Sunday, August 31, 2014

Instead of cursing the darkness, let’s light a candle!

GE Patrick continues with the third of a four part extended series entitled Caribbean Optimism....Moving Forward. This is a follow-up to comments delivered at Optimist International Caribbean District Convention 2014, August 9, Sunset Jamaica Grande, Ocho Rios. 

On the first Sunday of August this year, I was in church at The Fellowship, Corpus Christi in Texas and the associate pastor told a story of a man who, against the better judgement of his wife, decided to open a service station. Things were tough... It seemed success was not ever coming his way... But the man kept pressing on. 
One evening he got home from a long and exhausted day at work and he noticed that there were lit candles along the drive way; candles all the way up to the door way... He entered the house and candles were burning all around. He thought, how strange; but how romantic?
He went to turn the light switch on; and nothing.... He called out to his wife; and she came gliding toward him… She was graceful and calm. 
He said to her, Honey, there is no light! Humbly and softly she said to him, You have been working so long and hard, doing your best all the time, trying to ensure that things work, and I did not want to burden you with this. I did not wish for you to come home in the dark, so here we are... 
She could have told him how bad he was. She could have weighed him down with his failures and the things that caused them to not have electricity; but she did not dwell in the negative. She turned the moment into an opportunity for showing him some love... Instead of cursing the darkness, she lit a candle!

I was blessed by the service that morning. The main sermon delivered by the senior pastor was about humility - being humble as a lamb, acknowledging that answers are not always found in the obvious, and submitting ourselves to the greater power that makes it possible for lambs to defeat oxen, wolves, and lions. And in the midst of the message I found myself thinking about what it means to be a volunteer serving our children, and what it means to be a leader in Optimism.
If we think about it just a little bit more, we would probably see the amazing power and greatness to be found in humility; the tremendous wisdom that is manifested in being humble; how much of a deep lasting love a lamb evokes in the heart of men; how one small candle burning in the dark does light the way for so many to find their true path to greater success.

And so I ask us all today, what is the power on which you will depend to do what is right for the children today? What is that greater source, that motivation, that something which drives you to make a difference in Optimism today? What does it take to light a candle of love and care for our children and young people, of compassion and understanding towards your fellow Optimists, of strength and commitment in bringing Optimism to the world?
Sometimes that lit candle is just a smile; a warm embrace; a thumb’s up... Sometimes that is all it takes to be a flicker of hope in moments of desperationWhen we see someone doing something that we know could be better, don’t just chastise them, don’t just beat upon them, don’t just go away complaining about it… humble yourself, light a candle and let the better way be revealed. It would probably amaze you how much more you yourself would see by lighting that candle. 
The success of one is indeed the success of all. Play your part and share in the success. Light a candle today.

Optimist Patrick
Optimist International Caribbean District

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The opportunities of now…

This is the second in a four part series entitled Caribbean Optimism....Moving Forward. It extends on comments delivered by GE Patrick at Optimist International Caribbean District Convention, August 9, 2014 at Sunset Jamaica Grande, Ocho Rios. 

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing; you will never get it done – Bruce Lee
Time is of essence in everything we do in life. After more than three decades of Optimism in the Caribbean, we Optimists have seen many challenges. These are immediate but solvable challenges. The answers are within our grasp and within our time. And while we acknowledge that change is a process that change must begin now.  
(L-R) GD Barbara, GE Patrick and Gov Nutilia
Photo by Marc-Maurice Frankson
Let us not miss a glorious opportunity to bend the arch of history in our favor and the favor of our children who need a vibrant, strong, dynamic and sustainable organization. In such an organization, continuity is not just about traditions and maintaining status quo but also about long range planning, strategic development, transformational leadership, creativity and innovation. Continuity is about the application of tools we know will keep us moving forward.
Our children also need vibrant, strong, dynamic and positive role models. They need people who make things happen; people who not only know the Optimist creed but breathe the Optimist creed. People who know there are things to be done and do what it takes to get things done.
In our movement today, there are many things to be done from the club level all the way to the top of Optimist International. It is my fervent belief that if we are going to make the strides we need to make any time soon, we must tackle these things with what US President Barrack Obama, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr before him, calls the fierce urgency of now
Now is an opportunity for planning. People who make things happen cannot help but plan. People who think about the future must plan. People who take action do so with clear goals and objectives. Our mission is to execute meaningful programmes, projects and activities that support the creation of a positive-thinking society in which our children and young people can realize their full potential.
Now is an opportunity to reset an agenda of innovation.  As a voluntary service organization we must constantly attract and sustain membership with new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. We cannot keep hanging on to momentary highs of the past. Indeed, those are significant indicators that it is possible to find new highs for today’s realities. What better high can there be than one sustained by quality of service.

PG Gene M. Douglas share in training with PDST Latoya
Photo by Marc-Maurice Frankson
Now is an opportunity to recast a leadership base that is strong and sustainable. One of the better training experiences I have had as an Optimist came via an invitation from Past Governor, Optimist Gene M. Douglas to a session called Catch a Rising Star. We love to talk about spear-fishing in Optimism; but spear-fishing needs a strategy. Building leadership needs a strategy. There is one to be found in Catch a Rising Star.
Now is an opportunity to re-position the Caribbean as all-embracing, integrationist, and committed to allowing all its peoples a space in which they can be confident and comfortable in the practice of volunteerism. Optimism can and must become the platform of choice for voluntary service in the Caribbean – whether we chose to do so as individuals or collectives.
Now is an opportunity for re-commitment to the fundamental principle of Optimism that positive thought and action make for a better world. Today is the first day of greater achievements to come. It is our time to really be a part of a TEAM; to WORK together in the interest of all Optimists in ensuring a better life for all children and young people of our beloved and great Caribbean District.

Fellow Optimists, I put it to you, the urgency of now cannot be truly embraced or appreciated without changing our attitude; without changing our perspective, without changing our mindset, without our full commitment.  As the inspirational writer and motivational speaker Andy Andrews reminds us, when confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape.
As Caribbean Optimists we must find the solutions. The challenges of now are filled with many opportunities for building, for strengthening, for moving Optimism forward. 
I know we have the commitment.

Optimist Patrick
Optimist International Caribbean District

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Optimists Make Things Happen...

Edited comments delivered by GE Patrick at Optimist International Caribbean District Convention 2014, August 9, Sunset Jamaica Grande, Ocho Rios. This is the first in a four part extended series on "Caribbean Optimism... Moving Forward".

Photo by Marc-Maurice Frankson
As I accept the task and responsibilities that have come with your vote of confidence, I wish for you to know that I am your humble partner in making this great Optimist International Caribbean District the best avenue for voluntary service to our children and young people wherever they are in the Caribbean.
I want to thank every single Optimist who has provided some level of support to my journey as an Optimist so far. Those who follow my 7804Optimist blog and my writings over the last four years in particular would know of the people who share a unique place among that support group.
The special individuals and groups that have in some shape or form kept a certain buzz going over the years include: Charlie's Angels and the People’s Governor Bajan Posse, The Magnificent Six, The7804 Massive and Zone Niners, as well as Team Secretariat.
Of course, if it were not for my sponsor and the wonderful Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea family, none of this would be possible. Thankfully, my own precious family allowed space for Optimism to grow as a family endeavour.
love, respect, and thank you all individually and collectively; and I look forward to building an even deeper relationship with you, especially over the next two to three years.

We are people who make things happen…
Photo by Marc-Maurice Frankson
I want to share a little about what I think it means to be a Caribbean Optimist at this critical juncture in the life-cycle of our great district – who we are, where I think we are, and a specific role we should consider playing as we move forward.
It is said that there are three types of persons in life: those to whom things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who make things happen. Every organization has them all; but I strongly believe that by virtue of being Optimists we fall among the latter group. Logically, Optimists should be people who make things happen!
If we are being brutally honest, however, we would admit our current reality and say to ourselves today that the wait-and-see or watch-and-see mode in which we have fallen must be shaken; and shaken now. 
Yes, we have achieved a lot over the last three decades. As Optimists, we have made a significant difference to the well-being of many. As volunteers, we have grown; and certainly as individuals many of us have seen significant personal development from our involvement in Optimism. But, there is still a great need for a shift towards the proactive people Optimists are supposed to be. There is need for change; and quickly!
My first real encounter with Optimism was at a boys empowerment seminar organized by the Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea, my home club. That was an absolutely great experience. It was a deeply inspiring encounter with young people.  One could see it in their eyes and hear it in their expressions that they were excited, they were happy, and feeling confident about themselves. All of us adults sharing in the seminar felt good to see the possibilities, to see the potential, to see the positive shining through these young men. What a difference these young people will make on the future, I thought.
(L-R) Optimist Nicolas,
JOOI International President-elect Javani
and International President-elect Dave
My first real invitation to join Optimism was a very simple pitch by a then colleague of mine, Optimist Dahlia Vanriel. It was a very effective and winning one. The line that stood out was this: Optimism is an organized way of sharing at another level your passion and work with young people as a volunteer.
I officially became an Optimist in September 2007 and it has been an interesting and defining journey for me so far. The first year was probably the most defining though. There were things being done with and for the children that really touched my heart; but there were also some serious challenges – some of which I often share with my club members more as indicators of victories we continue to score as Optimists.
For example, I have learned to deal with the sometimes inexplicable ways in which people hold on to traditions that are obviously not advancing Optimism. I have also learnt how to temper the thinking that my energy and money would be better spent directly with the children than being at a conference. Sure there is the added value of fellowship and bonding; and the treasure chest of training that comes with convention; but… 
We still need to truly demonstrate the full capacity of Caribbean people to stamp the positives of our unique culture, style, and leadership on this great movement called Optimist International;
We still need to be innovative, forward thinking, visionaries capable of uncovering and developing a stream of people eager and ready to take their enthusiasm for volunteerism to the highest levels of organizational leadership.
I raise these two examples of challenges we face for one simple reason. As Past International Vice President Optimist Sonia Anderson, would say, Time come!  The time has indeed come for some serious reflection; but it is also time for some serious action.
I put it to you, fellow Optimists, if we are going to realize our true potential of being the best voluntary organization serving children across the Caribbean, it is time to think differently about the way we do things. 
It is time we think differently about the activities we do. 
It is time we think differently about how we define our relationship with the children. 
And, most importantly, it is time we think differently about how we see ourselves as Caribbean Optimists. 
It is time to think and act Optimism. Time to stop thinking of Optimism as just a noun; Optimism is also a verb! After all, Optimists make things happen!

Optimist Patrick
Governor Elect
Optimist International Caribbean District

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, DST Treasa

You are an angel 
in disguise.
Full of intuition, 
intelligent, and wise.
Always giving 

and helping 
Good times and bad...

- Lean Stiegman

Source: Family Friend Poems 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Post District Convention 2014 Notes 1 (Governor Nutilia)

Dear Optimist All,
It is with great humility that I extend my heartfelt thanks to all who attended our 4th quarter Convention at the Sunset Jamaica Grande hotel in Ocho Rios this past weekend.  The day was packed with extensive training, meetings, making positive decisions, fun and fellowship.
We welcomed the incoming 2014/15 executive team headed by our Governor Designate Ms. Barbara Arrindell and our Governor Elect Mr. Patrick Prendergast with zeal and zest.
Many thanks to our International President Elect, Mr. Dave Bruns and his spouse for gracing us with their presence, (and) for actively taking part in all of our activities.  We are also grateful to him for facilitating training sessions, installing our 2014/15 executive and for his overwhelming support and encouragement to our District.
My heartfelt gratitude to the support from the entire convention planning team, facilitators, registration desk, music organizers, Past Governors, Past International Vice Presidents, Past International President and most of all you the participants, the members of our great Caribbean District.
We have several days left in our 2013/14 year; as committed Optimists we continue to press on to the finish line. The recruitment of new members is paramount – it is necessary.
Let us increase our membership by each and every one of us bringing at least one member into our movement. Our communities depend on us, more importantly our children need us. Have you dropped your pebble in the water? Let us finish this year on a positive note; it takes action with words.
Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it; “We’ve Got It.”

Nutilia G. Simon
Optimist International Caribbean District

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Two positive media stories about Optimism

1. International president-elect of Junior Optimist Octagon International, Javani Waugh continues to draw attention with his historic rise to the top of the junior optimist movement.

See feature in the Sunday Gleaner, August 10, 2014

2. Dr Dudley McFarquhar, a member of the Sunset Optimist Club of Kingston, and his wife Paula were given kudos for their assistance in getting a Mandeville resident through a successful heart surgery in the USA recently.

See full story in the Sunday Observer, August 10, 2014