You’ve met one before – a person who seems to be positive all the time, who has a cheerful disposition,, and looks for the silver lining on the cloud when problems arise. That is an optimist! And it seems like in the last 18 months, we’ve needed optimists more than ever. You will find a group of these people meeting every Wednesday at 7 a.m. at Dakota Perk in South Sioux City. They are members of the South Sioux City Optimist Club.
Club President Diana Kincaid said “I joined because I knew some of the members and shared their glass-half-full approach to life. I enjoyed the positivity and found it a good way to plug into the community.” The club formed more than 100 years ago. Optimist International’s mission is to provide hope and positive vision, to bring out the best in youth, our communities, and ourselves. The South Sioux City club has been active for 36 years.
Kincaid proudly noted, “We kept meeting all through the pandemic! When it was warm enough, we met outside at Koffee Knechtion, and when it was cool, we met at the Legion Hall where we could socially distance.” The club’s weekly meetings consist of planning for that month’s activity, recognizing an achievement of a youth, and/or a speaker. Two components that are always present at the meeting are reciting the Optimist Creed and positive social interaction among members. “The creed is a great way to start the day,” said Kincaid. “It reminds me of a poem by Chuck Swindoll about attitude. Every day we have a choice to make that decides how our day is going to be. I choose to make it a positive one.”
If you’ve ever interacted with Kincaid or other club members, you know that the spirit of Optimism is authentic. Their positive approach to challenges inspires even the most curmudgeonly of folks to believe that positive outcomes can be achieved.
The South Sioux City Optimist club has a calendar full of activities, supporting youth and community improvement. “Some of our projects fell off last year, just because parents weren’t comfortable sending their kids to events, but we are getting back to it,” Kincaid noted. In 2020, the essay contest, oratorical contest, and Spring Youth Appreciation event were held outdoors. This year, the youth appreciation was at the Legion Hall, where extra space made it possible to do indoors. The event is to honor youth who have worked in the community volunteering, often behind the scenes. “It’s important to recognize kids,” Kincaid explains. “It provides them some encouragement. They realize someone notices what they are doing, and then they encourage others to get involved too. I recently met a young professional who told me she has the trophy she got from the Optimist Club in 8th grade. She is so proud of that, and it has reminded her to keep volunteering to help where she can.”
Recently, the club has been supporting the efforts of Siouxland Freedom Park fundraising. The exterior of the park’s Interpretive Center was completed a few years ago; however the interior and exhibits are not yet complete. Recognizing the importance of this community-wide initiative, The Optimist club has joined with other entities in South Sioux City to get the job done. “We always have a lot going on. We plugin where we can when we can,” Kincaid noted.
Other regular activities the Optimist Club is involved with include a youth fishing derby, sponsoring baseball and softball teams, supporting the family night out, hosting a ‘biking for school supplies’ event, fundraising for childhood cancer research, and scholarships for SSC High School seniors. “Our members are very active. Some make it to the morning meetings; others have a project or two they are passionate about that’s when they engage. Both are fine.” Kincaid said. “We recognize people are busy and welcome what contribution they can make. It’s ok to be involved without attending meetings if that’s what works in your schedule.”
If you’d like to learn more about The Optimist Club, visit their meeting each Wednesday, 7:00-8:00 a.m. at Dakota Perk, 39th & Dakota Ave., in South Sioux City. You can also check out their Facebook Page, “Optimist Club of South Sioux City.”
Expressing hope and optimism in a world of negative messaging has an impact. It all begins with a promise to yourself to choose positivity.
By Dr. Cyndi Hanson