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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Find strength and wisdom in numbers

pnw optimist clubs dividedOptimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest District of Optimist International are going through a seemingly endless series of "super zone" meetings in place of a district meeting for the second quarter of the 2017-2018 administrative year. It seems endless for the first was February 17 and the last will be March 24.

According to my Facebook stream, most other districts have already held one-day affairs where they celebrated the accomplishments of their respective Optimist Clubs for the 2016-2017 administrative year. It is a sad circumstance that the PNW District has little to celebrate; however, that is no excuse for not gathering the troops together for a "super dose" of motivation. This is my soapbox, so to speak, for encouraging an end to the practice of second quarter super zone meetings.

The super zone meeting is a plan promoted by some governors to bring District-level information and education to the local level. Not a bad thought, but isn't that the purpose, or shouldn't it be, of every zone meeting coordinated by the corresponding lieutenant governor?

Some cite the possibility of poor weather conditions as a reason to hold the local meetings. They say that way, fewer members will have to to have to travel far distances to attend; plus, there is the possible bonus that with the meeting being close, more will want to participate. I don't know whether that has proved successful. From the meetings I've been to over the years, I would say not so much.

The Optimist Clubs in the PNW District will come together as a whole for the third quarter meeting on May 12. That will mark only the second time that the District's Board of Directors will have met since the first quarter meeting in October. What's happened since that time? Have the club presidents been kept informed of the goals of the District and how their Optimist Clubs are part of the plan of success? Have the club presidents provided counsel to the governor and been given the opportunity to provide fiduciary oversight to the District as is their responsibility as members of the Board of Directors?

Here is the big question: are all working to leave their clubs and the district better than they were when they took office? Time will tell, I guess.

Over the past two years, the third quarter meetings have accomplished little more than serving as a platform for the Optimist International Oratorical Contest and Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. As inspirational as the students may be, there has been no training or education and the District Board Meeting has been reduced to the election of the lieutenant governors for the coming administrative year. That has provided little incentive to help the clubs grow right here, right now.

If the District is to return to a growth model, the administration must return to a growth message. The best way to deliver that message, concisely and consistently, is to return to education first and leave the social by-product as the second important reason for coming together.

Of course, the point of my message, is we need to come together as a District in the second quarter to celebrate the achievements of the previous year and to inspire achievement in the current administration. This is the time to provide last-minute encouragement and advise the process for entering the District-level Optimist International Scholarship Programs, among other things. It is the time to grow stronger with one another as clubs plan for the calendar year ahead.

A famous American once said that a house divided cannot stand. The same is true for the PNW District. As much as a super zone meeting may encourage localism, it discourages unity. When each group learns something different from the other, there is the risk that each will go its own way and soon, it may not need the others at all.