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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Social distancing won't stop optimism. Stay safe at home

I saw a meme on Facebook that said March came in like a lion and went out like a seven-headed beast. Oh my, that is the truth!

Unprecedented times have arisen from a foe never seen before: COVID-19. The coronavirus has stalled the economy, placed health care workers on the frontline, and sent individuals into isolation to "flatten the curve," a reference to limiting the number of deaths that could occur if we do nothing to address its virulence. Cities, states, and countries around the world have taken this warning seriously and put social distancing orders in place.

Social distancing means we must stay at least six feet apart from others when we are outside and more directly, we should stay inside and safe at home. Only essential workers should be reporting to work and all social gatherings of ten or more have been canceled or postponed.

Staying with these orders, Optimist International has canceled its 2020 Optimist International Convention, the 2020 Junior Optimist Convention, and the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. More information may be found here.

The Optimist Scholarship Contests will continue and have been shifted to online programs. Information for competing in the Optimist International World Oratorical Championships will come directly from Optimist International. The PNW District competition will be held via ZOOM on April 25, 2020, and more information will be posted on Facebook as received. Click here for general directions to host an online contest. 

Now for our most important announcement:
Social distancing won't stop optimism. Stay safe at home. 

Click here to connect with the PNW District Optimist Clubs on Facebook.

Click here to connect with Optimist International on Facebook.

Stay connected, stay positive, and stay well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Let's talk about the structure of Optimist International

Membership organizations have struggled to renew their membership ranks for many years. The questions that face membership departments and their respective boards of directors are how useful is the current format to existing members and how relevant are the services the organization provides to potential members?

These are two very good questions indeed, and finally, Optimist International has decided to have a conversation with its existing members regarding their thoughts on how the organization may be reimagined and situated to succeed in 2020 and the years beyond.

Please watch President Adrian Elcock's video and then go to the Optimist International President's Facebook page and offer your suggestions. Join in the conversation and make a difference.

Monday, February 3, 2020

February is tax-filing time for US Optimist Clubs

Once per year, we remind Optimist Clubs in the United States of their filing responsibilities with the IRS.

This year, we must also remind your Optimist Club that in order to be in compliance with Optimist International Policy C-11, you must send a copy of your filing acknowledgment to Optimist International within 30 days of filing.

The IRS form 990-N (e-Postcard) is due on or before February 15.

To file, please have ready:
  1. Employer identification number (EIN), also known as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
  2. Tax year
  3. Legal name and mailing address
  4. Any other names the organization uses
  5. Name and address of a principal officer
  6. Web site address if the organization has one
  7. Confirmation that the organization’s annual gross receipts are $50,000 or less
  8. If applicable, a statement that the organization has terminated or is terminating (going out of business)
E-file is an option for tax-exempt organizations not required to file a long-form which includes nearly all Optimist Clubs except those managing large sums of money (over $50,000) or property.

Read more about the process here: Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations.

Log-in to file here: Form990-N Electronic Filing System e-Postcard.

The filing is free and is required in order to maintain tax-exempt status as an Optimist Club.

Clubs that have independent charitable trusts or foundations may have different filing requirements and we ask that you please contact your tax advisor for more information if your club falls into that category. Thank you.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

It's scholarship competition time!

Each year, Optimist International sponsors three scholarship contests to encourage students to become better communicators.

The first is the Optimist International Essay Contest. It takes place between September and February. The official topic for 2019-2020 is "Is Optimism the Key to Achieving the Dreams you iMagine?" Download the entry form.

The second is the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships. It takes place between January and May. The official topic for 2019-20 is “Just iMagine a World without Boundaries.” Download the entry form.

Optimist International partnered with St. Louis University to expand the Oratorical Contest in 2016. This year, in the third year of the partnership, we expect it to improve even more! District winners will compete on an international stage where they have the opportunity to win up to $22,500 in scholarship money.

The third opportunity is the Optimist International Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH). Although not all clubs and districts host this contest, those that do hold it between January and May. The official topic for 2019-20 is “Just iMagine a World without Boundaries.” Download the entry form.

ALL scholarship contests begin at the CLUB LEVEL. The winning club entries for the essay contest must be submitted to the district chairperson by February 28, 2020, for district-level competition. The names of the winning oratorical contestants must be submitted to the district chairperson by February 28, 2020, for regional competition assignments which begin March 7, 2020. 

For information about the Essay Contest, please contact District Chair Monique Connors

For information about the Oratorical Contest, please contact District Chair Cathy Cena.

It is our understanding that only the Essay Contest and Oratorical Contest are being hosted at the PNW District level in the 2019-2020 administrative year. 

Shown in the photo are Bob Speicher, President, West Tacoma Optimist Club, and Oratorical Contest winners from Covenant High School in 2018. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch?

Optimist Clubs encourage potential members to visit them and try them out. Most clubs that gather at mealtimes offer a complimentary meal to the guest.

This quick post is a membership recruitment and retention tip that we received from the Twin Falls Optimist Club.

In addition to offering a meal to the potential new member, the Twin Falls Optimist Club also gives a free meal to the sponsor of the new member when they join.

Now we know! Whoever said there was no such thing as a free lunch wasn't an Optimist. But you can be an Optimist by joining an Optimist Club today.

Find a club near you by clicking on this link.

If you need additional help or would like to start an Optimist Club in your community, please send an email to Linda Vaught.  We'd love to help you #BeAnOptimist.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Why should you be an Optimist Club member?

I've been watching a thread on Facebook that speaks to what Optimist Clubs do. A well-meaning district leader is creating memes - she calls them flyers - to answer the question "What is an Optimist" or "What does an Optimist do?" Within two hours of asking for help, this member had created and posted ten project examples with descriptions like this:

  • "Optimists raise money to improve the lives of youth in the area. We enjoy doing fundraisers and donating proceeds to scholarships, athletics, band, clubs, and many other youth organizations."
  • "Optimists teach bicycle safety, host bicycle rodeos, and even provide thousands of bicycles to kids each year."
  • "Optimists provide support to children with cancer and other childhood health-related issues."
  • "Optimists support Junior Optimist Clubs all over the world."

Another district leader chimed into the discussion to encourage the meme-creator to reconsider her approach and to instead focus on why Optimist Club members participate in the many projects she was highlighting. He said, "I've just seen membership sold both ways. And in my experience, the person that sold the WHY inspired me. The person who sold the what tired me." He provided the link to Simon Sinek's Ted Talk "Start with Why" for emphasis.

But it was our own PNW District leader and Past Optimist International President Ron Thompson that led me to comment on this discussion. Ron wrote, "I don’t see fellowship anywhere, and I believe our coming together with the purpose of developing optimism as a philosophy of life, enjoying each other and developing lasting friendships and reciting the Optimist Creed (with a banner displayed)."

Optimist Clubs host the Optimist International Oratorical and Essay Contests, and Junior Golf Championships. They support food banks, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Sea Scouts, teach children to read, honor children for citizenship, scholarship, and kindness, recognize first responders for their duty and sacrifice, among other things.

Optimist Club members share optimism and fellowship and create friendships that last a lifetime.

I created this meme from a picture taken at the West Tacoma Optimist Club's 60th Anniversary party and shared it with the group. Not only do I think it addresses the feeling of belonging that Ron described, I think it makes a point that we are Optimist Club members. 

Our Optimist Clubs conduct many diverse projects that speak to local needs and international initiatives, and our members gain personal satisfaction from participating in those projects because along the way they also make friendships and share a philosophy of life that nurtures their soul.

Won't you be our friend? Find an Optimist Club at this link and get involved. #JoinAnOptimistClub today.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Welcome to 2020

Another year has passed and a new year lies ahead with all the promise that 365 new days bring. Scratch that - a new decade lies ahead with all the promise that 3,650 days bring. 2020 is truly the year for Optimist Clubs around the world for with hope and positive vision, they bring out the best.

We wish you only the best this year, this decade, and this forever after. Happy New Year. 

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