West Flint Optimist Newsletter –  8/10/17

Kayla  Bright,one of our Friends of Optimism  members and Special Education teacher for Swartz Creek Middle School, returned to tell us of her “Community-Based Instruction” activities. This past year’s 6th through 8th grade students (meeting documented “Intellectually Impaired” – IQ <70, “Autism Spectrum”, and “Attention Deficit” criteria) went on 7 trips into the surrounding communities to experience a lake fishing excursion, a Humane Society bonding experience, a Planetarium visit, a Ligon outdoor experience, Special Olympics competition, and restaurant dining. These events provide opportunities and support for empathic connection, community service, communication skill development, reading menus and prices, calculating tips and best values, handling checkbook balancing and budgets, and learning water and woods survival skills. Benefits accruing to the broader community include “General Ed” student participation in mentoring, leadership, and social tutoring in “peer to peer” programs; “Spread the Word to End the Word” social activism to change the language and derogatory stigma associated with “retarded”; “mainstream” inclusion of Special Ed students in General Ed elective classes and broader social relationships  and interactions; fundraising projects; training and leadership experiences for General Ed students (who must apply a year in advance and undergo interviews and skill evaluation and development for collaborative programming); life skill acquisition for the long haul; and community outreach/networking. (This past year’s “Swartz Creek Hometown Days” allowed 4 hours of rides and pizza to 750 participants in the “Special Days for Special Needs” venture!)

This year’s plan is to expand the shopping experience to other groceries, pharmacies, etc., because of the need to generalize developing skills across settings (beyond the local Meijer’s store whose location and layout seem to be familiar and accessible to the students) and give students chances to shop and seek assistance in alternative environments. Ms. Bright has done a good job of generating financial support from the community (garnering funds from family, grants, UAW Local 528 to the tune of $8K for the “Special Days” event), and we have supported her for the past few years by granting her projects funds for transportation. Her reliance on Swartz Creek Public School buses costs $2.25/mile and $17.00/ hour for driver pay, rapidly erodes her budget for “community-based programming”, and we have supported and seen benefits from this Friend of Optimism and local youth, as Jeff Dennings  attested this morning.

President Peter Venos rang the meeting to order, asking Mic Goulet to lead the Pledge and Jack Proffitt to say grace before doing (editorial comment) a mediocre job of auctioning the Crown to Ken Cullen for a mere dollar. His only competitor only bid a dollar, so Ken’s “I was First!” carried the day. Ken then rubbed salt in Jeff Denning’s wounds by fining him for being “so slow that he let a 72-year –old beat him to the punch” and being “cheap”. Not one to give up, Jeff fined the entire Club for failing to join the auction. Phil Holmblade paid a fine for having money on the table; Crys Reed arrived late and partially redeemed himself by bringing a guest (his wife Emily) and wearing his new Optimist shirt (as did several others); Dan Crannie paid a fine for being “later than Crys” and another fine by Lynn Eastman was assessed because Dan got “a special breakfast” before the starving others at the table; and John Losinski was targeted with a fine by Crys for his tardiness but tried to bribe the Prez out of passing it, so paid again.  Joe Farah entered, late, in a defensive posture and threatened “fire and fury, the likes of which this country has never seen!” if anyone called him on it, prompting considerable discussion and ambivalence about levying a fine until Patrick Naswell came in and broke the tension by fining Judge Joe for “walking right past me in the parking lot” (thereby undermining Patrick’s “Protector” role and exposing the Judge needlessly). When Steve Schlott made a comment about TailTwister Jack Medemar’s skill in “extractions”, he was fined by King Ken for “sucking up”, and Ken continued his momentum and motivated others to bid next week’s Crown possession by fining Jeff for whining and the Northerly table “just because”.

After a few announcements (see below), King Ken won the “50/50 Drawing” today, Speaker Chair Jeff Dennings introduced Guest Speaker Kayla Bright to the 19 present, and after her presentation, Prez Pete left it to “either Jack” to recite the Creed—Jack Proffitt proved that he was more eager to leave on his motorcycle and jumped into the breach.
Board Members – Meeting tonight at Crannie’s; contact Pete if unable to be there.

Steve Schlott is still looking for workers for CANUSA Breakfast on Sun., Aug. 13, at 7 a.m. (email to follow).

Phil Holmblade has some Optimist hats for sale – contact if interested.

Jim Reigle has tickets for “$5K Raffle”—contact him for tickets, or anticipate contact from him if you don’t. Time for the annual chant: “SELL, SELL, SELL!!”

Memorial service for long-time Club member (& fellow Spartan) Dick Harris is at Sharp Funeral Home in Swartz Creek at Noon, Saturday, Aug. 12.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…