Monday, December 14, 2009

Matthew 25:40 Christmas Treat

On Sunday December 13th, members visited with the boys at Matthew 25:40, a home for children with HIV/AIDS. As is customary, the members brought gifts, sang Christmas carols and provided cake and snacks for the children. This year, Mrs. Clause presented the gifts to the boys and wished them a Merry Christmas and the club presented contributions to the home.

To protect the children, no photos were taken of the youngsters.

Marie Atkins Basic School Workday

Saturday, December 12, 2009 was the first designated workday for the Marie Atkins Basic School of this OI year. Members are seen here painting, cutting grass and doing basic repairs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Board Installation Ceremony

Photos from the installation ceremony of the 2009/2010 Board.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Social clubs need to help youth find themselves

Western Bureau:

Social clubs will have to play a role in helping youths find their identities, which can help to alleviate social problems in Jamaica, according to president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lloyd B. Smith.

"The Optimist International will have a pivotal role to play in helping the youths of the Caribbean to become more aware of themselves, as I believe that there is an identity crisis in the Caribbean whereby young people are not sure of who they really are," Smith argued, as he spoke at the official launch of the Caribbean District of Optimist International Conference, held at Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in the Second City on the weekend.

Confused identity

Smith claimed social deterioration in the minds of youths has been fuelled by the confusion about their identities. This confusion, he said, has been caused by the fact that the region's people were historically regarded as Africans, then British residents, now West Indians and Caribbean nationals.

The three-day conference will seek to reaffirm the principles of the club through training and discussions. Operating under the theme 'Soar and Shine', the Caribbean District Governor, Gene M. Douglas, revealed that through her tenure as governor, she expected to continue increasing service to children by building and maintaining youth and adult clubs.

"Our club mainly focuses on youths and their development and, while we acknowledge that there are similar organisations out there that offer similar services, we want our organisation to be the service club of choice as it relates to what our core function is about," the Caribbean district governor reasoned.

She acknowledged that, with the challenging economic times, it would require that persons go the extra mile in ensuring that the objectives of the service club remain relevant and effective. She said the concept of service through various projects, hope to youngsters, involvement, nurturing children while at the same time enjoying oneself, is important, especially, at a time like this.

Sheena Gayle for the Gleaner
Published: Monday November 23, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Do the right thing Jamaica; Stand up for the children.

On Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Observer columnist Betty Ann Blaine started her piece entitled Things fall Apart with the statement "It seems to me that optimism is becoming the scarcest commodity in Jamaica these days". This week, November 8 – 14, the Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea, will have been one of over 2000 optimist clubs across the world marking Youth Appreciation Week 2009 and by extension bringing hope and positive vision to the young people of this world. From all indication, it is not only the clubs in Jamaica that are faced with this seeming hopelessness. Data published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child continue to show that children from all over the world are at risk especially as it relates to violence against them.

Certainly, the Jamaican situation needs urgent attention. Recent memory recalls that in 2005 Miss Blaine’s organization, Hear the Children’s Cry launched a campaign called “Are the Children OK?” This was a response to the worrying levels of crime against our children and by extension the future of the Jamaican society. In that same year 91 children were murdered according to UNICEF reports. The following year at a Gleaner Editor’s Forum Miss Blaine warned, "This country is in a crisis as far as our children are concerned and the sexual violence against our children." In early 2008 Prof. Paulo Pinheiro, author of the 2006 UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, reminded the Jamaican parliament that “In an environment where violence breeds more violence, the ways in which Jamaican children are subjected to violence are inextricably linked to the unrelenting levels of crime and violence affecting the island”. The CNN too, in January 2009 was weighing in on what they termed a dramatic increase of child abuse in Jamaica, making specific reference to the Office of Children Registry receiving 3,784 reports in 2008 compared to 425 in 2007. Additionally, the emotional stress associated with the increasingmissing children cases over the last few months cannot be denied.

We hope therefore that the safety and security of our nation’s children will be given significant attention in the strategy outlined recently by Acting Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington. Our young people cannot be raised in a society void of hope, lacking in opportunities and without the requisite support for upliftment. The people in whom we have entrusted the responsibility for the protection and care of our children must present a clear vision, practical goals, and specific objectives against which some form of meaningful evaluation of their stewardship may be done. The 2G conflict - gully vs. gaza - is only a small manifestation of the gaping hole in which we have allowed our children and young people to fall. It is only natural for us to worry about the state of affairs, but as an optimist, I cannot afford to see every dark hole as a cave for blindness or a pit of serpents from which to run. These dark moments should rather be treated as openings to tunnels waiting to be channeled towards the light, wells ready to be tapped into springs of goodness, hope and prosperity, and chances to embrace the power and love of the big G – God.

The Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea calls on all well-thinking Jamaicans to speak out and defend the right of our children and young people to a safe and secure environment in which they can “dream the impossible dream” and live in hope of their dreams being realized. On November 19 when peoples from across the globe mark World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse it is our wish that as a country we will awake from our depths of denial and defensiveness and stand up for our children. It is time for Jamaica to do the right thing: protect our children from the various forms of violence with which they currently live; use the many pieces of legislation at our disposal to ensure that our young people live in an environment conducive to fulfilling their true potential; and importantly, provide them with hope, optimism, and possibilities of a healthy future.

After all, it is in our own interest to guarantee our children that right.

President Patrick (Prendergast)

Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dare to Live the Optimist Creed

October 22, 2009

The privilege is mine this evening to share in the Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea Installation Exercise of its new president 2009-2010, Mr. Patrick Prendergast. This event is no ordinary one; you have twinned the installation activity with your major project for the year – the continuous development of the Marie Atkins Basic School, the latter being done in recognition of the Early Childhood Commission’s Standards for all ECI operating in Jamaica.

Driven by community service the leadership of the Marie Atkins Basic School has been providing early childhood development services to scores of Jamaican children and their families since the early 70’s. So naturally, when I was asked to deliver the keynote address to this illustrious group of community service workers I did not hesitate, but rather readily accepted the challenge.

The story is told of two men who fell from a 15 storey building. Half way down, one was heard to shout..."HEEELLLLLLPPPP", while the other said “WELL, SO FAR....SO GOOD." All a matter of perspective some say. The perspective which sees possibility underpinned with hope is usually that of the Optimist. This evening The Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea will officially place a new person at the helm, one who must dare to dream and "to look on the sunny side of everything and make his optimism come true” regardless of the challenges that there may be.

President Patrick, you must possess an inner strength that cannot and will not waiver. This intrinsic strength which will be bolstered by the support you receive from fellow Optimists who live by the creed, “To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind”

To this end a good leader/President should “Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as he is about his own.” This denotes a character of true selflessness which seeks to meet the needs of others and celebrate that as much as one’s own achievements. It speaks to one who will not seek the glory or necessarily to be recognized as the individual in as much as the community is benefitted and the team lauded.

The Optimist club has a history of being a service organization. This service has been extended to the continuous development of the Marie Atkins Basic School. Why is this even noteworthy? It is because Early childhood education, the most critical of the education levels, is the last of the education sector to be augmented and therefore the least developed.

The early childhood years are internationally recognized as the years from birth to age eight years. It is during these years that brain development is maximal. During these early years children learn how to interact with and manipulate the world around them. It is in these years that children learn and develop lifelong skills in language, thinking, reasoning, comprehending, socializing, computing and playing.

Through play children learn, about the world around them, develop and test new skills, learn to use their imaginations, develop creativity, build trust, and learn about relationships and social interactions. Sadly it is something that does not receive enough attention, structure and dedication on an individual or a corporate level. Thankfully the Optimist club has chosen to meet the need.

The President also has the responsibility of seeing this adoption of the Marie Atkins Basic School to greater fruition, by partnering with the ECC’s mandate. The establishment of the ECC in 2003 occurred at a time in Jamaica’s history when many things were happening in education yet there was no legislation governing the early childhood sector. There was no umbrella organization that had pertinent information on ECD in Jamaica in spite of all the work and achievement that was being accomplished. With this establishment the regulations to govern ECIs became critical. Consequently, twelve standards were developed to accompany the Act and Regulations of 2005.

Click Here for the ECC’s Start Them Right Guide

The Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea has demonstrated its commitment to ECD nation building. It will be very important that the President and by extension the entire executive, be prepared to forget the mistakes of the past and eagerly press on to the greater achievements that lie ahead. There is the possibility that not all things will go as planned; nevertheless, the machinery must not stop moving. While personal evaluation is important, there cannot be time lost belabouring past errors while there is the possibility of change and a better future.

The Leader of any group must think the best and in as much as he will work for the best it should come as no surprise to those around that he ought to expect only the best: not only of himself but also his colleagues. As simple as this seems it can easily become a problem for ever so often the scenario plays out that leads to conflict.

The scene is that of a president, board chair or group leader who dares to aim for the stars and soon finds that only he has caught the vision of boarding the shuttle. Two things need to happen: the one with vision need to market the concept as desirable; but what is also true is that those on the team should also be prepared to be led to a new plane provided there are no clearly apparent pitfalls to blasting off.

The final key I care to leave with you is that beyond all things dare to live that which you believe. For too many people, life consists of being a member of a society or group; following the group; following the code; attending the meetings; paying the fees: doing just enough to maintain membership but never having a passion for the ethos of the group. Be it that social group, service organization, or religious conviction.

As long as there is something worthwhile and of merit, dare so convicted of what you believe or are a part of so much so that you live it each day and influence the life of another positively. Remember to be gentle to those who are less able to care for themselves, especially our elderly and our children. As you live each day, whatever your station in life or at a given point of a day, be a leader that is “too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble”.

President Patrick, and Directors the ECC congratulates you and on your call to office to serve your club at a critical juncture in time. We wish you and your members all the best for the year 2009-2010 and look forward to celebrating with you, your anticipated successes and stellar achievements. May your motto and creed be your guide as you continue to provide continuous service to Jamaica’s children and more specifically the children of the Marie Atkins Basic School.

I thank you.

Richard Williams is Regional & Community Interventions Coordinator at the Early Childhood Commission

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Special Note Just for You

Dear Optimist of Sunset Liguanea,As you are aware The Sunset Optimist Club of Liguanea was chartered in March 1999 just 3 months shy of the 80th year since representatives of eleven clubs met in Louisville, Kentucky to start what is today known as Optimist International.

When our sponsor club Kingston, Jamaica moved to form Sunset Liguanea it was a way of expanding the channels through which persons committed to service could do so. Of course optimism is about being a friend of youth and what better way to contribute to a better future than serving our young people. Over the years through your involvement in some way, shape, or form you have helped to cement the club’s reputation for consistently bringing out the best in Jamaican youths.

As a club Sunset Liguanea has never failed to participate in the many programmes of Optimist International all designed to demonstrate our commitment to the mission of providing hope and vision. We are an active member of the Caribbean District balancing yeomen service to the community with fantastic opportunities for fellowship. From its presidents and club officers, to its leadership in the District, including the three LTGs that have emerged from our young club in just ten years, Sunset Liguanea is an optimist club of which we should all be proud.

Now that we are at the stage at which organizations either remain trapped in a time zone or be transformed into an institution reflecting a deeper passion for and commitment to the children of our land, we must encourage each other in making the latter our reality.

From chartered President Charles Reid through President No. 10 Philbert Perry Sunset Liguanea has set a blazing ten years which can only serve to strengthen the platform upon which President Eleven must build. The Chartered members who are currently on the club roster – VPs Glaister and Coleen, Club Parliamentarian Ken Snr, and Optimist Marjorie Bryant should be proud of the foundation set for take off into the institutional realm of organizational life.

As a club we must build on the strong reputation of service as well as ensure that the organizational structures are dynamic enough to reflect the changes that have taken place over the past ten years. This is a challenge we are prepared to face. We are confident that everyone who decided to wear the Optimist pin under the Sunset Liguanea banner still burn with desire to bring sunshine to dark hearts, to lift the sprits of those who still linger in hopelessness, and to motivate our children and young people to be the best at what they do.

It is with this confidence that you are invited – whether you are a present or past member, sitting on the fence of indecision, or having dangling thoughts about where to stand again – to recommit yourself to the work of the great movement of Optimism. You are invited to once again make Sunset Liguanea your home base from which to share your continued love and care for our children.

The theme for the 2009-2010 year is Building capacities through teamwork and participation. Nothing would be more valuable than you bringing your special gifts to impact the team, to participate in the projects and activities we will undertake, and to make a significant difference to the process of ensuring that our children become active participants in the realization of a future in which we can all be proud.
As we prepare for the journey with President Eleven we say thank you very much for being a part of Sunset Liguanea and we look forward to your renewed interest, your pro-active demonstration of your commitment to the Optimist Creed, and of course full participation in the activities of the coming year and beyond.

Thank you for being an optimist and for having chosen Sunset Liguanea as the best channel through which to make your optimism come true. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday September 10, 2009 for what should be a very special meeting for the club. Please do make every effort to be in attendance. That meeting is scheduled for our new meeting place Mayfair Hotel, 4 West Kings House Close, Kingston 8.

Deepest thanks to you all again,

PE Patrick
Director and Chair, Membership & PGI
August 21, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thoughts on optimism 3. – I Believe

I have decided to make my third piece of commentary in this series a borrowed piece from the sixth Governor General of Jamaica. This borrowed piece is such a perfect continuation of the sentiments expressed in the second piece. But I also wish to share parts of the speech because of its relevance, timeliness, and certainly because it reflects so much of what optimism is about.

The news have made headlines from this speech, the talk shows have done their spin, the verandah talk will have its time, and editorials and opinion pieces will make reference to how much it reminds them of past locally and internationally famous charismatic leaders and speakers. But I am afraid, that’s where it may just end if we ignore the essence of this great speech which when delivered was missed by most Jamaicans – including myself.

Having read the speech though, I felt so inspired, so motivated – just like the feeling I get from participating in the various projects we do with and on behalf of the children. This is not just a speech asking Jamaicans to believe in ourselves. More importantly for me is its call for all of us to do everything we can to write the words I Believe across the hearts of every man, woman, and child and to “echo the certain sound that we are one” from all corners of this beautiful land to which we so pledge our love and loyalty.

Here are excerpts of the speech delivered by His Excellency The Most Honourable Dr. Patrick Allen, ON, CD on the occasion of his installation as Governor General of Jamaica at King’s House, Thursday February 26, 2009.
…Although it may seem to many persons in Jamaica today that we are in the night of our deepest despair with nothing before us, the night of weeping will not last forever and I prefer to think that we are approaching the morning of hope with everything before us. We have the tomorrows of opportunities and limitless possibilities ahead of us. The possibilities of achieving our God-given potential with creativity and success – despite the odds.

Our history as a people and a nation beckons to us from within the darkness and reminds us to be steadfast, resilient, and cling to hope for we have overcome much and we will do so yet again. I firmly believe that within the crises of our contemporary experiences lie the seeds of opportunity and renewal.

As St Francis of Assisi urged, all of us should ‘act as if everything depended upon [us]’, and ‘pray as if everything depended upon God’.

At the end of the day, every one of us has to participate in the healing, the restoration, and ultimately, the prosperity of this nation. ‘There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.’

…We must return to a value system which ensures that no one is deprived of their God-given rights; where the measure of a real man is not the number of guns he slings, the number of persons he kills, nor the number of children he sires, but the extent to which he cares for and supports his family.

We must engage the youth and adapt to a changing world and the maturing consciousness of our young people. We must believe in them, train them, and have the faith that they will not betray the values of fairness, morality, and justice that we have instilled in them.

I believe that despite our challenges, our setbacks and our despair, we are a nation which has been blessed with a rich heritage, abundant resources, and the prospect of a bright future.

I believe that each of us is placed here by our Creator to enhance the quality of life of those around us.

I believe that the decent, dedicated, hardworking members of our society are in the majority, despite the violence, vulgarity, declining values and economic vicissitudes that confront us.

I believe that Jamaican men and women of every race, color, religion, creed and political affiliation can embrace each other with ‘one love, one heart’ and solve our differences without violence.

I believe that every Jamaican at home and in the Diaspora can say with sincerity, “I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, the wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens”, in this Island that we call home.

Every Jamaican must know, think, internalize, personalize, and actualize the theme “I believe.” It must echo from the Blue Mountains to the Dolphin Head Mountains. It must ring from the Liguanea Plains of Kingston to the St Georges Plains of Westmoreland.

I believe must be etched in every classroom, the screen saver on every computer and cell phone; it must be internalized in the heart of every student, until dreams are born in the hearts of our children as to who they can become and the contribution they can make to the development of their nation.

Businessmen and entrepreneurs, Professors, Pastors, Politicians, and teachers, Managers and Workers, Employers and Employees must echo the certain sound that we are one nation under God. Let it ring from their lips and let them declare that they believe in the destiny of Jamaica.

I believe must adorn the T-shirts we wear, the sports gear that we brand, the cups from which we drink; it must be the theme in the morning papers, and the optimism of the evening news until the waves wash away our shame and we evolve into a nation ‘destined for greatness’.

When we examine the global canvas we see lines, brush strokes and hatchings that are distinctively Jamaican. We have produced great thinkers and scholars, artists and musicians, the best athletes, sportsmen and women, and have ensured that the rest of the world believe in this island nation. Others believe in us, we must believe in ourselves!

I believe in Jamaica. I believe in the people of Jamaica.

I believe we can and we must. I implore all of us to get a hold of the full text and do what we can to spread confidence, hope and optimism which come with the declaration, I Believe!

As optimists we could not want a better call than this at a time when we must make greater effort at fulfilling our Mission for Tomorrow in this Hi Five Year.

Patrick Prendergast
March 1, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts on optimism – A series of reflections by Director Patrick

Part II - The future and confidence in being prepared

Optimism is not the same as faith – believing in the unforeseen – but rather, optimism is having confidence in what you know is both possible and will.

In The Harder They Come: Jimmy Cliff declares, as sure as the sun will shine, I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine. That’s optimism. That is confidence in knowing that tomorrow will come. The question is not whether we will be there to prove it true or not but in how prepared we are to be there when tomorrow comes.

We know the sun will shine and though night may fall there is still light. We know this in the existence of the moon. The moon is merely a reflector but in that projection is the knowledge that sunlight is a constant.

Neither is optimism the negation or counter of pessimism as most people tend to believe. Optimism is an acknowledgement that in every adversity there are opportunities for innovation, for creativity, for uncovering other ways of reaching the goal. In other words, not every dark opening is a cave; some are entrances to a tunnel and we are confident in light at the other end of a tunnel. Some are fountains of life waiting to be tapped.

But again, it is how prepared we are to enter that dark space and discover that it is a tunnel that will make the real difference. It is how prepared we are to enter that dark space and having to create a new pathway to the light that will make the difference. It is how prepared we are for the water that springs from our initiative that will make the real difference.

Despite all the atrocities being committed against our future – and here I speak of our children – we must do everything to prepare them for the day when they will emerge from the troubled times in which we all must survive.

There is a saying that he who fails to plan plans to fail. If adults fail to prepare a solid foundation upon which our children can learn creativity and innovativeness as skills which improve survival, then dark spaces will become prisons of fear, hopelessness, and despair instead of an invitation to confidence, hope, and assurance in their capacity to change the world. Rivers to cross will become embankments of loneliness and playing for time rather than streams of endless possibilities for a different and better way of living.

Viewing optimism this way means therefore that when we as optimists say we are friends of youth, or that we are in the service of children, we have declared a commitment to the future. And by extension we have declared a commitment to the value of being prepared. Children are our future becomes more than a truism. It becomes a philosophy – a guiding mantra. It is an acknowledgement that the future will face its own set of adversities and its own crosses to bear. It is an understanding which fires our confidence as optimists.

The confidence of optimists is not merely in the possibility that tomorrow such troubles can be transformed into victories but more so in the knowledge that our children are prepared to be transformers as much as we are for that transformation.

After all, optimists think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best

Patrick Prendergast
February 2, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thoughts on Optimism – A series of reflections by Director Patrick

Part One: Finding Hope in History

It is pretty obvious to most people now that Jamaica and the Caribbean are going through very trying times as a country and a region. Of course, it is easy to also say that we are suffering from what's happening in the global economy - and particularly that of our powerful neighbour up North, the USA. Some would say this is what happens when we mistakenly embrace wholeheartedly the notion of one village going global as living in a global village and not knowing what either means for us.  

Anyway, many are referencing the Great Depression of the 1930's – and this is where my comment as part of this great movement (which we must not forget has its roots in the USA) is coming originated.

Of Dreams and Deeds tells us that with the depression of the 1930s there was a critical fall in membership but the resolve to serve youth did not fall. In fact there was more than a doubling of the work done with young people. One of the strategies was in building Junior Optimist Clubs – as we see in club President Phil's commitment for this year.  

Another was in finding creative ways for ensuring that the treasury did not run dry. This of course is probably the more formidable challenge at this time.

The important point though is that the history of the movement shows that optimism finds its best reason in the most difficult of times. These are hard times! But these are also the time for optimists to be there for our children as we were in the 1930s and throughout the war years of the 1940s when a deeper appreciation for community service took hold.
It is interesting that the current president of the USA draws so much on the policies of FDR as both came to power in similarly trying times. FDR had a New Deal, Obama has a New Hope. I have never been too keen on expressing pro-American sentiments but acknowledging the roots of the movement to which I proudly belong, I have to draw the parallel.

Again, these are the times at which optimism and Optimists are most needed. History shows that we have done it before and will affirm our doing it again.

Health, happiness and prosperity one an all.

Patrick Prendergast
January 30, 2009

Gleaner reports on Optimism

- Rudolph Brown/Chief Gleaner Photographer

With the 2009 Budget Debate just a few weeks away, young Jamaicans are calling on the Government to direct its focus at improving the education sector.

Jenielle Edwards, of Wolmer's High School for Girls, was one of many youth leaders who stressed recently that education, or the lack of it, negatively impacts the Jamaican economy.

"I want the Government to spend the money on developing schools and other social institutions. I think that because so many of our young population is uneducated, it tends to impact our economy moving forward," Edwards told The Gleaner.

She was one of many youth in attendance for the Caribbean District Optimist International Second Quarter Conference, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last Saturday.

Education absolutely free

Ashlee Anderson, of Campion High School, said she believes the Government should aim to "make education absolutely free" by picking up the tab for the troublesome auxiliary fees that schools still charge despite education's current status as "free".

"We have limited resources and it's kind of hard to split it (how the nation's funds should be directed) because a lot of things that don't concern me directly, as a youth, need to be dealt with too," Anderson said. "But I think the education system needs to be dealt with because, without education, Jamaica is not going anywhere."

She added: "If nothing else is dealt with, I really think the education we receive needs to be stepped up."

Some of the youth suggested that the HEART Trust/National Training Agency be expanded or duplicated, and that more universities and schools at every level be created to provide greater access in terms of both volume and variety.


In addition to the discussion about education, Mikhail Webb, of Calabar High School, said he was concerned about how the Government has divested Jamaican companies and how non-Jamaican corporations seem to own the bulk of the island's industries.

"To how I see things, the economy is a foreign economy, most of the things we are supposed to own belong to foreigners," Webb lamented.

Kemar Jennings agreed with Webb's concerns about the the nation's dependence on external entities.

"I want to see us move from a dependent state to a more independent state, using our resources more," Jennings said.

The young thinker went further in his discourse on the nations situation, arguing that the wider citizenry need to play its part in fixing the current situation by paying taxes.

"The tax is a problem. People need to be paying their taxes because without the revenue coming in, the Government can't do what it needs to do like buy proper educational tools and fix the agricultural sector."

Andrew Wildes,