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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Hindsight is 2020. Choose Optimism in 2021


In less than 24 hours, 2020 hindsight will have a new meaning. It used to be that when we said hindsight is 20:20 we were speaking of being clear, with all things known. Now and forever, 2020 hindsight will be known for its disruption and the sheer unknowing that COVID-19 unleashed during this most unprecedented year. 

While vaccines have been developed and approved with what seems lightning speed, we still face the uncertainty of their effectiveness, safety, and availability leading us to hope for the best in the new year.  Frontline health care workers and seniors were the first to be inoculated and soon, perhaps, the vaccine rollout will cover all. Perhaps life will eventually return to something bearing a reasonable semblance to what we used to call normal.

As we press on to the greater achievements of the future, as good Optimists are willed to do, I believe we must also look back on the past year with gratitude. We've learned that technology is truly our friend, patience is truly a virtue, and love is truly what makes life worth living. 

Looking forward to the new year, we must think only of the best and expect only the best because now, more than ever, we must #ChooseOptimism. 

Happy New Year to all the Optimists out there. Help us share messages of resilience and happiness as we rally all of those around us to success in 2021. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Optimist International Scholarship Contests in the Pacific Northwest District

The Scholarship Contests are perhaps the most beloved of all Optimist Club activities, next to, of course, the fellowship that we feel as part of a group of positive-thinking advocates for youth and community. Each year since 1928, Optimist International has held the Oratorical Contest at the Optimist Club and District Level. It also promotes the Essay Contest and Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as opportunities for students to improve their communication skills. 

The Optimist International Essay Contest is the first in the series of competitions. The topic for the 2020-2021 school year is "Reaching your Dreams by Choosing Optimism." 

The Club planning guide may be found at this link. 
The student entry form may be found at this link.

The Optimist International Essay Contest is currently taking place and Optimist Clubs have until February 28, 2021, to submit their winning entry to the PNW District. Each club may submit one entry to compete at the District level for the $2,500 scholarship prize. A check for $50.00 US must accompany the winning entry and mailing instructions will be provided before February 1 by Chair Monique Connors

The Optimist International Oratorical World Championships is a multi-level event that begins at a local Optimist Club. The top two contestants from each club move forward to the Zone-level competition. The top speaker in each Zone then moves forward to the District-level competition where the contestants compete for $1,000, $1,500, and $2,500 scholarships. The first-place speaker then moves on to the World Contest where they may achieve an additional $20,000 scholarship award. 

The topic for the 2020-2021 school year is "Healing the World with Optimism."

The Club planning guide for Oratorical Contests may be found at this link.
The student entry for the Oratorical Contest may be found at this link. 

Cathy Cena is the PNW District Chair for the Optimist International Oratorical competition. She will be reaching out to clubs with more information for participating soon. Please note that the sponsoring Optimist Club contributes $50.00 US for each contestant that advances to the Zone competition. The District competition will take place in the spring near or at the time of the third quarter meeting for the PNW District. If COVID-19 rules remain in effect, the contest will be held virtually. 

The Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) may be held at the discretion of the Executive Board based on the number of clubs likely to participate and the ability to fundraise for the scholarship for deaf students who speak, among other things. Should the competition go forward, the topic for the 2020-2021 school year is "Healing the World with Optimism." 

The Club planning guide for the CCDHH may be found at this link.
The student entry form for the CCDHH may be found at this link. 

As with the other scholarship contests, the sponsoring Optimist Club contributes $50.00 US for each student that competes at the next level following the Club event. The District Chair will communicate additional guidelines if the CCDHH contest is to be held this year. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

OptiForum provides ideas for keeping Optimist Clubs active virtually

 On December 14, 2020, nearly 500 Optimist Club members came together to learn how to survive the pandemic with optimism. Led by Optimist International President Mark Weinsoff, the OptiForum discussed ways to stay safe, inspire and motivate one another, and provide service to our youth and community. 

By remaining active during such trying times, Optimist Club members truly bring out the best in themselves and in others. 

Click here to watch a replay of the presentation on YouTube. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

How to Conquer the Pandemic with Optimism

Optimist International understands that some Optimist Clubs have struggled to remain connected to members and their communities through the pandemic. On December 14, 2020, it will host an OptiForum to discuss how some Optimist Clubs have thrived through the challenging time. It requires ingenuity, a little technology, and a lot of hope and resilience. We're Optimists. We got this. 

Please join on Zoom, Facebook, or YouTube for How to Conquer the Pandemic with OptimismClick here to register now. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Remember to say thank you throughout the year

The holiday season is a time when we remember to say thank you. In a membership association, like an Optimist Club, it's important to say thank you to your members - all of them - throughout the year. The membership recruitment and retention tip for December reminds club leaders to show their gratitude to all.

Membership recruitment and retention tip #87:

Say thank you. Your club says thanks to its sponsors and speakers and even the committee chairs who perform their duties on its annual programs, but does it say thank you to individual members throughout the year? Regularly letting members know that you appreciate their participation shows respect and increases their loyalty to the group as well as to the cause. Consider writing a gratitude column in the monthly newsletter and you’ll be rewarded with greater readership and happy, committed members.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Optimist Club members tell us why they #ChooseOptimism

Please double click to enlarge. 

Optimist International President Mark Weinsoff has asked the organization and its members to be more positive and more optimistic. He says, "We're on a mission to convert Optimist International from a service club organization to an optimistic organization that focuses on service to youth."

His method is to share the teachings of Martin Seligman and others who study and promote positive psychology. President Mark says that doing the following will make you and your Optimist Club a more inviting club, bring more fellowship to the group, and leave the individual feeling better state of well-being because of optimism:

Optimism – Hope and positive vision

Purpose – A cause to support

Engagement – A meaningful way to participate

Relationships – Interaction with positive minded people

Accomplishment – Satisfaction of making a difference

The video captures some of the reasons Optimist Club members from around the world say that they #ChooseOptimism

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Optimist Creed will keep us strong through the pandemic

Positive psychology tells us that optimists are more resilient than pessimists. They look at the bright side and that allows them to see what lies ahead in a positive light. Optimism is so important right now as we work and live through the pandemic. We must trust that we will press on to the greater achievements of the future. 

The Optimist Creed reminds us of our resilience. 

We invite you to enjoy the Optimist Creed with this video. The Optimist Creed is a staple in the Optimist Club member's library and you can #beanoptimist by joining an Optimist Club today. Click on the link in the right-hand column to find an Optimist Club near you.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

$30 membership incentives end December 31, 2020

 Adding new members to your Optimist Club should be a priority for officers and members alike. Only when members are added are we able to truly meet the needs of our communities. The extra hands make current projects run more smoothly and the new ideas bring new programs to life. 

Over the past few years, Optimist International has offered several different $30 membership programs to give prospective new members the opportunity to sample an Optimist Club at a reduced rate. The $30 under 30, Heroes, and Recruit-a-Teacher incentives targeted individuals like young professionals, first responders, and teachers. 

This notice is to alert all Optimist Clubs that all $30 incentives will expire on December 31, 2020. Hurry to save money for all of these categories of membership. Watch the video for more information.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

#ChooseOptimism on election day

It is election day in the United States. This symbolic day is the foundation of democracy. It's important that every citizen makes their choice for the representatives that will lead and govern the country. 

As members of an Optimist Club, it is important that we do something else. Today, and every day, we must choose optimism. Optimism is faith in today and hope for what can be. We must lead always with the positive and the positive will come to be. Our thoughts become our words. Our words become our actions. Our actions become our habits. Our habits become our character. Our character becomes our destiny. 

If you are in the USA, please go vote. 

If you reside in this universe, please choose optimism; make it your destiny. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Special Convention to be held at First Quarter Meeting 2020-21 for the PNW District Optimist Clubs

The first quarter meeting for the PNW District - Optimist International will be held on October 30-31,
2020 via Zoom. 

Governor Eddie Solorzano was looking forward to welcoming Optimist Club members in person; however, due to ongoing limitations from the COVID-19 restrictions, it was determined that an online meeting would be more inclusive for members in Canada who are not allowed across the border and others who do not yet feel comfortable about travel. 

In addition to welcoming new faces to their new roles in the new administrative year, the governor and his team have requested and been granted a special convention to cover administrative tasks that were not handled by the previous administration at the annual convention. 

Those tasks include completing financial obligations including changing signatories on the district bank accounts and adjusting the district policies to be in line with Optimist International suggested district policies, among other things. The suggested changes may be seen by clicking on this link. 

The Zoom meeting is free for all to participate, but registration is required. Click on this link to register. Club presidents or their designates are considered delegates and only delegates may cast their club's vote on convention business. 

There will be online training provided for Optimist Club presidents, secretary/treasurers, and others wishing to participate following the special convention. More information will be shared on Facebook as received. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Choose optimism: Optimists are resilient leaders

October 8, 2020... We're going to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future. 

pnw optimist clubs communication

Communication is more difficult when we are wearing a mask because the mask hides our facial expressions. How do we convey friendliness and sincerity when our smiles are hidden behind cloth? How do we build rapport, indicate confusion, or convey good - or bad - intentions when nonverbal cues are not visible? 

Because Optimists are resilient, we have some mask-wearing communication tips to share: 

1) Use your mask voice. We mentioned that cloth is covering your smile and it is also muffling your voice. Individuals must speak louder than they normally would just to be heard. They must use different inflections to convey emotions including, but not limited to delight, confusion, and agreement. 

2) Be an active listener. When mouths are hidden, speakers can't tell if their audience is listening. It's up to the listener to nod and give verbal cues, like "Mm-hmm," or "Go on," to their partners and teammates. 

3) Smile anyway. The act of smiling can be seen in your eyes and that will convey sincerity and friendliness. Practice smiling with your eyes so the crinkling feels more natural. 

While wearing a mask may make us feel closed off, adding these communication tips will help both speakers and listeners be more open, available, and communicative. 

Choose optimism: Optimists are resilient leaders and know how to communicate.

Reference: "How to build rapport while wearing a mask, " by Dustin York

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Plan today to be an Honor Club

What is the single best idea you can have for your Optimist Club this year? As the new administrative year gets underway, we think of all the ways we may serve our community, increase our fundraising, and share fellowship. We even think about how we can change our outlook so that we will always #chooseoptimism. The best idea that we can have is to plan today to be an Honor Club. 

An Optimist Club that achieves Honor Club status is doing all that it can do to build a legacy that will make an impact in its community today and for years to come. By performing service projects, adding members, and reporting its progress to Optimist International, an Optimist Club becomes an integral and uplifting part of its members' lives. Optimist International encourages every club to take the steps to be an Honor Club. 

Please watch the video to see what an Optimist Club should do every year to be its best. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The California flag is raised in St. Louis

The new administrative year began on October 1. This year, as every year, a flag ceremony was held at the Optimist International office in St. Louis, Missouri to raise the state flag of the newly installed International President. Attending virtually was the Immediate Past International President Adrian Elcock of Barbados. Attending in person was the 2020-2021 International President Mark Weinsoff as the flag for California was raised at 4495 Lindell Blvd.

This video samples the day plus a little bit more.


President Mark asks us to #ChooseOptimism and help our organization become a group of optimistic clubs that serves the youth and our communities. 

If you are new to this page, please visit Optimist.org to find an Optimist Club near you and join today. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Happy New Year, Optimist Clubs!

 It's a new year for Optimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest District and around the globe. 

Optimist International President Mark WeinsoffToday, we are happy to announce the new theme for the 2020-2021 administrative year. Optimist International President Mark Weinsoff asks us to Choose Optimism. It is a personal decision that we must make for ourselves each and every day. When we choose optimism, we'll find that we are more grateful, more resilient, and happier. 

When President Mark visited the PNW District in August 2019, he discussed positive psychology and what he believes are the five elements of well-being:


Watch for the fall edition of The Optimist to learn more about President Mark Weinsoff and OPERA, among other things. 

PNW Optimist Clubs Governor Eddie

In the Pacific Northwest, we welcome Eddie Solorzano to the role of Governor. We're looking forward to sharing more of Eddie's plans in the coming weeks. For now, he asks that you plan for a district quarterly on October 31 with more details (will it be virtual or live?) to be given soon.

Best wishes to President Mark, Governor Eddie, and all Optimist Club Presidents assuming their new responsibilities today. Choose Optimism and let your resilience lead us through the challenging times ahead. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Students are asked to choose optimism for the Optimist International scholarship contests

As we head into a new administrative year for Optimist International, we also head into a new season of scholarship contests for students. 

We're excited for the Optimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest District to help students choose optimism by writing, speaking, or signing about these topics. 

The Optimist International Essay Contest takes place between September and February. The official topic for 2020-2021 is "Reaching your Dreams by Choosing Optimism." Download the entry form.

The Optimist International Oratorical Contest takes place between January and May. The official topic for 2020-2021 is “Healing the World with Optimism.” Download the entry form.

Optimist International partnered with St. Louis University to expand the Oratorical Contest in 2016. This year, in the fourth 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 Optimist International Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) takes place betweenJanuary and May. The official topic for 2020-2021 is “Healing the World with Optimism.” Download the entry form.

When specific dates and the PNW District Chairpersons are announced, we will update the information on this website. For now, please share this contest with students, parents, teachers, and all others who are helping students learn from home. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Where flowers bloom, so do people

 On Saturday, September 12, I shared my optimism with the PSW District - Optimist International. The presentation is called "Where flowers bloom, so do people." It might be subtitled "The resilience of optimists during the pandemic." Please take a look. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Zoom with Cathy Hicks at the Optimist Coffee Cafe

Fueled by Optimist Club members across the continent, Optimist International has launched a series of Zoom chats called the Optimist Cafe. With different hosts and hostesses, and many different topics to choose from, the Coffee Cafe is a way to stay connected to Optimist Club friends and optimistic thoughts. Find the schedule for the series here. 

Beginning September 21, 2020, Cathy Hicks, Vice President-elect for the West Coast Region, Optimist International, will lead the Coffee Cafe with a West Coast twist. She invites all to participate, especially those Optimist Club members who call the West Coast Region home. 

The West Coast Region includes the following districts: Arizona, Pacific Central, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southeast, Pacific Southwest, and Southern California. 

Click here for the link. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Boise Optimists Chalk the Walk for Childhood Cancer

 The Boise Optimist Club has been a long-time supporter of childhood cancer programs. It has partnered with the Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) to provide Beads of Optimism for children completing steps in their cancer treatment and held many activities to support the children and their families at Christmas and beyond. 

At Christmas, the club would bring Santa to visit with Mrs. Claus, the elves, and presents. In the spring, the club would host a prom for young students who couldn't attend theirs because of their treatment, and typically, in late summer, it would host a picnic, treating families to a carefree day where all children had the opportunity to run and play. 

That project couldn't happen this year due to COVID-19. Like the resourceful Optimist Club that they are, the Boise Optimist Club decided on a different way to lift spirits and timed their event to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 

Over the Labor Day weekend, the Bishop Kelly High School Art Club joined with the Boise Noon Optimist Club to Chalk the Walk in front of the Children's Oncology Clinic at St. Luke's Hospital in downtown Boise, Idaho. The club shared the accompanying photos with us. Thanks to all for sharing your optimism. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

#BeAnOptimist - Be an Honor Club

Welcome to September

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our daily lives, Optimist Clubs are preparing for the final push of the Optimist International administrative year. 

Now is the time to add new members, conduct those favorite service projects in a new way, make donations to the Optimist International Foundation, and the Children's Optimist Foundation of Canada. 

Now is the time to show the resilience of a true optimist by making every Optimist Club an Honor Club.

And please, #BeAnOptimist and keep wearing your mask when you leave your home on personal or Optimist Club business. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Re-imagining Optimist Club service during the pandemic

PNW Optimist Club re-imagine support
The school season has arrived and the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year will be like none other. 

Some children are heading back to the classroom and many more are staying home for distance learning that will take place via Zoom or other platforms. For the foreseeable future, parents will continue in the multiple roles they began in the spring when COVID-19 forced the world into quarantine. In addition to being mom and dad, they've also adopted the role of teacher or tutor and gym coach. 

There are time management challenges for parents working from home and childcare challenges for those who must report to their place of business. Wouldn't this be a great time for Optimist Clubs to step-up their service to their communities? 

Some ideas that come to mind: 

  • Host online activities like storytelling, art class, or a singalong. 
  • Create a series of mini scavenger hunts and have children check-in at a certain time each day, for a certain length of time, to report their finds. 
  • Host a virtual walk for children, and adults too, to complete a certain route. Take pictures along the way and submit their favorite for a raffle prize. 
  • Host an online talent show for singing or an online poetry slam.
  • For those communities that can, partner with a church or community center to host any of the above in a properly physically distanced environment. 
We are looking for more innovative ways that Optimist Clubs can provide support to children and families in these difficult times. Please click here to share ideas about how Optimist Clubs may re-imagine service and support for youth and community and we'll share your ideas with others. 

Promise yourself work only for the best. We'll get through this pandemic because we're optimists.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

To attend a virtual district convention, or not to attend? That is the question

August brings District Conventions to life. Around the world of Optimist International, Optimist Clubs, and their representative members gather for a celebration of the old and new as they recognize those who have served and those who will step into leadership positions. It is also a time for motivation and innovation as members make plans to end the administrative year strong. 

This year brings special challenges to the mix. COVID-19 is preventing most districts from gathering in person so they have moved to virtual settings via ZOOM and similar platforms. 

optimist international zoom
This has allowed interaction between the Optimist International leaders, districts, and clubs in a way that has never before been possible. President Adrian Elcock can connect with the Arizona District from his home in Barbados. President-designate Mark Weinsoff can connect with the Midwestern Ontario District from his home in California. Certified International Trainers (CIT) and others who have important information to share can connect with a district other than their own without leaving their home office. Optimist Club members can attend a virtual convention across the country and share the optimism of newfound friends. 

The PNW District's virtual convention is scheduled for September 19, 2020. Unlike most districts that have held their conventions at no cost or a minimal $10 registration fee, the PNW District administration is asking for $35 to attend. I am disappointed that it feels the need to do so and while I realize we are still 27 days away, we have not seen an agenda, and I question what it will offer that warrants that amount. 

Optimist Clubs, like other community service organizations, charge individuals to volunteer. For those of us who have joined, we get it. The investment helps our organization thrive and provides the unity that we need to bring about global initiatives. However, to continually come to the well for more and more money is disconcerting.

In case you didn't realize, the PNW District Policies grants voting rights to individuals who register and pay to attend the District Convention. This is in direct conflict with the District Policies suggested by Optimist International and at the 2019 District Convention, those assembled voted to change this policy. It was then overturned by less than 25 people at the first-quarter conference in October 2019. 

This policy conflicts because individuals belong to Optimist Clubs; Optimist Clubs belong to Optimist International and are assigned to Districts for administrative purposes. It is an Optimist Club that is served by the District and therefore it is the Optimist Club that should vote for any business, including the election of officers, that comes before the District as it does at the District Convention.

Optimist Club presidents serve as members of the Board of Directors for the District so that they have a voice in administrative matters. They include their club members in their voting decisions. If the president and their Optimist Club's voice is taken away or diminished because their members had something to do that day other than attending a district meeting or convention, what is their motivation to participate? 

This is a rhetorical debate that I am having with myself as I write this article. I believe it is unlikely that any policy decisions will be made or should be made at the virtual convention for the PNW District. To do so would be unwieldy and uninspiring. 
Eddie Solarzano PNW Optimist Clubs
Eddie Solarzano, 
PNW District Governor 2020-21

We should instead embrace the opportunities that the pandemic has given us to experience optimism from different voices and lands. We should encourage projects to take on a new life in a world that is different than it was last year at this time. We should rally every Optimist Club to finish strong and to be an Honor Club. 

Above all, we should cheer for optimism.  We've chosen to belong to an Optimist Club for a reason and something tells me it has very little to do with fretting over administrative rules. 

Let's take the remaining days of this administrative year to plan how we will uplift our attitudes within our clubs and throughout the world. On October 1, the PNW District will have a new voice with a Spanish accent at the helm. Eddie Solarzano hopes to bring not only fellowship but also friendship, back to the district. We predict we will all be proud and enjoy choosing optimism once again. 

We wish you well and hope to see you soon. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Optimistic speakers imagine a world without boundaries

The winner of the PNW District Optimist International Oratorical Contest, Amy Ren, performed very well in the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships. Unfortunately, she was no match for the other talented participants who represented their respective districts. 

After a day-long competition, seven regional winners were chosen to compete in the final round: 

Region 1 - Atlantic Central - Carina Bruno
Region 2 - North Florida - Mattea Mauro
Region 3 - Illinois - Jaylon Muchison
Region 4 - DMM - Ayana Stauffer
Region 5 - Oklahoma - Jasmine Berasategui
Region 6 - Pacific Central - Amaya De La Cruz
Region 7 - Centre du Quebec - Flavie Bastien

All spoke, in a random order, about the same topic, "Just Imagine a World Without Boundaries." 

One young man said that a world without boundaries is a world of happiness. A young lady said that by removing boundaries we have the perspective to enjoy the fellowship that conversation brings. And the top speaker amazed the crowd with his belief:  
"Boundaries give us something to look forward to hope and optimism that one day when they will surpass their height and it is from this hope that inspiration blossoms, opening our minds to a way to better the world we live in. So what is my hope?

That with each you exceed, there will always be another boundary to overcome. It is my hope that for each you pass you become stronger and stronger and stronger in your tenacity."
That young man is Jaylon Muchison, a 2020 high school graduate from Belleville, Illinois who is looking forward to his freshman year at the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana.

Congratulations, Jaylon! We can't wait to watch you scale those boundaries with leaps and bounds as you pursue your dreams.

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.

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