Successful Optimist Holiday Activities

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During our meeting on December 13, 2017, we discussed the successes of Breakfast with Santa–which included serving 760 participants, in addition to 40-50 volunteers. An anonymous donor paid for all of the children’s meals at the event, and additional donations were collected at the door.

The Mitten Tree was also presented to representatives from the Whitewater Unified School District. This year, the Mitten Tree had a special donation from an anonymous donor, who found out about the Mitten Tree a year ago. She made a commitment to carefully hand knit 38 unique items for children. She was determined to contribute to the community as a way of giving back from what she experienced as a child.  She was once a child who did not have a hat and mittens of her own.  The Mitten Tree also received 600 items from the UW-Whitewater University Center staff and students, as well as from local businesses, Club members, and participants at Breakfast with Santa.

Lastly, Club co-presidents Dave and Janay presented a $1,000 check to representatives of the Whitewater Unified School District (WUSD).  The donation was allocated for the WUSD Family Emergency Fund.  Pupil Services Coordinator Lanora Heim gave a brief recap of how some of the funds are used for families and how they work hard to stretch the money as far as they can. The need is great, and their team is grateful for the significant contribution.

 

Welcome new members Brian and Keith!

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The UW-Whitewater/Community Optimist Club would like to introduce our two new club members, Dr. Brian Huels, and Dr. Keith Zukas! Both are new faculty at UW-Whitewater and are eager to bring optimism to the Club, the campus, and the community.

Brain Huels is an Assistant Professor of Accounting and met Kim Adams 20 years ago when he was attending UW-Whitewater as an undergraduate student. Kim introduced the Club to Brian in August when he returned to campus as a faculty member. Brian is excited about joining the Club because he believes in optimism and is enjoying sharing that philosophy with his students.

Keith Zukas is journalism professor for the College of Arts and Communication. Kate Ksobiech persuaded Keith to join the Optimist Club because she wanted to introduce him to the community. Keith is excited about joining the Club because he wants to know more about UW-Whitewater and the community. We welcome our new club members and are very happy to have some new faculty join our organization!

Fall Intern Accomplishments

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As the fall semester wraps up, we spent a few minutes reflecting back on the achievements our fall interns completed during their time with us. Katie Gaulrapp and Olivia Woyak began their internships back in late August and since then have done many things to help out the Club. Both worked hard on blog posts, flyers, Facebook posts, going to meetings, assisting with events, etc. They have dedicated a lot of time and energy over the course of the semester. Katie will be graduating this December, and will be getting married this summer. Olivia is set to graduate in May and will also be getting married this summer! Thanks for all the hard work from our interns!

Breakfast with Santa 2017

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Whitewater Leads Has Optimism About Dolly Parton Imagination Library

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On Wednesday, October 18, the UW-Whitewater/Community Optimist Club heard from our guest speaker Larry Kachel regarding the “Whitewater Leads” program. Larry discussed the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The goal of the organization is to help children around the nation receive books in the mail and help to improve children’s learning and reading skills.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library gives out 1.2 billion books per month, and works with about 16,000 communities. The program begins as soon as a child is born, and goes until their 5th birthday. During these years, each child who is enrolled in the program gets their own book in the mail every month. The books that are sent to the children are free, as this organization runs on donations and funds that are provided by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Whitewater Leads’ goal is to get about $25 per year, per child (through donations from various organizations). Whitewater Leads has already seen just how great this program is by looking at students test results and seeing how children have been placed in reading levels.

The goal for Whitewater is to greatly increase literacy and get everyone reading books, and the organization hopes that there will be a great improvement in this in about two years of running this book service. To learn more or to donate, check out their website at Whitewater-leads.org.

Optimist Club Meeting with Guest Speaker Erica Schepp

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October 4. 2017, Optimist Club Meeting, Guest Speaker: Erica Schepp

Erica Schepp, Director of UW-Whitewater Children’s Center, was the guest speaker for our Club meeting on Wednesday, October 4.  Erica explained that the center is the only childcare provider in Whitewater accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  The center serves children of faculty, staff, students, and community members.  She discussed a new program on campus where students can earn 1-3 college credits by working with children at the center, based upon the hours worked per week.  Erica and her staff are planning to improve the center’s “Sensory Room,” which provides a safe and therapeutic place for the children to learn calming skills. Some of the proceeds from the 2018 Trivia Night will be used to update the room with swings that hang from the ceiling as individual pods for children needing a quiet space to relax, and installing both a light lab and a large magnetic wall with ramps and pathways, to help improve a variety of motor skills.  This is your proceeds at work!

Optimist Club meeting Guest speaker Choton Basu

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Choton Basu (from the UW-W College of Business and Economics) was the guest speaker for our Club meeting on September 19, 2017, he discussed his innovative app called “Strive On”. The Strive On app was developed 3 years ago by Choton and his colleagues, and since then has been growing rapidly. It is an interactive app that gets people involved and learning about the community. There are beacons and/or geofences placed around a location that bring up a notification on a person’s mobile device that offer a “story” about the specific location to enrich the user’s experience. The app has even more opportunities in the near future, as there is development on a hands-free mode, and a setting to track business operations, and user involvement. We look forward to working with Choton in the future by adding Optimist Club information on to the app.

New Optimist year, new board

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In the board meeting held on September 13, 2017 a new slate of officers was approved. The incoming Co-Presidents are Dave Halbach and Janay Alston. There is no President Elect at this time. The Immediate Past President is Kim Adams. Vice President is another open position. Olson will continue to serve as Secretary, and Kate and Ken Ksobiech will return as Co-Treasurers. Susan Hiscox, Joyce Hutchinson, and Linda Kinson are the at-large board members. Any club members interested in stepping into the role of President Elect for or Vice President should contact Dave Halbach immediately (halbachd@uww.edu). The new optimist year begins on October 1, 2017.

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