“I serve the kids in my community…”
In my travels to other clubs and districts, I hear this… a LOT. It tickles me to no end to see the youth in our community receive opportunities to become a better version of themselves that they may otherwise not have. Kudos to the clubs that rally the troops and come up with great programs just to see a kid smile and succeed. And then… come Monday morning, I’m back at school.
For those of you who don’t know, I serve as a 3rd grade teacher and mentor in a neighborhood that is culturally proud, but socially and financially struggling. I am surrounded by kiddos all the time. These kids are resilient, creative, and focused.
They, just as in many other communities, are deserving of our love, mentoring, and resources. However, the difference between the kids I see and the kids that you all see, is an imaginary boundary. You see, there are no Optimist clubs in our area. These kids do not have the benefit of sports programs or volunteer reading tutors. They have to rely on schools, churches, or enthusiastic but overwhelmed adults who believe in creating an environment for further learning. I understand that boundaries and borders in towns exist. However, the imaginary borders that we create are more damaging. That wall becomes insurmountable to a kid in a different zip code. Lost opportunities, lost life experiences, all because we sometimes choose to serve only those within OUR community. I personally don’t think that the founding fathers of Optimism had the intention of compartmentalizing their assistance to kids based upon location.
So, how do we reach a greater spectrum of children? Here are some ideas:
- Purposefully sponsor a program that will benefit kids from multiple parts of town.
- Partner with another Optimist club and share resources to start a program that is
mutually beneficial to both clubs.
- Start a youth club OR a focus club based upon a specific need (i.e. we have a
new club starting, La Voz de Padres Latinos, made up of Latino parents of
special needs students).
- Actively support the Optimist International Foundation by donating to our Essay,
Oratorical, and CCDHH scholarship programs.
I know that many of the clubs do this already… the kids who directly benefit from these activities and I thank you. I’m in no way chastising neighborhood clubs (of which I belong as well)- we do many important things for our kids. I’m just wondering how we
can expand our influence and support that kid- that creative, resilient, and focused kid- to become the best version of himself or herself with our help. They say it takes a village to raise a child. For their sake, let the clubs within our great District be that village. The kids deserve it!
With humility and love, Governor Lynn