Optimist Spring 2023

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Spring 2023

Celebrate Community 2023

Celebrate Community, a joint initiative of Optimist International and three other major volunteer service organizations, continued this year with a focus on local community service. Events were scheduled for the week of September 10-17, 2023.

The organizations — Kiwanis, Lions Clubs International, Optimist International, and Rotary International — continue to encourage local Clubs to reach out to one another for collaboration on projects that improve and benefit their communities.

A joint project allows community members who are serving in different Clubs to learn more about each other, their organizations, and their combined efforts to help children and adults with environmental or financial difficulties.

Be sure to share the photos taken on social media and use the hashtag #CelebrateCommunity.


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 first 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.

Generous support from the Optimist International Foundation made this publication possible.

Send address changes to The Optimist, 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108.

© Copyright 2022.

Optimist The Official Publication of Optimist International Features Spring 2023 | Vol. 103, No. 2 2 President's Message 3 Calendar of Events 4 Letter from the Editor 6 Club-within-a-Club 8 Optimist International Convention - Arlington, Va 14 7 Ways To Spend Your Time To Maximize Your Happiness 17 Optimist Golf 21 Grow your Club 22 Optimist Day 2023 24 Optimist Oratorical Contest Benefits Youth with Far More Than Scholarships 28 Club News: Partners In Education 31 Membership Challenge 32 Meet the New OIF Board Members 33 Leadership Webinars 34 CCOF Foundation Donors 35 OIF Foundation Donors 38 In memoriam - J.C. Boone Jr. 39 In memoriam - Jerry David Henderson 40 Rewind 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 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:

Let’s talk about what new members mean to a Club. By new members I mean people who are interested in our mission, in bringing out the best in youth, our communities and ourselves. Why did YOU decide to get involved? What is your Club doing that keeps you coming back? Have you invited someone to a Club event so they can find their own reason to get involved?

The youth in our communities need us more today than ever before! If you have any doubt about that, reach out to your local elementary school and ask about the number of students that attend school without the proper nutrition, supplies or winter clothing. Just imagine the difference we could make by supporting those students in being their best, setting the very foundation for their entire future!

As we continue to shrink in membership, so does our support and service to the youth in our communities. In the end, it is the children that are suffering from our inability (or unwillingness?) to just invite someone to share our love and passion for our organization.

Fellow Optimists, everything that happens in our organization happens at the Club level, through you, our Members. All we can do as your international leaders is provide you with information, motivation and, sometimes, a little incentive.

To that end, the Membership Committee has come up with a new incentive for the third quarter: “Lighting the Fuse on Your Optimist Rocket.”

Beginning April 1, 2023, recruiting new Optimists can earn you rewards!

The Member from each Region who recruits the most new Members between April 1 and June 30 will receive a $100 gift card. The winners' names will also be placed in a drawing for free registration to the International Convention in Arlington, Virginia.

Since the drawings will take place after everyone has registered for the convention, the winners will have their money refunded. The tickets are also transferable, so if you choose not to attend one of the best conventions in years, you may sell or donate them to someone else.

A second-place winner from each Region will receive a $75 gift card and be entered into a drawing for a ticket to the President’s Banquet at the Convention, while a third-place winner from each Region will receive a $50 gift card and be entered into a drawing for a ticket to the Heritage Brunch.

Members aren’t the only ones up for rewards; Districts are also in the running. The District that adds the most new Members and the District with the largest percentage of new Members will each have their Governor and a partner seated at the head table during the President’s Banquet.

But we don’t just want to get numbers up to give out rewards. We want – we need – more people like YOU!

As a group of strong, committed individuals, we can control and create an organization to continue to serve children and our communities for another 100 years!

President's Message
2 • Optimist

Calendar of Events

A look at what’s coming up for Optimist International


• National Children’s Day

• Optimist International Board of Directors Meeting

• Deadline for Districts to submit Winners for CCDHH


• Optimists in Action Month

• Spring Magazine Release

• Optimist Junior Golf: Hugh Cranford All Scholastic Winners Announced

• Webinar: PGI and PDP-What’s in it for Me?

• Deadline for Districts to submit Winners for Oratorical Contest to OI

• Early Bird Registration Deadline for International Convention

• Deadline for Clubs to submit Winners for Visual Arts Competition

• International Convention and Junior Optimist International Convention


• International Convention and Junior Optimist International Convention

• Q4 July/Aug/Sept

• World Oratorical Contest

• Optimist International Junior Golf Championship


During Optimists in Action Month, Optimist volunteers and fellow citizens from all over the world come together to bring out THE BEST in kids, their communities and themselves. LEARN MORE

• Summer Magazine Release

• National Nonprofit Day

• Webinar: Growing Your Membership Retention through Improving Member Experience


• International Day of Charity

• Deadline to submit Club Pride Report

• National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

• Closing of the Optimist Year

• Celebrate Community 2023

Letter from the Editor

I love spring. I’m invigorated seeing signs of new life emerge after a long, cold winter – whether it’s the first robin perched outside my window, the dogwoods beginning to bud or tulips poking up through the soil as I walk through my neighborhood. To me, spring feels like hope!

We’ve been talking a lot about growth this year. It’s the cornerstone of a healthy organization. But, what if we viewed the growth of Optimist International the same way we view the growth of spring flowers? A tulip doesn’t just magically appear one day. It sprouts from a bulb someone sowed in the ground. It pushes its way up through the soil in search of sunshine. Then, it grows until it blooms.

We don’t just wish a tulip into existence, we plant, cultivate and care for it.

Growth isn’t easy. This quote from author Napoleon Hill says it all: “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

Whether we’re talking about our own personal growth, our career

growth, or our Club’s growth, growth is hard work. But, just as we can’t wish a tulip into existence, we can’t wish more people to join our Clubs. We must invest time and effort, try new ideas, be willing to fail, and then try again.

If we fail to bring new people into our organization, then we won’t have an organization, because we are an organization of people. If we don’t put continuous effort into growth, and work through our struggles, we won’t be able to continue the projects and programs our communities have come to rely on. When we lose Members and Clubs, it’s not just a loss to Optimist, it’s a loss to young people and communities all across the world.

So, as spring kindles new life all around us, let us work together to spark a season of renewed growth and sustainability for our organization. I have a lot of hope for our future, and I hope you do too!

4 • Optimist
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill

Club-within-a-Club Model Helps Bolster Optimist Membership

Optimist International consistently creates new programs aimed at increasing membership and improving the health of its Clubs. The “Save the Charter” program created by Optimists in the East Missouri District last year is the latest example. It allows a Club near collapse to continue serving its community while the District works to strengthen it. This program saved the Optimist Club of Los Angeles in 2022, allowing the 105-year-old club to continue its service to the area.

While this program is still available, another one created in 2016 allows Clubs to intervene on their own behalf without having to rely on others. Nearly

six dozen Clubs have used the Club-within-a-Club model to bolster their membership roster, often with younger members. These new Optimists can meet at a separate time from the regular Club meeting, work on their own projects and conduct their own fundraising. They channel their finances through the existing Club and can occasionally help with the existing Club’s projects. This helps the original Club with manpower for projects while revitalizing the membership base and creating a mentoring structure for the Club within a Club. Learn more about it from the Frequently Asked Questions document from the New Club Building Department.

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“I think it is a great idea to get folks to join that are not interested in the traditional meetings,” said Ron Merson, of the Santa Paula Optimist Club in California. “They can be involved in Optimistic activities without having to attend normal business meetings.”

It is critical to maintain regular communication with the new group, and Merson admits the Santa Paula Club failed in that regard. “Regular members in our Club did not keep the outside group involved and informed of our activities…and eventually they lost interest and moved away,” he said.

The Optimist Club of Carrollton, Georgia, provides a similar scenario, aiming to increase its membership with younger people to help with existing Club projects. It found success in making the Club younger by recruiting college students whose energy helped invigorate the existing members and provided more manpower for projects.

President Gerald Johnson, however, believes they fell short by not recruiting non-student Members from the University of West Georgia. “We had too many upper classmen in the group, and members started leaving as they graduated and moved to other communities,” Johnson said.” I still think it was a very positive move for our club and the remaining members of the Club-within-a-Club have moved into the regular membership.”

It is critical to mentor a new member or a group of new members so they feel a part of the broader organization. A school of thought for maintaining connectivity involves three letters, E.A.R. Engagement plus Activation equals Retention.

Optimists who conduct a Club-within-a-Club initiative must engage these new Optimists to activate their membership. This provides a feeling of belonging for the new members, making it more likely they will be retained as members in the future.

This idea was demonstrated by the Old Harbour Optimist Club in Jamaica. While encountering the same challenges as the Carrollton and Santa Paula Optimist Clubs, Builder of Excellence Blondette Wright said Old Harbour benefitted greatly from the Club-within-a-Club program.

“It allowed us to have better representation at Zone and District meetings,” Wright said. “But most importantly, it allowed us to reach more children with more projects.”

Contact Optimist International’s New Club Department at NewClub@optimist.org for more information about the Club-within-a-Club program.

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Optimist International Convention

Arlington, Virginia

July 2-5, 2023

Convention 2023 8 •

This July, join your fellow Optimists in Arlington, where you'll have fun, be entertained, be inspired, and share fellowship with Optimists from around the world. Rock out to amazing bands, watch dazzling fireworks, meet new friends, share your stories and ideas, and be informed while making a difference and participating in volunter service projects. For more information and updates visit optimist.org/convention.

We’ve extended the early bird registration deadline until May 15, so don't miss this opportunity to celebrate optimism with us!

Rock X

Have you ever wanted to be a rock star? Well, on Monday, July 3, you may get your chance. Live cover band Rock X will treat convention-goers to a set list featuring more than 150 songs from every genre, era and style. And they offer a unique twist: live karaoke with a full band. It will be an experience you won’t want to miss.

If you have already registered and want to add the banquet to your registration, contact us at convention@optimist.org.

Learn more about Rock X

Baltimore Children’s Choir

Don’t miss the Baltimore Children’s Choir performing on Saturday, July 1, during an “Evening of Entertainment” at the International Convention in Arlington, Virginia. The choir believes access to music and musical education is a basic right, and its mission is to share choral music from a variety of traditions with everyone, including students, families, people with disabilities, and seniors.

“Every child at Baltimore Children’s Choir has a unique voice to be celebrated,” the group says. “A shared love of music and a sense of belonging builds confidence, joy, and leadership skills that positively impact the greater community.”

Learn more about the Baltimore Children’s Choir

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Where to watch July 4 fireworks in Arlington, Virginia

If you’re attending the Optimist International Convention in Arlington, Virginia, this summer, you might be wondering where to watch the spectacular fireworks show on Independence Day.

While it’s tempting to cross the Potomac and join the crowds on the National Mall, that would be a mistake. Not only will you face traffic jams, security checkpoints, and limited parking, but you will also miss out on some of the best views of the fireworks from Arlington.

The fireworks on the National Mall are set to start shooting off at 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 4. Here’s where you can see them:

Gateway Park and Key Bridge in Rosslyn: These are both popular viewing spots for watching the fireworks but be aware that there is no seating on the bridge. You can also enjoy live music and food trucks at Gateway Park. Gravelly Point: You can watch the fireworks from this National Park Service site just north of Reagan National Airport on the George Washington Parkway. Stake out the grassy area near the Potomac River or watch from your car if you arrive early enough to find a parking spot. You can also see planes taking off and landing from the airport, adding to the excitement.

Long Bridge Park in Crystal City: This is a county park with a large open field and a view of the Washington Monument. You can also enjoy familyfriendly activities, food vendors, and live music on the evening of the 4th.

Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) and Netherlands Carillon near Rosslyn: These are two of the most iconic landmarks in Arlington, and they offer a stunning view of the fireworks and the D.C. skyline. You can also hear the bells of the carillon playing patriotic tunes before and after the fireworks.

Prospect Hill Park near Pentagon City: This is a small county park with a hilltop view of the fireworks. It is only a half-acre and mostly used by nearby residents, so it might be less crowded than other spots.

No matter where you choose to watch the fireworks, you’re sure to have a memorable experience without venturing into D.C. Just remember to follow local safety guidelines and have fun!

Optimist International Convention Youth Activities Program

Bring your children or grandchildren and sign them up for the youth activities program and they will enjoy the following offsite tours chaperoned by Optimist Members.

Sunday, July 2

National Zoo

Monday, July 3

National Children’s Museum (ages 5-11)

International Spy Museum (ages 12-18)

Tuesday, July 4

National Air & Space Museum

During the President’s banquet, Monday, July 3, there will be activities for them at the hotel.

Optional Group

Tour for all ages

$85 per person

(includes transportation and entry fees) Join your Optimist Friends on this organized group adventure to Ford’s Theater and George Washington’s Mount Vernon on Wednesday, July 5 from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

If you would like to add this to your existing registration, send a message to convention@optimist.org.

While there are plenty of things you can sign up for and do on your own or with your group, the host area committee thought some people might rather go together with a group of other Optimists.

Convention 2023
10 • Optimist

Enjoy a night on the town!

On Sunday evening, July 2, enjoy dinner and a night out! We’ve set aside 6-8:30 p.m. for you to network with your fellow attendees and explore the local area.

Our friends at the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau provided a list of restaurants with private dining options to choose from:

Crystal City Sports Pub

Kind of cuisine: Memorabilia-packed walls, tons of TVs & pub grub lure sports fans to this high-energy hangout.

Address: 529 23rd St S, Arlington, VA 22202

Phone: (703) 521-8215

Group contact: Click for website

Fresh Kitchen

Kind of cuisine: American breakfast dishes with a buffet option in a light-filled dining room at an airport hotel.

Address: 2650 Richmond Hwy, Arlington, VA 22202

Phone: (703) 842-1240

Group Contact: Julio Jaldin

Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (Food Court)

Kind of cuisine: A variety of selections

Address: 1100 S. Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202

Phone: (703) 415-2401 ext. 117

Group contact: Frances Hinnant-Wingfield


Kind of cuisine: Lively, informal Mexican chain with a colorful, family-friendly setting plus tequilas & margaritas.

Address: 1201 S Hayes St #1, Arlington, VA 22202

Phone: (703) 413-8700

Group contact: Poppy Diamante

California Pizza Kitchen

Kind of cuisine: Serving up inventive pizzas plus pastas & salads in a modern setting.

Address: Ste. F Pentagon, 1201 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202

Phone: (703) 412-4900

Group contact: Kevin McCartney

Nothing looks good? Here’s a list of more Arlington restaurants for you to consider.

But don’t limit yourself to just dinner! Arlington is a fun city with a vibrant nightlife, so spice up your evening by seeing a live performance at Signature Theatre, watching a movie, play, or comedy show at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, playing an immersive video game, or testing your wits in an escape room. Or venture out and explore on your own!

Just remember to be back at the hotel before 9 p.m. for Trivia Night!

Convention 2023
Spring 2023 • 11

2023 Keynote Speakers Amy Downs

Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor to Speak at Optimist International Convention

Fifty-one degrees under a cloudless sky, a light breeze out of the northeast: April 19, 1995, was a beautiful spring morning in Oklahoma. It was a Wednesday, and 28-year-old Amy Downs had just started her day as a bank teller at the Federal Employees Credit Union in downtown Oklahoma City.

Downs remembers catching up with coworkers on the way to her desk, reassuring her friend Sonya – on the way to a supervisors meeting in a bright yellow power suit – that she didn’t look like a giant sunflower.

“I sat down at my desk … and one of my coworkers, who was seven months pregnant, came in to talk to me. I turned to ask her what she needed, and I don’t know if the words came out or not, because that’s when it happened.”

That’s when a Ryder rental truck loaded with 5,000 pounds of fertilizer and fuel oil exploded in front of the building where she worked.

“I remember just hearing such an incredible roaring in my head, and feeling this powerful rushing sensation, like I was falling,” Downs told a TEDx audience in 2020.

She was falling, nearly three floors as the building collapsed around her. In seconds, Downs was buried under 10 feet of rubble. She recalls screaming for help, and not recognizing her own voice.

She spent nearly an hour pinned under tons of concrete and steel before, finally, a team of rescuers found her.

“I remember thinking, I’m 28 years old, and I’m getting ready to die,” she said. “And I’ve never even really lived. I was filled with so much regret, it was overwhelming.”

It was more than a passing thought. That regret would change her life. With nothing else to do, there, in the darkness, Amy Downs began to sing.

“It was a song that I had sung in church years ago,” Downs said. “And as I began to sing, it took my mind off the situation. It was the only action that I could really take. … But when I did that, even though my situation didn’t change, I felt peace.”

When rescuers finally arrived, it took them six more hours to pull Downs from the rubble.

“I’ll never forget taking that first breath of fresh air,” she said. “Just filling my lungs and promising I’d never live my life the same.”

Convention 2023
12 • Optimist
Thank you to Optimist International Foundation for sponsoring the 2023 Convention Keynote Speakers.

Downs spent eight days in the hospital. And every day that passed, she learned of the name of another friend she would never see again. In all, eighteen of Downs’ coworkers and friends, along with 150 others, lost their lives in the attack, which had been plotted by two white supremacist and antigovernment extremists.

“I remember the last day in the hospital, I found out that they had found the body of my friend Sonya in her beautiful yellow suit,” she said. But through it all, Downs clung to hope. And despite the darkness she felt, she promised to get through the next few days.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years. And Downs did get through it, constantly finding a way to move forward. She went back to school to finish her degree, got an MBA, started riding a bicycle and lost 200 pounds. Now, she’s the CEO of the same credit union where she worked in 1995.

Kelly Schaefer

She credits it all to hope.

Imagine you have a magic wand, Downs says – what would you change? Once you know what you want, take the smallest step you can to make it happen.

“I started applying the magic wand exercise to my own life,” Downs said. “And there was something I wanted, and it was to go back and get that degree. I remember those action steps I wrote. The first one was to call the college.”

That’s what hope is, Downs says. It’s believing the future can be better and that you can play a role in making it better, even one small step at a time.

“If I can make the changes in my life that I’ve made, using this simple framework, you can too,” Downs said. “There is always action that you can take. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can. Even when I was buried alive and facing death, there was something I could do.”

Her book, “Fractured not Broken,” is the true story of loss, faith, and a rare love that only happens in nonfiction. The Amazon Bestseller has won the New Apple Spirit Award and the Inspirational Award, and Schaefer’s story has been featured on ESPN and in Rosie magazine. She will have copies of her book available for sale at the convention.

In 1998, Schaefer – then a cheerleader for the Indiana University Hoosiers – won national cheerleading awards. However, her life took a tragic turn when a drunk driver left her quadriplegic in 1999.

Schaefer lost her athletic ability, but not her spirit, and she has since traveled to hundreds of Midwest schools to share her story, demonstrating how the human spirit, combined with personal faith and the support of loved ones, can overcome challenges and enable others to succeed beyond their wildest imagination.

Schaefer says she feels blessed that her story can inspire others.

Kelly Schaefer is a woman of many talents: a wife, mother, teacher, author and Skittles-lover.
Thank you to Optimist International Foundation for
the 2023
Convention 2023 Spring 2023 • 13
Convention Keynote Speakers.

7 Ways To Spend Your Time To Maximize Your Happiness

Happiness can be elusive. Many people are stressed and struggling. But it’s possible to plan your weeks and invest your time so you can maximize happiness—and thrive.

How you spend your time is—after all—how you spend your life, so the choices you make have an impact on you, but also on those around you. Because happiness has a spillover effect. When you’re happier at work, you’ll experience more joy outside of work. And the reverse is true: When you’re happier outside of work, you’ll perceive greater joy within work as well. It’s all about how you spend your moments, your days, and your weeks.

People Are Stressed

Unfortunately, many people aren’t spending time in the ways that bring them satisfaction or fulfillment. In fact, 45% of people feel stressed, 36% feel scared or depressed, and 25% feel demotivated, according to a study by Clarify Capital. In addition, Muse found 38%-44% of people experience feelings of overwork, burnout, underappreciation, lack of joy, or lack of satisfaction.

There are common myths that get in the way of happiness. For example, it’s a myth that you should be happy all the time, every moment. In reality, you’ll have days when you feel great and others when you

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don’t—and that’s normal and okay. It’s possible to have an overall sense of contentment even when you have a down day now and then.

In addition, people tend to believe that if they make good choices—for example in their work, where they live, or who they choose as a partner—then all will be well. But again, happiness isn’t constant. There will be things you love about your job and things you don’t. You’ll appreciate a lot about your partner, but some things will annoy you. Choosing well doesn’t mean choosing perfectly because no situation is without flaws. The key is to choose the set of conditions (both the good and the bad) which is best aligned with what’s most important to you.

The Value of Leisure Time

Spending your time on things you enjoy is good for you. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that when people spent time in leisure pursuits, they increased their wellbeing. And creative activities, especially, are linked with happiness, according to a study appearing in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Interestingly, new research using time-study data by Solitaire Bliss found the states where people spent the most time on leisure activities were Vermont with an average of 4.66 hours per day and North Dakota with an average of 3.91 hours per day. Idaho spent the least amount of time on leisure with 1.98 hours per day and Tennessee spent 2.26 hours per day.

But keep in mind, you may not have time for leisure every day, and it’s more important to have leisure time built into the time horizon of weeks or months. Some days will be busy with work and family responsibilities, so you may not have the opportunity for your painting or knitting or reading. Other days you may have more time for fun or relaxing things. Remove the pressure to ensure leisure time every day—and embrace the ebbs and flows of life.

Dimensionality and Connections

Also consider how many activities you do. When you spend your time in a greater variety of activities which you enjoy and which give you meaning, you’re more likely to feel joy. And when they’re aligned, you also boost happiness. For example, you may especially love photography and you take photos of family members, but you also love to snap pics of nature while you’re walking. In addition, you are the selfappointed picture-taker when your team at work has events. This is called dimensionality, when you have a variety of pursuits which provide meaning, and when they build on each other.

When you think of how you spend your time, also avoid keeping work responsibilities and leisure activities in separate mental containers. It’s helpful to think of the sources of happiness and how they can be part of both your life at work and your life outside of work. For example, getting outside in nature is correlated with positive feelings. Consider how you could take a walk outside with a colleague instead of meeting in a conference room. Or volunteering is a contributor to happiness, so you could schedule a volunteer day with your colleagues.

Of course, you need time away from work engaged in purely leisure activities, but when you can build in overlap, it is also a source of joy.

Joyful Time

You can create the conditions for happiness by being intentional about how you spend your time. Here are the seven best bets for fostering fulfillment.

#1 – Work

The trends about quiet quitting and the talent revolution are glorifying a less-is-more approach to work. And too much work can indeed be damaging. But work is also an important part of life. It’s a venue for expressing your talents and contributing to others around you. All work matters, no matter what it is. So, remind yourself of all you accomplish through your job, and the difference it makes to your colleagues, customers, and to your family.

The Solitaire Bliss study found the sates where people work the most were Rhode Island (average of 10.24 hours per day) and Oklahoma (9.92 hours). And the states with the least work hours per day were Connecticut (7.08) and Vermont (7.13).

But beware assuming that less work is best. Time working subscribes to the Goldilocks rule. You want to spend enough time working that you are making a contribution and expressing your talents, but not so much that you’re burned out. This right balance can be different for everyone.

#2 – Give

Another sure path to happiness is giving of yourself— investing in others and your community. Happiness is correlated with generosity. And research has found when you’re kind to others, you have a reduced chance of experiencing depression and anxiety and a greater chance of all kinds of wellbeing from physical and cognitive to emotional. Kindness has such a large impact because it helps you feel more connected and it’s a healthy distraction from your own problems.

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Spending your time volunteering is also great for your sense of community and expanding your network of relationships. And being generous with your time or your talent also gives you a greater sense of meaning, according to a study by The Ascent. It also helps you to feel more satisfied with your life, your career, and the organization you work for.

#3 - Sleep

Another key way to find happiness is by ensuring you’re refreshing and renewing through sleep. Unfortunately, only one third of people get enough sleep, according to the CDC. But sleep is critical to innovation, based on a study at the University of Oregon.

And researchers at Bar-Ilan University discovered why sleep is so important: During normal day-to-day activities, DNA sustains damage, and during sleep DNA is repaired by neural processes. Sleep is therefore critical to brain function and to avoid health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

#4 – Get Outside

Time in nature is also correlated with happiness. An analysis of 301 studies across 62 countries found nature increases wellbeing and a sense of joy as well as your cognition, creativity, communication, and the quality of our relationships. It can help you to reflect and give you a sense of renewal and inspiration.

#5 – Exercise

Another sure way to achieve happiness is through exercise which contributes to reduced depression and anxiety and increases energy levels and physical capabilities to do other things you’ll enjoy.

#6 – Learn

When you spend your time learning something new, you will also contribute to your happiness. Sweating— literally or figuratively—is very good for our level of joy because you’re pushing yourself, extending your capabilities, finding new solutions and discovering how much you can do. Multiple studies prove a link between learning and happiness. Curiosity, in particular, is beneficial because it contributes to openness and fulfillment.

#7 – Socialize

And one of the very best ways to spend your time is connecting and socializing. People crave belonging and research has found having one or two close fiends is more impactful for health outcomes (ex. Diabetes, depression, dementia, and more) than smoking, diet, or exercise.

So be intentional abut reaching out to friends, scheduling time to connect, and making the effort to be present with others. If you’re an introvert, you may need less time with others, and fewer numbers of friends, but connection is still fundamental to your wellbeing.

Do What You Love

As you’re thinking of how you spend your time, also plan to spend it your way. People will give you advice about the best ways to relax, recharge, or rejuvenate. But you know what is best—in terms of the activities you choose, who you choose to do them with, and your right mix of work and leisure.

Spend time in the ways that serve your family, your colleagues, your community, and yourself—when you do, they’ll be better for it and so will you.

Tracy Brower, PhD, is a sociologist focused on work-life happiness and fulfillment. She works for Steelcase, and is the author of two books, The Secrets to Happiness at Work and Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work

16 • Optimist



The Tournament of Champions (an invitational event for Boys 11-13, 14-15, 16-18, Girls 11-13 and 14-18) which is ranked by Golfweek and the Junior Golf Scoreboard and is included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry process was held December 10-11, 2022 at Mission Inn Resort and Spa (Howie-In-the-Hills, Florida). LEARN MORE!


Boys 11-13

1st – Darren Zhou (Florida, USA) 74-73 147

2nd – Asher Katz (Florida, USA) 71-80 151

3rd -- Georgie Johnston (Ontario, Canada) 72-80 152

Boys 14-15

1st – Clark Mason (Florida, USA) 74-74 – 148*

1st – Noah Peens (South Africa) 73-75- 148*

2nd – Evan Pena (Puerto Rico) 74-78 – 152

Boys 16-18

1st – Chenqi Wu, (Argentina) 71-68 139

2nd – JP Odland (California, USA) 70-70 - 140

3rd – Rafael Estrada (Florida, USA) 70-71 141

Girls 11-13

1st – Nicole Sardina (Portugal) 81-69 - 150

2nd – Elena Zreik, (New York, USA) 84-77 - 161

3rd – Marena Fontanet (Puerto Rico) 91-82- 173

Girls 14-18

1st – Yingshi (Lydia) Lin (Florida, USA) – 70-70 - 140

2nd – Natachanok Tunwannarux (Thailand) 72-69 - 141

3rd – Jessica Guiser, (Wisconsin, USA) 75-71-75 142

* 1st place tie due to darkness


17 • Optimist
Optimist Golf


July 14-19, 2023

Boys 10-11, 12-13

Girls 10-12

July 19-24, 2023

Boys 14-15

Girls 13-14

July 24-29, 2023

Boys 16-18

Girls 15-18

Optimist Junior Golf helps develop successful character traits in the future world leaders through the challenging and humbling game of golf. Golfers that qualify for the Optimist Junior Golf Championships are treated to a life-changing week, including: three phases of competitive Junior Golf, top-notch sleeping rooms, scrumptious meals, an Adult-Child Golf Tournament, long-drive competition, glow ball event, and an awards ceremony.

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. CLICK HERE to find the nearest qualifier.

Reasons golfers play in our qualifiers to get to the championships

• It is one of the top International Junior Golf Tournaments in the world.

• It is ranked by JuniorGolf Scoreboard, Golfweek and Amateur Golf World, and included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry Process.

• Approximately 30 College Coaches attend and recruit at the event.

• Participants play against golfers from all over the world.

What makes us unique and different from other tournaments?

Parents and Optimist Members don’t realize the value for a child to attend. Did you know that the registration fee is only $730 per golfer ($670 for District Winners), which includes:

• Tournament entry fee

• Golf (practice round and tournament rounds)

• Five nights lodging (shared with another golfer if coming alone)

• Five breakfasts and four dinners

• Plus, access to all special events (Glow ball, Long-Drive competition, educational seminar, video arcade room)

Additional fees apply for parents and guests.

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

Optimist Golf 18 • Optimist



The Optimist Junior Golf Program relies heavily on the support of dedicated volunteers who are committed to "bringing out the best in youth.” Without volunteers, the program would not be possible.

Volunteers receive:

• Discounted room rates

• Breakfast and lunch on days you work

• Complimentary parking

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

• Discounted golf on certain days

• An opportunity to play a round of golf following the Parent-Child Classic.

Volunteers may sign up for any number of days. Positions available include both inside and outside jobs: registration help, marshals, shuttle drivers, scoring, and 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.

If you have questions, please contact the Junior Golf Department at 800-500-8130 ext. 207 (direct/314-881-1307) or email at golf@optimist.org

Spring 2021 • 19
Optimist Golf

Meet The 2023 Hugh Cranford

All-Scholastic Team

Golfers from around the world submitted an application, essay, current school transcript, most-recent grade report and test results for a chance to be selected to the Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team.

Those making the team exemplified an impressive balance of academics, golf and community service. After reviewing the qualifications of impressive applicants, the Optimist Junior Golf Committee selected the following exceptional student athletes for the team:

The All-Scholastic Team is named for Hugh Cranford, who served as executive director of Optimist International from 1967 to 1986. He was instrumental in starting the Optimist Junior Golf program and in 1978 led the efforts to co-sponsor the Optimist Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego, the forerunner to today's Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Cranford passed away in August 2014.
20 • Optimist Optimist Golf
Community Service Award Winner Ryan Chang Brookline, Massachusetts Felicity Chen Reston, Virginia Nicholas Morrow Phoenix, Arizona Shay West San Angelo, Texas Aniruddh Mohan Sacramento, California

Spring is the perfect time to grow your Club!

Growing your Club means:

• More energy and fresh ideas for your projects and events

• More hands and hearts to serve more children and families

• More fun and fellowship with like-minded people

• More recognition and rewards for your achievements

Here are some ways to grow your Club:

• Host a NOW (New Optimists Welcome) event to showcase your Club’s activities and share the joy of optimism with potential members

• Partner with another Club (Partners in Optimism) to mentor and strengthen each other

• Ask every Optimist to just invite a guest to their favorite Club event

• Use the WOW (Welcome Optimists Worldwide) program to recruit and retain members throughout the year

• Sponsor a JOI (Junior Optimist International) Club to bring optimism to a new generation

You can find more resources and tools for membership recruitment and retention on the Optimist International website

Don’t miss this opportunity to sow the seeds of Club growth and reap the rewards of optimism. Together, we can make this spring a season of renewal, hope and service!

As an Optimist, you are part of an organization that believes in bringing out the best in youth through service, leadership and scholarship programs. But you don’t have to do it alone.
Spring 2023 • 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 Feb. 1, 2024, 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
Spring 2023 • 23

Optimist Oratorical Contest Benefits Youth with Far More Than Scholarships (But the Scholarships Are Great Too)

The popular and long-running competition has been inspiring and challenging participants for nearly a hundred years. Since 1928, youth from across the country and around the world have been perfecting public-speaking skills while gaining confidence and exploring their own self-expression.

The contest gives students under the age of 19 the opportunity to share their views on a pre-assigned topic and compete for $315,000 in college scholarships funded by the Optimist International Foundation and Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation.

For many students, scholarships can make all the difference in being able to afford a college education. But, for past participants, the contest was about far more than paying for books and classes.

The Optimist International Oratorical Contest allows youth to explore their passions and interests and refine their values, helps them cope with stress and anxiety and boost their self-esteem, and encourages them to grow into more authentic, well-rounded human beings.

According to psychologists, learning healthy ways of self-expression contributes to the development of emotional maturity and sense of identity, and it fosters

creativity, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Personal development professionals also say public speaking is one of the best ways to advance academic and professional careers. It instills research skills, showcases expertise, strengthens critical thinking, and encourages engagement with unfamiliar ideas. Public speaking can also expand one’s social network, opening new avenues for growth and opportunities for support — at school, at work, and in one’s personal life.

“I was always a kid looking for a stage,” said past Club President James Patrick Schmidt, who participated in the contest in grade school. “The Oratorical Contest was the first time I realized that formal public speaking was my favorite place to perform.”

Though he never qualified for the District competition, Schmidt said he thrived within the contest’s structure, building a strong foundation for his future success and learning countless lessons.

“Of all the activities of my youth, public speaking is the one I constantly use to this day as a media strategist for a marketing agency and as a member of the local city council,” he said.

24 • Optimist

Sandi Cox is the West Missouri District Foundation Representative and a past District Governor. She said competing in the Oratorical Contest from 1972-1974 helped her overcome her fear of public speaking.

“I was in our local Oratorical Contest when I was in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade,” she said. “Back then, our community had a Sunrise and a Sunset Optimist Club. I remember a wonderful fella from the Sunset Club asked me if I would compete in the contest. The first year, I placed third, and I was so excited! The next year I placed second, and the third year, I won both the local contest and the Zone contest.”

Cox credits the contest with fostering the confidence to pursue her many goals in life.

“I displayed those trophies proudly for many years and probably still have them in a box somewhere!” she said. “I still think of that fella who first asked me to write that speech and I smile. That is something I hope all those who participate now can take with them too — good memories!”

Southwest Region OI Vice President-elect Kevin Ailara recalls participating in the Oratorical Contest when he was in fifth and sixth grade during the 1960s. The contest was then in its fourth decade.

“The first year, I was very nervous; no, terrified would be a better way to describe my feelings,” he said. “I really didn’t want to compete, but my teacher said I had prepared a good speech and that it would be easy for me to give it. Boy was she wrong!”

Of all the activities of my youth, public speaking is the one I constantly use to this day”
“ Spring 2023 • 25
-James Patrick Schmidt

Ailara placed third that year but said he was happy with just getting through the speech without passing out.

“What really made me feel good deep down was the fact that I had done it in the first place,” he said. “I was shy as a youth but was confident of my ideas and thoughts. I just didn’t know how to deliver them.”

The second year was easier. Ailara was more relaxed, and he no longer feared talking in front of a large group of people.

“Participation in the contest showed me I could overcome my shyness and anxiety,” he said. “I had many opportunities throughout my years in school to give various speeches, and I was able to look back on my first experiences in the Oratorical Contest and realize I could do well despite my nervousness.”

Ailara has carried the confidence he gained from the competition with him his entire life, he said, and he strongly encourages today’s youth to give the contest a try.

“You may not be giving speeches the rest of your life, but it will give you a good perspective that will help you develop as an adult,” he said.

Indeed, one never knows where life will take them or how early experiences will shape a life’s trajectory. Dave Bruns is a perfect example.

Bruns served as President of Optimist International from 2015-2016 and led an effort to expand the Oratorical Contest into the World Championship that exists today. Little did he know in 1973 how the contest would shape his success, or how much of a role he would play in shaping its future.

“The contest gave me the confidence to prepare a speech and to stand up in front of a group of adults who were willing to listen to what I had to say,” Bruns said. “It also led me to pursue a legal career. As I look back over the years, I am so thankful to my parents and the other Optimists who took the time to introduce me to the world of public speaking.”

When Bruns stepped on stage in front of the Kansas City, Kansas, Optimist Club, it was the first time he had ever spoken in front of a large group.

“If my fellow contestants and I were not already nervous enough, we were told shortly before the contest began that it would be delayed so that U.S. Sen. Bob Dole could attend,” he said. “After the contest ended,

26 •
Dave Bruns with the 2022 Oratorical World Champion, Samiksha Gaherwar.

Sen. Dole met privately with the contestants and told us that he always felt a little nervous himself before speaking on the floor of the Senate or on television. To this day, I still have the certificate that Sen. Dole autographed for me, as well as the letter he sent me following the contest."

Now in its 95th year, the Oratorical Contest has continued only with the financial support of the Optimist International Foundation and its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation. The two foundations fund a total of $315,000 in scholarships: 48 District first-, second- and third-place scholarships of $2,500, $1,500, and $1,000, respectively; nine Regional $5,000 scholarships; and the World Championship grand prizes of 15,000, $10,000, and $5,000.

“The Optimist International Foundation is a strong and involved partner in the Optimist mission,” said OIF Executive Director Craig Boring. “We are proud of funding significant and impactful programs such as the Oratorical Contest and the World Oratorical Championship. These endeavors are more than just a scholarship program — they truly build confidence, communication skills and many other positive attributes in our youth.

“Together, we are all helping shape the future leaders of societies, so please support the Foundations so great programs like these can continue for years to come.”

While Bruns himself didn’t win a scholarship, he stressed that the Oratorical Contest benefits all its participants, not just the winners. Every contestant, he said, regardless of their experience or ability, has an important message to share, and each takes away something invaluable from the contest.

Optimist International and Saint Louis University have partnered to host the 8th Annual Optimist International Oratorical World Championships at Saint Louis University on July 20-21, 2023.

All scholarships are funded by the Optimist International Foundation and the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation. Their support has allowed Optimist International to continue this great program since its start in 1928. Click to donate to the Optimist International Foundation or the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation
Spring 2023 • 27
A letter to Dave Bruns from U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.

Partners In Education

Optimist International partners with schools across the country, sponsoring scholarship contests for students to earn money and recognition for their academic achievements and communication skills, organizing community activities, raising money for childhood cancer, and fostering a culture of service and optimism. In addition, our hundreds of Junior Optimist International Clubs empower youth to volunteer for causes they care about, developing confidence and leadership skills while strengthening their communities.

Here are just a few ways local Optimist and Junior Optimist Clubs are partnering up on education in their communities across the country.

Middle School teacher Jennifer Pecco was working with her class to restore a wetland near the school, he contacted her to see if she could use some funding. Having some funds left from another project that would cover a portion of the project, the most immediate need was to purchase rubber boots for the students to wear in the marshy area. The Morehead Optimist Club Board approved a donation of $1,100 and presented a check to Ms. Pecco April 4 at their weekly meeting.

This outdoor classroom project is a tremendous undertaking, but with the assistance of wetlands biologist Tom Biebighauser, the students will learn surveying skills, biology, design, and they will see the project develop from concept to reality.

“During COVID, our students didn’t have the opportunity for close interaction,” Ms. Pecco said. “So, this is a tremendous opportunity for them to work together closely and develop their teamwork.”

Morehead Optimist Club sponsors wetlands project

MOREHEAD, KENTUCKY – When a creative science teacher developed a class project that involved the re-establishment of a wetlands area, the Morehead Optimist Club stepped up and donated to help fund it.

When Morehead Optimist Club President Bill Redwine read on social media that Rowan County

The project will include removal of cattails that have overtaken the area and the replanting of native plants, which will attract wildlife that feed on mosquitoes and other insects to create a natural bug control.

“This type of project is perfect for the Optimist Club to sponsor as it develops the minds of our students while creating an area that can be observed and enjoyed by everyone,” said Optimist Club President Bill Redwine.

Wetlands biologist Tom Biebighauser instructs Rowan County Middle School student Cameron Caudill in collecting a soil sample as other students look on.
Club News 28 • Optimist

Woodstock Midday Optimist Club provides mics for Cherokee County Schools

In 2018, when Woodstock Midday Optimist Club held our annual Club Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a long-time contact with the Cherokee County Schools, Educational Audiologist Dr. Jan H. Henriques, mentioned that Cherokee County Schools could use some new equipment in classrooms for students who are hard of hearing.

The school system did not have the money, so we asked Dr. Henriques to speak to our Club about the “MIC Balls” that Cherokee County wanted to purchase. These “MIC balls” are microphones that can be tossed to students who have the floor to speak, she explained. The devices wirelessly transmit what the student says to the classroom TV so everyone can hear it.

On May 2, 2018, the Woodstock Midday Club voted to take on the multi-year project and partnered with the Optimist International Foundation to begin accepting donations.

This year, the Woodstock Midday Club requested and received a $1,000 grant from OIF as part of the Optimist International Foundation Childhood Health and Wellness Grant Program.

Woodstock Midday’s MIC Balls project has given Cherokee Schools $18,500 and helped 3,980 to 7,960 children over the last 5 years, not including additional money raised through March 2023.

On Dec. 14, Dr. Henriques, along with Don Garner and Melissa Sneed, both special education directors with Cherokee County Schools, joined us to accept a check for $5,500.

As Dr. Henriques indicated, “The technology keeps evolving, but the schools feel that this product at this time is quality and helping many students hear and learn in the classrooms. It also helps teachers by reducing vocal strain. The teachers love when we place a system in the classroom!”

Rushmore Noon Optimist Club reaches thousands in Red Ribbon Week campaign!

The Rushmore Noon Optimist Club of the Black Hills has taken over the oldest and largest youth drug prevention program in the nation: Red Ribbon Week, partnering with local businesses, the South Dakota National Guard and Central High School JROTC to make the week-long campaign a success.

Red Ribbon Week began in 1988 as a tribute to DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was murdered in 1985 by drug traffickers.

The Rushmore Noon Club reaches thousands of children in the Black Hills during the event each November. Members distribute 12,000 red ribbons to K-12 students, and businesses offer free or discounted items to those wearing their ribbons. The Club also sponsors a billboard contest for the best elementaryaged drug free artwork. The winner is revealed in front of the real billboard, with news media present to capture the excitement.

The Red Ribbon Week kick-off event features a celebration on Dinosaur Hill, the highest location in the community. Community members gather as the mayor reads a proclamation and raises a drug-free pledge banner signed by local students atop a 70-foot dinosaur sculpture where the whole community can see.

In addition to the public celebration, a local JROTC Club partners with the Rushmore Noon Club to tie red ribbons on statues of presidents located on downtown streetcorners. For their support of Red Ribbon Week, the JROTC Club was awarded the National 2021 Fulcrum Shield Award for the best drug free youth program.

The Rushmore Noon Club also sponsors a Spirit Award for schools that show the best Red Ribbon Week spirit. Winners receive a cash prize and a Red Ribbon Week traveling trophy.

“Red Ribbon Week has been a tremendous program for the Rushmore Noon Club and allows us to Bring out the Best in Youth!” the Club said.

Club News
Spring 2023 • 29

Celebrating 50 years of Rineyville, Kentucky, Optimism – The Good, The Bad and The Future

Celebrating 50 years of Rineyville, Kentucky, Optimism – The Good, The Bad and The Future

Nearly 50 years ago — on June 12, 1973 — Rineyville parents, teachers and businesspeople came together to form an Optimist Club. They believed Rineyville could become a better neighborhood by being a “Friend of Youth,” and while the Club has changed a lot over the last five decades, it is still going strong.

The Club’s major accomplishment during those early years was constructing a community building at Rineyville Elementary School. For nearly three decades, that building held not only community events but also served as a library and computer lab.

The Club’s programs flourished from the 1980s to early 2000s. During that time, it was not unusual to see 60-80 kids in the Rineyville gym on Monday nights in the fall and early winter learning how to play basketball.

The 1990s and 2000’s saw many changes in the Club. The Rineyville Optimist Club Rodeo, which began in 1993, has since become the centerpiece of the Club’s fundraising efforts and a signature community event for Hardin County. Over the last decade, Members have begun to see adults who first came to the rodeo as children bringing their own children to the event.

The late 90s saw the Club’s first female Members. Today, nearly one in four Rineyville Optimists are women, and the Club is hoping to increase that number.

In 2004, The Rineyville Optimists sponsored the Bluegrass Junior Optimists (JOI) Club, which now has more than 40 Members.

The decade from 2005 to 2015 was challenging for the Club as Members grew older and had less hands-on

contact with community youth. Many of the programs that had done so well in earlier years withered, and there was serious talk of folding the Club in 2015.

But the last eight years have seen a turnaround as the Club looked for innovative ways to involve youth groups in the rodeo, still the biggest event of the year by far. Parking, tickets and concessions are often run by high school groups as fundraisers, and local 4H and youth riding organizations perform and display their skills before the crowd.

Last year, the Club ran its first-ever Youth Fishing Derby at Freeman Lake. Nearly 100 children attended, and the second annual Derby is scheduled for June 3rd of this year. The Club’s newest Members are younger and possess skills, energy and new ideas that are motivating many long-time Members. Looking back over most of the Club’s history, long-time Member Rickie Tharpe is looking forward to expanding the Club's membership and activities. He believes in “looking at the sunny side” and expects that Rineyville Optimists will be a "Friend of Youth" for another 50 years!

Winter Haven clothing donations

Each year, the Winter Haven, Florida, Optimist Club selects projects that benefit the youth of Polk County. Previously, the Club’s Members collected nearly 400 pairs of new children's socks that were distributed to three local elementary schools selected based on the social-economical needs of the children in the schools' communities.

This school year, the Club partnered with residents of the Lake Ashton community to collect 1700 pairs of new socks and underwear, another needed item. School staff were delighted and very thankful for the donations — twice as many as the previous year.

Club News 30 • Optimist
Club members Rose Mary Lanier and Kathie Youstler deliver clothing items to school staff.

Share Your Optimism!

Rewards for New Member Recruitment

Beginning April 1, 2023, recruiting new Optimists can earn you rewards! The Member from each Region who recruits the most new Members between April 1 and June 30 will receive a $100 gift card. The winners' names will also be placed in a drawing for free registration to the International Convention in Arlington, Virginia.

A second-place winner from each Region will receive a $75 gift card and be entered into a drawing for a ticket to the President’s Banquet at the Convention, while a third-place winner from each Region will receive a $50 gift card and be entered into a drawing for a ticket to the Heritage Brunch.

Members aren’t the only ones up for rewards; Districts are also in the running. The District that adds the most new Members and the District with the largest percentage of new Members will each have their Governor and a partner seated at the head table during the President’s Banquet.

Spring 2021 • 31

Meet the New OIF Board Members

Q: What unique qualities or experience do you bring to the Board?

A: I recently retired from a 40-year career as a media specialist, where I was tasked with responsibilities and developed strengths that will allow me to serve successfully. Strategic planning, goal setting, and grant-writing were primary job functions, as well as budget development and the management of local, state, and federal funding. I maintained a strong leadership role with creativity and innovation, and I learned the value of working collaboratively. I recently completed an appointment with a local 501c3 Board of Directors and was able to experience, first-hand, the requirements for effective service. During my time as an Optimist member, I have had the opportunity to grow in leadership through my involvement at the Club, District, and International levels. Through my long-term service, I have gained knowledge and experience that will enhance the Board’s decisionmaking process. The ability to assess issues and developments based on understanding is essential.

Q: What drew you to the Foundation?

A: As an Optimist member for over 30 years, I learned the importance of the Foundation early on, as I progressed from Club Foundation Representative to District Foundation Representative in 2002-2003. In recent years, I have filled positions on the Women’s Philanthropy Council and the Childhood Health and Wellness Grant Committee. Through these levels of participation, I have been able to see firsthand the work that is accomplished and the role that the Foundation plays in our success as Optimists. The OIF is integral in all that we do, and the Foundation Board is critical in planning our direction to ensure the activities that we provide for the young people we serve can be delivered effectively and efficiently. I am excited to be able to contribute to the long-term success of our organization and offer my time, talents and dedication to make a difference.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about serving on the Board?

A: I’m excited to be able to use my skills and expertise as a retired professional and my knowledge as an Optimist to help guide and shape our organization. Innovation will take us into the future as we develop new ideas and solutions for the challenges we face. We must think strategically, but also creatively, to engage our members and keep them informed about the impact of the Foundation and the opportunities that are available. I feel fortunate to be a part of this process. I’m looking forward to working with the members and Clubs in our Districts to help them understand the role and function of the Foundation, so that together we can form stronger partnerships and encourage participation. It’s all about the relationships that we build and how we build them. There are so many heartwarming success stories out there, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with everyone!

Optimist International Foundation
32 • Optimist
Deanna Morrow

Q: What drew you to the Foundation?

A: One of the positions on the OIF Board of Trustees is reserved for a past Optimist International President, which is voted on by the past OI Presidents. With the past OI President completing his term in this role, the past Presidents asked me to serve based on my financial background and willingness to serve.

Q: What unique qualities or experience do you bring to the Board?

A: Professionally — 30 years as a CPA between Deloitte and Ernst & Young serving as tax consultant to large not-for-profit foundations, hospital systems, state and local governments, as well as high wealth individuals; setting up and maintaining foundations; working with the IRS as both a client advocate and on their advisory board.

Volunteer Board Service — 6 years on the Optimist International Board, 10 years on the OI Youth Programs Foundation Board; multiple terms on North Texas Optimist Executive Committee (4 years as District S/T after being OI President); 12 years on Executive Board for Boy Scouts Longhorn Council (3 years as Audit Chair); 5 years on National Advisory Committee of Boy Scouts; 12 years on Board of Young Texan/Texanne Foundation; and multiple church committees and roles.

Optimist — Served in every elected/appointed role at every level of the organization, including District Foundation Representative and currently serving as Club President again.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about serving on the Board?

A: Optimism is a constant state of change, and we can count on that continuing. Expansion into Japan and continual growth in Nepal shows an international hunger for Optimism. Continual efforts to work with Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions, as well as others, demonstrate a desire to collaborate and find best practices. An ever-expanding entrepreneurial spirit amongst North Americans shows that people not only want new ideas but are taking active steps in these areas. The Foundation must keep pace if not get into the lead in assisting the Optimist movement in these efforts.

The elected folks on the Foundation Board are some great people to work alongside. I’m looking forward to this term with this team.

Good luck to the newest members of the OIF Board of Directors!

Leadership Webinars

Save the dates for our leadership webinars! Webinars are held on the 3rd Monday of each month, beginning at 7 p.m., Central Standard Time. Email leadership@optimist.org for more information.

 May

PGI and PDP—What’s in It for Me?

How do you become a more knowledgeable, involved Optimist? The Personal Growth and Involvement and the Professional Development Programs are your answer. Learn the basics of each program, updates, changes, and how both are designed to promote Member engagement and provide opportunities to improve your leadership and professional skills.

 August

Growing Your Membership Retention through Improving Member Experience

Debra Merritt

Effective May 6, 2021

An exciting presentation that will teach you how to develop an exceptional and engaging membership experience. It will leave your members wanting more – more connection, more belonging, more community, and more Optimism. Do not miss this opportunity!

through September 30, 2023

Optimist International Foundation
Spring 2023 • 33



CCOF TOP THREE from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022


787 Ann Richer-Doyle 789 Guy Gibson 804 Tom McNaught (in memory) 805 Gail Dolson 806 Peter Smith 807 Chad Cooper 808 Susan Montgomery (in honour)
District Representative Average Contribution Per Member Pacific Northwest Peter Smith $51.46 Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan & North Wyoming Leslie Trevor $47.53 Central Ontario Barb and Gord Holly $18.16 Distinguished Representative(s) Central Ontario Barb & Gord Holly $16,029.90 Eastern Ontario Sylvie and Sylvain Couturier $15,451.50 Distinguished and Outstanding Pacific Northwest Peter Smith $5,352.00 Quebec East North Shore Louise Vezina Paquet $9,352.00 District Representative Total Contributions Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan Leslie Trevor $34,034.25 & Northern Wyoming Southwestern Ontario Michael Barichello $21,860.00 Central Ontario Barb and Gord Holly $16,029.90
34 • Optimist



OIF TOP TEN as of January 31,2023

District Representative Average Contribution Per Member Ohio Jennifer Kendo $51.14 Kentucky - West Virginia Ellen Thompson $34.84 Alabama - Mississippi Janet N. Smith $11.11 Arizona Sandy Williams $9.29 Kansas Jim Morris $7.96 Southern Wisconsin Lindsay Hyland $6.94 South Carolina Adrian Lewis $6.85 Capital - Virginia Barbara Grizzard $6.44 New Mexico - West Texas Sallie Rizzo $6.19 South Texas Nancy Mason $5.85 District Representative Total Contributions Ohio Jennifer Kendo $106,225.50 Kentucky – West Virginia Ellen Thompson $17,037.76 Alabama - Mississippi Janet N. Smith $11,360.50 Michigan Pamela Barckholtz $10,071.70 Southern Wisconsin Lindsay Hyland $9,800.85 Dakotas - Manitoba - Minnesota Susan Fix $7,207.93 Kansas Jim Morris $6,990.02 Iowa Mark Feilmann $5,534.00 South Texas Nancy Mason $5,277.00 West Missouri Sandi Cox $4,912.61 771 Ernie Dyer 772 Cameka Campbell-Green 773 Chuck Iverson 774 Debra S. Merritt 775 Pat Rabaut Konrad 776 William A. Konrad 777 Errol Green 779 Kirk A. Dale (In Memory) 780 Harold E. Diekman (In Memory) 781 Donald Wildenhaus (In Memory) 782 Chris McAlpine 783 Craig Dring 784 Brian Hakanson 785 Michael Sabin (In Memory) 786 Jan Vomacka 788 Fatima N. Plater 790 Susie B. Hinton 791 Dianne S. Mallard 792 Ray Spitz 793 John Goyette 794 Rebecca L. Harrell 795 Eddy Mansour 796 Debe Dockins 797 Robert Glavin 798 Greg Wasmund 799 Mary Milroy 800 M Joyce Bakersmith 801 Robert L. Baker, Sr. (In Honor) 802 Robert L. Baker, Sr. (In Honor) 803 Vernon L. Price 810 Judy Eastman-Ball Spring 2023 • 35


This is a record of lifetime accumulation levels achieved from June 1, 2021 – January 31, 2023, for individuals and Clubs.

Copper Benefactor - $100,000


William and Kelly Stone

Golden Benefactor - $50,000


Optimist Club of Tucson-Pueblo, AZ


Robert and Alice Kuzniak


Optimist Club of Bristol, TN-VA


Optimist Club of Odessa, TX

Silver Benefactor - $25,000


Optimist Club of Huntsville, AL


Optimist Club of Washington-National Capitol, DC


Optimist Club of Yankton-Morning, SD


Charles and Judy Wiles

Optimist Club of Festus-Crystal City (TCA), MO


Optimist Club of Derby, KS


Harry J. Margo

Marc D. Katz


John C. Johnson


Don L. Arnwine


William and Shizuko Able

Optimist Club of Kettering-Dor-Wood, OH


Edward and Carol Murphy


Susan K. Kranz

Bronze Benefactor - $15,000


Nancy E. Boyd

Janet N. Smith


Kathleen F. Manchec


Chester and Barbara Grizzard


Optimist Club of Littleton-Breakfast, CO


Optimist Club of Eden Prairie, MN


Optimist Club of Highland, IL


Michael and Sherry Ramzy

Margaret V. Ingle


Optimist Club of Catlettsburg-Boyd, KY


Stephen A. Sucher


Optimist Club of Asheville, NC


Jennifer and Thomas Kendo


Optimist Club of Reno, NV


Joanne F. Ganske

Eminent Benefactor - $10,000


Thomas J. Casteel

Debra S. Merritt

John L. Varnado


Guy and Susan Templin


Terry and Jeri Gorman

Optimist Club of Sioux Falls-Sioux Valley, SD


Deanna S. Morrow

Optimist Club of Warner Robins-Noon, GA


Optimist Club of Moline-Breakfast, IL


Charles Curry

Kishor M. Kulkarni


Jim and Judy Boyd

North Scott Optimist Club, IA Urbandale Optimist Club, IA


Patricia Rabaut-Konrad

Robert Schiller

Brighton Optimist Club, MI

Royal Oak Optimist Club of Michigan


Robert and Judith Kluge

Linda A. Wheeler


Golden Circle Optimist Club of Wilson, NC


Susie B. Hinton


Sauk Trails Optimist Club of Madison, WI Optimist Club of Madison, WI

Distinguished Benefactor - $5,000


Jon P. Ryan

Optimist Club of Huntsville-Evening, AL


Imogene J. Toepper


H. N. Prillaman

Optimist Club of the North Perimeter, GA


Paul H. Hellrich


Cynthia L. Barber

Randal D. Keep

Optimist Club of Ankeny, IA


David E. Bruns


Donald S. Munter

Breakfast Optimist Club of Mason, MI

Roseville Optimist Club, MI

Optimist Club of Flint-West, MI

Central Macomb Optimist Club, MI


Venus T. Sanford


Optimist Club of Southbridge, MA


Wayne Higgins


Optimist Club of San Carlos-Belmont, CA


Melissa Cohen


Optimist Club of Hollywood-Can-Am, FL


Atlan J. Eschberger

Optimist Club of Greater Copperas Cove Area, TX


CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls

Wisconsin Heights Optimist Club, WI


Charles H. Jerman


Brian Hakanson

Honored Benefactor - $2,500


Sherrie A. Cook

Vera W. Hendrix

Gloria F. Vail

Crichton Optimist Club Inc., AL

Optimist Club of Selma, AL


James B. Rehm


Anne M. McBride

Nova Sipe


William S. Glover


Sally A. Damm Norby

Donald R. Stover

Optimist Club of New Ulm, MN

Optimist Club of Roseville Area, MN

Optimist Club of Brandon Valley, SD


Terry Wright


Julia A. Robison

Optimist Club of Chesterfield, IN


Dave and Rita Roberts

36 • Optimist



Dale E. Fox

Gary L. Slimmer

E. Dennis Young


Pamela R. Barckholtz

Molly S. Eklund-Easley

Monetta I. Foster

Cherryl R. Thames

The Loving Community Optimist Club of Detroit, MI


Michael E. Damiano


John and Linda Shepherd


Ralph H. Dougherty

William C. Jernigan


Henry and Dondy Buckley

John Crow

Coastal Optimist Club of Wakulla Inc., FL


Debbie Walsh

Bellbrook-Sugar Creek Optimist Club, OH


John Collins

Richard I. Jones


Optimist Club of Fort Mill Community, SC


Jym D. Chenault

Judy R. Karonika


Carl Trapp


Sandi A. Cox

Renee J. Kerckhoff

Ernest H. VanHooser

Debra Wray

Optimist Club of Osceola, MO

Benefactor - $1,000


Patricia Hanshaw

Michael A. Holt

Ann F. Johnson

Olivia Johnson

Cedie B. Kendall

Henry M. Long

Ester A. Stubbs

Kathy S. White

Metropolitan Optimist Club of Tuscaloosa County, AL


John Huotari


Donald L. Hickman


Diana E. Drummey


Susan S. Davis

Patrice Steininger


Patricka Wiggan Chambers

Cameka Campbell-Green

Errol Green

Lelieth Hamilton

Lorna Moseley-Grant

Patrick Prendergast

The Pride of Barbados Optimist Club, Barbados

Optimist Club of Barbican Pines, Jamaica

Optimist Club of Old Harbour, JA

Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea, Jamaica

Sunshine Optimist Club, Barbados


Carol and Larry Brown

Michael G. Brunschwig


Greg J. Honl

Linnea Solem


Liz Christman


Hal Bell

Christine L. Buss

Gwen L. Gable

Rebecca L. Harrell

C. Albert Still


Cindy S. Hawkins


Rebecca C. Mahoney


Merrill W. Smith

Optimist Club of Terre Haute, IN


Richard L. May

Lee R. Nelson

Cathy D. Schlickman

Riverside Optimist Club, IA


Richard N. McCormick

Bruce Quantic

Clyde L. Kensinger


Kurt Gassen

Laquita G. Jones


Mary H. Harris

Robin T. Myers


William A. Konrad

Richard G. Russell

Optimist Club of Farmington Hills-Breakfast, MI


George Eckert

Ron L. Rosberg


Robbie Clark

Devon Stokhof de Jong


Keith Moore

Peter M. Stutz

Optimist Club of New York Mills, NY


Raymond Spitz

Albert Young


Gardner M. Bridges

Carolina Cardinals Optimist Club, NC

Past Governors & District Secretary-Treasurers



Perry H. Albritton

Jo Ann Daniels

Melanie Gluck

Emily A. Hope

Karen I. Neidig

Rena D. Wood


Julian H. Morgan

Stephanie S. Sullivan


Cherie A. Gentry

James W. Williams

Optimist Club of Springboro, OH


Dennis L. Moe


Timothy Reardon

Sophia D. Scherman

Optimist Club of Rancho Murieta, CA

Rocklin Optimist Club, CA


Michael T. Gray


Wanda Jefferson

Vernon Price

Carolyn B. Sievers


Daniel E. Grice

Bonnie J. Sherbert

Mike M. Sherbert

The Childhood Cancer Optimist Club, SC

Palmetto Optimist Club, SC


Russell Leday

Joe L. Smith


Robert A. Reffue


Judy Eastman-Ball

Theresa Evans

Judith C. Gudenkauf

Carl W. Kent

Peter Kerckhoff


Troy Dostal

Optimist Club of Appleton, WI

Spring 2023 • 37

J.C. Boone Jr.

Optimist International President 1995-1996

J.C. Boone Jr., who served Optimist International as President from 1995 to 1996, died November 5, 2022 at his home in Albemarle, North Carolina. He was 87.

Boone became an optimist, in the philosophical sense, only after studying one of the darkest times in human history. Stationed in post-war Germany while serving in the U.S. Army, he began researching Adolf Hitler’s rise to power for his doctoral dissertation, interviewing several people close to the German despot, including Hitler’s younger sister, Paula Wolf.

In speaking with these people, Boone was struck that such a small group could commit such monumental evil.

“Adolf Hitler and six members of the [Nazi Party] brought the world to the brink of disaster,” he said in his 1995 speech to the Optimist International Convention in San Antonio, Texas. He wondered at the time if a small group could also change the world for the better.

When Boone returned to the United States in 1960, he presented his research to his local Optimist Club and was quickly wrangled into joining by a friend.

“Frankly, I joined the Optimist Club at that time to get him off my back,” Boone said in a 1995 interview. I had no intention of becoming an active and participating member of the club. But when I got into the club and started participating in some of the programs … I saw that the Optimists were very active in their local community. We kept our money in the local community and I really became attached to it.”

During his time as Optimist International President, Boone launched an initiative to expand club membership and traveled to the Philippines to oversee the chartering of the first club there. He established a relief effort for the Island of Montserrat after a series of devastating volcanic eruptions. And he established an archive to preserve the organization’s history.

In his outgoing speech at the 1996 convention in Las Vegas, Boone remarked, “As Optimists, let us all conclude that a hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world will be different, because I was important in the life of a child.”

Boone is survived by his wife, Ann, two children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

In Memoriam
38 • Optimist
J.C. Boone Jr., 1935-2022

Jerry David Henderson Optimist

International President 2001-2002

Jerry David Henderson, 79 of Springfield, Missouri passed away Monday, March 27, 2023, at Mercy Hospital with his daughter and wife by his side.

Born on September 19, 1943, in Champagne, Illinois, to David and Mary Jane Henderson, Jerry attended Marshfield Missouri High School (Class of 1961), Southwest Baptist University (1962-1964), served in the United States Army in (1965-1967), and came back to Missouri to earn a Master’s in Business Administration from Drury University.

Jerry often told the story that when he was stationed in the U.S. Army at Fort Eustis, Virginia, he was only there for 2 weeks when he asked for permission to go home and marry his sweetheart, Karen Lutgen. Permission was granted, and they were married on December 23, 1965. Jerry and Karen were married for 33 years until Karen passed away in 1998. Their daughter, Nichole, was born July 3, 1969.

Jerry met his second love, Kris Evans, while attending a District meeting of Optimist International. They were married in 2003 and enjoyed friends, events, and travels with their Optimist family. Jerry loved being a member of the Sunrise Optimist Club and was very active in the West Missouri Optimist District, serving as Governor from 1989-1990.

Jerry dedicated many years to the Optimist organization, serving as an Optimist International Vice-President, President-Elect, President, and Board Member. He traveled many extended weekends visiting various Districts in the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, especially the year he was President. It was a true honor for Jerry, who was an inspirational leader in his quiet, exemplary and supportive way, always having the individual Members’ best interests in mind. When he spoke at many events, he always addressed himself as “just a country boy from the Ozarks.”

Read Jerry Henderson’s full obituary here.

In Memoriam
Jerry David Henderson, 1943-2023
Spring 2023 • 39


A look at more than 100 years of Optimist International memories

Actor Neil Patrick Harris, famous for roles in sitcoms Doogie Howser, M.D., and How I Met Your Mother, won the New Mexico-West Texas District’s Oratorical Contest in 1986 with this fictional, third-person story.

"Oh, great! another optimism speech. I hate optimism ... It's so happy and energetic. At least I don't HAVE to give one." Those words came out of the mouth of Scott Jenson. Scott was a 13- year-old pessimist. Well, he wasn't really a pessimist; he just definitely wasn't an optimist. His appearance was okay, but the main thing that made him a pessimist was his attitude. He was always bored. He looked down on things ... he even looked down on life.

The student who was speaking sat down, and Scott's teacher, Mr. Maddox, got up, grabbed a piece of chalk, went up to the blackboard, and drew a square with a cross in it. Scott shook his head and put it down on the desk, thinking, "Now, what does THAT have to do with optimism?"

The Optimist magazine cover, April 1992

Mr. Maddox turned and said, "I know what you're thinking. What does this have to do with optimism? Well, this window represents optimism. You can open a window and have a gateway to a happier life. If you are in a room that’s dismal and lonely, you can sit and feel sorry for yourself, OR, you can go to a window and open it, lean your head out, and smell the fresh air. You can look in the distance and see a rainbow.”

Next, Mr. Maddox drew a squiggly line, and said, “This isn’t just a squiggly line. It’s a worm. And it isn’t just ANY worm, it’s a caterpillar. A caterpillar is one of the most optimistic creatures I can think of. He believes in himself and he believes in the future. He knows he’s more than just a funny-looking worm and that someday he’ll become a beautiful butterfly. That’s optimism. Think about that!”

The bell rang, and all the kids trampled out of class, except Scott. He was sitting in his chair, deep in thought. His posture had improved a little, and he was smiling. There was a glisten in his eye that gave him a happy look.

That afternoon Scott went home and into his room. Let me tell you … his room was the room of a pessimist. However, on this day he cleaned it up, made his bed, took a shower and then sat down and began drawing on pieces of paper. At bedtime Scott’s parents looked in and said, “What are those crazy pictures you’ve hung on the wall?”

Scott smiled and said, “This is a window, and this is a worm.”

Throughout the next week, Scott’s classmates gave their speeches. On Friday Mr. Maddox stood up to announce the winners, but before anybody got an award, Scott raised his hand and said, “Mr. Maddox, may I give an optimism speech?”

Mr. Maddox looked astonished. He held out his hand, and Scott walked to the front of the room.

“You know, for the last five years or so, I’ve had a bad outlook on life. I’d get on the school bus and everyone seemed to be picking on me and disliking me. When I got to school, the students and teachers seemed to be avoiding me. The trees were glaring at me and the grass didn’t look green. I always wished I could change things, but I never quite knew how. After Mr. Maddox spoke to us, I decided to give optimism a try, and hey! It worked! I felt better, and so I decided to continue trying. Over the past week things have begun to change. No one is really avoiding me. The trees are welcoming me, and the grass is growing greener on my side of the fence. I just want to know that I’m trying and I need a few friends. Thank you.”

Mr. Maddox smiled the biggest smile he had smiled in a long time. And no, Scott didn’t win an award for his speech, but he won something much more important: an optimistic attitude that changed his whole life. And maybe, just maybe, it could change yours too!

40 • Optimist

Submitting to Optimist Magazine

What is Optimist Magazine?

Optimist International’s quarterly magazine, Optimist, is published in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. The magazine’s mission is to shine a light on the great work the organization’s Clubs and Members are doing in communities around the world and to share a message of Optimism with Members and non-members alike.

Making headlines in Optimist Magazine submissions are a terrific way to share your innovative Club service projects and fundraising ideas with other Optimists. Give your Club a pat on the back while inspiring others to better serve their communities.

What Optimist is looking for

Send us news and photos of unique Club fundraisers and service projects that have made a difference in your community.

How to submit an article

All submissions should include the basics of any news story: who, what, when, where, why and how. In addition, always include the name, phone number and email address of an individual the magazine can contact for more information.


Photographs can make or break a story. If we receive a story with good photos, we’re much more apt to run it. But small or poorly scanned photos don’t print well, so please submit high-resolution digital photos at least 2400 pixels long on the shortest side. That’s roughly a 7-megapixel image, which almost any digital camera or smartphone made in the last 5 years can take. Just make sure you share the original file, not a thumbnail or screenshot.

You may email digital photos as attachments or mail a CD or flash drive containing your images to the appropriate address below. The Optimist also accepts digital scans of film photos, but please don’t send prints. With all photos, please write a short caption (1-3 sentences) telling us what the image shows, explaining when and where it was taken, and naming any identifiable person in the image. Captions can be included in the body of an email or as a text file on a CD or flash drive.

Finally, be sure to tell us the photographer’s name and make sure to obtain the photographer’s permission to share it with us.

Finally, please be patient

With almost 2,500 Clubs around the globe, Optimist receives many excellent submissions that do not make the magazine. Please don't be discouraged if your submission is not published right away. Keep sending your stories and photos!

Send your submission to: Optimist International Editorial Office, J. Ryne Danielson 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 800-500-8130, ext. 206 magazine@optimist.org
President Bob McFadyen would like you to share the benefits of being an Optimist with everyone you meet by handing them a Member benefits card. Download the print-ready PDF from Optimist.org and send it to a printer of your choice. Member Benefits Card Optimist International 4494 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63108 (314) 371-6000 • (800) 500-8130 • Fax: (314) 371-6006 headquarters@optimist.org
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