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Monday, August 4, 2014

Take a journey to optimism

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If you live in Idaho or British Columbia, or perhaps anywhere in-between, you might be asking, why should I attend the district convention? It's a really long drive to Southern Oregon!

Yes, it is. It will take many PNW Optimist Club members between nine and eleven hours to reach their destination. If members of the North Okanagan Optimist Club should choose to come, their drive will be more than twelve hours. That's a full day, no matter how you look at it, of travel time.

Many years ago, the PNW District would attract well over 200 people to its meetings and when the destination was Whistler, BC, the Idaho clubs would rent a bus to get them there. Sadly, this doesn't happen anymore and I'm going to point to three reasons why:

  1. Declining membership means that there are fewer people to do the work at home when we need to travel to represent our club's interests at district meetings. I've talked about this before in a post about multi-tasking. In that post, I explained that I couldn't attend a district meeting in May 2012 because I had two other Optimist Club projects that were more pressing for me to attend. The bottom line is that we have to ask more people to join our Optimist Clubs so that we can reduce the stress that we put on ourselves as we try to do the work of many. 
  2. Although club presidents comprise the district board of directors, rarely are they asked to participate in discussion to shape and begin activities that will make the district, and thereby their Optimist Club, stronger. As governor in 2009, I presented the budget and I asked for input from the club presidents who were in the audience. Instead, what I received was negative feedback from past governors who said you can't do it like that because it's always been done another way. It was stressful. In some instances, I gave in and in others, I didn't; but in the end, I felt that I had at least asked the club presidents to help decide where the money would be spent so that it impacted the Optimist Clubs directly and not district volunteer leaders. Club presidents, you must show up so that you can take back this critical reason for belonging to an organized group - so that it can serve your needs, and in this instance, your needs are the needs of your Optimist Club.
  3. It's not as much fun when there are fewer people to see and learn from. Over the years, both the district and Optimist International have taken on the task of trying to provide fun activities in what might be perceived as vacation destinations. Good try, but it's not working. For me, I attend an Optimist event in order to network with others about being part of the Optimist International family. I might take in some local color and I might even extend my stay by a day or two; but in the end, my experience is successful when I see and learn from others about optimism. There's a saying, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." When it comes to Optimist Club, District and International activities, keep optimism the main thing, please. 
So why should you attend the upcoming PNW District Convention in Canyonville, Oregon, or any other district gathering? You must attend so that we can reverse the above trends! Please see item number 2 - if you are a club president, it is up to you to attend and change the course of events. You have to share your voice:  
  • If you don't think that there should be four district meetings per year - show up and say so!
  • If you think that the meeting should be held in a more central location for all - show up and say so!
  • If you want to provide input on the budget, which in turn determines what projects get priority in the administrative year - show up and say so!
  • If you think that governance and training would be better addressed in separate meetings - show up and say so!
  • If you think the scholarship contests might be better addressed by the district - show up and say so! 
  • If you think that your district dues are too high or low - show up and say so!
  • If you think the district could address anything, from programming to membership and anywhere in between, better or differently - show up and say so! 
This is your challenge for the future of our great organization and your Optimist Club. You must accept the responsibility of attending district meetings so that the organization can better serve your Optimist Club's needs. 

In ten days, some Optimist Club members will hit the road. They will make decisions. They will learn from one another. They will have fun. 

If you are not there, you'll miss out on the great hospitality of the Roseburg Optimist Club and the opportunity to share your voice and make a difference for your Optimist Club. It's not too late to take the journey to optimism - please register now

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