West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 2/21/19

Sheila Gafney is a long-time friend of our Club (the annual Charlie Gafney award is named after her father, long member of this Club) and came to us today to speak about Special Olympics, focus of one of our group’s longstanding recurrent activities and donations. Their two major event-related fundraisers are the Lois Craig Run (part of the Crim Festival of Races) and the Polar Plunge into Lake Fenton. These provide the Special Olympics with approximately $135,000 for their budget. Some is split with the State Special Olympics, and the rest is used for Area 13 athletes outfitting, transportation, training, and participation costs. with such events as alpine skiing and hockey running into high figures very quickly. As we know from our work with SO, the young athletes benefit in a lot of ways from their participation, but some of them take on amazing and incredible experiences: one athlete from Lapeer is going to Abu Dhabi to compete in the World Games as a swimmer (at a cost of $10,000, provided by private donations)! Additionally, a “unified” Canadian/American team had been established for basketball, mixing Special Olympics and non-Special Olympics youth on the same team. 150 youth are sent to State-level competition from our area, and we look forward to the annual Softball Throw event on May 24.

Steve Schlott passed cards among the 16 attendees for signatures to be sent to Margaret Cullen, who continues to fight through her exhaustion from her cancer and treatment for it, and the family of our beloved longstanding member George Kitchen, who passed yesterday after a long and valiant period of leading a good and vibrant life despite his cancer-related complications. Please keep these folks and Peter and Ellen Venos in your thoughts and prayers.

My apologies for having less humorous content in this week’s news, but filling in at the podium for our vacationing President Phil Holmblade means that I have difficulty keeping track of fines and discussion while I am up front and at least as much difficulty recalling the information after I step away.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 2/14/19

Brandee Cooke, Project Manager at “100K IDEAS” working out of the Ferris Wheel in downtown Flint, told us about this exciting new addition to Flint’s business scene. (She was accompanied by Vivian, Youth Engagement Coordinator for “100K”.) This student-led operation might go beyond “incubator” for entrepreneurship to be a “neonatal unit” where ideas can be fleshed out, reified, and grown through very specific action plans and connections into real, marketable products and business ventures. The Ferris Wheel setting gives space for meeting, conferencing, collaborating, and experimenting as the direction of development becomes more focused and refined. Successful endeavors include KALM Clothing, and a moveable wall partition system business. (A new mom married to a lobbyist, Brandee enjoys living, working, and playing in Downtown Flint.)

Greg Hilliker, standing in for the vacationing President Phil Holmblade, opened the meeting of a relatively small group (13) and after the Pledge by Art Ridley and grace, opened fines: Steve Schlott was fined for usurping leadership of the meeting, Ron Ballard paid one for sitting with “all of his friends”, Bill Reeves could not pass one against the TailTwister Jack Proffitt, Kevin Wainwright fined all those not wearing Optimist clothing, and Bill Hentgen passed one against all those not wearing shirts as “colorful” as his.

Club reminders: 26 Essays are being judged for the Contest, and winners are to be with us on the 28th, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Bowling is the 21st and thanks to all who are sponsoring or bowling, we are approximately halfway to our stated OIF fundraising goal, and Oratorical Contest is planned to be in March.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 2/7/19

Andy Younger, Race Director for the Crim Fitness Foundation, came to speak with us this morning, recounting the 22 year history of the Race and its evolution. From 750 original racers, the events have grown to include many thousands of participants and spectators and a broader approach to health, nutrition, and community involvement. Now operating programs throughout all of Flint schools, compensating for some of the impact of funding cuts and restricted priorities in the education arena as well as mitigating some of the effects of the “lead crisis” in the area’s youth, the Crim Foundation also has had an impact on community infrastructure – safer streets, walking to school, bicycle trails, Kettering’s “10-Mile Tailgate”, and CANUSA support are some of the community benefits.

Phil Holmblade, C;ub President, called the meeting to order at 7:30 a.m., followed by Greg Hilliker leading the Pledge and Ken Cullen‘s “Grace”. Ron Ballard expressed thanks for the award and recognition at last week’s dinner event, Bill Hentgen ran through a s series of forthcoming Cultural Center events, and then “fines were opened”: Bill Hentgen paid one for “wearing construction clothing ” to the meeting and another for saying “Money Doesn’t Matter”. John Losinski paid one for saying “Facts Don’t Matter”, Greg Hilliker paid one for failure to “wear a cheerful countenance”, Jack Proffitt passed a “fundraiser” fine against the Northerly table for no good reason, with Ken passing one against the Southerly table for being bored. Judge Joe Farah paid one for “wandering into the meeting” and Steve Schlott paid for showing up with a tan and “bleached” hair from frolicking in the sun. I stopped tracking the rest of the frivolous fines, grieving at the thought that President Phil will be leaving until April 11th. Jeff Dennings announced that Essay Contest entries would be submitted this week to the judges and (sitting in for Mic Goulet as Speaker Chair) introduced Andy Younger after Bill Reeves donated his “50/50” prize to the Club.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 1/31/19

Fourteen  of us hardy (or foolhardy, on this bitterly cold day) folks gathered today to meet Jennifer Acree, Program Officer for the C. S. Mott Foundation, and hear her describe the organization’s philanthropic mission and impact. Started in 1926 by this 3-time Mayor of Flint to focus on (1) Service to the City and its citizens, (2) Education, (3) promotion of Civil Society, and (4) creating and preserving a healthy Environment. While Foundation grants impacting Flint amount to roughly $60M annually, another $60-70 M is distributed across the nation and around the world, coming from the Foundation’s $3B endowment. The dramatic impact on our community has been and will continue to be  evident in the new “Educare” project (mitigating the negative cognitive and behavioral effects of lead on area children), the revival of ”community education” in all Flint schools, the recent relocation of Buckham Art Gallery, youth entrepreneurship programs, housing infrastructure development, and Dan Crannie’s TV viewing habits (you have to ask him about it).

President Phil Holmblade asked Mic Goulet to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Ken Cullen to say grace before the meal, then opened the fines: John “J-Lo” Losinski immediately fined Ron Ballard for saying that “It’ll be a cold day in Hell before he’d spend 50 years in this Club” and “Today’s the day!” but was fined in return by Greg Hilliker who noted that “This is too cold to be Hell.” Kevin Wainwright fined himself for wearing short sleeves to the meeting (there was no opposition), Jeff Dennings fined “J-Lo” for being envious of the King’s (Jeff’s) success, Ken Cullen passed a fine against the Southerly table for leaving him without means of support, Jack Proffitt fined President Phil for “losing control of the meeting”, and John Losinski passed a fine against “the next person through the door”, prompting Judge Joe Farah to remind him that “there is heat in the jail.” Carol Dennings won the “50/50” this week and will plan to be here to sell tickets next week.

Until then, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 1/24/19

Chris Javor from HAP (https://www.hap.org/) spoke with our 18 attendees this morning, hoping to give some of us older folks information and understanding about Medicare, Medicaid, “Advantage” and other supplemental insurance options available in this area. He noted that Genesee County has the State’s highest proportion of Medicare and Medicaid recipients, and he identified HAP’s particular value in allowing for responsivity to local needs and provision of personalized customer service.

Phil Holmblade, our illustrious President, opened the morning’s activities with a ring of the bell, a request that Kevin Wainwright lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and asking Jack Proffitt to say grace. The fines flew immediately, with Greg Hilliker proposing one against “all those milling around”, and Carol Dennings paid for “playing with her phone” and “sitting in the same seat week after week after week”. Ken Cullen fined the entire Club for “ignoring the meeting”, Bill Reeves paid for “not selling tickets” for the “50/50 Drawing”, and Ron Ballard fined Omar Sims for “running for something”. Ron was then accused by Mic Goulet of failing to recognize that Omar was  “running FROM something”. The fines slowed down so much when the food was served that King Jeff Dennings fined the entire Club for “allowing the meeting to die”.

Other information:

  • Tickets are still available for the January 31 “Holiday Party/ Tribute to Ron Ballard” at Ruggero’s at 6:00 p.m. – see Jeff Dennings, or buy tickets through this online link:  https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/Ron+/FMfcgxwBVMcnPzLRJSZHthLWXDLXjksv
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters will hold their annual Bowling fundraiser on February 21 -we are once again going to show off our prowess (or at least, our sense of humor) so please sign up if you know what a bowling ball is or might like to. Sign-up sheet and pledge sheets will be going around, with Jack Medemar leading the project.
  • Jeff announce that we are approximately 1/3 of the way to our “Dollar-A-Day” goal, helped out today by Jack Medemar’s donation of his “50/50” winnings.
  • Check out our last newsletter here: https://optimistsinaction.com/west-flint-optimist-newsletter-1-17-19/

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 1/17/19

Todd Slisher, Executive Director of Sloan*Longway (http://sloanlongway.org/longway-planetarium/ ), brought visual aids to the meeting this morning and wowed the crowd (really only 17 present) with his displays depicting the intended changes for the Cultural Center area downtown. The 400,000 artifacts that Sloan has acquired since 1966 serve 65,000 kids and a lot of adults. Reflecting a “future orientation”, the improvements will allow displays that the Museum has had to decline, develop a  “History/Science/Technology” focus for the new Charter Academy (http://fccacademy.org/faq.html )in development, and increase display space and eating options to build and retain visitors to this community resource. This privately funded venture will expand Sloan’s existing space from 58,000 square feet to 100,000, adding a cafe that will accommodate more than 200 visitors and covered walkways to neighboring Cultural Center buildings. Todd does a great job in sharing this exciting vision of Flint that is vibrant and vital to the image of an area sometimes viewed as desolate and declining.

President Phil Homblade did his standard opening ritual, asking Greg Hilliker to lead in the Pledge and Ken Cullen to pray the invocation. Jeff Dennings hawked tickets to the “Holiday Party” (wink, wink! see below) that will recognize Ron Ballard‘s 50-year membership and service in the Club, a sympathy card recognizing the loss in Art Ridley‘s family circulated for signatures, and the fines opened; Mic Goulet paid a “Groundhog Day” for experiencing the same thing again, Greg Hilliker paid a fine by the “King” Jeff Dennings for taking cuts in front of him for fine proposal, John Losinski paid a fine for showing up early, Kevin Wainwright paid a fine for using his crutch as a “crutch”, Bill Hentgen paid a fine for wearing a patchwork psychedelic shirt, Jack Proffitt paid for “only attending “5 Optimist Meetings” in the past week, and Bill Reeves only showed up this week to collect his “50/50″ drawing winnings!

Remember: “Holiday Party”/ “Tribute to Ron Ballard” at Ruggero’s on January 31 at 6:00pm (dinner at 7:00), $30/person, guests welcome, contact Jeff Dennings for tickets.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 1/3/19

Happy New Year to all of our members and friends!

President Phil Holmblade rang the bell to open the first meeting of the calendar year, asked Ron Ballard to lead the Pledge to the American flag, and invited Jack Proffitt to pray for the new year and breakfast. The Optimist business review included mention of the

  • Board Meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at Crannie’s
  • “Backpack Program” activity next Tuesday  (January 8 at 9:30 am at Virtual Learning Center in Swartz Creek)
  • Second Quarter Conference in Kalamazoo on February 16 (other training events on the 23rd of February and in May)
  • International Convention in June (Louisville, KY)
  • Cheryl Thomas (VP of our Region) is having a dinner to present the collaboration of United Way and Optimists International to set up a camp (“LEAP” – “Learn, Earn, And Play”) and it will be at noon on January 10 (talk to Jeff Dennings for information) .

Phil passed around “Thank-You” cards and drawings from the MSD kids in appreciation for our “Signing Santa Pancake Breakfast”, and John Losinski offered ideas and recruited support from the members for adjusting plans for the “2019 $5,000 Raffle”.

The fines opened with a “Royal” assessment by King Jeff Dennings because of all the people eating before the King himself had been served, Jack Medemar proposed a fine against “all those who have to smother their food with red stuff in order to choke it down” and when Greg Hilliker sidestepped that fine, King Jeff fined him for “postponing the use of the red stuff so as to avoid a fine”. Kevin Wainwright passed a “princess” fine against Carol Dennings, and King Jeff fined his own daughter for starting “50/50” ticket sales late this morning. Since the King had driven Carol to breakfast, Bill Hentgen fined His Highness for being responsible for Carol’s tardiness and Bill, in turn, paid a fine for “spitting into the wind” with his disrespect for the monarchy. Carol proposed a “not me” fine against her father “to be paid for by the whole Club”. (“Game of Thrones” palace intrigue has gone local, or loco!)

Steve Schlott is so fed up with the whole royal and filial machinations that he is escaping for a few months to Florida and has is making a sign for his “new” trailer that will accommodate “Cocktails for 6, Dinner for 4, and Sleeping for 2”. We’ll Look forward to seeing you again soon, Steve, subject to your restrictions of course.

We also will miss Guenter Beholz, a long-time Club member who passed away on December 27. (http://obits.mlive.com/obituaries/flint/obituary.aspx?n=guenter-beholz&pid=191166529)

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 12/13/18


A relatively small group of 15 gathered today as President Phil Holmblade opened the meeting with the standard “Pledge, Prayer, Bell” sequence before quickly reviewing this past Tuesday’s Board Meeting. He noted that Atlas Valley has closed and we will have to consider location alternatives (discussed) for our “$5,000 Raffle and Banquet” this coming year, with John Losinski (after considerable prayer, turmoil, reflection, and a lapse in memory) agreeing to take on the chairmanship for the event and Jim Reigle agreeing to manage the tickets again after a specific request. Results of this past year’s fundraisers and provisional budget allocations through this coming year were briefly discussed, and Bill Hentgen, especially, was pleased with the announcement that the Club has donated money for The Whiting to provide transportation to youth for its educational programming. Jack Proffitt reminded us all of next week’s planned Pancake Breakfast with Santa for the MSD kids. (Gifts should be wrapped, labeled, and brought early if they have not yet been given to Jack, so that they can be counted and in place before the event.)

When the fines opened, Jack Proffitt charged the entire Club with ignoring Phil’s wimpy bell-ringing, Bill Hentgen paid a fine for looking like a Christmas decoration, Carol Dennings paid a fine for making her father and Potentate/KIng Jeff Dennings late for today’s meeting, Greg Hilliker fined all who did not volunteer for the “Time2Ring” kettle drive (see photo to understand why),

King Jeff fined his daughter for not paying attention to the meeting and she countered with a charger that he refused to provide her with appropriate clothing, A sign-up sheet passed around for Speaker Chair schedule still shows April, May, June, August, and September unassigned and available – the other months are accounted for.

Judge Joe Farah spoke briefly regarding his work in highly publicized, difficult, and important cases coming before the Court, and John Losinski won the  “50/50” pot.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 12/6/18

Phil Holmblade, our illustrious leader, prompted Ron Ballard to lead the Pledge and Jack Proffitt to say grace before ringing the meeting to order without a specific guest speaker. The Club received a letter of thanks from the Food Bank for our donation of $1160 to the Backpack Program, King Jeff Dennings announced the Santa Run and fined anyone who did not work the event (see attached photo to understand why!), John Losinski was fined for seeking out the Club as a target for sharing his sore throat and chest cold, Crys Reed and Joe Farah paid fines for late arrival, and Kevin Wainwright paid a fine for being a “slow learner” after his story about his finger splint.

Other announcements: Volunteers are welcome for the Backpack Program work at Swartz Creek Virtual Learning Center at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11; Forms are available to prepare for work at area schools by submitting clearance for possible Criminal Background Check; Joe Bushey will help out but cannot chair this year’s Essay and Oratorical Contests, and Phil Holmblade once more won the “50/50” drawing. Michael Hilliker and Emily Reed were welcome guests at today’s meeting.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”

West Flint Optimist Newsletter – 11/29/18

Salvation Army’s Director of Development Joy Martinbianco returned to the Club this morning to introduce Major Randy Hellstrom as our guest speaker for our meeting. Major Randy has served the Salvation Army throughout the midwest (including Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, and Michigan) with personal roots in our area (early childhood in Owosso and stints in Jackson, Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo before his assignment to Flint). He mentioned the “Time2Ring” program in which our Club’s participates this coming Friday (Dec. 13 at ELGA Credit Union on Pierson Road) and we joked that Mic Goulet could get a Gaines Jewelry watch back for his volunteer bell-ringing stint. Some of the other, perhaps lesser known, agency ventures are a major focus on Human Trafficking (with “safe housing” and “Information and Referral” support for victims), development of a Medical Respite support system for caregivers, Youth Sports program at their downtown gym facility, and Music (a concert coming up on December 15).

After ringing the Opening bell, President Phil Holmblade had Jeff Dennings and Jack Proffitt take the lead in Pledge of Allegiance and Prayer, respectively, then had some announcements: Bill Hentgen announced various Cultural Center events (particularly Classy Brassy Christmas coming up on Wednesday, December 5); Dan Crannie announced the upcoming World’s Largest Office Party on December 7; 8 people associated with our Club volunteered for work at the YMCA’s Santa Run this coming Saturday (December 1) and are to park in the lot south of the building before checking in; Jack Proffitt has some shirts available from “The Bridge” Family Fun Day activity we supported; and Jeff Dennings reported on the successful InterService Club Luncheon.

The interaction devolved into chaos when the fines were opened and Steve Schlott fined Mic Goulet for “shameless promotion”, a miffed Mic struck out with a fine for several of our official Optimist leaders for coming in “dressed as if they are auditioning for a role in ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’“, King Jeff Dennings fined the Southerly table for requesting a “pardon”, Jack Proffitt fined the entire Northerly table for “harrassing the TailTwister”, Ron Ballard paid a fine for “being nobody” despite his 50 years of  honorable service, and Carol Dennings was fined for “giving a civics lesson” to “Hizzoner” Joe Farah. Dan Crannie donated his “50/50” drawing winnings to the Salvation Army before the meeting adjourned.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”