International Award For HMS Junior Optimist Octagon Club Propels More Volunteering
"I've never been in a group that did this," said Aaliyah Mickle, sixth grade student at Horizon Middle School. "It's been cool. We're the first middle school in Colorado and Wyoming to be doing this."
"These teachers and students are fabulous," said Donna Priester, member of the Academy Optimist Club in Colorado Springs. The Optimist International program sponsors Junior Optimist Octagon International (JOOI, pronounced "joy") clubs in support of growing student volunteers and bringing out the best in kids. "Our adult club wants to make a difference and these kids want to make a difference," said Priester.
Optimist International is one of the world's largest service club organizations with more than 125,000 adult and youth members in more than 4000 clubs throughout the world. JOOI embraces the positive values of optimism, respect for self and others, and independence of mind through the unlimited opportunities of community service.
"Our adult club guides sponsors and kids in how to serve community," said Priester, "This group at Horizon really gets it."
The Horizon Middle School club was recently honored with a Club Project Award from JOOI for having the best community service project internationally. "The members of the Horizon JOOI club and the Sponsor Club should be very proud," said JOOI Director Amy Keller in a recent letter.
The first place award was the club's "Fighting For Fosters" program during the 2013-2014 school year. Students raised money and gathered donations to provide Fostering Hope with 1400 items for foster kids in the area according to club co-sponsor Heather Ullrich. "We are doing more. Today we are working on a program for a visit to Summit Glen Retirement Home in March," she said.
"They are sharing their talents," said Kittrie Glen, sixth grade science teacher and co-sponsor of the JOOI club. "We are growing. Last year we had 12 students. This year we have 34 and leadership of the club is transitioning to them."
"They are thinking beyond themselves," said Priester about the students. "They are our future. To commit to do something for others time and time again is difficult in today's society. These students are committed."