Strategic America is highlighting organizations and groups that our company and employees support and participate in to help show the impact of volunteering and acknowledge all of the opportunities out there to help give back.
I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the Noon Optimist Club of Western Des Moines for the past 15 years. It is part of the national organization, Optimist International. The mission of the group is by providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids.
Our group focuses on directly helping kids in the community and it is often those who are underprivileged and most in need of some guidance and direction.
As the current President of the club, I also coordinate our partnership with Phenix Elementary which consists of a mentoring program for its third graders. As one of our biggest projects, our members get the chance to meet with these kids on a monthly basis in what we call the “Lunch Buddies” program. We talk about Internet safety, service projects and giving back to others and work with the students on social and communications skills.
It fills my spirit to know that these kids LOVE when we come to spend some time with them over lunch and provide just a bit of guidance in their lives. It’s very fulfilling to just simply help.
We also offer a Reading First program for second graders at Phenix Elementary. Each member reads one of 10 books to these students and then donates the books to the school. This program is supported by a grant from Wells Fargo. It is fun to see the engagement from the students and discuss the Optimist program with them as they look to become third graders in our Lunch Buddies program.
Every fall, the Optimist Club sponsors a Family Picnic/Fun Day at a local park for all of the Phenix families and others in the Valley Junction Community to help encourage outdoor activity and bring everyone together. Having these additional touch points with the students and their siblings and family members allows us to get a glimpse into their lives and use those moments for continued mentoring.
Our Optimist Club also participates in many activities throughout the greater Des Moines community to inspire kids and provide mentoring to them. These activities include a Youth Appreciation Luncheon, Chess Clubs, First Lego Leagues, Oratorical Contests, KidsFest and many, many more.
We all could use some optimism in life, but this organization is a tremendous opportunity to reach the younger generation and help empower them to stay positive. There are more than 2,600 Optimist Clubs around the world.
If you are interested in getting more involved, visit www.optimist.org for more information or to find a club near you. You can also reach out to me for more information in the comments below.