Not So Optimist-ic
NATURAL DISASTERS and a lack of the volunteer spirit have caused a severe reduction in the number of operational Optimist Clubs in the Caribbean.
District governor for Optimist International, Caribbean district, Nutilia Simon told the NATION during a recent district conference in Island Inn, Aquatic Gap, St Michael, there were now six islands with active clubs, down from as many as 16.
“Volunteerism is down; people are not giving up so much of their time,” she said.
In addition, Simon said maintaining a club was not easy and it was difficult to find the right people.
“It takes commitment and leadership and while there are leaders out there you find people don’t want to take the time or want the responsibility,” she said.
Another factor she identified was a lack of communication among the islands as she said a lieutenant governor could be based in one island, but also be in charge of several clubs in other islands. However, travel was now too expensive to monitor them properly and this is why, she said, applications such as Skype were useful.
Simon also admitted one of the causes for the closures was the non-payment of dues. She said projects cost money so any club which defaulted would be shut down by the international office.
Despite all this, Simon said she was determined to oversee the re-emergence of the Optimist club in the Caribbean, starting with Dominica.
The islands with functioning clubs are Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua. (CA)