In March, I attended the zone four second quarter conference in Chehalis, Washington. At that conference, Monique Connors, conference coordinator put together an interesting team building exercise. Monique asked each of us to list on a piece of paper our most memorable Optimist moment. These pieces of paper were put into a bowl and as some of them were pulled, comments were provided to fill in a little with the details. Having been an Optimist for over a quarter of a century it was a little effort to come up with which moment I thought was my most memorable.
After a few moments, I listed on my entry that my most memorable moment was when, as chair of the selection committee, I was allowed to present the award for Law Enforcement Officer of the Year as part of our Respect for Law annual project. Even the memory of this event years ago caused me to become emotional as I recalled the many stories I had to sort through that detailed the heroics of so many of my neighbors that deserved recognition that only a few could receive during our ceremony.
While that ceremony sticks deep in my memory, I believe it will have to take a step to the side and become my second most memorable moment. During the Opening Ceremony for the third quarter conference in Burnaby, British Columbia this May, I had the opportunity to announce the recognition of two long time Optimists. The recognition took the shape of having their names memorialized in connection with the scholarship awarded to a competitor in the Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH). Each year the Pacific Northwest awards a second scholarship to a competitor in this contest. The district wishes to recognize not only those youth who must sign their entry speech but also recognize those who are now able to speak their entry as a result of having received implants allowing them to hear and therefore speak aloud.
The funds for the second scholarship are raised solely within the district and often by a very few members. It appeared time that the efforts of the few become recognized by way of allowing the scholarship to bear their name for years to come. It was decided Connie Pollock of British Columbia and Dr. Tom Hammond of the United States be those individuals to have their name memorialized on the scholarship given by our district.
The scholarship awarded to the winner, if Canadian, would bear the name Constance Pollock and would be awarded in Canadian funds. The scholarship awarded to the winner if a U. S. competitor would bear the name of Dr. Thomas Hammond and would be awarded in U. S. dollars. It was hoped by those serving on the committee to establish this, the ongoing annual confusion about the distribution of funds would finally be satisfied as well as provide a means to recognize these fabulous Optimists.
During the announcement I made, I told those in attendance they need look no further than to Connie’s obituary to understand why she was selected. In her obituary it was stated, in lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Canadian Children’s Optimist Foundation. As I said then, she has found a way to keep on giving even after having left our earth.
Tom Hammond, a longtime member of the Meridian Idaho Optimist Club, has been responsible for spearheading effort after effort during his years of service to the youth of the Treasure Valley in Idaho. The Meridian Optimist Club has for many years been the largest contributor to the fund that allowed this scholarship to remain in effect. Once again this year, the Meridian Club quickly went to the top of the list of contributors and remained there throughout the process of gathering funds.
I am pleased and very humbled to have experienced yet another “most memorable moment” in my life that can be attributed to my participation in Optimist International.