WEST HILLS CLUB WIDELY RECOGNIZED FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE
Each year the Optimist International organization headquartered in St. Louis Missouri recognizes Optimist clubs from around the world for outstanding work in their communities. Optimist clubs submit album like books that describe a service project that they have performed over the course of the Optimist year that runs from Oct. to Oct. Some clubs submit as many as 5 books. Then at the International convention, awards are given in seven categories and a special award is given for the best project overall. The West Hills Optimist Club set a new standard by receiving the top award for two consecutive years in a row.
The club’s teen anti-violence project, named “Warning Signs” after a MTV video production, was recognized as the best project worldwide for the 2002 year. During that year, 9th grade students from Canoga Park High School were shown a video made by MTV in conjunction with the APA (American Physiological Association), the video describes the warnings signs of violent behavior. Then the students received instructions on where to report any observed activity that fit the described criteria. Active discussion held at the conclusion of the video often revealed hidden problems. School personnel provided follow up for those problems. Student and parent response to the program were very positive and school officials praised the results.
In 2001 our West Hills Club took the top award with a project dubbed the “Teddy Bear Clinic”. The project was held at the West Hills Hospital and first grade students from Hart Street Elementary School were shown a real hospital emergency room as they brought their "babies", teddy bears, and dolls to be examined by the ER staff. The strange looking apparatus in the room was explained to these young boys and girls. Local fire and Police agencies provided emergency vehicles for the kids to explore. The Magician, Joey Kabosis, mystified and entertained the students that were waiting their turn for the emergency room tour.
In addition to these two projects, the West Hills Club also holds and/or participates in numerous other community projects throughout the year. Some of which are the Optimist Blind Junior Olympics where sight impaired youngsters from around the country compete in Olympic style games. Held in conjunction with over 20 other local Optimist clubs this activity has received first place awards for "Multiple Club Projects" for over 10 years.
The "Spirits Rise Party“ (Another innovation of the West Hills Optimist Club.) is a monthly party with a magician, gifts, and a decorated cake. It is held for the temporary residents of a Haven Hills shelter for battered women and their children. The sole purpose is to let these victims of domestic violence know that someone cares and to make them feel better. This community project received the first place award from Optimist International in the category of Anti-Violence for the year 2000.
The club also holds annual Essay and Oratorical contests for local boys and girls and conducts a special Youth Appreciation ceremony where young men and women are recognized for their achievements. The club sponsors a couple of Junior Optimist clubs when youngsters from Kindergarten through High School are given the opportunity to learn about community service.
The West Hills Optimist Club is relatively small, service club consisting of less than 40 men and women from the local community. In addition to their many service projects they also hold numerous fundraisers throughout the year to support their activities. Their commitment to the youth in the West Valley is shown by the way they accomplish all of this and still manage to hold down jobs and honor their family relationships
Would you like to know more about Optimist Clubs or about the projects conducted by the West Hills Optimist Club? If so, contact Bill Hadala at (805) 552-4073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.