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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Amy Ren to compete in the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships

Following a successful virtual convention, Optimist International is moving forward to its second major online event, the Optimist International World Oratorical Championships.

The speak-off will be held July 16-17, 2020 via Zoom.

If one remembers, a mere four years ago, the original idea of the Optimist International World Championships was that all contestants would speak online from their home location. As Optimist International partnered with St. Louis University for the activity, they anticipated an at-large segment from a truly international audience. I can recall seeing participants from countries outside the typical boundaries of our clubs; however, Optimist Clubs remained dominant in recruiting and advancing speakers to the championships.

With many districts within reasonable travel distance to St. Louis, they began sending their contestants in person to the event while some in more distant districts, like those on the West Coast and the Caribbean, remained in a virtual setting. Optimist International discovered the joy of hosting the event live and I believe this year was the first year that the organization asked all districts to plan to send their contestants to St. Louis for the finals.

Enter COVID-19. Rendering all activities virtual, Optimist International had to opt for, ironically, its original design. While I'm sad at the reason, I am actually quite happy that the event will finally see its potential in action.

On July 16 and 17, youthful speakers will ask the world to "Just Imagine a World Without Boundaries."

Just go to optimist.org/oratorical on the days of the events to log-in to the Zoom presentations.

The speaking order and agenda are shown in the images. Please click to enlarge.

In the Pacific Northwest District, we are cheering on Amy Ren of British Columbia.
Best wishes, Amy! Speak well.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Optimist International hosts the #iMagine 2020 Virtual Convention June 27-28

Beginning Saturday, June 27, and ending on Sunday, June 28, Optimist International will host its first major online event. The iMagine 2020 Virtual Optimist International Convention will be a creative and innovative way for Optimist Club members to unite for learning, inspiration, fellowship, hospitality, and even a little business.

The agendas are shown to the right.

Details for virtual hospitality rooms can be found online at Optimist International's Facebook page. 

The convention will offer a variety of workshops and keynote presentations from Jermaine Harris and Rachel Wilson. Click here to view the workshop menu.

And of course, there must be some Caribbean hospitality, as we all look forward to the Caribbean Night when we gather in person. This year, members and guests are invited to a virtual Escape Room where they might win a trip to Barbados. Find out more in the graphic below.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

JOYA observed by the Lebanon Optimists

The good news today comes from the Lebanon Optimist Club. Each year, it recognizes students with the JOYA awards, the Junior Optimist Youth Appreciation program. With innovation, club members were able to reach out to keep this annual tradition going. Most importantly, they were able to interact with and show their pride and appreciation in some well-deserving young people.

  cascade school lebanon optimistslebanon optimist joya east linn christian

The photos show a modified drive-through ceremony where kiddos from Cascade School and East Linn Christian School were honored by the Lebanon Optimists for scholarship and service to their community. 

We send congratulations to all the recipients and to the Lebanon Optimist Club for its innovation and respect.

Click on the photos to enlarge. Photos courtesy of the Lebanon Optimist Club.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Watch our garden grow

A few weeks back, while on my daily walk, I saw a sign on a church that read:

Want to see some good news? 
Watch our garden grow.

I chuckled to myself for their community garden was weeks away from showing much more than rich brown dirt. As I've passed more recently, there are green sprouts peeking above the ground and more often than not there are two, three, or four volunteers raking, pulling weeds, and happily chatting while still maintaining proper social distancing protocols. They are the embodiment of good news.

This story reminded me of our very own North Okanagan Optimist Club in Vernon, British Columbia.

In April, in the middle of the stay-at-home orders from the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Okanagan Optimist Club optimistically advertised its annual spring fundraiser on Facebook. The club posted: "Deadline is looming (April 19) for you to order your spring flower, herb, succulent or Zonal geranium basket to beautify your landscape while you #stayhome. We are partnering with Bloom Thyme Nursery to continue to 'bring out the best' in our youth and community with the proceeds from this fundraiser. Stay home, stay safe and stay optimistic with a beauty like this in your garden!"

pnw optimist clubs north okanaganAs is the experience for many of our clubs' Facebook pages, there weren't any comments or likes. There were two shares and as I also shared the fundraiser on the PNW Optimist Clubs' Facebook page, I wished them well.

Last week we saw an update from the North Okanagan Optimist Club. Their fundraiser was completed! In addition to saying thank you, they also said: "Stay tuned for our swag and poinsettia sale in December..... something to look forward to over the next few months of social distancing!"

Kudos to the North Okanagan Optimist Club for its perseverance. Most importantly, thank you for making your community brighter with such lovely flowers and succulents as well as with your hopeful spirit.

When we cultivate an optimistic spirit, we can truly watch our gardens grow. We can watch as our positive actions help our communities change for the better.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

We are not being our best

Yesterday, May 30, 2020, in major cities around the United States, riots, and mayhem broke out from peaceful protests that were designed to recognize George Floyd, a black man who was brutally restrained by a police officer in Minneapolis, MN, and died. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter; and the occurrence brings questions to mind about what it means to be black in America.

I'm not going to espouse my beliefs any more than to say it hurts my heart when I see and hear of such brutality and racism. When Trayvon Martin was murdered eight years ago, I wrote about how we can no longer tolerate intolerance. We have to speak out for and expect only the best behaviors from ourselves, our friends and families, and even those we don't know.

The sorrow that comes from the egregious tragedies that befall my fellow human beings is only deepened by the terrible chaos that followed yesterday's peaceful ceremonies. The world is not acting at its best. 

My message today is so simplistic, I am almost embarrassed to share it, but please know I am not making light of the horrific state of affairs. I absolutely believe that in order to change the world, we have to share a message of hope and influence a climate of goodness. That starts by being our best selves and always putting our best selves forward. Most importantly, we have to expect others to do the same and when they do not, we must hold them accountable for their actions.

pnw optimist clubs promise yourself best

Accountability begins with speaking out when someone is acting against what is good for society. Not every issue is about life and death; however, small decisions shape one's world view. If someone begins making sketchy decisions at any stage in their life, those decisions left unchecked may lead to a worsening of behavior in the future. 

We are not all ethicists, but we can all live by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

Now I will return to my original words, spoken first by Christian D. Larson: Promise yourself to think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. 

Remember to always be on the best behavior as dictated by the society in which you live. Thank you.

*The charges were increased to second-degree murder and manslaughter on June 3, 2020. Three additional officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

An optimism challenge in Mission, BC

As a way of re-imagining service, the Mission Optimist Club reached out to children in its community in May with the Youth Optimism Challenge. For each of the weeks, it challenged children, ages 5-18, to complete a social media task. Parents were needed to help post online for the kiddos who didn't meet Facebook's age requirement.

The challenges lasted one week only and at the end of each week, lucky winners were able to choose a board game of their choice.

The challenges allowed children to be contemplative and creative and the prizes were family-oriented to help get through the COVID-19 quarantine challenge that has isolated all.

The first challenge asked: Post a photo holding a homemade sign to say what you look forward to doing when the quarantine is over.

Challenge number two asked: Express what brings you joy through these tough times.

Challenge number three asked: List five things for which you are grateful.

Challenge number four asked: Show us your awesome window display.

With this project, the Mission Optimist Club demonstrated how well it could adapt to challenging times by embracing technology. Most of all, it encouraged optimism beginning at home with our youngest members of society.

The questions asked of youth might easily be asked of all ages. Why not ask yourself questions one, two, three, and four today?

Well done, Mission Optimist Club!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Be a superhero. Be an Optimist volunteer

linda vaught pnw optimist clubs
There are a number of people being called superheroes today and they aren't the celebrities that we have grown accustomed to idolizing.

Instead, we are hearing of the countless hours of care that health care professionals are giving on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. We are also hearing about the delivery persons, grocery store clerks, and others decreed to be essential workers who are showing up every day while others remain at home helping to prevent the spread of the disease.

Today, May 17, 2020, our cities, counties, and states are beginning to open up for the resumption of services. Individuals will slowly return to work and the economy will rebound as more money begins to circulate. Something that has never changed, whether we are experiencing lockdown or freedom, our communities need helpers. Children need helpers. Disadvantaged and marginalized individuals need helpers. The world needs helpers. Those helpers are called volunteers.

Volunteers come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. They have different passions and interests. One thing is true about all volunteers: they look on the bright side. They see hope and want to share that vision with others.

We call such positive volunteers optimists. Isn't it wonderful that there is an organization that promotes optimism as a way of life? An organization that encourages people to bring out the best in themselves, in youth, and in their community? What is it, you ask?

It is Optimist International and we would love to have you join us and become an Optimist Volunteer.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you. We hope to see you soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Convention on your couch with the Optimist International Virtual Convention

We don't have a lot of information yet, but we have plenty of optimism that our first Optimist International Virtual Convention will be a success!

In a message to all Optimist International members today, President Adrian Elcock announced that registration is now open for the virtually re-imagined 2020 Optimist International Convention. Registration is $25 US for the first 500 registrants; $35 US thereafter.

The convention will be interactive, with business and learning sessions, and even online fellowship to share with Optimist Club member friends from near and far. With no plane tickets to buy or hotel rooms to reserve, we're hoping for a virtually full house with many first-timers learning more about what it means to be a part of the Optimist International family.

This message is just the beginning. The agenda for the event will be released soon, but in brief, join us Saturday, June 27, and Sunday, June 28. There will be scheduled activities for three hours per day.

BONUS: Your registration will allow you to revisit all education activities for one-year from the broadcast. Now that's an optimistic offer that you can't refuse. Register today. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

PNW Optimist Clubs announce the 2019-2020 Oratorical Champion

On Saturday, April 25, 2020, the PNW District - Optimist International held the District level competition for the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships.

To comply with stay safe at home orders due to COVID-19, the contest was held online via the Zoom video platform with Chairperson Cathy Cena as host for the event. The audience was limited to the contestants, judges, parents, and Optimist Club members from the sponsoring Optimist Clubs.

Eight students participated in the contest:

Representing the Meridian Optimist Club were Mae Webster and Rose Webster.

Representing the Roseburg Optimist Club was Marin Grey.

Representing the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Optimist Club was Amy Ren. 

Representing the Vancouver North Shore Optimist Club was Anya Trivedi. 

Representing the Gresham and Gresham Scouters Optimist Clubs was Willy Ybachynskyi. 

Representing the West Tacoma Optimist Club were Mary Boyde Funches and Madison Stephens. 

All students spoke on the same topic, "iMagine a World Without Boundaries," leading the listeners to imagine the many different experiences and ideas eloquently expressed by all of the speakers.

The first-place award went to Amy Ren. She received a $2,500 scholarship and will advance to the Optimist International Oratorical World Finals to be held in St. Louis and online in July. 

The second-place award was claimed by Mary Boyde Funches. She received a $1,500 scholarship.

The third-place award was claimed by Madison Stephens. She received a $1,000 scholarship. 

All students were amazing and we send congratulations to our winners and compliments to all.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Strategy is relevant

During this time of COVID-19 disruption, I've had the good fortune to stay connected with many Optimist Club members from different clubs and regions. We've shared worries and most importantly, we've shared positive thoughts and plans for the future. We've also shared thoughts for what I've heard called our NOW normal.

Led by the Optimist International office, President Adrian Elcock, and its international committees, the organization is conducting online elections for its 2020-2021 leaders and is in the planning stages for conducting the Optimist International Convention virtually. Yes, I think we are adapting to our NOW normal. I promise to share more here about the virtual convention, among other things, as information becomes available.

This website was created to share information that we, as Optimist Club members and Optimist Clubs, might not be getting from other sources. Over the past thirteen years, we've experienced ups and downs in communication. Right now, during this time of disruption, I've sometimes felt over-connected and perhaps you have too. Certainly, hearing the news media, the US President, other world leaders, and state/province, and local leaders and politicians might be seen as a full-time job. Reading the memes, both positive and negative, can fill up our social media streams making it tough to connect with those with whom we most want to speak. Even the messages created by Optimist International and Optimist Clubs can be staggering as we stretch our minds to ask, why does this matter to me?

Hence, I decided my membership recruitment and retention message for this month must touch on strategy.

Membership recruitment and retention tip #81: [COVID-19 social distancing edition #2] 

Stay connected in a meaningful way. Last month, our advice was to stay connected in this time of physical distancing. We encouraged you to connect with your members via social media platforms like Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, among others, and even the old-fashioned telephone. By reaching out, we let others know that even during a crisis, we can weather the storm together. With another month ticked off the calendar, we want to say that while it is important to reach out, it is even more important to reach out in a meaningful way. 
membership pnw optimist clubs
Once the connection is confirmed, you must add some strategy to your communications plan. Decide what the message is that you want to say - it may be informative, entertaining, or a call to action - and then create a text, graphic, or video to deliver the message. 

But don’t stop there. Use data to determine where the message should be posted and how your members will be most likely to receive it. Be selective in the content of the message and the delivery system. With all the media that is bombarding us at this time, it’s easy to overlook something important because the last time we heard from a particular source it was frivolous or worse. 

The content of your messages must be consistently relevant or they won’t be worth your member’s time.

Do you need help? 

If you need help creating relevant content for your Optimist Club members, I would love to help. We have a tried and true social media editorial calendar that will engage your members and help your Optimist Club excel. 

Reach out to Linda Vaught here. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Delays in reporting

The coronavirus has caused disruptions in Optimist International and its Optimist Clubs. The Optimist International Convention is now slated to be online at the end of June and reporting has been set back to allow for the possibility that meetings may resume again during the summer or sometime soon. 

One of the most important reporting documents is the Club Officer Election Report (COER). It has always been due May 20; but, not this year.

The new reporting date is September 1. We would like to encourage you to report sooner if possible. As soon as your elections are held, go online to the Optimist Leaders portion of the website and complete the COER report.

Thank you.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Thank you Optimist volunteers

Each year, Volunteer Appreciation Week is celebrated April 18-25. This year, we took this opportunity to say thank you to Optimist Volunteers in the Pacific Northwest by sharing an individual thank you each day on Facebook to the Optimist Club members in this collage.

From left to right, top to bottom, the pictures are the Oregon City Optimist Club, Optimist International President Adrian Elcock on stage to the Optimist International Convention, Chilliwack Optimist Club, Lebanon Optimist Club, Idaho Optimist Clubs, Washington Optimist Clubs, and the North Okanagan Optimist Club.

Please know, these photos are representative of all hard-working Optimist volunteers and we say thank you to all for all that you do to make your communities and our world the best it can be.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Volunteer appreciation week begins with optimism

While we continue to stay safe at home, please know that optimism and hope live on inside us. 

As Optimist volunteers, we'll soon be back to regular meetings where we can plan events and share our service and spirit with all. 

Thank you for being an Optimist volunteer.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Stay connected

As a federation of Optimist Clubs around the world, Optimist International can count on assistance to stay connected to those who rely on its message of hope. With that in mind, we give you the monthly installment of our membership recruitment and retention tip. 

Membership recruitment and retention tip #80: [COVID-19 social distancing edition]
Stay connected. 

Around the world, the novel coronavirus has disrupted daily lives. As people stay home to be safe, they also cheer on those who travel to work on the frontline. Physicians, nurses, and all medical personnel have become superheroes. Those who work in the grocery and transportation industries are the new rockstars. And at home, individuals are hopeful as they watch and wait for the days that they too can resume their traditional routines.

Organizations, businesses, and the government are reaching out via social media to keep their publics informed. They are reaching out to give assurance that together we can weather this storm. They are reaching out with optimism. 

Now is the time to stay connected to your members. Reach out by any social media means. Reach out via telephone. Let members know they matter today as much as yesterday. Keeping connected will make them - and the organization - matter even more tomorrow.

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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