May 18, 2015

Our youth will bloom where they are planted

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the final, or district-level, competition for the Communications Contest for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students (CCDHH) and the Optimist Oratorical Contest for the Pacific Northwest District - Optimist International.

This is perhaps one of the most inspirational meetings of the year for we get to hear from the best and brightest young people hailing from British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington as they share their thoughts on a common theme. This year, that theme is "How my optimism will help me press on to the greater achievements of the future."

Optimist Club members know that theme comes directly from the Optimist Creed. The young speakers, however, met the topic with their very own observations made from their experiences in their lives. We heard an impassioned cry to draw awareness to teen suicide and we heard how differently-abled persons learn to live and thrive in a world that doesn't necessarily understand them.

Ben Fullerton, a speaker with cerebral palsy, confined to a wheelchair and utilizing a computer to speak for him told the assembly, "I'm optimistic. I don't want your sympathy, but I would like you to understand my reality."

His thought, among others that I heard, made me realize, perhaps adults don't really understand what goes on in any teenager's mind. We think we do because we've been that age ourselves, but the culture and environment is different from when we were that age. I'm inspired by their perserverence. Most of all, I'm inspired by their optimism. Children really can and do bloom where they are planted. 

As an Optimist Club member, that makes me happy. We're here to serve children; but we are also here to help our peers be the best version of themselves as well. If this pursuit sounds interesting to you, I invite you to join an Optimist Club. Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or contact me and I will help you start a new Optimist Club in your community. Share optimism today. 

May 9, 2015

Smiling, it's my favorite thing to do

There's something inherently relatable about the little yellow creatures called minions that emerged from the movie "Despicable Me." They are cute, affable, sometimes clumsy and always hard-working.

As followers of a more powerful force, we know that they are trying their best just to get by and while doing so, they mumble in an inexplicable language that somehow the viewer understands.

Face it: minions make us smile.

Do you know what else makes you smile? An Optimist Club. I know that you knew I was going to say that, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Much like the minions who come together and scurry about to accomplish their goals, an Optimist Club does the same. Club members share a common vision, to bring out the best in youth, community and themselves; and they develop and implement projects and programs that will help them make their vision come true. It's an inspiring way to live.

Sharing optimism and making people smile is a pursuit that I encourage all to take. Join an Optimist Club today. Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or contact me and I will help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.

May 7, 2015

Malibu teachers awarded for dedication to youth

Through its members, Optimist Clubs strive to bring out the best in children by working hands-on with them to help them realize and reach for their full potential. Optimist Clubs do this on a random basis by coordinating scholarship programs, hosting youth sports events and producing family-style festivals, among other things, that set the children in the right direction.

However, there are others who do this regularly, every weekday, for nine or more months per year. They are called teachers. The Malibu Optimist Club recently held its eighth annual teacher appreciation "Excellence in Education" program. Six teachers were awarded the "Teacher of the Year" at their respective Malibu schools.

The teachers were nominated by their school principals and honored by the Optimist Club with award plaques and $100 gift certificates to a local merchant. Congratulations to all.


Optimist Phil Gajic (far left) poses with (left to right) Susy R. Blair of Webster Elementary, Heather Russell of Our Lady of Malibu, Sandy Carter of Point Dume Marine, Julie Siegel of Juan Cabrillo Elementary, Juliacheri Hoos of Malibu Middle School, Henry Wadsworth of Malibu High School, Optimist Ken Kearsely and Optimist President Tarek Shraibati.

Thanks to the Malibu Optimist Club for the photo.
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