Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I AM AN OPTIMIST because...

believe that investing in the tremendous potential of our children today is preparing a better future for all.

The “I AM AN OPTIMIST” DAY initiative was started three years ago not to focus on any special projects per se; but rather to creatively use the many media and communication platforms available at our finger tips to make people aware of Optimism and the positive work being undertaken on behalf of children.
So, via Email, Fb, Twitter, BBM, and YouTube, or the newspaper, television, radio, posters, and fliers, the near 1700 registered members of the 64 active clubs in the Optimist International Caribbean District are expected to collectively say it louder and prouder than ever before: I AM AN OPTIMIST! 
Together, we believe, the individual declaration should have a more far reaching resonance.
I pause to thank especially President Shalana Waterman (Optimist Club of Bridgetown, Barbados) for her unconditional support from the very beginning of this initiative and PG Joe Benfield for remaining fully committed. CP Valerie Vassell (Optimist Club of North St Andrew) and LTG Andrea Samuels (Optimist Club of Kingston Breakfast) continue to be such creative sources of inspiration on the District communication team and of course PG Cecile Hale (Optimist Club of Sunset Kingston) and IVP Sonia Anderson (Optimist Club of St Ann's Bay) for their consistently quiet, calm and gentle urging.
Thanks to Governor Lynden Buchanan (Optimist Club of Mammee Bay) and DST Latoya Wade (Optimist Club of Sunset Liguanea) and to all the Optimists who each year do whatever they can to ensure that the I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY Initiative works! 
Next year, 2014 with Easter holidays in April, we will return to the original designation of March 31 as I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY in this great Caribbean District of Optimist International.
In the meantime (and in between time) we continue to spread the good word on Optimism - Providing hope and positive vision; the Caribbean District - Making a difference one child at a time; and Optimist International - Bringing out the Best in Kids! 

Here are a few links I know you will always find useful:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Optimists connecting in St Lucia

I had such an inspirational evening with the Optimist Club de Sainte Lisi on Thursday (March 21). What made it so special? Three easy responses:
1.  Diane Leonce and Dariah Robinson-Ernest of the near two year-old Cerebral Palsy Association of St Lucia (CPA) shared their mission to support people directly or indirectly affected by cerebral palsy (CP) and specifically to build awareness about CP; assist parents in learning skills and techniques for handling children with cerebral palsy; and mobilizing the technical, human and professional resources and support needed to improve the lives of those living with the condition.  This is an association worth supporting and I was just so captivated by these ladies’ passion and desire to make a difference. Visit their website at and learn more about CP, the CPA St Lucia, and how you can help to build a better tomorrow by helping these young people rise above physical challenges.
2. Victor Price and Believe in Volunteering helping young people and adults to have a greater appreciation for giving back as a way of building character. The “One man can make a difference” reminds me so much of Governor Lynden’s Starfish mantra.  
3.  President Keitha Glace and a dynamic band of Optimists building valuable networks as a way of strengthening the service we must give to our children.  There is so much passion and potential here for greater things to come. I am excited by their spirit of comradeship, readiness to embrace new and emerging trends, and willingness to explore creative pathways to improving the life of their club so they can better serve the children of St Lucia.  The group is involved in several activities and has just recently completed its oratorical contest. OC Ste Lisi is looking forward to their winner moving forward and is therefore seeking support to get their Oratorical entrant to the District finals in Jamaica.  Of course, the 24th of February 2013 marked their seventh anniversary. Congratulations guys and I too look forward to hearing more about the great in-roads you make on behalf of the St Lucian children. Thanks GE Nutilia and the OC St Johns, Antigua for bringing this club to life.
Respect President Keitha, LtG Kevin and the entire Ste Lisi team for braving the heavy rains and making the evening such a positive and warm one for me. Of course, to my friend Jacqueline Massiah-Simeon, thanks for making it! Keep up the work guys!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One Week to I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY 2013

CARIBBEAN Optimists are getting ready to mark the third staging of I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Now that the date is drawing near the question is coming at rapid: How will we represent?
The reason behind the special designation in the first instance was to create a platform for publicity – just getting people to know who we are as Optimists! The day allows all of us individually to make a public declaration that I AM AN OPTIMIST. With all of us doing so at the same time and in similar fashion on whatever platform we choose, together the impact would be, WE ARE OPTIMISTS thus placing Optimism front of mind for those who no doubt will notice; because OPTIMISM would be everywhere! So this year I say, don’t just say it loud, say it proud!  I AM AN OPTIMIST!
There are so many creative ways we can represent - as individual Optimists, in our clubs, in small groups, as zones, as a District. Whatever we do the message of Optimism is worth sharing with the world so let us do it filled with nothing but pride. After all, Optimist International Caribbean District is serving the interests of the region's future by bringing out the best in kids today!
I like the proposed activity being planned by my ever spirited friend, Chairperson Fay Mallitt (Optimist Club of Barbican Pines). An Optimist tent will be erected at Tropical Plaza from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Wednesday, March 27 where as many Optimists as possible will gather to give out pamphlets and spread Optimism.  She is asking that you take water and wear your Optimist Shirts. This is such a great way to tell the world why Optimist International is the best voluntary service organization in which to serve our children and how they can become a volunteer so do join that group if you can.
And then, my very good friend, President Shalana Waterman (Optimist Club of Bridgetown, Barbados) who was with me every step of the way when we introduced the initiative in 2011 is reminding us of some all-media things we could do to mark the day. President Shalana's Five easy steps to I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY 2013.
1. Accept invite for I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY on Facebook. How about make every Optimist on Facebook your friend in the virtual world as well. Whatever new media platforms you are on invite other Optimists to share with you.
2. Engage your local newspaper and other media houses to carry a feature on Optimism.
How about Interviews on TV and radio, releases in the papers all focused on Optimism. I know we can do it!
3. Feature fellow Optimists in your work place newsletters or company advertisements. I still remember the Gleaner advert on March 31, 2011 placed by Supreme Ventures Ltd with the members of the Sunset Optimist Club of Kingston.
4. Change your BBM, WhatsApp and Facebook pictures to the Caribbean District logo. This we can all do on the stroke of mid-night for example or on the hour through out out the day. Our District theme is such a powerful theme and speaks to what we do best - Making a difference one child at a time!You could also write on your wall a simple statement saying why you are an Optimist. I am an Optimist because…
5. Wear the Optimist paraphernalia on March 27.  Bring out those pins folks... what of the T-shirts, polo-shirts, Just Ask buttons, the vests, caps, bumper stickers!. How about flying an Optimist flag or printing an OI logo and post on your office door for the day?!

Let us know how you intend to make people know how PROUD you are TO BE AN OPTIMIST on the Caribbean District’s I AM ON OPTIMIST DAY Wednesday March 27, 2013!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One Day Joint Zone Conference in Runaway Bay

Here is a related story on the The March 2, 2013 Zone Conference held at the Sunflower Resorts in Runaway Bay, St. Ann as reported in the March 11 edition of The Caribbean News Desk. The report was done from notes provided by LtG Kerisha Pinnock of Zone 8.

OPTIMISM IS LOOKING good in the Caribbean District. That’s the view of Lieutenant Governor Kerisha Pinnock (Zone 8) after the one day conference that brought members of zones 7-9 top flight training in Optimism, rousing entertainment, poignant guest speakers, and adrenaline-charged fellowship activities. The Oceans 11, IGL, and Sunflower Resorts sponsored event saw just fewer than one hundred Optimists in attendance.
Caribbean District Governor Lynden Buchanan led an ace team of Optimist leaders and trainers that included IVP Sonia Anderson (Southeastern Region), PIVP Shirley Jarrett, DST Latoya Wade, and Chairpersons Faith McFarquhar-Gordon (Leadership and Development), Barbara Watson (New Club Building) and Kevin Grant (Membership).
Highlights of the conference included powerful performance poetry from young student 
Asha Moulton and a motivational speech from Dean of Discipline at York Castle High School, Mr. Delroy Williams at the opening ceremony. He spoke on the need to motivate our children and being mindful of the things we say to them as they will develop very low self-esteem.
The first general session heard updates from the LtGs, an awareness raising presentation on Safety and Emergency by IGL Limited, and entertainment from the always rib-tickling hilarious dramatics of Golden Optimist Club of Lydford.
In the closing general session paediatrician, Dr. Horace Betton spoke on childhood cancer and CP Faith McFarquhar-Gordon facilitated the major training session on Leadership. Members were particularly excited by the hour-long workshop which they dubbed a most enlightening and engaging exercise on leadership styles and qualities. The zones are in fact applauding CP Faith McFarquhar-Gordon for the tremendous work she is doing in Leadership and Development.
So engaging was the conference that Optimists stayed back long after the 5:00 pm official closing to play games, engage in friendly chatter, and listn to soothing music. The participating LtGs were Lou-Ann Bramwell-Shakes (Zone 7) Kerisha Pinnock (Zone 8) and Merle Kelly (Zone 9). The planning committee included Governor Lynden Buchanan, GA Angela Archer, LtG Kerisha Pinnock and CP Barbara Watson.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Deepening the fellowship across the District

Here is the lead article from the March 11 edition of the Caribbean District News Desk which looks at the spread of joint-zone meetings/conferences taking place certainly on the Jamaican side of the District. Feel free to post your comments and to send me reports of anything you wish to be included in the News Desk.

ANY CARIBBEAN Optimists are this quarter expressing a feeling of rejuvenation and new sense of mission emerging within the District. This is due to a series of joint zone meetings – a platform that Governor Lynden Buchanan is calling, “a cost effective opportunity for many more club members to benefit from quality training (and) fellowship” outside of the District conferences.
While this is not a novel concept, joint zone meetings have become a vibrant feature during this year particularly because of the reintroduction of the Parallel District Conferences (PDCs), a decision at the 2012 District convention to cut back on the number of District level meetings, and a commitment made by Governor Lynden last August to meet more often with Optimists in their communities.
“The joint zone meeting concept was designed to reach out to members who for a number of reasons don’t usually attend the quarterly conferences. Members faced serious financial constraints and a zone meeting was a less costly affair”, argues the Governor.
“Interestingly, at the last three such meetings we have had very good attendance with approximately 180 members present across Zones five to nine… and we are seeing people who have never attended a District conference”, he affirms.
District Secretary-Treasurer Latoya Wade is also excited by what she is seeing at the zone meetings.  “The absence of four District Conferences has left no permanent damage so far”, says DST Latoya. If anything, she asserts, “it has reduced costs to the District and its members; we have been forced to come together in smaller groups which has inevitably reached more people, and caused better fellowship relations with more training”.
The training, deeper fellowship and motivated members seem to be the running thread from all the reports coming out of these meetings. 
Lieutenant Governors Kerisha Pinnock (Zone 8) 
and Maxine Francis (Zone 6) are heaping praise on the quality, dynamism, and leadership of the training, the heightened interest of the members, and the great fun and camaraderie coming out of their joint meetings in Runaway Bay and Fort Clarence Beach recently.
Little wonder then that DST Latoya is answering her own question in the affirmative: “Do I support joint Zone meetings? Yes, I do! There are so many positives; they help the LTG's to bond more with planning, they reduce the overall cost to attendees; they provide better grounds for creativity and less costs to the District Governor for travelling and he still gets to address a mass”, declares DST Latoya.
Caribbean District News D

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Children Don't Come with Manuals

My Optimist Sister Darshani Workman submitted a report for the March 11 edition of the Caribbean District News Desk that I wish to share on this platform as well, because it speaks to something we very often forget when we talk about working with children - how challenging parenting can be. 
The New Beginnings Parenting Workshop was organised by the less than year old Pride of Barbados Optimist Club. It is one way of addressing the challenges faced by parents and simultaneously better the lives of our children at another level. Let's see if as Optimists we can find other ways of engaging our parents as critical partners in our work with and on behalf of our precious children. Thanks Pride of Barbados! Here is the report.

Children don’t come with manuals
Darshani Workman
TODAY, THE CHALLENGES of parenting appear to have become greater. It is not uncommon to hear parents complain that their children are not paying attention to them; they prefer to spend time on the computer, TV or even to themselves. Other parents complain that their children lack motivation in studying and are even unwilling to help with household chores. So to parents, it has become increasingly difficult to remain cool and not to launch into lecturing mode.
Understanding the need for parents to be more effective in parenting their toddlers and pre-teens, Pride of Barbados Optimist Club organized the "New Beginnings Parenting Workshop" at its adopted St. Ambrose School. 20 parents participated in the half day workshop.
The event was aimed at equipping parents with the necessary tools to build in their children a strong sense of self, responsibility and resourcefulness. Essential topics covered were puberty, coping with sibling rivalry, tantrums, sexuality, effective communication, nutrition and drug awareness, and dependency.
Throughout the workshop, parents took the many opportunities to freely share their experiences and to ask questions of the facilitators. The topics covered in the workshop were solicited from the parents themselves when club members enquired at an earlier PTA meeting.
Judging from the level of participation by the parents and the satisfaction expressed by Head Teacher, Ms. Jacqueline Andewele, it seems that this workshop will be one of many more to follow.

Darshani Workman is Vice President - Internal Affairs of the  Optimist Club of Barbados - Bridgetown

Friday, March 1, 2013


Caribbean Optimists are marking I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. What will we be doing to make this a special day?
As individual Optimists and as clubs I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY gives us another platform to make a public declaration to Optimism as a Way of Life
Optimist International and the Caribbean District are building and protecting the future of our region through service to the children. As volunteers we are doing extraordinary projects with and on behalf of the children all across the Caribbean. As Optimists we think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best
We as Optimists have been a powerful source of energy making a difference to many young lives from the Bahamas in the North to Suriname in the South; and why should we not be proud to let others know that they too can come on board, join hands across the Caribbean with Optimists, and be Blessed by the tremendous spirit of sharing with young people. 

Optimism - Bringing out the Best in Kids!

Here are just a few things you may consider doing on I AM AN OPTIMIST DAY 2013: 

  • Place an advertisement in the major newspaper, on radio or on television as an individual Optimist, group of Optimists, or as a club. 
  • Create an Optimist Corner at your office/work place with pictures of a project, an old CPA, OI and District Magazines – anything that you see fit and that others will notice.
  • Wear your Optimism attire and trappings with even more pride on that day; and make sure you have promotional material to share along with your elevation speech. How about your JUST ASK pin/badge?

There is much more you can do to show your commitment to this wonderful movement called Optimism...whatever your choice it is our mission to provide hope and positive vision...