Sunday, March 16, 2014

SOCoL - 15 Years of Leadership in Optimism

Optimist Coleen Walker
WE ARE INDEED members of one of the most dynamic clubs in Optimist International because we have made it so.  Since our charter on March 25, 1999 club #78-329, the Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea (SOCoL) has never failed to make its mark as a voluntary service organization.
On Tuesday, March 25, 2014 when we gather to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our charter, in essence it will be an expression of appreciation to the over 100 persons who have declared themselves Optimists through our club. For one reason or another, many are no longer on our club roster but we appreciate them anyway for it has been a journey.  And from that journey of many challenges and triumphs, we can unashamedly boast in several areas. One area worthy of pride is leadership. SOCoL has been blessed with leaders whose unique style and approach have kept us steadfast in bringing out the best in kids.
President No. 15, Optimist Tetrice Prendergast is standing on the shoulders of some special people - each in his/her own right and own way.  Charter president Optimist Charles Reid led the new club for six quarters with solid hands and vision. Reid was followed in the 2000/2001 year by the indomitable Dennis Brown. Then came the matriarch of the Walker clan, Coleen (01/02) whose son and daughter, Kenneth M. Walker, Jnr. and Karlene M. Walker held the presidency in the 04/05 and 05/06 years respectively. Both were to later become Lieutenant Governors of Zone 4 in 2007/08 and 2013/14.
L-R Optimists
Heather, Patrick and Latoya
Before that though, little miss go-getter, the quintessential Optimist, Heather Chin (later Walker) had taken over the 2002/03 presidency mid-way from Kisha Sawyers. Chin became the second president to serve for 6 quarters continuing on to the 03/04 administrative year. She was also the first of five SOCoL presidents to have become Lt.G of zone 4. The others included the classy, compassionate and effective 07/08 club president, Optimist Latoya Wade and the visionary team player, Optimist Patrick Prendergast who served as club president in 2009/10. 
Chin-Walker and Wade also moved on to become District Secretary-Treasurers to power-of-one-governor, Optimist Dwight Phillips (2011/12) and making-a-difference-governor, Optimist Lynden Buchanan (2012/13).
Other members of the illustrious SOCoL presidents club are the unassuming, Optimist Joet Powell (06/07) and fun-loving hard-worker, Optimist Philbert Perry (08/09). The charismatic and innovative, Optimist Marc- Maurice Frankson (2010/11) was followed by the hands-on dedication of Optimist Glaister Green (2011/12) and immediate past president, Optimist Lavern Brown, whose dedication and motivation always lifted the team.
SOCoL team at Marie Atkins Basic
At 15 then, yes we can sing of our leadership in Optimism. We can also crow about the quality of our volunteerism - the tremendous value of our time, personal experience, and more than 1.5 million dollars shared with hundreds of children and young people. Standout projects include Dare to Care, Eve 4 Life, Marie Atkins and Providence Basic Schools, Mathew 25:40, School of Hope, Bustamante Hospital for Children, and the UWI Hospital Children Ward. The work we do with junior optimists at The Queen's High and Kingston College as well as Rousseau Primary is also deserving of boast.
Let us recommit to the hope and positive vision of Optimism as we journey together in empowering our children for the next 15 years.

See more on the Sunset Liguanea Presidents Club here

Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea
Uncovering the gifts of our children

Friday, March 14, 2014

Optimism is more than a part of speech - Commentary

OPTIMISM IS defined as a noun. To be optimistic is an adjective. Optimism is also a choice. It is a decision to be hopeful and confident about the future even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It is a way of life. Optimism is a culture that is developed with practice and commitment to overcoming.
Like Leibniz, I believe we live in the best of all possible worlds and it is our responsibility, if not duty, to live the best life. Like Bob Marley, in reaffirming the words of a late Ethiopian Emperor,  I am always confident in the victory of good over evil. I therefore take pride in not just being optimistic but also in being able to share the philosophy of optimism through an organisation focused on the welfare of children.
Optimist International is one of the world's largest voluntary service organisations. Here adult volunteers have an open field of opportunities to conduct positive service projects aimed at providing a helping hand to youth. The approach is simple - be positive. The mission is straight forward - empower children to be the best they can be.
One of the problems with being in a voluntary service organisation like Optimist International though, is its name. So I would say to someone, 'I am an Optimist'. The response is 'Oh, that's good!...God knows somebody needs to be optimistic'. Optimism is such an everyday word.We all are Optimists because we are all hoping for the best... always trying to see the sunny side of things.
There is so much going wrong in our societies; so much despair and hopelessness. So much negative energy. And in the midst of all the trials and tribulations is an even greater need for hope and positive thinking. Optimism is such a regular part of our vocabulary and language that there is no prime value placed on it.
When Optimism as a voluntary service movement was launched in an organised manner just about a hundred years ago it was out of a need to provide hope and vision. The world was on a severe downward spiral. But like the the gold of the Jamaican flag reminds us, once the sun shines, there is life; there is hope. The question though is how do we translate that hope and positive thinking into positive action. How do we use the adversities of life to spur us onto new heights, new ways of thinking, and new beginnings?
What better place to start than with the future - our children. What better way to build Optimism than by empowering our children; working with them to create opportunities and pathways to becoming the best at what they can be. After all, Optimism is about envisioning a better world and working towards realizing that vision. But are Optimists manifesting that attitude of optimism in the way we go about working with fellow Optimists?
Are we building relationships that lead to collective strengthening of the efforts to raise up our children? Are we fully embracing the evidence that Together Each Achieves More or are we so individualistic that we are being immobilized by the fear of other's success? Are we opening up and adjusting to modern innovations; or are we trapped in the innovations of the past that have obviously become obsolete and irrelevant?
To build a culture of optimism takes commitment not only to the principles of optimism as a movement but also a commitment to working through the realities that we continuously face in everyday life. Optimism is more than a part of speech.