West Hills Optimist Club

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Each year the Optimist International organization headquartered in St. Louis Missouri recognizes Optimist clubs from around the world for outstanding work in their communities. Optimist clubs submit album like books that describe a service project that they have performed over the course of the Optimist year that runs from Oct. to Oct. Some clubs submit as many as 5 books. Then at the International convention, awards are given in seven categories and a special award is given for the best project overall. The West Hills Optimist Club set a new standard by receiving the top award for two consecutive years in a row.

The club’s teen anti-violence project, named “Warning Signs” after a MTV video production, was recognized as the best project worldwide for the 2002 year. During that year, 9th grade students from Canoga Park High School were shown a video made by MTV in conjunction with the APA (American Psychological Association), the video describes the warnings signs of violent behavior. Then the students received instructions on where to report any observed activity that fit the described criteria. Active discussion held at the conclusion of the video often revealed hidden problems. School personnel provided follow up for those problems. Student and parent response to the program were very positive and school officials praised the results.

In 2001 our West Hills Club took the top award with a project dubbed the “Teddy Bear Clinic”. The project was held at the West Hills Hospital and first grade students from Hart Street Elementary School were shown a real hospital emergency room as they brought their "babies", teddy bears, and dolls to be examined by the ER staff. The strange looking apparatus in the room was explained to these young boys and girls. Local fire and Police agencies provided emergency vehicles for the kids to explore. The Magician, Joey Kabosis, mystified and entertained the students that were waiting their turn for the emergency room tour.

In addition to these two projects, the West Hills Club also holds and/or participates in numerous other community projects throughout the year. Some of which are the Optimist Junior Blind Olympics where sight impaired youngsters from around the country compete in Olympic style games. Held in conjunction with over 20 other local Optimist clubs this activity has received first place awards for "Multiple Club Projects" for over 10 years.

The "Spirits Rise Party“ (Another innovation of the West Hills Optimist Club.)  is a monthly party with a magician, gifts, and a decorated cake. It is held for the temporary residents of a Haven Hills shelter for battered women and their children. The sole purpose is to let these victims of domestic violence know that someone cares and to make them feel better. This community project received the first place award from Optimist International in the category of Anti-Violence for the year 2000.The club also holds annual Essay and Oratorical contests for local boys and girls and conducts a special Youth Appreciation ceremony where young men and women are recognized for their achievements. The club sponsors a couple of Junior Optimist clubs when youngsters from Kindergarten through High School are given the opportunity to learn about community service.

The West Hills Optimist Club is relatively small service club consisting of less than 40 men and women from the local community.  In addition to their many service projects they also hold numerous fundraisers throughout the year to support their activities. Their commitment to the youth in the West Valley is shown by the way they accomplish all of this and still manage to hold down jobs and honor their family relationships. The West Hills Optimist Club is one of the most highly recognized clubs in all of Optimist International.

November 1, 2007 -- West Hills Optimist Club--Outstanding Volunteer Organization---presented by The Greater San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals.  We were the first organization chosen for this award-- a medal which proclaims:  Change the World with a Giving Heart.  Haven Hills nominated our organization for this award because of Spirits Rise Parties which have been presented since 1999. (explain Spirits Rise Parties)  Early contributors were Jacquie and Ed Young and Sarah Lahey, later contributors were Alma Zatarain, Kathy Willets, and Bobbi Trantifello.  This project was a response to Judi Baumbach's idea to do something local.

Lanark Recreation Center presents a plaque to the Optimist Club for outstanding contribution and dedication to the continuing success of the Friday Night Extreme Teen Program 2007--This was presented because of Extreme Teens which were started by Ed Young, Sandy Kieveman and Pat Murphy.  Pat was able to obtain a large set of sofas from his work ( then Litton).  Ed and Pat were able to obtain a donation of a new bar-be-que from Lowe's on Topanga Canyon.  People who now work this event are:  Ed Young, Jacquie Young, Bill Hadala, Sr., Marsha Beach and Bill Exton, and Bob Willets.

The West Hills Optimist Club has the most Optimist International Service Project (CPA) awards of all of OI for  a 20 year old Club And 2 Best Overall CPA awards. WH is the only Club to win the CPA in consecutive years. 

Would you like to know more about Optimist Clubs or about the projects conducted by the West Hills Optimist Club? If so, contact Bill Hadala at (805) 552-4073.

About Optimist International

Optimist International is an association of more than 3,000 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to "Bringing Out the Best in Kids." Adult volunteers join Optimist Clubs to conduct positive service projects in their communities aimed at providing a helping hand to youth. With their upbeat attitude, Optimist Club members help empower young people to be the best that they can be.

Each Optimist Club determines the needs of the young people in its community and conducts programs to meet those needs. Every year, Optimists conduct 65,000 service projects and serve well over six million young people.

To find out more about the work of Optimist Clubs and how you can support our Mission and Vision, click on the "Visitors" tab at:

Mission Statement
By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids.

Vision Statement
Optimist International will be recognized worldwide as the premier volunteer organization that values all children and helps them develop to their full potential.