August 23, 2014

Positive thoughts, deeds and people are the purpose of an Optimist Club

During the first business session at the Optimist International Convention, the immediate past president and president-elect, representing the board of directors, came on the stage to suggest that Optimist International should be restructured.

They gave statistics about the membership decline and without explaining why any of this would help, they asked those assembled to consider four options for the future:

  1. Do nothing - continue along the same lines and watch the membership dwindle away.
  2. Restructure the organization into regions, eliminating the district administrative structure.
  3.  Allow Optimist Clubs to opt out of the district structure thereby achieving the second option eventually.
  4. Send us your ideas. 

Most at the convention were dumbfounded. We know that membership is slipping. We know that our districts are ineffective. We know that there is not a magic bullet that would address membership decline or Optimist International and other service clubs would have already found it. But what we do know about our service club of choice is that it is one of positive thoughts and actions.

As Optimist Clubs, we share optimism and none of that spirit was coming from the stage that morning. As we looked about at others' faces and spoke in the halls afterward, we said, don't they get it? The problem is communication! Optimist International has a problem communicating with its members and when it does decide to enlighten its membership it does so with flourish and bravado as if those who came up with an idea are the only ones who have ever addressed it. There is no engagement, only orders and expectations.

If I write to structure@optimist.org with my ideas, it will be to suggest better communications and a strategic public relations plan. I will also say, keep optimism alive, at all times. The greatest benefit of belonging to an Optimist Club is to be uplifted by the positive spirit of others who share similar goals for making their communities a better place to live. That begins with positive people at the top.


August 8, 2014

Find a new friend

I've been told that people, especially Gen X and Ys, aren't joiners. Technology has replaced face-to-face gatherings as we connect online and share crazy pictures, stunts, and yes, #selfies.

But let me tell you, nothing replaces the camaraderie of a service club. When you meet with people regularly to discuss how you might improve your community, you make friends and soon you realize that it is not just your community that is being improved, it's your life, and your family's life, that is benefiting the most.

Coming together with others in an Optimist Club will help you maintain a positive attitude. The service that you provide will nurture your community and the friends you make will nurture your soul.

Find an Optimist Club near you and don't just visit - join! If you don't find a club near you on this list, please send me a message and I'll work with you to help get one going in your neighborhood.

July 31, 2014

Ken Garner, Optimist International President 2014-2015 answers the question: Who Am I?

People draw meaning from different parts of any learning activity in which they take part. The 2014 Optimist International Convention was one such event. It inspired the attendees with stories from young Austin Gatus about not giving up and working through life-threatening medical complications. Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series shared a message of personal leadership and challenged every individual to help the organization grow by recruiting one new member. There were governance issues presented, discussed and resolved and a number of sessions to train members to be successful in their leadership roles.

And then there was this. Ken Garner, President, Optimist International, 2014-2015 took the stage and wowed the audience with his energy. He even included a song. Please take 25 minutes to enjoy his speech and be sure to stay tuned until the end so that you can understand, just like you, Ken Garner is an optimist.

Who Am I? 


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