south side. Currently, the club is developing a long-range plan for park improvements.

2020 Park Donation – featuring 2020-2021 Club President Laurel Schirmer (holding check) with then Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen and City Administrator Todd Wolf Back to School Basics set up day featuring Mark Sprangers and John Ehmann
Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 27
Members ‘unpacking’ recently purchased coats featuring Roger Beaumont, Terrie Snow, Jim Kaufman, Scott Stangel, and Dennis Morrell

Club News

These club projects were highlighted in Newsday Tuesday over the past quarter. Click here to make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter.

Iceless Curling for Fun and Food

Oakland Community College — Auburn Hills Optimist Club, in Auburn Hills, Michigan, already supports several annual service projects, including Friendly Forest Halloween, SCAMP (a special needs camp for kids and adults), the Clarkston Optimist July 4th Parade, and a “Socks & Shoes” event every November.

But, in 2023, the Club decided to add a new service project to that list.

After learning about iceless curling at the International Convention held in Reno, Nevada, in 2022, the Michigan District 17 leadership team decided to purchase two sets of iceless curling equipment for the Michigan Childhood Health and Wellness Committee. On seeing the activity's popularity at one of the committee's events, the OCC — Auburn Hills Optimist Club decided to get in on the fun, renting the equipment for a canned food drive on Valentine’s Day.

The event proved popular, with the Club collecting 210 pounds of canned food and some additional monetary donations for the North Lighthouse Food Pantry in Clarkston, Michigan.

“Thanks for the support from Al Kersey, iceless curling’s OI champion. Al has shown what fun iceless curling can be and its effect on youth involvement,” the Club said. “This event can be undertaken inside a gym or in a school hallway or on a carpeted hotel floor. The equipment can be set up within 15 minutes and is ready for use on a clean gym floor.”

Osceola Optimist Youth Appreciation Program

Osceola Elementary School in Osceola, Missouri, participates in the monthly Osceola Optimist Youth Appreciation program. Each month, a student is selected in their classroom for modeling a positive habit, such as being proactive, considerate of others, disciplined and organized.

Students who are recognized multiple times are eligible for the Osceola Youth Appreciation Award, and each month, the school's principal awards the student who has demonstrated the most positive habits with a certificate and $25 at a monthly Youth Appreciation Dinner.

Club News
28 • Optimist


A look at more than 100 years of Optimist International memories

Charter Night Banquet

The Optimist Club of Hamilton was officially chartered on June 9, 1924, with a banquet for club and city leaders at the Royal Connaught Hotel.

“Abundant proof was offered that the city’s latest service club is well named,” wrote the Hamilton Herald Newspaper. “Not alone the speeches, but the attitude of the members showed that their optimism is of the concrete, sensible, practical variety which goes about doing as well as preaching good.”

Second Quarter 2023-2024 • 29
Photo: September, 1924 issue of The Optimist

Preserving Optimist History

Optimism is about hope for the future, but it’s equally important to remember our past. In anticipation of eventually transitioning to a new headquarters, we are proud to announce the steps we’re taking to preserve our cherished history.

The Missouri Historical Society has graciously agreed to safeguard our extensive archive of documents and artifacts, and we call upon our members to contribute to this shared legacy. If you possess any significant Optimist memorabilia at home, we encourage you to donate these treasures so that they can be preserved. Your contributions will ensure that the story of Optimist International continues to inspire for generations to come. Please mail your items to our main office – 4494 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, Missouri, 63108.

Together, let’s celebrate our history and look forward to a future filled with optimism.

30 • Optimist
a world where you can be anything..
Be Kind
HOPE LIVES HERE! Optimist International 4494 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63108 (314) 371-6000 • (800) 500-8130 • Fax: (314) 371-6006 headquarters@optimist.org

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.