Archived Story

The perfect fit for an eternal optimist

Published 8:40am Thursday, July 31, 2014

It has taken me almost 40 years to find the civic organization I may have been born to join.

That was the thought running through my head Tuesday afternoon at Ho Ping Garden restaurant in Niles as I recited a creed that everyone should live by and every business operator should instill in his or her employees.

It goes like this.


Promise Yourself …

• To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

• To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

• To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

• To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

• To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

• To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

• To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

• To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

• To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

• To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

As someone who has been called overly positive — a characterization that I believe to be impossible as I also consider myself a realist — the owner of that creed, the Niles Optimist Club, seems like an amazing fit for me.

Until Shane Shidler, a financial advisor at Edward Jones in Niles, invited me to speak to the organization I really had no idea what an optimist club was as there weren’t any in southern Ohio or eastern Kentucky. So I did my homework and was also very enthused after meeting the members and reciting those tenets that basically embody the way I try to live.

According to the organization, “Optimist Clubs are dedicated to ‘Bringing Out the Best in Kids’ and do their part through community service programs. Since each Club is autonomous and run by members in their community, Optimists have the unique flexibility to serve the youth of their area in any way they see fit. Optimist Clubs see a need in their community and react to it.”

Founded in 1970, the Niles Noon Optimist Club has helped thousands of local children through a variety of service projects including: Optimist Soccer League, Salvation Army bell ringing, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Scouting, Tiny Talkers, YMCA camperships, downtown trick-or-treat, the Pumpkin Race, scholarships and more.

So, if the club will accept me, I will soon be formally anointed with a label I have been called for years.

Community organizations across the country face challenges getting new members and keeping its members active. Southwest Michigan has a variety of great civic organizations — from Rotary to Lions to Kiwanis to garden clubs to arts groups to many others — I urge everyone to find the right fit for them. The rewards are immeasurable when it comes to fellowship, making a difference in the community and having a positive impact on people’s lives.

That’s not optimism but rather just a simple truth.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at


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