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Monday, June 19, 2017

Turn leads into new members for the Optimist Club

When surveyed, Optimist Clubs often say they need three things. What are they?
  • Help manning favorite projects
  • Money
  • Advertising
It may occur to most that these three things are accomplished when an Optimist Club adds members. That is why a membership recruitment and retention program are necessary for any membership organization. 

Members are the lifeblood of the Optimist Club and Optimist International. In addition to providing the helping hands that are needed for projects, members provide word of mouth marketing to engage their friends and associates in its good deeds and together, they generate revenues - donations and fundraisers - to help the Optimist Club do even more. 

We know, however, that getting new people to join our Optimist Clubs can be challenging. That's why we like this membership recruitment tip that we saw today from the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA): the membership prospect card.

According to the OTLA, board members are asked once per year to recommend new members for membership in the association. This gets the board members engaged in a strategic priority: membership. The OTLA staff then generates a personalized letter to invite the potential new member to join and it works, because like a successful a leads program, it connects people to people for needs that they need met. 

Individuals like personal attention. Individuals like knowing they were singled out for an honor or opportunity. Individuals, most of them at least, like to connect with others for social and service activities. They just need to be asked. 

That means the rest is up to you and your Optimist Club. Start a membership committee, create a prospect card, and get busy asking qualified individuals to share optimism by joining an Optimist Club. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Optimist International Oratorical World Championships schedule released

Here is the schedule for the Optimist International Oratorical Oratorical World Championships. All times are listed in Central Time Zone:

Thursday, June 15, 2017
8:30am - Southeast Region
10:00am - Middle America Region
11:15am - Great Plains Region
12:30pm - Global Region
1:30pm - Southwest Region
3:00pm - Saint Lawrence Region
4:15pm - West Coast Region

Friday, June 16, 2017
8:30am - Mid-Atlantic Region
9:30am - Northeast & Great Lakes Region
2:00pm - World Championships Contest

Watch from anywhere at www.optimist.org/stream.

PNW District Champion May Fan will compete online in the West Coast Region semifinal beginning at 4:15 p.m. CST or 2:15 p.m. PST. 

Good luck, May!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Let's send the PNW District Optimist International Oratorical Champion to St. Louis

may fan pnw district optimist clubs
May Fan 
The PNW District welcomed many students to the third quarter meeting and proclaimed three to be winners in their respective Optimist Oratorical or CCDHH contests. What's that? I thought that
Optimist International sponsored only two contests? 

Yes, it is true, Optimist International sponsors only two contests. Optimist International sponsors the Oratorical Contest that, in the PNW District, is gender neutral. This allows the first place contestant to win a $2,500 scholarship, second place to win a $1,500 scholarship and third place to win a $1,000 scholarship. The winner of this contest advances to the Optimist International Oratorical Regional and World Championship at St. Louis University.

Optimist International also sponsors the Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) where one student who meets Optimist International guidelines for impairment may win a $2,500 scholarship at the district level only.

However, the PNW District has also decided, by vote of less than half of its Optimist Clubs, to divide the CCDHH contest into two categories, one for deaf students who sign and  one for deaf students who speak. Members and Optimist Clubs in the PNW District contribute to the second $2,500 scholarship over and above the contributions made by the Optimist International Foundation and Canadian Children's Optimist Foundation for scholarship contests.

Because the PNW District already asks for extra funding from its Optimist Clubs,  I am hesitant to put out another request. However, I've been encouraged by Phil Hansen, Vice President of the Vancouver, BC Optimist Club to share a funding request with other clubs in the PNW District.

Here is his plea:
"We are humbled as we count our blessings as we serve our youth and their families in our communities. But what is our ultimate goal? To bring out the best in everything we all do. If we do not bring out the best in ourselves first we cannot do so for others. "LIVE THE CREED," but that is only the beginning; a small but significantly important list of standards to follow in every setting of our life.
We want to give our best, and in so doing we believe that our contestants deserve to be on a level playing field, to perform at their best. Live Feed does not do them justice. We will appreciate the PNW District's financial assistance for May Fan to attend there. 
Please send information you can provide that will help May Fan, prepare for her travel as soon as possible. May Fan wants to go to St. Louis Missouri where the contest is actually held."
You may be aware that Optimist International expanded its Oratorical Contest in 2016 to become a global competition. Initially, it imagined that students might compete remotely via the internet from far away places.  In its inaugural year, many did, including the contestant from the PNW District. However, some students traveled to St. Louis to compete in person.

It appeared that the students in St. Louis had a decided advantage over the remote participants because they did not have the technical difficulties that came with the new online territory. Additionally, the students gained from meeting one another and experiencing the St. Louis University campus.

Therefore, in 2017, its second year, Optimist International encouraged its districts to send contestants to St. Louis to compete.

It appears that perhaps the PNW District administration needs some extra encouragement to make this happen.

By my estimation, sending one person to the competition would cost approximately $500.00 USD.

Please join with me in entreating the PNW District to do the right thing and allocate at least $500.00 USD for May Fan, and those who come in the years to follow, to fully compete in the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships. 

Thank you.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Vote for #ReelOptimism with the Chilliwack Optimist Club

The Optimist Club of Chilliwack, British Columbia has made the finals of the 2017 #ReelOptimism video contest. You can help them win by voting for their 30-second video here.

Optimist Clubs and individuals have until May 31, 2017 to vote for their favorite videos in the following categories:
  • Optimists in Action – Adult – a video (3:00 minutes or less) that visually illustrates the topic of optimism. Submissions by adult Clubs only.
  • Optimists in Action – Youth – a video (3:00 minutes or less) that visually illustrates the topic of optimism. Submissions by Junior Optimist (youth) Clubs only.
  • Make Optimism Go Viral – Adult – a video (45 seconds or less) that visually illustrates the topic of optimism in a humorous way. Submissions by adult Clubs only.
  • Make Optimism Go Viral – Youth – a video (45 seconds or less) that visually illustrates the topic of optimism in a humorous way. Submissions by Junior Optimist Clubs only.
  • Optimism – Public – a video (3:00 minutes or less) that visually illustrates the topic of optimism. Submissions by the public only.
Chilliwack Optimists entered in the Make Optimism Go Viral category. Watch the video below or click here to watch and vote. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

PNW Optimist Clubs recognize more outstanding students

The Oregon City Optimist Club was not the only one to celebrate outstanding youths this week. Three other Optimist Clubs shared pictures with us that we in turn share with you. Sorry, names and stories were not included, but that doesn't make them any less special!

In Hillsboro, Oregon, the Optimist Club recognized students and teachers at its annual youth appreciation event. (right) Their celebration included a Mariachi Band. See more pictures from the Hillsboro Optimist Club event here.

In Lebanon, Oregon, the Optimist Club hosted more than sixty students at its its JOYA program. (left) JOYA stands for Junior Optimist Youth Appreciation, but don't be confused; it's not a Junior Optimist Club, but rather students that the Optimist Club recognize for their positive behavior, among other things. I think this may be the biggest celebration that I've seen!

The Twin Falls, Idaho Optimist Club celebrated Youth Appreciation with the Canyon Ridge High School HAWK Award Breakfast. (right) Coordinating with the school, the Optimists recognize students for outstanding knowledge, will power, humanitarian endeavors and activities.

Congratulations to all!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oregon City students are recognized for kindness

oregon city optimist club citizenship awards

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, I was honored to be invited and to attend the Oregon City Optimist Club's 2017 Citizenship and Youth Appreciation Awards.  Seventeen students were chosen by educators in eight schools to be recognized at the event and their teachers and administrators were on-hand to tell us just why they had earned the respect of their peers.

The stories included two common themes: kindness and service to others. Most were scholars and athletes, some were thespians and writers, and all were good citizens with perserverence, patience, enthusiasm for life recognized as positive traits.

Those recognized for their outstanding contributions to their school and community were:

  • St. John the Apostle Catholic School - Mandy Sisul and Liam Broughton
  • North Clackamas Christian High School - Eli Perse and Madison Steele
  • North Clackamas Christion Middle School - Ashlynn Kerekffy and Caleb Mattias
  • Springwater Environmental School - Izzy Hix and Paige Norton
  • Oregon City High School - Whitnie Warren and Soud Zaidan
  • Oregon City Service Learning Academy - Beatrice Owens
  • Clackamas Academy of Industrial Arts - Grace Christensen and Zane Freeman
  • Gardiner Middle School - Shay Gionson and Jesse Orozco
  • Octon Middle School - Bethany Lemmon and Katie Sterba

Joanne Truesdell, President, Clackamas Community College made a keynote presentation where she complimented each student and their parents and/or caregivers for their leadership. She explained that she had been asked to speak about the vital role of community service, but realized that just hearing the stories of those being honored was explanation enough.

"It is about your approach to life," said Truesdell. "Show up, smile and be kind. You may be too humble to believe this, but it is all about you."

"What you do, what you are being recognized for, it's not as easy as it might seem," she continued. "But push through the big projects and those things that you do every day because that's what keeps your community healthy." 

Quoting Mother Theresa, she reminded all assembled that love is vital to community. She concluded her words by saying we should all strive to achieve this goal: "When all is said and done, I have served my moment well." 

Congratulations to all students! Thanks to all the parents and teachers and kudos to the Oregon City Optimist Club for such a fine event.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Optimist International scholarship contestants wow the crowd

The PNW District - Optimist International Oratorical and CCDHH Scholarship Contests were held on May 6, 2017 at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby, British Columbia. Twelve students advanced to this competition by winning preliminary contests at the local Optimist Club and regional Zone level.

All students spoke for four to five minutes on the topic "What the world gains from optimism." We heard that dogs make people happy, chocolate lava cake is the best dessert ever, and womens rights are human rights, among other things. All students were inspired by the topic, and in turn, inspired the viewers who had assembled to watch their performances.

Two particularly interesting phrases caught this writer's attention:
"A positive world change starts in a person's backyard."
"A world where there is hope in the present is a place where there is hope in the future."
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016-2017 CCDHH scholarship winners for the PNW District, each receiving a $2,500 scholarship:

Communications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) - signing - Jacob Gerlitz

Communications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) - speaking - Chastity Davies

In the Oratorical Contest, three winners were chosen, receiving $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 scholarships respectively:

First Place: May Fan, Coquitlam Optimist Club
Second Place: Cleo Chang, Vancouver, BC Optimist Club
Third Place: Andrew Welch, Tacoma Optimist Club

Congratulations to all! And thank you to all participants. Well done, everyone.

Monday, May 1, 2017

COER in 20

pnw optimist coer
This is a friendly reminder to all Optimist Clubs. Club officer election reports (COER) are due May 20.

This annual deadline has been often overlooked; however, if you're Optimist Club is on the road to Honor Club, this year, for the first in many years, it is required again.

I can't speak to the reasoning behind adding the COER back into the mix; but I can speak to why the report is important.

Two things come to mind:

  1. The COER indicates good administrative practices and promises that leadership has been engaged for the coming year. 
  2. Reporting by May 20 allows Optimist International and the District to begin communicating with new officers in a timely manner so that they may be invited to conventions,  receive packages of information that will help them plan for their leadership year, and be included in District and International contact forms and directories. 
This post is to encourage your Optimist Club to hold its elections and report the results at www.optimistleaders.org on or before May 20. 

If your elections are held at a later time, please submit the report as soon as possible. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

May is #OptimistsInAction month

Has your Optimist Club developed it's plan of action for May?

We hope so because May is officially 
Optimists in Action Month. 

What is Optimists in Action month?

It's a time for your Optimist Club to engage others in projects that serve your community in a positive way.

Yes, we know that you conduct many youth and community serving projects throughout the year. Perhaps you always include other groups in your activities. But at this time, especially, we want to see and hear about them!

Tag your Facebook posts with #OptimistsInAction and share your stories here so that we can help you share what being an Optimist Volunteer is all about.

Ready? Set. Action!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hope floats at the Optimist International Convention

optimist convention
This week, the Optimist magazine was received by Optimist Club members around the world. On the back cover was this inspirational picture of what many think of when they imagine a trip to Albuquerque: the Balloon Festival.

We may not get to see the Balloon Festival in full force - it takes place in October - but when the Optimist International Convention opens on July 6-8, 2017, there will be enough hope and optimism to float a million balloons.

In addition to carrying out the business of the organization and being informed for our upcoming year, sharing optimism is what the convention is all about. Optimist Clubs come together once a year to share hope and plan for the future.

Click here to download the agenda.

Click here to make hotel reservations. 

Click here to register online. 

Early bird registration ends on May 1. Please register today to save.

Registration will be accepted online until July 5 and onsite registration will be available at that time.

Keep up to date with the 99th Annual International Convention by visiting http://optimist.org/e/member/convention1.cfm.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tell your Optimist Club story today

pnw optimist club brochure front
Earlier this year, as part of its ongoing membership drive, the Albany Optimist Club updated its brochure. Bulletin editor Jack Towns produced the accompanying brochure to help tell the Albany Optimist Club story; that is, what it does, where it meets, and why it does what it does in the community.

pnw optimist club brochure backIt is a very straightforward format that your Optimist Club can and should follow. A club brochure helps recruit new members and is a great resource when asking businesses and individuals to make a donation to a particular cause.

Moreover, a club brochure also serves as a membership retention tool. When members see the great things they have accomplished, they know that during the year, they have made a difference and they recall the fun they had doing it. They remember why they are Optimist Volunteers.

If your club hasn't updated its brochure in a while, please do so. New pictures of new and traditional programs will energize your members and your community to do more.

Please click on the pictures to enlarge. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Free membership!

In about thirty days or so, high school graduation will take place around North America. Many Optimist Clubs will be involved with recognition assemblies and graduation parties, among other things. Something we hope they will also be involved with is new member recruitment.

Junior Optimist International (JOI) members will be graduating and heading to college or work after an earned summer respite. For the first time, Optimist International has made it easy for those new grads to transition into an adult Optimist Club.

For those who wish to join an Optimist Club upon high school graduation, there are no dues and no processing fees. That's right! That is free membership for a full calendar year for graduating senior JOI members.

How's that for a membership recruitment tool? <<AWESOME>> and <<EASY>> are just two words that come to mind!

If your Club has a graduating Junior Optimist senior who wishes to take advantage of this offer, contact membership@optimist.org or call 800-500-8130 ext. 226.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

An optimistic background

This may seem kind of silly, but it is true. As I scrolled through my stream on Facebook, someone that I am friends with liked this photo of one of his friends who had just updated his profile picture. As I looked at the photo of Mr. Sinclair, of course I noticed the banners. He reports that he was the guest speaker at the Hillsboro, Oregon Optimist Club meeting.

Isn't it awesome that our banners make such a statement that even non-members want to share them with others?

Your Optimist Club can share optimism by putting its banners into the scene every day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Optimist Club hosts Youth Appreciation in Vancouver, WA

youth appreciation optimist club
Curt Scheidel and Jason Lee Middle School Honorees
The Vancouver, WA Optimist Club recently held its third annual Youth Appreciation event recognizing students from Gaiser, Curt Scheidel, and Jason Lee Middle Schools.

According to The Van-Guard bulletin editor Mary White, about 75 people joined the club at Salmon Creek United Methodist Church for the festivities that included a pizza and ice cream social as a prelude to the award presentations.

The Vancouver Optimist Club works with the middle schools to recognize students for overall citizenship. Mary reports, "This program goes beyond the academically and athletically gifted to recognize those who 'make a difference' in many ways to their schools."
optimist club youth appreciation
Gaiser Middle School Honorees

Shown in the pictures are:

  • (Top) Elizabeth Russell, Jose Orozco, Kauanoe Soares, Casey Struckmeier, Karla Velazquez and Liyu (Larry) Huang
  • (Bottom) Parker Burnett, Erin Narvasa, Cody Mowery, Aylin Mijares-Gamino, Daryna, and Justin Warner
Optimist International has promoted Youth Appreciation since 1956 as a way to recognize students for their positive behavior and contributions to society. It was once celebrated only in November; however, Optimist Clubs work with students year-round and now use the Youth Appreciation recognition awards as a way to interact with students at different times of the year.

Please click to find out more about  Optimist International Youth Appreciation programs. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Students speak about "What the world gains from optimism"

It's that time of year. Optimist Clubs around the world are hearing from amazing students in the Optimist International Oratorical Contest.

The students on the right recently participated in the West Tacoma Optimist Club's annual event. Listeners heard about Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, football players, personal heroes and even the Revolutionary War as they learned about the official topic, "How the world gains from optimism." As always, it was inspiring.

Two of these students* will move forward to the Washington Zone 4 competition on April 22 where they will compete with other speakers from the Tri Cities and Vancouver Optimist Clubs for the opportunity to advance to the PNW District competition on May 5-6, 2017 in Burnaby, BC. The winning speaker in the District competition earns a $2,500 scholarship, second place $1,500 scholarship, and third place $1,000 scholarship.

From the District level, one student will advance to the Optimist International World Championships. Only the second year for the global competition, one student will compete for an addition $20,000 in scholarship prizes.

All awards are paid on request to the student's college by the Optimist International Foundation or the Canadian Children's Optimist Foundation.

Find out more about the Optimist International Oratorical World Championship scholarship contest at this link.

*To comply with Optimist International contest rules, the names of the students are not published to maintain anonymity as they progress through the event.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Optimist qualifiers are scheduled for the Pacific Northwest Optimist Clubs

junior golf optimist international pnw district

It's spring! The grass is getting greener, the sun is setting later, and everyone wants to be outside. For some, outside means on the golf course and those are the folks this post is written for. If your Optimist Club likes golf or if you know some talented young golfers or even some who are just getting started with the game, we want you to know that there are two opportunities for junior golfers to qualify for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in the Pacific Northwest.

The first tournament will take place in Canada. Hosted by Tournament Director Harry White and the Vancouver Optimist Club through the Junior Linkster Program, the qualifier is scheduled as follows:

Date: April 30, 2017
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Golf Course: Langara Golf Club
Age Divisions Offered: BOYS 10-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-18 & GIRLS 10-12, 13-14, 15-18
Registration Fee: $75.00 Cdn.
Register online at the Junior Linkster Tour Canada page.

The second tournament is in the United States. Hosted by Tournament Director Al Young and the Hillsboro Optimist Club, the qualifier is scheduled as follows:

Date: May 20, 2017
Location: Cornelius, Oregon
Golf Course: Forest Hills Golf Course
Age Divisions Offered: BOYS 10-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-18 & GIRLS 10-12, 13-14, 15-18
Registration Fee: $50.00 US
Register online at the US PNW Northwest District Qualifier page.

Winning players in the top age categories are eligible to move forward to the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at the PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Click to learn more about this world class event welcoming more than 600 junior golfers from 40 nations. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Communicate, communicate, communicate

The top 5 reasons leaders don't communicate by Sherry Scott
On the Experience Optimism website, I have commented about the communication tactics of Optimist International many times. I fully believe that it could communicate more effectively with the members of the Optimist Clubs that make up the organization.

Specifically, it has a habit of sharing some information only with district leaders in the hopes that the information will trickle down as needed. Once someone is no longer in a leadership position, the information pipeline stops. The disappointment with this model is twofold:
  • the information does not trickle down in an effective manner
  • when it does trickle down, most information is prescriptive and does not engage members in the decision-making process
Plus, with the annually-imposed stop and start date of September 30 and October 1, it is as if one day you're in, and the next day you're out. Or is it? I've come to realize that perhaps, sometimes, one is never in the communication loop at all.

Some may have noticed that this administrative year has been especially non-communicative. It seems that very little information has trickled down to our clubs because as a club president, I have yet to see a district bulletin or even an email message from the governor. Almost six months have passed and while I know to go to the district website for information and meeting registration, I'm especially disillusioned to see that there is nothing listed, as of this writing, for the 3rd and 4th quarter district meetings, no minutes from the first quarter meeting, no financial reports, and no district goals or expections, among other things.

Districts have two purposes in Optimist International: to help Optimist Clubs succeed and to help Optimist International grow. Optimist International President Jim Kondrasuk has bundled the two purposes together this year by declaring it to be the Year of the Honor Club. When an Optimist Club earns Honor Club recognition, it has availed itself of the services from Optimist International and its District to host effective programs and recruit and retain members. Without communication, we don't know the specifics of the programs for the year including how to involve our youth contestants in the International Scholarship programs. Or, for instance, do you realize that Optimist International is awarding $500 each quarter for membership recruitment? 

Communication is crucial to success. Moreover, communication is a key that brings satisfaction to our decisions, including the decision to be part of an Optimist Club. In an article written for the Institute of Public Relations, Sherry Scott identified the top 5 reasons that leaders don't communicate as:

  1. The business strategy is complex
  2. They are uncomfortable with messiness
  3. Someone might ask a question they don't know the answer to
  4. They view their "goal" as communicator as delivering information, not hosting a conversation
  5. They don't want to deliver bad news

If I relate these to Optimist International, and more specifically to the governors of each of its 49 districts, I offer the following line item rebuttal:

  1. Honor Club is the business strategy 
  2. The business strategy, Honor Club, is about as straightforward as it gets
  3. Don't know the answer? I'll find out and get back to you is an answer
  4. Any information would be helpful and we can work on the rest if one is open to the ideas that others may have
  5. We can't fix the problems or celebrate the successes if we don't know about them

This year marks 30 years that I have been a member of an Optimist Club and over the years I have watched club presidents, district leaders, and international leaders approach their roles with various styles. The most successful are the ones who communicate their goals, restate their goals, work toward their goals at every turn, and monitor progress, reviewing it with others all along the way.

Some do that by creating, following and reporting on a published strategic plan. Although some might want to do more during their leadership term, I suggest that Honor Club is the baseline. Once a leader starts communicating that, the rest of the story to be communicated will fall into place.

Need help developing a communications plan? Contact Linda Vaughtpublic relations communicator at Experience Optimism.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why not NOW?

NOW is the acronym for New Optimists Welcome, a long-standing membership development program for Optimist Clubs. For as long as I can remember, Optimist Clubs have sponsored NOW activities for membership recruitment.


The NOW concept is simple - Your Optimist Club invites a group of prospective new members to a single event, explains what the Optimist Club is and what it does in the community, and then asks those assembled to join. When one person says yes, the group dynamics emboldens others to join as well.

Over the years, it has proved to be quite effective; however, it is important to follow the guidelines. Straying far from the recipe can lead to poor results as potential members become lost in the program delivery.

Here's what to do for a successful NOW program:

  • Set the location, date and time of the event - allow ample time for invitations, but not too long for enthusiasm to wane. Three to four weeks in advance seems about right. 
  • Identify potential new members
  • Send a letter to each prospective new member inviting them to the event
  • Follow-up by phone and email to remind invitees to attend
  • At the event, serve a meal, appetizers, desserts, drinks, or the like in order to allow time for networking
  • Begin the presentation on time
  • Show and tell about the Optimist Club's programs in short, no more than three-minute stories
  • Have a closer wrap up the stories, explain the dues and fees, share a personal testimony, and ASK for the sale
  • Have applications already at the tables, within reach, with Optimist Club members available to help the potential new member complete them NOW
  • Raise hands and voices when someone joins so that others catch the wave of excitement and join as well
  • Follow-up after the event with those who don't join at the event to extend the New Optimist Welcome pitch
  • Click here for the NOW brochure from Optimist International. 

The entire activity should be approximately one to one and one half hours long. It's important to respect your attendees time and to offer them value for their attendance. Networking and learning about something good in their community are benefits for small business owners and the efficient timeline allows them to move on to their next appointment in a timely manner. Such a first impression will encourage busy, career-minded individuals to give your Optimist Club a try.

NOW all you need to do is give them the opportunity to join an Optimist Club.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's the Year of the Honor Club

pnw optimist clubs honor club
honor club goal setting

Optimist International President Jim Kondrasuk has declared the 2016-2017 administrative year to be the Year of the Honor Club.

What's this? Isn't every year the year of the Honor Club?

Each year, less than 25% of all Optimist Clubs earn the Honor Club recognition, so that means even fewer go on to receive the Distinguished Club designation. We can do better than that!

Clubs that meet the Honor Club designation have completed the minimum steps to ensure their Optimist Club is healthy and growing to serve future generations. Clubs that earn the Distinguished Club designation have served not only their club and community, but they have also expanded the reach of Optimist International by starting a new Optimist Club or adding fifteen or more new members to their club, equivalent to starting a new Optimist Club.

In an effort to encourage more Optimist Clubs to seek the best in administration, community service and growth, President Jim created a Goal Setting Plan for 2016-2017. In case this is the first time that you have seen this plan, be assured, March is as good a time to get started as October. There's plenty of time to make your Optimist Club an Honor Club.

Click on the pictures to enlarge and print. Here are the eight steps to Honor Club:
  • Complete three or more service projects each year 
  • Complete the President’s Pride Report and Club Officer-Elect Form 
  • Recognize a Club member or local community individual 
  • Grow Club by Net of +3 in membership
  • Appoint a Club Foundation Representative and make a non-restricted contribution to the OIF or CCOF 
  • Conduct a Membership Recruitment/Drive such as a NOW Program 
  • Club President or Club President-Elect (or two Designees) attend District Convention (or two other District meetings/conferences) 
  • Be current on District and OI Dues and Fees
Add one more step and be a Distinguished Optimist Club:
  • Add Net + 15 in membership OR Build one or more new Clubs OR 
  • Increase by Net + 8 and build two or more JOOI Club
Please do your part to make certain that your Optimist Club is an Honor Club.  

Together we can make our communities and our organization healthy, vital and brimming with optimism. Together we can. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Teachers are encouraged to #JoinanOptimistClub

Teachers matter Optimist International
For nine months each year, and sometimes more, teachers inspire children to learn and achieve. To me, it sounds like they are ready-made Optimists. For the second year, Optimist International agrees, and it has extended its popular Recruit-a-teacher membership incentive for the third quarter of the 2016-2017 administrative year. 

Beginning April 1 and ending June 30, your Optimist Club may add teachers or any school personnel to its roster for only $30!* 

What a great deal to connect your Optimist Club to a veritable firehose of service opportunities. According to Optimist International, connecting with teachers will provide: 
  • A strong connection with local schools is extremely beneficial for your Optimist Club. More teachers on your roster strengthens this connection.
  • They can open doors for attracting more students to our youth projects - including Oratorical, Essay, Sports and other programs.
  • Teachers are able to provide first hand insight into the needs of the children of your community.
  • Provides the foundation for new Junior Optimist Clubs.
  • Your Optimist Club will serve more children!
I think there are even more reasons than above. One that especially stands out to me - we often hear that teachers reach into their own pockets to provide school supplies to their classrooms and students. Wouldn't that make a wonderful project for your Optimist Club? If only the teacher knew how to get in touch with you!

Expand the reach of your Optimist Club and provide more service to your community through the Recruit-a-Teacher incentive. Together we can make a difference in every school throughout the land. Happy recruiting!

*This promotion is for new Optimist Members only. It may not be used in conjunction with any other membership promotions, including "Friend of Optimist." Clubs will be billed $30.00 at the time the teacher is added to their roster and then will not be billed dues for that Member for a calendar year. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

30 years of women in optimism

optimist international women 30 years
In 1987, women petitioned to join service clubs. Rotary International took on the fight all the way to the Supreme Court and lost. A decision was made that women could not be excluded from these austere groups.

Several weeks ahead of the decision, at its 1987 convention, Optimist International voted to allow women to join. I've heard stories about how the motion failed, and failed, and failed, only to be brought up again and passed at the business session that, by some accounts, ran as late as 2:00  in the morning.

On International Women's Day 2017, I salute those who fought to do what was right and thank you for the opportunity to serve as an Optimist Volunteer.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What did and didn't happen at the Washington Super Zone meeting

On Saturday, March 4, 2017, I attended the PNW District Super Zone Meeting for Washington. There were about ten people there who were not serving in a district leadership role, an additional seven who were representing the district, two visitors from the Oregon Zone, and four or five local club members who stopped in for lunch. That's right, the Washington Super Zone attendance was under twenty-five people in total.

The meeting began with with a recount of club activities. Only those from Washington reported.

  • We heard that the Chehalis-Centralia Optimist Club was busy with its bicycle and motorcycle rides and that they were especially excited to have been given the Santa House from the disbanded Auburn Optimist Club. They'll be renovating the building for all types of Christmas activities this year. 
  • We heard that the West Tacoma Optimist Club was deep into Essay and Oratorical Contests, working with Covenant School and accepting the at-large entries in the northwestern part of the state. It treats more than 600 students to Tri-Star Basketball. In addition to its Boy Scout troop, they've adopted a Sea Scout Crew and are readying for two standing fundraisers, the Joeseppi's takeover in April and Pancake Breakfast in August. 
  • We heard about the Vancouver, WA Optimist Club's Youth Camp and their success with the Oratorical Contest and CCDHH Contest. Their Junior Optimist Club - the Mob - was touted as was their work with the Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts. 
  • We heard that the Share-a-Smile Optimist Club is unconventional as their purpose is to promote a positive way of life among adults. It has a pet parade in the summer, and nothing is planned with children.
  • Dick Disney and Mary White reported that the Zone Oratorical Contest will be held in Vancouver, WA April 22, 2017. 
  • Dick also mentioned the Optimist International Convention, Albuquerque, NM, July 5-8 and encouraged anyone considering attending to make their hotel reservations.
Governor Rick Matkin discussed the changes in the Honor Club (ICD-135) program from Optimist International. The policy is set by the Optimist International Board of Directors for a five-year span. This year represents the first year with the following changes for Honor Club recognition:
  • Must end the year with net +3 members
  • Must hold an organized membership drive or NOW event (Governor Rick recommends a free lunch voucher card to entice new member prospects)
  • Must appoint a Club Foundation Representative
  • Optimist Club must make a CLUB donation to the Optimist International Foundation or Canadian Optimist Children's Foundation
  • Must attend 3 District Meetings or the Convention (Not mentioned, but required and new)
w tacoma optimist club distinguished clubThe meeting segued to awards from the prior year. The West Tacoma Optimist Club was recognized for being an Honor and Distinguished Optimist Club. President (of record) Jim Ferris and secretary-treasurer John Hickman were present to receive the award.  Citations were given and a promise of the special award, the Distinguished club officer watches, was given because the past governor forgot to bring them. 

optimist club anniversaryFellowship and conversation was enjoyed by all at lunch, followed by more than one hour of leadership training by Lynn Viner, Leadership Development Chair and a reimbursement reminder from district secretary-treasurer Sharon Gray. Somewhere along the line, we heard that the District now has a different website in addition to the website maintained by Michael Gray.

We then celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Chehalis-Centralia Optimist Club with cake. Club president Monique Connors led the group in a fun, get-to-know-you activity before Lt. Governor Gary Smith called the meeting to a close by leading us in the Optimist Creed.

All-in-all, some might proclaim this a successful meeting, but let me tell you what we didn't hear:  
  • Any information about the upcoming third quarter meeting - where it is being held, registration costs, etc. 
  • Any information about the District-level Oratorical and CCDHH Contests. I don't know about others, but I'm wondering where the contestants will be housed, and if the second CCDHH contest has been funded. 
  • How children may participate in the PNW District Optimist International Junior Golf Championships and the role of individual clubs, if any.
  • Any information about the location, date, or anything at all, about the District Convention. 
  • District financial information.
  • Administrative information such as club officer elections, district and international dues, or District leadership recruitment (Catch a Rising Star) for the coming year.
  • Anything about publicity and press releases, which, in August 2016, Governor Rick told us was a priority for him. 
  • News from around the district, what's happening in other zones and with other clubs.
  • District or Optimist International special incentives.
  • Where the District stands in growth. 
Above all, I did not hear any encouragement to go out and add a new member, host a new project or program, or attend a District event; which brings me to the few words that Governor-elect Bruce Gilbertson shared. He asked us to ask our fellow club members:
  • What will it take to get more members (you) to attend a district meeting? Is it cost, training, or something else?
  • What needs to be done to assist clubs? Does your club need help?
  • Are you willing to help your club and others?
That's a start. If the PNW District and Optimist International is to continue,  the passion of long-time members is not enough; we must answer the attendance question not only with new members, but most important, with relevance to the changing technology, needs, and priorities of our members and the communities we serve.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Wild Bill rides for kids and the Oregon City Optimist Club

Bill Upton is 75-years-old. When he was 51, he had a heart attack and at 55, five stents were placed in his heart. Seven years later, two more stents were put in, but none of the surgery has stopped Bill from raising money to support youth programs in his home town of Oregon City, Oregon.

His latest effort is a cross-country bicycle ride in honor of the Oregon City Optimist Club, especially its pay-to-play school sports grant program. "I should probably be raising money for the heart people, but I really admire the Optimists and their dedication to kids," explained Bill.

A former teacher and coach at Ogden Middle School, Bill likes that the Oregon City Optimist Club is always available to help with youth and community service projects. Some of its projects are the Oregon City High School's JROTC program and graduation party, Pioneer Pantry, the Oregon City Public Library, Angels in the Outfield, Building Blocks for Kids and the Sycamore Lane Therapeutic Riding Center, among others.

Bill and six friends are leaving on March 5, 2017 from San Diego, California. They will take a 50-day, 3,100-mile journey to St. Augustine, Florida. He is confident that he can make the trip and asks that you cheer him on by making a donation to the Oregon City Optimist Club in honor of "Wild Bill," as he has been dubbed by the Oregon City Optimist Club members.

You can cheer Wild Bill on at this link: Wild Bill's Ride for Kids

The Oregon City Optimist Club would like to thank you for your support.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Let's work together

Reciting the Optimist Creed will always lift your spirits and give you hope. Today's post is to also give you a reminder to talk about good things: health, happiness and prosperity.

It's rather easy, given today's political climate, to talk about negative topics. Fake news, alternative facts, and indiscriminate practices seem to take the forefront.

As optimists, we must fight back. We've often said, why can't there be more good news on the television and in the newspaper? Why can't there be more good news in my Facebook feed?

I ask, why aren't Optimist Clubs more widely sharing their projects and positive way of life?

As I pondered that question this morning, I realized that in the Pacific Northwest District, only fifty percent of the Optimist Clubs have an online presence. That's not enough!

Here's my offer!
Let me help you get your Optimist Club online. There are low and no-cost options for your Optimist Club to pursue.
Send me a note and let's get started today.

Let's share optimism by talking about health, happiness, and prosperity to every person we meet, in person, online and beyond. Let's work together to make the real news good news.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Optimist Club essays must be in to the District by February 28

"Optimists make the best movers and shakers," commented one student on their submission to a club-level Optimist International Essay Contest. I agree! We are pretty lively, active in our community as we work to make a difference. It's great to see children recognize the personality trait - optimism - that helps one get things done.

It with optimism that we remind you to get it done by February 28, 2017. Get what done? Submit your Optimist Club winning essay to your District Essay Chairperson.

In the Pacific Northwest District, the chairperson is Trenna Bowman Garcia. Her contact information follows:

Trenna Bowman Garcia
2729 N Eureka Ave
Meridian, Idaho 83642
Cell: 208.870.7913

Friday, February 17, 2017

Optimism is love

Valentine's Day, February 14, has come and gone for this year; however, that giddy feeling of love can stay with you every day.

How can that be? Easy! Join an Optimist Club and your attitude will change. Reading the Optimist Creed aloud with friends is just the beginning of a new, positive lifestyle. Among other things, soon you'll be performing random acts of kindness, planning projects and programs and giving your time to make your community a better place to live.

That, my friends, is how you feel love.

Now do it! Join your local Optimist Club today.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.

Click here to start a new Optimist Club in your community.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

E-file your Optimist Club's 990 by February 15

It's an annual thing. Once per year in February, this website reminds all US Optimist Clubs to file their taxes. The form 990 is due February 15.

It's pretty simple to e-file. All you need is the following:
  • Employer identification number (EIN), also known as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
  • Tax year 
  • Legal name and mailing address
  • Any other names the organization uses
  • Name and address of a principal officer
  • Web site address if the organization has one
  • Confirmation that the organization’s annual gross receipts are $50,000 or less
  • If applicable, a statement that the organization has terminated or is terminating (going out of business)
E-file is an option for tax-exempt organizations not required to file a long form which includes nearly all Optimist Clubs except those managing large sums of money (over $50,000) or property.

Complete instructions and log-in filing information can be found here.  Form990-N Electronic Filing System e-Postcard. It is free to file and required in order to maintain your tax-exempt status as an Optimist Club. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

How did you celebrate #OptimistDay?

Yesterday, February 2, 2017, was #OptimistDay. Optimist Club members from around the world celebrated on Facebook and other social media sites. However, there did not seem to be much participation from Optimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest. A couple of posts and a share or two was it. That's too bad. It was an easy project to conduct and it demonstrated unity with a larger group.

I cite a few reasons for the weak participation:
  1. Since the only way that one heard about #OptimistDay was through social media, only those who avidly follow social media knew about it. There wasn't enough lead time to write about it in club bulletins or talk about it at an Optimist Club meeting.
  2. Optimist Club members wear Optimist Club apparel all the time, when they participate in a project, attend a meeting, among other times.  Wearing their apparel on one particular day seems routine. 
  3. Not everyone likes to take a selfie. Not everyone likes to share their photos. The average age of an Optimist Club member is no where near the millennial category where photo sharing is the norm. 
So how do we fix this problem for #OptimistDay 2018? 
  1. Keep the same date -  February 2 - and start advertising it now in print as well as social media. It's a widely accepted statistic that one has to hear or read about something seven times or more before they take action.
  2. Use a hook for the apparel-based theme. Maybe everyone should wear purple or gold or something to help set off the Optimist International logo. 
  3. Use the photos from those members who did participate this year to encourage other members to take pictures and share them next year. The photo didn't really have to be taken on February 2. The impact was in the share.
I also believe that Optimist International should set a goal and purpose. Perhaps aim for 1,000 photos or shares as a way to show the fellowship of an Optimist Club. That idea might benefit from some refinement, but it's a start.

Now let's do it! Show your Optimist pride on #OptimistDay 2018 and throughout the year. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Optimist International Oratorical World Championships are underway for 2017

As February opens, Optimist Clubs begin preparing for the longest running and perhaps the most well-known international program: the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships. Previously known as the Optimist Oratorical Contest, in 2016, the program was revamped and with the help of St. Louis University, it now attracts participants from around the world to compete for a additional $5,000 and $15,000 scholarships over and above their $2,500 award at the District level. 

The topic for 2016-2017 is "What the World Gains from Optimism." Students under the age of 18 as of October 1, 2016 are eligible to enter through their local Optimist Club. For an application with contest rules, please click here: Optimist International Oratorical World Championships entry form

At the District level, students have the opportunity to win scholarships in the amount of $2,500 - first place, $1,500 - second place and $1,000 - third place. 

In the Pacific Northwest District, Ray Hilts is chairing the event and will help students locate a club near them that is hosting an event if necessary.  Ray and Optimist International suggest that club-level contests be held by the end of March. A club planning guide may be found here

Lieutenant Governors will be coordinating Super Zone contests in British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. They have been asked to complete those contests by April 22, 2017 in preparation for the District finals to be held in Burnaby, BC during the PNW District 3rd Quarter meeting, May 6, 2017.  Dates and details will be provided when known. 

If you need help, advice or encouragement in preparation for the event, please contact Chairman Ray Hilts at 541.928.0951 or by email

Friday, January 27, 2017

Put this $500 incentive to work for your Optimist Club

Announced on its Facebook page, Optimist International says when you recruit a new member into your Optimist Club, you will be entered into a drawing to win $500. If it is your first new member, you will be entered into two drawings for $500 each.

The drawings will be held on a quarterly basis. There will be two winners in the members sponsoring their first new member category each quarter. There will be one winner in the all member category.

This is your opportunity to share optimism with a family member, friend or colleague and possibly reap a monetary award straight from Optimist International. Or your Optimist Club might hold a NOW event or a membership drive and ask everyone in the community to participate as an Optimist Volunteer. Wouldn't it be awesome to have your whole membership entered into the drawing?

Act quickly and your new members can get in on the drawing too!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Prepare your Optimist Club's legacy with Honor Club

For more years than I can remember, Optimist International has measured the success of an Optimist Club based on one recognition:
Honor Club.

The Honor Club criteria has been adjusted over time, but its award has always meant that an Optimist Club is managing itself in a way that will help it succeed far into the future.

Earning Honor Club helps your Optimist Club create its legacy. 

The Honor Club criteria are set forth by the Optimist International Board of Directors in Policy ICD-135.  They are:
  1. Complete three or more service projects each year 
  2. Complete the President’s Pride Report and Club Officer-Elect Form 
  3. Recognize a Club member or local community individual 
  4. Grow Club by Net of +3 in membership
  5. Appoint a Club Foundation Representative and make a non-restricted contribution to the OIF or CCOF 
  6. Conduct a Membership Recruitment/Drive (i.e. NOW) Program 
  7. Club President or Club President-Elect (or two Designees) attend District Convention (or two other District meetings/conferences) 
  8. Be current on District and OI Dues and Fees
Optimist Clubs that demonstrate a further commitment to growth are called Distinguished Optimist Clubs

Earning Distinguished Optimist Club helps Optimist International create its legacy.

The Distinguished Club criteria are set forth by the Optimist International Board of Directors in Policy ICD-135. In addition to earning an Honor Club recognition, they must also:
  1. Meet Honor Club requirements
  2. Add Net + 15 in membership OR Build one or more new Clubs OR Increase by Net + 8 and build two or more JOOI Clubs
Many Optimist Club members say they do not do what they do for an award. They appreciate the smiles on the faces of the children they serve and enjoy the cameraderie of their fellow members in service. I get it; that in itself is a reward. However, it is selfish to think that way for it serves only those who can participate today. 

We must rid ourselves of that selfish thinking so that Optimist Clubs will be able to serve others well into the future. It's up to you to ensure that your Optimist Club is providing the best service to its community and members by demonstrating excellence in administration, service and growth through the Honor Club Recognition Program. Don't wait - start today. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Optimist Clubs are recognized for 2015-2016 achievement

Optimist Clubs are recognized each year by Optimist International based on one measurement: Honor Club. Some clubs achieve Honor Club and thenk do just a little bit more; they are called Distinguished Clubs.

The Special Recognition Awards Hotline for the 2015-2016 administrative year (October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016) was released today.

We salute those clubs in the PNW District for that earned Distinguished and Honor recognition.

Distinguished Club
Lebanon, OR
Tacoma-West, WA

Honor Club
Hillsboro, OR 
Meridian, ID 
McCall, ID  
Portland-Northeast, OR 
Roseburg, OR 
Vancouver, BC 
Vancouver-North Shore, BC 
Nampa, ID 
Issaquah, WA

Please click here to read the Awards and Recognition Hotline

Thursday, January 12, 2017

February 2 is Optimist Day

February 2 has long been known as Groundhog Day. You know, the day when Punxsutawney Phil crawls out of his den to tell us if there will be an early spring or if we must hunker down for another six weeks of winter.

This year, the prognostication is sunny because for the first time ever, Optimist International is promoting #OptimistDay.

On February 2, 2017, all Optimist Club members are encouraged to wear a shirt, hat, or pin to promote their Optimist Club. As our club members promote their individual clubs, Optimist International will gain recognition as a connector of people and deeds around the world that makes it a better place to live.

I'm in; are you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Show your Reel Optimism in 2017

Reel Optimism Optimist InternationalFor the fourth year, Optimist International and the Optimist International Foundation are asking Optimist Clubs, Junior Optimist Clubs and the public to submit video entries for the Reel Optimism Contest.

In 2017, the topics are:
Optimists in Action (adult and youth categories) - video must be 3 minutes or less
Make Optimism Go Viral (adult and youth categories) - video must be 45 seconds or less
Optimism (public category) - video must be 3 minutes or less

Clubs should begin working on their entries now. Submission dates are February 17 to April 14, 2017. Finalists will be announced on May 12, 2017 and public voting will begin, ending on May 31, 2017. Winners will be announced on June 2, 2107. See the full Reel Optimism Contest rules here.

Need some inspiration? Here are the entries from 2016 to get your creative juices flowing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Optimist International reveals new program logos

pnw optimist international program logos
In 2016, Optimist International and St. Louis University launched the revised Optimist International Oratorical World Championships. Along with larger scholarship amounts and global participation, the contest also received a much needed makeover. It received a new logo.

Standing tall at the top of this logo pyramid, the Oratorical Contest was the first of the Optimist International programs to be updated.

At the December Board of Directors meeting, new logos for Optimist International's traditional programs were revealed.

From left to right, please take a look at the logos for the Optimist International Essay Contest, Communication Contest for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Respect for Law, Youth Appreciation, Tri-Star Sports, and Youth Safety.

Optimist Clubs may download the new program logos here. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Promise to live the Creed 2017

You promise Creed

Happy 2017

Welcome to the best year of your life.

How do we know that it will be the best? Because we know that you are an Optimist and all Optimist Club members make the promise to think only of the best and to expect only the best. Optimist Club members live the Optimist Creed.

Those ten tenets inspire all who read them and for those who take the oath to belong to an Optimist Club, they become a way of life - a positive way of life.

We encourage you to take that promise with you as a daily mission. Live 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.
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