Optimist Magazine Summer 2020

Page 1

Summer 2020

Pandemic Distance Brings Online Connection

Plus, Convention re-Imagined!

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MISSION STATEMENT By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in youth, our communities and ourselves. VISION STATEMENT Optimist International will be recognized worldwide as the first volunteer organization that values ​​all children and helps them develop to their full potential. PURPOSES OF OPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL 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 self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world. THE OPTIMIST CREED Promise YourselfTo 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.


Summer 2020 | Vol. 100, No. 3


The Optimist DNA, by President Adrian Elcock


Optimism Ahead


Coping During a Crisis


Clubs take on COVID-19


Convention re-Imagined from the Ground Up


Club of the Year: Breakfast Optimist Club of East Fort Worth


Tech Tips: Starting a Club Facebook Page


Membership Activity Strengthened During Pandemic


Finding the Right Tech Tools for Your Message


Optimism on the (Internet) Airwaves


Election Winners


Junior Optimist International


Optimist Junior Golf


Club News


Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation


Optimist International Foundation


Rewind: Close Connections


The Official Publication of Optimist International Managing Editor Benny Ellerbe Editor Rachel Webb Designer Jason Cook Editorial Office 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 Office (314) 371-6000 Fax (314) 371-6006 Email magazine@optimist.org Generous support from the Optimist International Foundation made this publication possible. 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 and Europe. Periodicals posted at St. Louis, Missouri, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER:

Send address changes to The Optimist, 4494 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108. © Copyright 2020.

Spring 2020 • 1

President's Message

During these unprecedented times, we have seen technology unleashed at a ferocious pace to support many aspects of our lives. We have seen scientists band together working collaboratively to develop vaccines in record time. We have seen minds previously shackled to accepting new ideas, unshackled, with an intense desire to learn new technologies, concepts and ideas. We have seen the kindness of human spirit manifest as strangers help strangers to survive. We have seen the vicissitudes of life open the eyes of those who never paid keen attention to the needs of others. If I were to ask why, Optimists will simply say “It is harder to survive on your own!”

The Optimist DNA


ome of the world’s greatest achievements were borne out of adversity. Time and time again, as our world faced crisis after crisis, it always seems to emerge stronger and more prepared for the next crisis. Why? Because our world is made up of people. Living organisms who are designed to achieve and to find solutions to challenges they face. People like you and I, who are born Optimists and whose natural instincts include survival! This was apparent in the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 to 1920, when we saw our founding Optimist fathers gather together to devise a plan to instill hope and a more positive outlook, and it was during this time that Optimist International came to life. The story has been the same at each major episode of world instability including world wars, disease outbreaks, the events of 9/11, and economic disasters. Optimists have weathered the storms and devised new modalities for success!

Optimists around the world have taken the lead in many communities to be their brother’s keeper. Efficiently and effectively responding to the myriad challenges that continue to emerge during this pandemic that has touched every single one of our lives directly or indirectly. We have responded because we do not know how not to respond. It is the Optimist DNA that is the strongest technology that has ever been created, fully embedded in our hard drives called brains. It is this Optimist DNA that is making us stronger and better and kinder. We understood from before the pandemic that our global lives are intertwined and our destinies are linked to another. At Optimist International, we have tried our best over the last few months to give you the tools and training and support that would allow you to function at your best. To give you the software upgrades that make you better Optimists and even kinder people. That is, how we are excelling at bringing out the best in our youth, our communities, and ourselves. As we try to cope within this new normal of life, always remember that to thrive or succeed in our lives, you will need someone next to you, supporting you, encouraging you, holding you! As your International President, I pledge to all of our members that Optimist International will have its hand outstretched to hold you lest you fall! Stay Connected! Stay Safe! Stay focused on iMagining a brighter tomorrow!

Fast forward to 2020, a time when many of us expected to tackle the new decade with unbridled enthusiasm, but alas, we were waylaid by an organism that has made the mightiest among us weak. COVID-19 has claimed more lives in a shorter timespan than many wars; however, despite the manner in which it has ADRIAN ELCOCK International President 2019-20 invaded and disrupted our lives, human ingenuity will and has prevailed. 2 • Optimist

Optimism Ahead A look at what’s coming up for Optimist International


Thanksgiving 12 Canadian Day sponsored 16 World the Food by United Nations, a

mancipation Day, 01 EBarbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago

great day to schedule an anti-hunger project.

ndependence Day 06 IJamaica Heritage Month 15 Hispanic September 15 – October 15

19 22 Fall Equinox 28 Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah

nited Nations’ International 12 UYouth Day, highlighting youth engagement at the local, national and global levels



NOVEMBER Day 11 Veterans’ Remembrance Day

Golf 14 Optimist International Tournament of Champions

PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, FL November 14-15

07 Labor Day

26 U.S. Thanksgiving Day 01 Optimist withFlag Work your city, town

or other organization to fly the Optimist flag for the day. Order your flag from Ansell’s or Shumsky!

nternational Literacy Day 08 IThis is a great day to perform a literacy project in your community.

of the 01 First day year! Optimist

New officers start their positions.

Independence Day 30 Barbados

Summer 2020 • 3

News & Views

Coping during a crisis Who knew that canceling everything would be so difficult? During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have reported stress, burnout and anxiety. Many people are either working from home or finding themselves out of work, educating children and being isolated from family and friends. It’s a lot to deal with, on top of anxiety regarding the illness itself. Because the pandemic is so new, most evidence is based on anecdotes, although, the Canadian Mental Health Association reports that nearly half of those surveyed reported anxiety, and the percentage feeling isolated jumped from 39 percent to 47 percent from March to April. This collection of resources can help you deal with crisis and anxiety, whether it’s a pandemic that affects the whole world, or an emergency in your household. Dawn Huebner: A psychologist offering resources for parents and others who work with children during times of stress. Her website includes a 7-part video series, “When Worry Takes Over: Tips and Techniques for Parents and Kids,” as well as the book “Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with Events in the News.” www.dawnhuebnerphd.com Insight Timer: Whether you have 2 minutes or 20, you need to relax or wake up, Insight Timer offers 45,000 guided meditations and courses. App available for iPhone and Android. Canadian Crisis Services: Offers suicide prevention and support through talk, text and online chat, plus links to support organizations and other help. Help is available constantly, 24 hours a day, every day. Visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/, 4 • Optimist

call 833-456-4566 24 hours per day. Text “start” to 45645 from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Eastern time. U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Provides free support to those facing a suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, every day, while helping also connecting callers with local resources and services. Visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org, or call 800-273-TALK. Building Psychological Strength Podcast: April Seifert, Ph.D., of Peak Mind Psychology, provides a weekly dose of mental and emotional well-being. Whether you’re seeking help with anxiety, motivation or even professional improvement, this podcast offers it all. Visit www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog NOTE: The above resources are not meant to substitute professional medical advice.

News & Views

Study considers link between blame and happiness Someone cuts in front of us at the grocery store. The waiter serves the other table first, even though they sat down after you did. A text to a friend goes unacknowledged, and you know they’re not dead in a ditch somewhere because they liked your other friend’s Instagram. These situations can get the best of all of us at times. They may elicit an eyeroll and exasperated exhale. They may result in an explosion of choice words. Or maybe we’re just going to stew until anger turns into resentment. Should you give the other party the benefit of the doubt? It’s easy to say no, but a recent study found that giving people the benefit of the doubt is actually a benefit to ourselves. The direct relationship between happiness and a positive attitude toward others has been established, but scientists had not studied the how happy people process their reactions to negative events. A person who assumes that the other party had the worst intentions toward has a hostile attributional style. Scientists have known that people with hostile attributional styles feel less satisfied in personal relationships, but this new study suggests that they’re also less happy with their lives overall. The study included more than 700 participants in the U.S., Poland and Japan, led by a psychologist from Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw, Poland. The resulting paper was published in The Journal of Happiness Studies. Researchers asked participants to read about negative social scenarios and rate how much blame they placed on the other person and their own level of anger. They were also surveyed about their happiness. Respondents who most often saw others with harmless intent reported themselves to be the happiest, while those who only saw ill will were the least happy. Perhaps this result is predictable, but it also serves as a reminder that giving others the benefit of the doubt can be improved and practiced. Remember that the person at the grocery store may not have realized where the line started. The waiter may not have seen your table first, and the friend may be harried with work and family obligations. The study’s authors suggest cultivating positive social relationships, perhaps by volunteering or joining a new organization. And when your friend ignores your text, the best thing to do is just ask them what’s going on.

Summer 2020 • 5

When the world stopped for COVID-19, Optimists around the world went to work. They made masks, collected food and helped children learn at home. Each Club chose projects that would best serve their own communities. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, but we do know Optimists will be working.

Clubs take

on Covid The project carried a price tag of 650,000 Kenyan shillings, or about $6,000 US, which prompted the Club to approach a friend of the President who is a philanthropist. In turn, he contacted a few of his friends and they agreed to underwrite the majority of the cost of the project, Odhier says.

Kenyan Optimists form partnerships to provide masks and clean water. The Optimist Club of Kisumu, Kenya decided early during the crisis to focus on the less privileged in the city from the Nyalenda neighborhood, who were unable to afford protection products. Their goals were very ambitious; distribution of 1,000 masks and 1,000 sanitizers, creation of 20 fresh water stations and food for 200 families. “Many of these people were unable to leave their homes to collect food and other supplies because of curfews and government lockdowns,” said Kisumu Optimist President Barack Otieno Odhier. “It’s the reason the Club decided to work with the business community and the government on the project in Nyalenda.” 6 • Optimist

Club Members first went into the neighborhood to register people for distribution while the masks containing the Club logo were in production. There are also now water-distribution stations throughout the Nyalenda neighborhood and some of the money raised from the business community is going to be used for food distribution efforts to those affected by recent flooding in southwestern Kenya.

Twin City Area Optimist Club of Missouri kept students engaged by sponsoring daily art challenges on the website for the local newspaper the Jefferson County Leader. Challenges included blind drawing, homemade playdough, cardboard sculpting and plastic weaving. Participants were eligible to win a $20 gift card from a local business. Meanwhile, members of their JOI Club made face mask holders for hospital staff.

The Optimist Club of Spalding in Jamaica gathered supplies for the Spalding Police Department and exercised a new form of greeting since shaking hands was discouraged by health officials.

Daniel Boone Optimist Club of Pennsylvania had to cancel three major events this Spring, and redirected the funds it would have used for those projects to churches providing for citizens’ immediate needs. Four churches in the region received contributions of $1,000 each.

The Optimist Club of Falmouth in Jamaica distributed 25 care packages containing food and hygiene items to pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers.

Lafayette Breakfast Optimist Club of Indiana staged book readings. The club developed a slate of twice-weekly readings by members of the community and posted the video to the Club’s Youtube page. Selections ranged from classics like Green Eggs and Ham to recent hits like Rosie Revere Engineer.

Arnold-Imperial Optimist Club of Missouri donated 10 Chromebooks to local students who needed the devices for distance learning.

Summer 2020 • 7

Convention 2020

Convention re-iMagined

from the ground up by Rachel Webb

more than 500 participants who had never attended an Optimist International Convention. As Optimists, and everyone else, took to the internet for everything from work meetings to socially distant happy hours, members of the Convention Committee began to consider their options for taking Optimist International’s signature event online. Eventually, the idea that OI could host a virtual convention became a reality.

We truly lived out the tenets of our Creed especially number 1: To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.”
 -Elaine Creary


veryone was disappointed when the 101st Optimist International Convention in Chicagoland had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The convention has been an annual standby since 1919, always taking place no matter what was going on in the world. But this time, reservations were canceled, commemorative T-shirts were put away, and everyone at OI headquarters headed home to shelter in place. Then, the Convention Committee looked to the Optimist Creed: To look on the sunnyside of everything and make your Optimism come true. The result was the iMagine 2020 Virtual Convention, a historymaking event with more than 1,700 Optimists on the weekend of June 27-28. The event included

8 • Optimist

“When I chose iMagine as my theme for the year, I had envisioned transforming our traditional convention into a more engaging and immersive experience for our delegates,” said Optimist International President Adrian Elcock. “I had no idea that we would be totally re-iMagining the event from the ground up into the amazing virtual convention we delivered to our delegates. I’m so proud of everyone who came together to create this innovative event on such short notice.” At previous Conventions, OI has livestreamed main-stage activities, but the committee sought to provide something truly interactive. The result was an online conference platform that allowed users to watch speeches, ask questions, interact with each other and even buy Optimist swag in the Exhibit Hall. Most sessions

Convention 2020

President Adrian Elcock records his Virtual Convention Address in a studio in Barbados.

were recorded in advance and launched in the order they’d take place during an in-person presentation, while some sessions were live and interactive. Like an in-person convention, the event was not limited to business: numerous Districts organized sessions for online socializing, and OI held a virtual escape room game as a fundraiser for the 2021 convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Holding the event online also allowed many to dip their toes into a convention experience without the expense and commitment of traveling. The more than 500 first-timers who attended set a new record. Lorin Richter, president of the Lower Providence Optimist Club in Pennsylvania, has been an Optimist for three years, and didn’t know what to expect from the virtual convention. She has attended numerous professional conventions, and was curious to see how that translated to an online environment. “It surpassed my expectations,” she said. “You think, how good can this be? But it was excellent. For me, it was very easy. There was no travel, there was no tiredness from checking in and getting myself somewhere. I could really focus on what was going on.” Richter was impressed by the ease of using the online platform and enjoyed the mix of live and recorded segments. She so enjoyed the experience, she is already making plans for Atlanta. Elaine Creary, a longtime member of the Optimist Club of North St. Catherine, Jamaica who has served

in multiple leadership positions, said she was confident OI could pull off the virtual event, but that still left room for her to be impressed. “The presenters did very well with the limited time they had, and with good, quality content to match. Some of the notes from these workshops I was able to pass on to my Club Members within minutes,” Creary said. “We truly lived out the tenets of our Creed especially number 1: To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.”
 President-designate Mark Weinsoff has said he’d like to host a hybrid event combining the traditional inperson convention in Atlanta with a virtual component. The virtual event did contain traditional items, such as an address by the International President. Elcock had adopted the theme of iMagine for his year in the role, and adopted the goal of re-iMagining OI by reducing organizational costs, improving marketing and public engagement; revamping convention; improving leadership development and crafting a new sense of purpose for OI. “You, our Members, our people, who have tremendous capacity that must be at the forefront of all that we do if we’re going to be relevant in this second century of service to the world,” Elcock said. We are already starting to imagine the Atlanta convention. Visit www.optimist.org/convention, where you can book your hotel room now and find registration information in the coming months.

Summer Spring 2020 • 9

Convention 2020

Rachel Thomas

What kind of leader are you? Keynote speaker Rachel Thomas presented seven levels of leadership at virtual convention. See if you can spot your leadership style. Level One: The Victim Traits: Low self-esteem, feels trapped by circumstances with little passion for the job. Organizations with this level of leadership usually don’t last.

Jermaine Harris

Four-wheel-drive goal-setting Do you want to turn around your career, but wonder who would hire you? Do you want to get off the couch and run a marathon, but think you’re not in good enough shape? Maybe you want to finish that novel, but struggle with finding the time and discipline to keep writing? Jermaine Harris offered a technique to help us get working, get off the couch, get writing, or whatever else you want to accomplish. First, answer the 4 Ws: What do I want? Why do I want this? When do I want it by? What MUST I do to get it? Out of these four Ws, the most important is “why,” Harris says. If you know why you want something, you can determine whether the why is powerful enough to work for it. This is what will help keep you moving toward the goal. For example, someone might want to lose 5 pounds before their high school reunion, which is a short-term goal likely to be forgotten as soon as the event is over. If you change that to a long-term goal such as “So I can be the best version of myself humanly possible, remaining healthy vibrant and energetic every single day. Giving me more years with my children, grand-children and great grandchildren and inspiring them along the way,” you’re more likely to create lasting change. Write down your “whys” and review them three times a day. For more from Jermaine Harris, read his book The Rut Buster, and visit him at www.jermaineharris.com.

10 • Optimist

Level Two: The Fighter Traits: Angry and antagonistic, often seeing things in black and white. Creates dissatisfied employees, high-stress environments and authoritarian leadership. Level 3: The Rationalizer Traits: Takes responsibility for their actions and achieves goals. Creates environments that are calm and peaceful with an emphasis on short-term goals. Considers the needs of their employees. Level 4: The Caregiver Traits: Forms deep connections and exhibits compassion while fostering collaboration and loyalty. People in this position must be aware of healthy boundaries. Level 5: The Opportunist Traits: Finds purpose in all aspects of life. Inspiring and skilled at capitalizing on any opportunity. Invests in employees, focuses on retaining staff, and growth in sales, marketing and other areas, resulting in profitability. Level 6: The Visionary Traits: Creative genius and role model who listens to feedback and works to help others reach their full potential. Sees themselves as an equal to their staff and considers teamwork the key to success. Level 7: The Creator Traits: Thinks completely objectively, is non-judgmental at all times and fearless. No one is at this level all the time, however, anyone can learn how to tap into this energy with practice. Keynote addresses are available for viewing until Sept. 30. To get the full benefit, register to access them at www.optimist.org/convention.

Club of the Year Breakfast Optimist Club of East Fort Worth

The Club sponsors events such as the Girl Power "With Her I Stand" conference, with more than 100 girls and young women attending.


he Breakfast Optimist Club of East Fort Worth is a powerhouse of Optimist leadership, but it’s the Club’s local impact that earned it the honor of Optimist Club of the Year for 2019-20. “I’m extremely proud of the Club and the Members who do all the hard work,” said Club President Charles Hodges. “Every time we meet, every time we get together, every time we have calls, it’s constantly about what we can be doing and how we can be helping. Even though we’re out of our regular routines, people are still thinking with that service-oriented mindset. That’s the kind of the thing that every Club wants to have.” Of the Texas Club’s 76 members, three are Past International Presidents—Danny Rodgers, Don Arnwine and Ken Garner, plus Patsy Garner, who is PresidentElect. Numerous other Members have served at the District and International levels, Hodges said. These Optimist leaders are regular

members who roll up their sleeves and do the work with everyone else, however, they also offer important perspective when it comes to generating ideas that strengthen the Club.

one at a high school. The Club has benefited by recruiting educators to be Members and promoting JOI Clubs as a great way to foster leadership and community service among the students.

“What it brings to our Club is a greater vision of what’s possible,” Hodges said. “They’ve had an opportunity to interact with Clubs all over and they bring those ideas and those thoughts and enthusiasm back to us.”

For Clubs looking to build their membership and impact, Hodges recommends attending District meetings when possible, and communicating with other Optimist Clubs in the area.

The Club of the Year Honor is determined by the impact of community service projects, participation in Member development programs, Club growth and community awareness, and sponsorship of new adult Clubs or JOI Clubs. That last one is something important to the Club, Hodges said. The Breakfast Optimist Club of East Fort Worth began sponsoring JOI Clubs several years ago, with three at the elementary level and

“It really makes you a stronger Club to find out how people are doing it and and learn from their mistakes and their successes,” Hodges says.

Members of the East Handley JOI Club collected nearly 1,000 pairs of socks for their annual donation drive.

Summer 2020 • 11

New Programs President Adrian Elcock introduced two new programs at the Virtual Convention designed to bring new Members into Optimism and raise the profile of Optimist International. Membership at Large


The Optimist International Board of Directors approved the new Membership at Large category at its June meeting. This classification allows those who are interested in Optimism to serve as Optimist Members if they don’t have the ability to commit to a Club, or if they don’t have a Club in their area. This change came about because of frequent contacts reaching out to OI headquarters on social media wanting to join but having few options to participate. This does not replace the Friend of Optimist membership category.

This initiative will serve as a way to grow Optimist International membership while providing a new non-dues revenue stream for OI. Optiforum will seek to bring thought leaders in various fields into Optimist International who could then share their expertise with communities served by Optimist Clubs. This would create a dialogue between Optimists and their communities as well as serve as a revenue stream through fees to attend events.

“If we have that person, who is interested in our organization, who wants to support us and wants access to information that we have that will bring their full Optimism to the fore front of their being, then membership at large is an option for them,” Elcock said.

12 • Optimist

The ultimate goal is to show communities how Optimists respond to challenges and find solutions to problems faced in the world today. These thought leaders could include members of the business world, community development and other fields. “We can get the best resources, thought leaders, people who do this every day who can work with us, and show us, and share with us how we can do things better,” Elcock said. “These thoughts and discussions will lead to ideas. These ideas will lead to projects and programs, and projects and programs by Optimists carrying out positive action will lead to stronger communities.”

Tech Tips

Starting a Club Facebook Page: Yes, you should. Here’s how. By Jennifer Bagwell


ocial media has been around for a long time, but we know there are still folks out there who don’t know how they can use it to promote their Optimist Club. Why should you use social media? Because that’s often where people search for volunteer opportunities or social events in their communities. You want to make sure your Optimist Club is front and center with information for them to find. There are dozens of social media channels available, but Facebook remains the biggest in the U.S. and Canada. If your Club does not have a Facebook page, you can start one in just a few clicks. From your own Facebook account, go to facebook.com/pages/create, follow the prompts and fill out the required information. 1. Make sure your page is named after the Club, so you will be searchable. You will then need to upload some images to your page. Your Club’s logo makes a good profile picture. You can access your Club’s logo from the logo section of the Optimist.org website, or you can use one of the general Optimist International logos. 2. Now that your page is set up, invite people to like it. Start with people on your friends and family list, and encourage Club Members to like, share, and invite others to like the page as well. 3. Now to the good stuff: Your Club does so much for others and the community, so now it’s time to share it! Post about your Club’s upcoming events, share photos from projects and share posts from Optimist International. 4. Posts with images, photos, graphics, and video are great when trying to communicate and engage others, and are more likely to attract an audience.

5. People in the community will see your Club’s efforts and seek to learn about your Club. Local news, government, businesses, and other organizations may also see your Club’s posts and might offer additional resources and help for your Club. The outreach, networking, and resources your page can offer will be a huge boost to your Club. 6. Keep the information and content on the page updated. If your Club is doing a lot, then you should have no shortage of great content posts. Post at least once a week. If your page looks inactive, people might assume your Club is inactive.

A few extras to help your outreach efforts: • Make sure to create a username for your page. This creates a URL that is easy to search and easy for others to tag. On the left bar under your profile pic, you should see @username. If you do not see this you can also find it under the page’s About section. Click on this, and type in the name you would like for your Club’s page. Anything that is a version of your Club’s name is good. • In the About section make sure to add a location, contact info, and a description of your Club. The description will provide keywords needed for when people are searching on Facebook. • Last, remember you are acting as a Facebook page for your Club, not as you. The page is not your page for your own opinions or use. Keep the content on your page related to Optimist International, your Club, community, and members. Your page is your Club’s link to thousands of people in your community and billions more in the world. Using it wisely can take your Club to new heights. Summer 2020 • 13

Membership activity strengthened during pandemic by Jim Boyd Director of New Club Building for Optimist International

14 • Optimist


majority of Optimists Clubs became stronger during the global pandemic, creating an unexpected benefit from the unprecedented event. The directive was released on March 13 that all District conferences and meetings should be canceled through April 30. The nature of the pandemic prompted most Optimists members to carry the directive into May. Traditional projects had to be shelved or postponed. Fundraising events also fell by the wayside as members scrambled to react to the ever-changing world around them. The weekly, bimonthly or monthly Optimist Club meeting quickly became jeopardized as government officials began recommending and then restricting group gatherings as a means to flatten the COVID-19 curve. Despite all of this, Clubs found their membership strengthening. Our Creed calls on us to “look at the sunny side of everything.” Optimists throughout our

organization began to first explore and then utilize means to stay connected with each other and most found the answer in a four-letter word. Zoom. The explosion of video-conferencing enabled our members to stay in touch with each other and, as it turns out, more frequently than before the pandemic. Members came together just to see each other, to find out how they were handling orders for shelterin place, social distancing and other restrictions that were unheard of in January and February of this year. Anecdotal evidence alone supports the assertion that membership engagement has increased. “Our Club meeting attendance is higher now than before this all started,” said one Club president. “Six weeks ago I hadn’t even heard of Zoom. Now, I’m on it every day with other Optimists,” said one member. The need for the video technology prompted a series of webinars providing our members with the basics to connect with others. It also laid the foundation for future use by providing an electronic platform for our Clubs to market to non-Optimists in their community and around the world. It quickly is becoming another tool in the membership recruitment and retention toolbox. The pandemic also made evident why Clubs have been encouraged to use social media for engagement and recruitment. The opportunity to engage the non-Optimist public in their activities such as online trivia contests and to provide guidance about the benefits of membership via social media can and should make our Clubs stronger. Optimists need to drive home the message that membership affords people access to professional and personal development, networking occasions, an avenue to give back to the community and regular contact with like-minded people. Many Clubs should be able to maintain and increase their membership in a post pandemic world by keeping these membership benefits front and center whether meeting someone for coffee or within the next post on social media. The strength of the local Optimist Club lies in its members and it has been during these trying times that many members and Clubs have risen to the challenge. Optimist Clubs around the world have found a way to bring us closer together despite the lack of public gatherings. Utilizing the new tools in toolbox while remembering to use what’s already in it should position our Clubs well for the months and years to come. Summer 2020 • 15

Find the right tech tools for your message by Bonnie Jean Sherbert

My husband is a very handy person. If it is broken, he will either know how to fix it or he will learn how to fix it. Sometimes, if no one else is available, I get to assist him. He will ask me for tools by name and I will usually hand him the wrong one. Him: “I need the “some guy’s name” screw driver. Me: “Oh, the criss-crossy screwdriver?” I have funny names for all of my husband’s tools, which cover carpentry, plumbing and car repair. He knows how to use all of them. We need to be just as handy with our technology tools. Consider the audience when selecting the technology. Advancements have allowed us to eliminate time and distance as obstacles, especially in times of social distancing. So what are the best tools? Let’s explore: 1. W hen the topic is sensitive or the ability to make progress is key: Face-to-face and telephone communication are best so you can rely on facial cues or tone for feedback. Despite all the great advances in communication, sometimes a personal touch is needed.

16 • Optimist

2. When you need to collaborate and brainstorm: Video calls are great when you can get everyone together at once. If you can’t, try Facebook groups, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or any number of the collaboration tools available. These tools allow you to chat on several topics and are great for committee meetings.

3. W hen you need to reach many people at once but not for a public message:

• Use email or text, depending on the length of the message. Free services such as Mail Chimp can send bulk emails for important messages. Services such as Remind.com or Group Me are available to send group texts or messages.

• Use Social Media Groups. You can create a Facebook group, for example, that is private only to your members. • You may also use chat platforms such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp – Just remember that on these platforms, many people do not want the constant chatter from the replies that may ensue.

4. W hen you want to reach the public: Use social media. Your Club should have a public-facing Facebook Page. (A Facebook page and a Facebook group are not the same. Jennifer Bagwell, Optimist International’s social media coordinator, will tell you how to make one on page 13) 5. W hen you need to capture decisions: Google Keep, Evernote, OneNote, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Drop Box are just a few tools to create documentation that several people need to access.

You don’t build a house with only a hammer. There are a multitude of criss-crossy screw drivers and twisty-turny things that are also used. (Possibly even a thingamabobber). Likewise, we have to use multiple tools in the box to get the job done. On average, only 30 percent of people read the emails sent to them. Does that make it a bad tool? No! It reaches the 30 percent that may not get it any other way. So, to reach 100 percent, or close to it, we need to use the other tools available: text, social media, collaboration tools, the telephone and even snail mail. You may think this is a lot of work. You are correct! However, there is no such thing as too much communication. Those who receive your message on one platform may not receive it on another and as long as your message is clear, consistent and understood, it will be worth the effort. So as you strive to improve the communication to your Club, remember that you, as the builder, have a lot of tools in your tool box, you may need to use more than one to get the job done, and getting the job done is all up to you. So dig out your sharp cutter things, your twisty-turners, your unwinding ruler, or borrow Allen’s bent metal sticks if you need them and start building the communication you need to get the job done.

Bonnie Jean Sherbert is the governor of the South Carolina District and a member of the Palmetto Optimist Club.

Summer 2020 • 17

Spreading Optimism

on the (Internet) Airwaves School radio proves a valuable tool for students, Optimists and others by Rachel Webb

“It’s something where any student can come in and become a professional, because not only does Mr. Dudas do an amazing job at teaching us, but he does such amazing job that students become the teachers,” Courtney says. "I’ve taught so many freshmen coming in to the studio that I think I could do it with my eyes closed. It’s so scary when you first think about it, but once you get into it, it’s super fun.”

Carol Hodges and Mike Dudas broadcast live from the 2019 Optimist International Convention in Louisville.


saiah Courtney went to the right high school for someone interested in a media career.

As a ninth-grader at Ball High School in Galveston, Texas, he was impressed when teacher and Optimist Mike Dudas showed him around the school’s new radio studio. He started hanging out after school and watching the other students work. Now, he’s a regular fixture at the station both on and off the microphone.

18 • Optimist

Dudas had his eye on the glasswalled room at the school in south Texas for a while. It was in a suite of classrooms behind a computer lab, and had probably been a teacher’s office at one point. It’s now the home of K-TOR, the school’s online radio station that offers opportunities for both Optimists and students alike. “I thought it would be a neat radio studio, and just kind of parked that in my memory,” Dudas says. A few years later, while touring a school elsewhere, he noticed they had an online radio station. He decided to put his parked idea into gear, and sought funding from his school district’s educational foundation for equipment. His students started working at a community radio station to produce a one-hour weekly show.

Then the studio manager suggested Dudas and his students were ready to operate a full-time radio station. K-TOR has been fully operational for three years, with programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The online station provides students with real-world skills, going beyond covering school pep rallies to covering the Galveston community. The station established relationships by giving airtime to organizations like the local chamber of commerce and the United Way. That’s when Dudas got the idea to combine his school project with his involvement in the Optimist Club. He asked Carol Hodges, a fellow member of the Galveston-Noon Optimist Club if she would be interested in a 30-minute weekly show that would promote the Club. Hodges had never hosted a radio show, but she agreed. “He knew I wouldn’t say no,” she says with a laugh. Dudas confirms that’s exactly why he asked her, although he’s less modest about her abilities. “Carol’s fearless,” he says. “I needed someone who wouldn’t be intimidated working with kids, and Carol’s the champion for everything good about Optimism. She’s always open to new and creative ideas.” The Optimist show features topics such as Club projects and events, as well as discussion related to the philosophy of Optimism, such as being a good citizen and fostering kindness, which is a priority for the school as well. They’ve also done live broadcasts from Optimist events off-site.

Audio formats open a world of possibility for those looking to spread a message, whether it’s over the airwaves or on the Internet. About 93 percent of Americans maintain traditional broadcast radio as a staple of their weekly media diet, according to Nielsen, a U.S.-based media research company. That’s higher than the reach of any other single device, such as televisions, tablets or smartphones. Broadcast radio also remains a vital means of communication in remote regions that don’t have strong Internet service. Meanwhile, Internet-based radio services are also growing, with 67 percent of American adults listening to online radio each week, according the Pew Research Center. That is separate from podcasting, radioformat shows that listeners can download on their own schedule. About 30 million Americans do that each month, Nielsen found.

Isaiah Courtney was a frequent face at K-TOR while he was a student at Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. He is planning for a media career after serving in the military and attending the University of Texas at Austin.

With audio content being popular, K-TOR offers the students who staff it valuable experience that could help their careers. Courtney, a recent graduate, plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin following service in the U.S. National Guard. He then

There are great opportunities for Clubs looking to reach out,” Hodges says.

For Dudas, an Internet-based station, was the way to go. Online radio doesn’t require a broadcast license, and listeners can hear K-TOR content through the station’s website or via an app on smartphones and tablets. Hodges suggests that Optimist Clubs look for opportunities to use radio as an engagement tool in their own communities. This could involve approaching communitybased radio stations for a regular spot or partnerships with schoolbased outlets.

Dudas hopes to expand Hodges’ role by adding a roundtable to “There are great opportunities for Clubs looking to reach out,” discuss Optimism with kids. Hodges says.

plans to pursue a career in media with an emphasis in radio—or whatever innovative audio format is evolving at the time. He feels confident due to the technical skills he’s received from working with Dudas and K-TOR, being both on the microphone and behind the scenes. “I know how to work my way up,” Courtney says. “Mr. Dudas has really helped with not only skills but the business side of things. I wouldn’t have talked to half the people I know if I wasn’t in his class.”

Summer 2020 • 19

Congratulations to our 2020 Election winners

2020-21 Vice Presidents-Elect: Sue Armstrong (OH) Region 1 Northeast & Great Lakes

Garner is the wife of Ken Garner, who served as Optimist International President in 2014-15. This is the first time in OI history that both members of a married couple have been elected to the office.

John Grover (SC) Region 2 Southeast Kathleen Manchec (AC) Region 3 Mid-Atlantic

She will serve as International Patsy Garner President in the 2021-22 Optimist Year. She belongs to the Breakfast Optimist Club of East Fort Worth, Texas, and the Arlington Community Optimist Club, of Texas. She has also held numerous leadership positions at the regional and international levels. Garner’s election was part of a busy election season for OI. Many offices had multiple candidates, including four for President-elect.

Sophie-Chanel Bourré

2020-2021 JOI President Sophie-Chanel Bourré, Ottawa, Ontario

2020-21 Optimist International Board of Directors (Will serve a three-year term) Robert Doyle Janet Lloyd

Patsy Garner made both history and HERstory in our May 2020 election when she took the top spot in the race for President-elect.

JOI Board

Additional Races

Lister Florence (EMO) Region 4 Middle America Josh Zaidel (SWIS) Region 5 Great Plains Curtis Merrill (COWY) Region 6 Southwest Cathy Hicks (PSW) Region 7 West Coast Nicole Paquette (EONT) Region 8 St. Lawrence

JOI Joins Virtual Convention Junior Optimists attended the OI Opening Ceremonies on June 27, and began their own Opening Session in the afternoon. During the convention there were several networking sessions.

Immediate Past President

The group also joined the OI Convention for Jermaine Harris’s speech and attended workshops – topics included:


• Baking with Optimism

Julia Cooper Whitby, Ontario

Jayce Abrams, Corunna, Ontario Brynn Gorney, Spring Valley, California Erin Kramer, Jeffersonville, Indiana Alex Mona, West Des Moines, Iowa

20 • Optimist

• How to Sell Yourself & Your Club • Fun and easy ways to promote JOI and recruit new members • Communication • Continuing Your Journey with Optimism • Your Leadership Legacy

Junior Optimist International

Club Project Winners 2018-2019 ​ e would like to recognize the following Clubs and their Projects for the 2018-2019 year for demonstrating W why being Junior Optimists help make positive change in the world:



Ashanti Junior Optimist Club of Southfield, Michigan, came together to help make sure students had a way to get their voices heard in late September. The members of the JOI Club decided to do what they could to get young people of their community registered to vote. They provided content and terminology guidelines for teenagers that will be old enough. For students under the age to officially vote, the JOI Club helped kids fill out online registration to work at the polls and be helpful for others doing their part. We love seeing the promotion of young adults using their voices to create change in the world. Thank you to the Ashanti Club for supporting the new generation of voters! We hope this continues in the years to come.


The Greensburg High School Junior Optimist Club of Indiana, have been working diligently since the 17-18 school year to collect plastic bottle caps. President Emily Lowe took the initiative to turn the collected bottle caps into a bench for the school, thanks to the Community Recycling Drive. The students came together to begin collecting the needed 400 pounds of caps. The project ended up continuing into the 18-19 school year where students kept persevering to reach their end goal. Then Club President Bryce McCullough kept the effort going. When the 400 pounds were collected, Brittany Saunders, executive director at Decatur County Solid Waste Management Office, made the transport to the Evansville Recycling Center. To the Club’s surprise, the rules had changed about how many caps were needed to make a bench, so two benches were brought back to the school. The Greensburg JOI Club brought together students, teachers, parents, members of the community and the local Optimist Club to do something powerful. They are a continuing example of what positive efforts can do for the Earth. We here at Optimist International feel inspired by their passion, dedication, and the harmony they’ve created in their hometown. Good luck to Ellie Arca, the 19-20 JOI Club President, continuing to collect more bottle caps for the New Year!

The Student Optimists Helping Others (SOHO) Junior Optimist Club of Shelby Township, Michigan, is dedicated to the many projects they contribute to their community throughout the year. One in particular that we want to highlight is their fundraiser they held for the Macomb Foster Closet. The students formed several committees and hosted a “Get Your Glow On” cosmic bowling night that included pizza, pop, and (of course) bowling! The Club worked diligently by asking local businesses for donations, putting together 45 baskets for auction, and selling various bakery snacks and “Glow” items to raise over $1,000 for an organization that provides help for students entering new homes in foster care. Members of the SOHO JOI Club also collected and donated items like car seats, chairs, toys, and clothing for the foster kids. By supporting and caring for those in different and less fortunate situations, this Club’s actions are a delicate reminder that not all of us have it easy. If we have the ability to help, we should. Thank you to these JOI Clubs and all others that submitted their Club Projects for the 18-19 year that continue to do wonderful things all around the world and changing our world for the better. Summer 2020 • 21

Meet The 2020 Hugh Cranford

All-Scholastic Team The pandemic has not kept Optimist International from rewarding student athletes. The five winners of the Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team scholarship will receive a $1,000 scholarship as well as an automatic exemption into the 2020 Tournament of Champions at the PGA National Resort and Spa. This scholarship was created in memory of Hugh Cranford, who served as Optimist International Executive Director from 1967 to 1986, and was instrumental in starting the Optimist Junior Golf Program.

Cody "CJ" Krause will be a senior at Cranbrook Kingswood High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and carries a 4.25 grade point average. His academic awards include making the Dean’s List each year. In addition to playing golf, he works as cart staff and in the proshop at a golf course, has started his own lawn and snow-removal company and participates in several volunteer programs.

John "Jack" Sonne graduated as class salutatorian from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a sophomore, he earned a perfect score on the ACT, and received numerous academic awards as well as the Presidential Service Award. Sonne played varsity golf and basketball while serving as a math tutor, a teacher’s assistant at an underprivileged school, and developing and organizing an elementary school carnival. Caroline Wales is a rising senior at Palm Desert High School in Palm Desert, California. She scored high on her SAT and ACT, received Summa Cum Laude honors and wrote an award-winning essay for the National Society of Colonial Dames Congressional Essay Contest. In addition to playing golf, Wales had success in competitive gymnastics. She mentors younger golf players, and organizes fundraising events for the First Tee of the Coachella Valley.

Michelle Zhou graduated this year from Southlake Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas, with a 4.0 grade point average. Zhou received Advance Placement Scholar with Distinction in 2019. She works at Kung Fu Tea and is the captain of the varsity golf team. Community service includes NEISD Swing for a Cure and the Carroll Golf Summer Camp. Zhou is highly ranked with Golfweek and Junior Golf Scoreboard.

The Community Service Award goes to:

Eleanor Hudepohl will be a senior at Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. She carries a 4.5 cumulative grade point average. As a varsity golfer, she received Southwest Ohio First Team and GGCL Player of the Year recognitions. Community service includes being a Project Linus Leader making blankets for hospitalized children, co-leader for Ursuline Academy’s Christmas Project, which helps provide Christmas to those in need, a Eucharistic minister for school masses, and volunteering with senior citizens.

22 • Optimist

2020 Optimist Junior Golf The Optimist International Board of Directors made a very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Optimist International Junior Golf Championship. Optimist Junior Golf will resume its regular season in 2021 with the championship held at Trump National Doral.

Junior Tour Event

Green Valley Ranch Golf Club

Still in the plans this year, is the October Junior Tour Event held at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver, Colorado – October 17-18, 2020. This is a qualifier for the 2021 Optimist Championship and a chance for golfers to advance to the November Tournament of Champions. For information, visit https://www.optimist.org/golf.

16th Annual Optimist International Tournament of Champions

November 14-15, 2020 at PGA National Resort and Spa (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida). Home of the Honda Classic. 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 pending based on field size for the AJGA Performance Based Entry process. For more information, go to https://www.optimist.org/golf. It is possible these tournaments will have social-distancing guidelines in place. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sharon Parton, Senior Director Optimist Junior Golf (314) 881-1307 or email golf@optimist.org. During this time, our hearts go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19 including those diagnosed with the virus, all of the caregivers at home and in health care, and those whose job or school has been affected. We are all living through a time of great uncertainty when we do not know exactly what will come in the weeks and months ahead. The health of our Junior Golfers and their families remains our highest priority. Optimist Junior Golf is looking forward to a strong 2021 year. Summer 2020 • 23

Club News

Club News Decatur High School. In the fall, Club Member Steve Acton and 15 to 20 other helpers visit each local elementary school, Head Start and prekindergarten in the area, and take fingerprints and pictures of kids for our Youth ID Program. More than 2,200 kids participate each year, and more than 65,000 children have been finger printed since 1985.

The Ocean City/Berlin Optimist Club’s boat show features more than 150 vendors selling boats, personal watercraft, and more.

The boat show that works for kids by Charles Smith Ocean City/Berlin Maryland Optimist Club

The Ocean City/Berlin Maryland Optimist Club is about to hit the $2 million mark for rewarding scholarships and other honors, supported by the largest indoor boat show in its coastal region. The Club hosted its 37th annual Seaside Boat Show February 14-16, 2020. The show provides the Club with the major portion of funds needed to support a youth-identification program, scholarships and an honor student banquet, which run $250,000 per year. The show began with 5,000 square feet in the Ocean City Convention Center. Each year the event grew, and it now covers 200,000 square feet filled with vendors of boats, personal watercraft and more. The Club raises money with booths that are rented by more than 150 vendors, entrance fees paid by more than 16,000 attendees, and selling ads in the event’s program. The success of the event is clear: In May, the Club will have bestowed $2 million in scholarships since 1989. Running the show is a full-time effort from Charlie Dorman, show chairman for 30 years, and his wife Carol. The show has expanded to the point that it is the largest indoor boat show on the Delmarva Peninsula, which is made up of parts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia on the Atlantic Coast. Several significant programs are run each year, including a scholarship program at the local Stephen 24 • Optimist

Each May, the local high school honor students are recognized at the WeXL Banquet. Students, parents, politicians, school board members, teachers and Optimist attend the banquet at the convention center. More than 1,200 attend each year. As the Ocean City/Berlin Optimist Club approaches its 50th anniversary, the members continue to support the fund raisers and programs. More than 100 kids participate in our Oratorical Contest and more than 60 enter the essay contest. More than 30 participated in the county art contest run by our club. The Boat Show is really is “The show that works for kids.”

Students use the Husky Tool Room at Roosevelt Elementary School in Keego Harbor, Michigan.

Optimist Club of Keego Harbor, Michigan by James Bugg

The Husky Tool Room is a 10-station shop located in a side room of the Media Center in Roosevelt Elementary School. It was developed through a joint effort of the West Bloomfield School District,

Club News

school principal, Lowe’s Home Improvement and the Optimists of Keego Harbor. The Husky name comes from the school mascot, a sturdy breed of work dogs – the Husky. The need for an elementary level tool room was identified during a lunch gathering with a local cabinet maker, who had hired a pair of high school students to help in his shop. He said they were quick learners, but lacked hands-on experience with basic tools. Several members of the Keego Harbor Optimist Club began talking about how they learned basic shop skills by working with their parents. We wanted to provide those learning experiences to the youth in our community. We talked with the principal of our local elementary school and came up with the idea of a small workshop to enrich the experiences of the students and to provide an opportunity to develop special talents in our students. We received a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s to equip our shop with basic hand tools (hammers, levels, tape measures, etc.) and some supplies. A cabinet maker gave us the end cuts from his cabinets. Soon we were ready to go. Our first big project was a program for the firstgrade students – Daddies and Donuts – where the first-graders built bluebird houses with an adult male (Father, grandfather, uncle or friend). A highlight for us was when a first-grade girl took the hammer from her dad and showed him the correct way to hold it. Points of pride: • The school has a fifth-grade legacy project each year. Last year they built a Little Free Library in front of the school. • The school participates in the Michigan Design Prize competition each year for K-12 students. Last year the challenge was to design something that would make life better for the people in Michigan. Roosevelt Elementary School students in kindergarten – second grade won first, second and third place, while the students in third through fifth grades won first and second place • The Optimists sponsor a pine wood derby with cars the students build and race them during school on the day the Cub Scouts hold their derby at night. Our Club sponsors the pack.

Members of the Brussels Optimist Club donated $20,000 to area hospitals this spring.

Brussels Optimist Club, Ontario

The Brussels Optimist Club donated $20,000 to four hospitals in its region of Ontario. The Club contributed $5,000 each to hospitals in Wingham, Listowel, Clinton and Seaforth to pay for medical equipment and facility upgrades. The group tapped into their own reserves to provide the donation when their regular benefit event was postponed due to the coronavirus, a hospital representative said.

Optimist Club of Del MarSolana Beach By Audrey Eller

The Optimist Club of Del Mar – Solana Beach, California members, family A child rides in one of 12 wagons provided to Rady Children’s Hospital and friends recently by the Optimist Club of Del Marbrightened the lives, Solana Beach and the Oceanside Optimist Club. and created smiles, for children hospitalized in Rady Children's Hospital with gifts of Chad's Bracket red wagons equipped with a unique, adjustable IV pole attached that safely accommodates IV infusion bags, and other medical equipment. The wagon also has a safety belt, and a backrest. The Oceanside Optimist Club also participated in the project. The Club donated 12 wagons to the San Diego hospital, raising money for the project through an appeal to members and a grant from the Optimist International Foundation. The group had originally planned to donate five wagons, but raised enough money to more than double their goal.

Summer 2020 • 25

Club News

It all began with an accident several years ago at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Roger Leggett, a grandfather, and his son, Chad, visited his 4-year-old granddaughter, Felicity, who had undergone brain cancer surgery. As they approached the elevator a lady with her son in a standard wagon was also pulling an IV cart. The wheels of the IV cart got stuck in the elevator door tracks and almost flipped over on the child. Roger and Chad began exploring how they could safely attach an IV pole to a wagon. Chad, just 24, an EMT, died tragically from heat stroke six weeks after their discussion. Roger continued with the project, and designed a heavy-duty hospital-grade, stainless steel bracket to be attached to a red wagon, which would safely accommodate an adjustable IV pole for infusion bags, and medical equipment. After many renderings, and adjustments, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Scottish Rite, approved Chad’s Bracket red wagon. Children’s Miracle Network also endorsed the product. There are now 1,175 wagons in hospitals in 38 states. and eight foreign countries. Chad's Bracket red wagons allow children to be transported for lab tests, and other procedures, around the hospital, and for occasional trips outdoors. Numerous children will use the wagons. When a child goes home the wagon will be sterilized, and assigned to another child.

Optimist Club of Keswick, Ontario by Jane Morson

In 2006 when Optimist Frank Tuttle casually asked a pumpkin farmer “hey how much for 100 pumpkins” he had no idea of the adventure he was starting for the club. For the past 13 years this farmer has opened up his pumpkin patch to the club to pick, free of charge, as many pumpkins has needed and every year the amount has grown. The Optimist Club of Keswick has expanded their reach beyond local daycares, schools and classes for kids with exceptionalities.

The Optimist Club of Keswick picks and distributes more than 700 pumpkins to kids in their Ontario community each year.

Our JOI Club began in January 2019 and has brought the club new connections and partnerships. This year the JOI Club was asked to partner with the local food pantry on a Halloween Fundraiser which required 300 pumpkins for the kids to carve. This event was a great success with five Club members and 14 JOI Members coming together with 30 community volunteers to dress up and create a wonderful experience for the 200 youth and their families that visited the haunted house and carved pumpkins. Several of our members took a truck load of pumpkins to a small community just outside of ours for their annual Halloween event. Our 100 pumpkins has grown to more than 700 pumpkins. For 28 years, Optimist Frank has enjoyed helping and supporting youth in Georgina. He enjoys helping out on many of the events but the Pumpkin Program is very special to him. He loves being at the center of it from picking the pumpkins, washing the pumpkins and most importantly delivering the pumpkins. “It is the look on the kid’s face as they peer out the window when we unload and deliver the pumpkins to their teacher, that makes the hard work all worthwhile," he says. This year our pumpkin-picking adventure saw 20 Optimist Club members, JOI members and their families along with 22 community members come together with trucks and trailers to collect 700 pumpkins. It took 126 volunteer hours to pick the pumpkins, 26 volunteer hours to wash the pumpkins and 72 volunteer hours to deliver the pumpkins to local schools and daycares.

Submit your Club or District news for a future edition of the Optimist Magazine to magazine@optimist.org. Reports must be less than 400 words, and may be edited for length, clarity and style. Any pictures should be submitted as attachments.

26 • Optimist

Canadian Children's Optimist Foundation

CCOF Supports

Change Agents Optimist Clubs can sometimes bring out the best in kids by being a change agent. Thanks to the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation Outsourcing Program, the following project could get off the ground. The Outsourcing Program is not a grant, but is an administrative program that helps Clubs optimize their fundraising by offering tax receipts to donors. The Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation is proud to be a partner in supporting fundraising efforts for programs like the one below.

across Canada, including 228 in 2018, according to the newspaper Cochrane Today. Ontario being first, followed by Quebec and Alberta, according to Cochrane Today. Human trafficking is a business that generates $150 billion every year by robbing individuals of their basic human rights through force labor, sexual exploitation and other means. In the last 10 years, significant yearly increases in trafficking incidents have been reported

BRAVE Education for Trafficking Prevention is one organization hoping to change that. BRAVE produces educational programs to prevent children from being trafficked. BRAVE has received support from the Dinner Optimist Club of Calgary since 2018 as well as the Optimist Club of Prince Albert. Summer 2020 • 27

Optimist International Foundation

A Note to my Fellow Optimists A

s I write this, almost a month before publication, it is a sunny morning and I hope the harbinger of many more to come. We started the year with the theme of Go for the Gold. Gold has always represented excellence and giving your utmost effort to achieve your goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged your Optimist International Foundation to be even more efficient and still operate at the high level we expect. I am extremely proud of our dedicated staff, Board members and our great donors who have stepped up to keep your Foundation functioning.

Bill Meyers

I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” -Winston Churchill

While the past months have been unlike any we have seen, challenge and hard times are not new to Optimism or your Foundation. Just in the last 20 years, we have seen the tragedy of 9-11 and the recession of 2008. During these times Optimists have pulled together to ensure that the children of our communities continued to benefit from Optimist programs. Today is no different. Your Foundation continues to work hard to be good stewards of your donations while operating on the front lines supporting Optimist programs. We are providing $2,500 scholarships for 42 District Essay Winners,

28 • Optimist

40 District Oratorical Winners and 4 District CCDHH winners. Additionally, the Foundation will support US and Caribbean Regional winners and finalists in the World Oratorical. Scholarships are not all your Foundation is doing. Clubs are also being supported. We have awarded 21 Club grants. We will also award Health and Wellness Grants and we expect to award several Disaster Relief grants. In addition, OIF has added COVID-19 as a designated program of Disaster Relief grants. Nothing your Foundation does would be possible without your continuing support. Whether you are a Member or a Club, please keep your Foundation in mind and assist as you can. We are grateful for any help you can offer. In times like these I like to recall the observation of Winston Churchill: “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” Maintain good health and may your Optimism shine! Sincerely,

Bill Meyers Bill Meyers President, Optimist International Foundation

Optimist International Foundation

2020 Club Grant

Clubs and Projects The Optimist International Foundation’s Club Grant Program offers $500 to help Clubs establish new programs.

Congratulations to our 2020 winners: 4-H Optimist Art Ecology Project Optimist Club of Georgetown, IN

Autism Sensory Kit Optimist Club of Wheat Ridge, CO

Hope in Action Optimist Club of Nawalparasi, Nepal

Celebrate Our Youth Lucheon Rushmore Noon Optimist Club of Black Hills, SD

Kalamazoo Kids Book Garden Project Optimist Club of Kalamazoo-Breakfast, MI

Buddy Luncheon Optimist Club of Lower Montco, PA

Safe Place for Youth (S.P.Y.) Playa Vista Optimist Club, CA

Read to Learn Optimist Club of Greenville, NC

Youth at Risk - Aging Out of Foster Care Marana-Foothills Optimist Club, AZ

Character Matters Optimist Club of Hall County-Gainesville Inc., GA

Bike Rally(s) for Visually Impaired Kids "Abilities" Optimist Club of Tucson, AZ

Holiday Giving Hartford Area Optimist Club, SD

Preserve Our Past: Art and Poetry Contest Optimist Club of Oregon City, OR

Emergency Clothing/Toiletries/Hygiene Products for Students Optimist Club of Wake Forest, NC

Snackpack for Kids Optimist Club of Kewaunee, WI Purses with a Purpose Optimist Club of Lincoln, NE Bringing the gift of music to the Mississippi School for the Deaf Brandon Optimist Club, MS

"A Time for Tennis" Tennis Clinic Optimist Club of Dickinson, TX True Grit Program Lake Country Optimist Club, WI Life Skills Clinton Mid-Day Optimist Club of Missouri

Rolesville Reads/Rolesville Eats Northern Wake Optimist Club, NC

Summer 2020 • 29

CCOF FOUNDATION DONORS CCOF TOP THREE from October 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 District


Average Contribution Per Member

Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan & Northern Wyoming

Vince Parker



Donna Suggitt


Québec West

Danielle Dupont & Robert Perron



Total Contributions


Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan & Northern Wyoming Southwestern Ontario

Vince Parker


Ted Gravelle


Québec Center

Nathalie Gravel & Roland Rhéaume


CCOF DONOR LISTINGS This is a record of lifetime accumulation levels achieved from October 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020 for individuals and Clubs. This listing is for gifts recorded up to the deadline date for the printing of Optimist. Silver Benefactor - $25,000 ALBERTA, MONTANA, SASKATCHEWAN & NORTHERN WYOMING Optimist Club of Red Deer Geneva Sopchyshyn

Bronze Benefactor - $15,000 QUÉBEC WEST Roger Grandbois

Eminent Benefactor - $10,000 MIDWESTERN ONTARIO Optimist Club of Mitchell EASTERN ONTARIO Benoit Paré

Distinguished Benefactor - $5,000 QUÉBEC WEST Club Optimiste de St-Eustache ALBERTA, MONTANA, SASKATCHEWAN & NORTHERN WYOMING Optimist Club of Regina-Sundown QUÉBEC SOUTH Edithe Lemieux

30 • Optimist

Honored Benefactor - $2,500 QUÉBEC CENTER Daniel Leduc ALBERTA, MONTANA, SASKATCHEWAN & NORTHERN WYOMING Leslie Trevor

Benefactor - $1,000 CENTRAL ONTARIO Lynne Twocock QUÉBEC CENTER Nathalie Gravel Danielle Lefaivre Johanne Doré Lise Joly-Dion QUÉBEC EAST-NORTH SHORE Club Optimiste St-Bruno-Lac-St-Jean QUÉBEC EAST & ACADIE Club Optimiste de St-Épiphane


OIF TOP TEN as of May 31, 2020 District

Alabama-Mississippi Capital-Virginia Arizona South Carolina South Texas Oklahoma New York-New England Colorado-Wyoming Pacific Central North Carolina East



Nancy Boyd Barbara L. Grizzard Marcia Aurand Mike Sherbert Beverley Oaks Ron Whitaker Debra Davis Ron Benson Mary Boglarsky Errol Warren

Alabama-Mississippi Michigan GATEway South Texas Iowa Colorado-Wyoming Capital-Virginia Dakotas-Manitoba-Minnesota Ohio Southern Wisconsin


Average Contribution Per Member $19.49 $17.13 $12.89 $11.85 $11.67 $11.42 $11.04 $9.32 $9.16 $8.75

Nancy Boyd Monetta Foster Connie Webb Beverley Oaks Janet Lloyd Ron Benson Barbara L. Grizzard Charles Spavin Debbie Walsh Wayne Dieckhoff

Total Contributions $21,677.20 $15,676.50 $15,503.03 $14,503.00 $13,018.95 $12,267.15 $12,247.15 $9,802.42 $9,199.60 $9,126.30

OIF DONOR LISTINGS This is a record of lifetime accumulation levels achieved from February 1, 2020 – May 31, 2020, for individuals and Clubs. This listing is for gifts recorded up to the deadline date for the printing of Optimist. Golden Benefactor - $50,000

Distinguished Benefactor - $5,000

Benefactor - $1,000

CALIFORNIA SOUTH Optimist Club of Bonita, CA



Silver Benefactor - $25,000

ARIZONA Beth Woodard


GATEway Mark O. Shriver


CARIBBEAN Gene M. Douglas

SOUTH TEXAS Optimist Club of Victoria, TX

OKLAHOMA Joyce M. Filsinger Optimist Club of Tulsa, OK

DAKOTAS-MANITOBA-MINNESOTA Sally A. Damm Norby Kenneth D. Munch Starleen A. Munch

Honored Benefactor - $2,500


Bronze Benefactor - $15,000 ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI Optimist Club of Birmingham, AL ARIZONA James M. Pekny

Eminent Benefactor - $10,000 NORTH CAROLINA EAST Sandy K. Cyphers NORTH CAROLINA WEST The Charlotte Optimist Club, NC WEST MISSOURI Robert and Debbie Floyd

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI Sally P. Mitchell NEBRASKA Optimist Club of Fairbury, NE NEW YORK-NEW ENGLAND Optimist Club of Lockport Inc., NY WISCONSIN NORTH-UPPER MICHIGAN Mark and Karen Sprangers


Summer 2020 • 31


A look at more than 100 years of Optimist International memories

Photo: Sam Levitz, Arizona Daily Star photographer and Optimist member, Optimist International Archives

Close Connections

Optimists have a long history of helping people connect during troubled times. During World War II, Optimist Wayne Sanders operated radio equipment to help Tucson, Arizona, residents send wishes to loved ones stationed overseas. Here, Police Sgt. Dave Putney sends a message to his sons stationed in the South Pacific as Les Gibbs waits to send a greeting to his daughter’s beau.

32 • Optimist

1st row: President Julia Cooper, Donna Priester, Committee Member, Immediate Past President Cole Mullins, Mary Lou Abrams, Committee Member 2nd row: Sophie-Chanel BourrĂŠ, Director, Tiandra Carty, Committee Member, Abigail Proctor, Director, Janet White, Committee Chair 3rd row: Maya Gluck, Director, Alice Potvin, Director, Vicky Buteau, Committee Member, Mathew Nacev, Committee Member

Out now in Digital and Print versions

All proceeds benefit the Optimist Oratorical Contest.

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