Thursday, June 26, 2014

Caribbean District Convention 2014 set for Jamaica Grande

DISTRICT CONVENTION 2014 is officially set for August 9 -10 at one of Jamaica's premier all-inclusive locations, The Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa in Ocho Rios, St Ann. The word from Treasa James, the affable and efficient District Secretary-Treasurer, is that convention promises to be an exciting experience with something for every Optimist. After all, she reminds us, we've got it!

According to the official first call from the DST, Conference Chair Genevieve Gomes has managed to successfully negotiate a package that gives us wonderfully attractive options for accommodation. Couple that with the awesome meeting and training experience being planned by Governor Nutilia Simon and GE Barbara Arrindell and what a tremendously promising weekend of Optimism is in the making. All we have to do is be there, everyone!

Triple the Fellowship... Book a triple room and pay only 100USD per person for the Saturday night. Check in Saturday morning and you are covered for lunch, dinner and entertainment on Saturday plus breakfast and lunch on Sunday... and don't forget access to the activities of this gorgeous property.
Ride The Bus... PG Cecille Hale is coordinating transportation from Kingston to Ocho Rios so you may want to book your seat early and enjoy a relaxing ride across the exquisitely captivating Jamaican landscape. Email PG Cecille at
Register Early and Save... Register for convention by July 20 and pay the early bird registration of only 52USD. The Frigate bird  registration is 60USD by August 3; and after that, it will be 68USD. Note that the registration fee includes the usually dynamic Installation Reception.
Why should we be at District Convention? Simple answer: The children need well trained volunteers who know how to make a real difference and so there will be training, training and more training. But, there will also be the critical and engaging deliberations and decisions at the general sessions and meetings about the future of the District. Of course, wherever Caribbean Optimists are gathered there is bound to be fete, fete and more feting!
District Convention 2014 - showing how much We've Got It and getting ready to move forward Step-by-Step!

For more information on OI-CDC2014 registration:
DST Treasa James:
CP Diana Morrison: or

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Throw Your Vote Behind Optimist Adrian!

AS I HAVE expressed before, our Caribbean brother, Optimist Adrian Elcock deserves every single vote he can get that will put him on the Optimist International Board of Directors for 2014-2015. He has the acumen on every count - as an accomplished business man, an outstanding and distinguished Optimist, and a fantastic human being! 
Certainly, those of us in the Caribbean should have a greater appreciation of what it means for an International organisation to "reflect the demographic profile of its members". 
Elcock's candidacy is sure guarantee of that; let's follow through with the vote and make it a reality. In his own words, here is why you should vote for Optimist Adrian Elcock, one of the great Optimist leaders emerging from the Caribbean:
"I am trained in Accounting and Marketing and I have worked and lived in the USA before returning to Barbados.  This has afforded me the opportunity to understand international best practices in business, as well as to harness the ability to work with people of all cultures and background... I recognize and see the Board activities of OI to be centered on “running a business” despite our public face as a charitable organization..."
"A club and its members should vote for me because I am ably qualified... I have served my club, district, region, and International with distinction, always sensitive to the best needs of the organization and my fellow members.  In addition... I understand the challenges faced by the organization but I can also see the opportunities available to us as we refocus our efforts on how we serve the youth of the world."
"I believe that we need to constantly recognize that it is the members that make up this great Movement called Optimism.  We must listen attentively and respond intelligently to their needs and concerns... I will also work diligently to bring my business training and my communication skills to ensure that the Movement continues on a firm foundation."
"It’s important that an international organization’s Board should reflect the demographic profile of its members.  I am an Afro-Caribbean man, who has lived in a multi-cultural world. 
I am qualified as a Businessman, an Optimist, and most importantly as a Person.  I respectfully ask you for your vote.  Thank you."


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Proposed Amendment to OI Bylaws 2014-2015 Scary

Undoubtedly, the calendar event of most significance to Optimists is the International Convention held each year during the first couple weeks of July. The 96th Optimist International Convention is scheduled for the exciting city of Las Vegas from July 10 -12, 2014. As they have in years gone by, many Optimists will make the pilgrimage to be at one of the largest gathering of volunteers in the world. We in the Caribbean know that several among us will always be in the party. 
Convention is said to be the best platform for the highest quality training, personal development and engagement, and of course, understanding the values and strategies that make Optimism work. It is also the highest decision-making body and so, as expected, affirmations about bylaws and policies are also taken at the International convention.
If the delegates attending the 2014 confab vote in favour of the proposed amendment to the bylaws that each club face a compulsory financial contribution to the staging of future conventions, then the clubs of the regular pilgrims to International Convention can almost guarantee a credit for many years to come. But what is this proposed amendment? And why does it stand out for me - one who is (surprisingly to many it seems) yet to embrace the mystique of convention? 
I do think all five issues identified for amendment this year ( to be discussed; but the one that I am particularly concerned about is the proposal for a convention assessment fee. Each proposal carries with it an explanation for good measure and here is that for Issue #3.
CONVENTION ASSESSMENT FEE (Submitted by the International Board of Directors)
EXPLANATION: The Board of Directors feels that it is appropriate for all Optimist Clubs to support a portion of the costs incurred to provide the training, input to the governance process and other organization-wide benefits that occur at the International Convention. In doing so, the Board also feels it appropriate that each Optimist Club that sends a delegate to the Convention be refunded the proposed support fee.
PROPOSED: Bylaws Article IV, International Conventions and Elections Section 1. International Convention New Paragraph B. Convention Assessment. At the beginning of each fiscal year, all Clubs shall be assessed a fee of $100 annually to support the International Convention. Each Club that has a fully registered Delegate attend the International Convention shall receive a credit for the amount of the convention assessment fee on its next International dues billing statement following the International Convention. 
The explanation is quite understandable; and on the face of it seems acceptable. There is obviously an increasing financial challenge to do many of the things to which we have become accustomed. That I believe is reflective of the harsh economic realities in which members, and by extension clubs, have to operate. Interestingly, or rather unfortunately, in times like these, it is customary for a financial solution to be found for a financial problem. This has become the logic for many especially those at the top levels of organisation.
However, personally, I think any additional cost to the clubs at this time is going to be seen in a negative light. I speak especially of the clubs in the Caribbean. A couple consequences of this amendment passing come to mind immediately: First, it is going to add to the pace at which clubs are revoked because of inability to pay. The clubs at tier three already know too well the difficulty of being dues-compliant even with the benefit of being at the lower end of charges. And, secondly, most clubs will not benefit from a credit because most clubs will simply not have a delegate at convention. It is simply not a good incentive strategy to me.
But individual positions may not be sufficiently reflective of the majority's and so as a District we should have a clearly defined mechanism through which we can:
1. Encourage the clubs to have a discussion on the matter;
2. Develop a district position on such matters; and
3. Present our consensus to/at the Convention
We have to find other ways of lifting the creative and innovative spirit of our people beyond the economic challenges of being a volunteer. The welfare of our children demand it and the survival of our movement compels it. Probably the pilgrimage to International Convention should be more about deepening the democratic processes around which we can truly develop Optimism as a way of life. After all, promoting good governance should start from within.