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Friday, December 28, 2018

An observation about the past, an appeal for the future

linda vaught succession optimist clubsDuring the last week of the year, many websites and blogs will review their most read posts and highlight how their musings may have shaped trends and beliefs. I thought it was more telling to review what drew the least attention in our corner of optimism: Create a path to leadership.

The irony is that it occurred during a time that Optimist Club leaders were, in theory, planning for the future.

So...what was happening in the PNW District on May 12, 2018? 

On that day, Optimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest were attending the third quarter meeting where members heard from students in the Optimist International Oratorical Contest. Members also participated in the District Board Meeting and were introduced to the new organization structure being planned by Governor-elect Ben DeRemer. Lt. governors were being elected and preparations were being made for transitioning officers and committee positions on October 1, 2018.

It just so happens that the least read submission on the Optimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest blog was posted May 12, 2018.  The text from "Create a path to leadership" follows:
We know this to be true - some people prefer to follow, some people want to lead, and all people like to be heard. In your Optimist Club, you must create space for the different levels of interest shown by your members and be aware, interests will likely change as engagement or disengagement occurs. 
If one person is always the committee chair of the club’s biggest event, always doing things his/her way, that leaves little room for new ideas to grow. Not only does the club suffer from the lack of new ideas, but members also become disillusioned and leave. 
The same is true for club officers. If the president and secretary-treasurer continually repeat in their roles, they create a perception that others are not needed. When people are not needed, what do they do? More often than not, they leave. 
It is up to current leaders to find and recruit their replacements so that the organization at the club level and beyond does not become stale from the lack of fresh, enthusiastic, new people, dreams, and goals. 
Great leaders are always training their replacement so that, in addition to fresh energy, they can provide continuity on the initiatives already begun that will move the organization forward. An organization like Optimist International relies on the quality of leadership that begins at the club level and is nurtured at the district level. It is more important today than ever before that succession planning begin. As individuals, we may not be here forever, but with planning, the organizations we love will thrive well into the future.
While this post cautions Optimist Clubs to make way for new leadership, it also explains that the same must be done at all levels of the organization. If the same people attend the District meetings each quarter without bringing their respective club's current officers, the same people are occupying space into which others might step. Furthermore, they are continually making decisions on behalf of others and sometimes that does not take new ideas and opinions into account. Most of all, it does not emphasize the importance of succession.

If Optimist Clubs are to continue well past the organization's Centennial Year, it is time that prospective leaders be given their clear path to succession. Some will be ready, and others will not. That is why a strong foundation of past leaders must remain engaged, but resolved to let others learn and teach the path we and our heirs are to take.

Photo credit: @rawpixel

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

At Christmastime and throughout the year, we wish you peace and happiness.

We hope you find love and kindness and that you share optimism with all around you.

Most of all, we hope that you find joy and celebrate every small step you take as if it were a large victory for our lives are gifts of the heart that we have the good fortune to experience every day.

joy to the world

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What are PNW Optimist Clubs up to this season?

Santa's helpers come in all shapes and sizes and we are happy to report that many are Optimist Club volunteers.

Their projects are varied and for the 2018 season, some that we have seen include the Chehalis-Centralia Optimist Club Santa House, the West Tacoma Optimist Club Peanut Butter Drive, the Hillsboro Optimist Club Baby Food Donation, the Coquitlam Optimist Club Pancake Breakfast, the Roseburg Optimist Club Santa Hotline, and the Boise Noon Optimist Club Aloha Christmas Party, among others.

pnw optimist clubs holiday

We're sure there are many more that we haven't seen and invite you to send a photo so that others may share in the joy of the season. Thanks for all that you do as an Optimist Club volunteer! We hope the season has been especially memorable for you.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Optimist volunteers are Santa's helpers

Any time of year is a good time to join an Optimist Club, but the holiday season may be the most exciting. Most Optimist Clubs host a multitude of Santa-like activities, from breakfasts to food drives, parties, and more.

While your help is needed at this busy time of year, it is also needed throughout the year when clubs sponsor Scholarship Contests, recognize children at Youth Appreciation events, and encourage good sportsmanship with Optimist Junior Golf, football, soccer, or curling, among other things.

The projects are endless and with a few more helping hands, Optimist Clubs can provide more meaningful moments to bring out the best in youth and themselves.

Please click here to find an Optimist Club near you and #joinanOptimistClub today. Your future self will appreciate it!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Childhood Health & Wellness Program announced

pnw optimist clubs children wellnessOptimist International has long been searching for a flagship program, something that allows the general public to uniquely and inherently identify a certain activity with an Optimist Club and its parent organization.

For many years, it has held the Childhood Cancer Campaign as a flagship idea. However well-meaning and accomplished this campaign has been, it does not speak to the universal mission adopted by the organization that reads, "With hope and positive vision, Optimist Clubs bring out the best in youth, our community and ourselves."

We are excited to announce in January 2019 Optimist International will introduce a new program, one that we believe could very well be a true flagship idea: The Childhood Health & Wellness Campaign.

Explained in the December Optimist International Hotline:
"The Childhood Health & Wellness Program will build on the highly successful Childhood Cancer Campaign to expand our impact. Clubs and Districts will now have the opportunity to initiate projects and services to improve the quality of life for children in their communities across a broader spectrum of needs. 
Childhood Health & Wellness will include four focus areas (not limited to the examples below):
  • Healthy Lifestyles (Child Obesity, Healthy Eating, Physical Fitness, Happy Heart Advice, March of Dimes)
  • Chronic Diseases (Childhood Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Sickle Cell Anemia)
  • Mental Health (Depression, Bullying, Abuse)
  • Disabilities – Physical, Intellectual & Developmental (Autism, Special Olympics)"
The Foundations will begin accepting donations for the new program in January 2019 and more information will be available at that time. 
Money previously donated to the Childhood Cancer Campaign will remain in the Childhood Cancer Campaign funds.
The value of this program is that it plays on the many strengths of the autonomous Optimist Clubs around the world. Because Optimist Clubs serve local communities by identifying local needs and designing programs to fit those needs, many projects that our clubs perform already fit inside the broad spectrum of the Childhood Health & Wellness Program. By focusing on the four areas, Optimist International will enhance the contributions its Optimist Clubs make through program support, financial contributions from its Foundations, and increased awareness worldwide.

It's true; Optimist Clubs bring out the best in youth, our communities, and ourselves. The Childhood Health & Wellness Program will present new opportunities to share the Optimist difference in our communities and around the world. We can't wait to hear more and we'll publish here as soon as we do!

Photo credit: Margaret Weir

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