Kaitlin Lindsey’s essay impressed me. As I was reading it, I thought, now this is a young person with a giving and caring heart who already is a solid citizen.
I did not know who Kaitlin was, or her gender, when I read her 720 words. But I looked forward to meeting her so I could let her know her every sentence held my attention. Here’s one paragraph:
“I live in a small town in which everyone knows everyone and we all look out for one another. I particularly enjoy waving and visiting with people I meet on the street. I take a genuine interest in people and sincerely care about how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. If I hear that someone is going through a hard time or is feeling defeated I always try to put a positive spin on it. I share my beliefs that setbacks are temporary and sometimes can be a blessing in disguise. If I see a neighbor struggling with a task I am quick to come to their rescue with a helping hand, a smile and a kind word. I give my neighbors a reason to smile and to look at the bright side of life.”
When I met Kaitlin, face-to-smiling-face, I discovered my hunch was right. She’s a very sweet and sincere young woman. As she read her essay to a roomful of people she displayed great poise and self-confidence. She was humble, respectful and enthusiastic. She also made excellent eye contact with her listeners.
I was honored to be asked by Curt Sandberg to be a judge for the Grand Forks Optimists Club’s International Essay contest. The topic was, “How My Positive Attitude Benefits My Community.”
We judges selected Kaitlin as the winner and last week during the club’s Wednesday noon luncheon meeting at the Bronze Boot, the Optimists presented her with a Gold Medal Medallion and a cash award of $100.
I can see Kaitlin one day belonging to an Optimist Club. She’s with them in spirit as she seems to have already chosen optimism as a way of life.
“I possess a never-give-up attitude,” she also wrote in her essay. “I choose to be happy and remain optimistic. I have a strong desire to help people and believe my life’s calling is in the medical field.”
Kaitlin, a senior at Midway High School, Inkster, N.D., is president of her school’s National Honor Society. Throughout her school days she has been involved in extra-curricular activities. Among them: basketball, volleyball and Drama Club. She plans to attend North Dakota State University, Fargo, to pursue a career as a physician.
I’m thinking her parents, Doreen and Tim Lindsey of Gilby, must be extremely proud of her and her zest for life.
At the Optimist’s luncheon meeting I heard something else that needs to be told.
Optimist Clubs around the world are known to be a “Friend of Youth.”
Several years ago, the Grand Forks Optimist Club, as a result of its fund-raising projects such as gift wrapping at Christmas time, fruit sales in November and selling cotton candy at the Grand Cities Art (and many more), purchased a specially designed child’s recliner so local children with cancer can sit in something their size to receive their chemotherapy treatments.
Because feedback tells them so many pediatric patients have benefited from this recliner, the club now wants to further ease the suffering of these patients by providing a blanket warmer so they can be under cozy wraps while receiving chemo. Sometimes those treatments last for hours.
The local club has learned that Optimist International has a matching grant program and they have applied for funds to pool with what they’ve already raised so that this blanket warmer can become a reality. They hoping to hear from OI yet this month.
Such wonderful and worthwhile projects they come up with!
It is indeed evident that the Grand Forks Optimist Club cultivates a noble friendship with the youth in our area. It was a joy to met Kaitlin and for me to sit right between Curt Sandberg and Jim Holter during lunch.
Curt and Jim, along with Dan Kratochvil, are three of the 26 original members who have remained active Optimists ever since the charter was signed on May 10, 1972.
Just imagine the good work they’ve done all these 40 years. Listening to the earnestness in their voices as they recite their pledge makes me think they’ve only just begun.