Southside Optimist Club Donates to P.A.C.K. Savannah

Recently Southside Optimist Club of Savannah donated $250.00 to P.A.C.K. (people of action caring for kids) which is located locally on 4 Mall Terrace in Savannah. Southside Club president Wayne Ervin, as seen in the picture, is giving P.A.C.K. coordinator Malena Stone a check for $250.00 to assist in the charity’s continued operation of providing lunch bags of food on weekends to area Savannah schools and their students needing help in their daily lives.
P.A.C.K. began six years ago as a kitchen table project by Malena and Dudley Stone who were concerned that their three young boys were unaware of the needs of the community around them. The Stones, convinced that they needed
to do a better job of serving regularly with the boys, were surprised when they were unable to find a local charity willing to let young children volunteer. They began packing 50 bags of food in their kitchen each week and taking them to a local school for children struggling with weekend hunger. Today P.A.C.K. is a 501 c-3 non-profit organization and had over 5,000 volunteers in 2019 who packed more than 130,000 care bags. It additionally has provided a local store where students with concerns can come in with a parent or caregiver to choose new clothes needed for school and daily
wardrobe. They also have stocked book bags and have a special closet for birthdays or special rewards where a child can select books, clothes, as well as toys.
Mr. Ervin and fellow Optimist Club member Kay Ervin were greatly impressed with the tour provided by Ms. Stone, “which demonstrated how tremendous the P.A.C.K. organization has become with huge support coming from businesses as well as the local Savannah school system.” Many parents and their children have given time and energy as volunteers while assisting others within a five county radius of coastal Georgia. They additionally have encouraged parents or
volunteers to help during the week from 10 to 12 in the morning to bagging lunches and/or organizing clothing packets. “

2017 “Big John” Ware Optimist of the Year

We are proud to introduce the 2017 “Big John” Ware Optimist of the Year Mr. Howard Shames.

A member of the Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Club, Howard is a dynamo of energy and ideas. An Optimist for a little over three years, He has utilized his experience as a former corporate CEO to help his club as well as others increase their efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out their internal operations as well as improve and expand their service programs.

As District Public Relations Committee Chair and a member of the Marketing Committee, Howard’s keen understanding of business and marketing strategies lead to the development of the “Club Marketing Kit”. This simple, innovative approach to club marketing is helping to revolutionize how Optimist clubs market themselves and expand the Optimist brand. This kit is being considered for distribution to clubs throughout the Optimist organization.

Howard is also the architect of the very successful “Let’s Defeat Childhood Cancer” IHOP program. He developed and initiated this program, bringing together his club and the local IHOP franchise in Cumming to run a month-long campaign that raised over $3,400 in donations for Optimist International’s Childhood Cancer Campaign. Howard is now training and assisting other clubs in developing similar programs in their communities. The success of the program has the IHOP Corporation considering the possibility of partnering with Optimist International to do a similar program with all their franchisees.

This program is also being expanded to include a ”Children are Our Future” campaign to raise funds for Optimist International’s scholarship programs (Oratorical, Essay and Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). Howard, working with the Optimist International staff and several GATEway District Clubs plans to launch a pilot program in the Fall of 2017.   

To assist the GATEway District in developing a strategic plan for its future growth, Howard conceived and implemented “The Governor’s Advisory Council”. Made up of the Governor, Governor-Elect, two immediate Past Governors, and four members at large Howard is facilitating this group in developing an effective and sustainable plan for the District’s future growth and development.

Along with his District duties Howard presently serves at the International level as the Chair of the Fundraising Sponsorships Committee. This committee is charged with seeking out and securing funding and sponsorships for all of Optimist International’s programs such as Junior Golf, World Oratorical Championships, etc. The Committee is also working with the Optimist International staff and Districts to develop strategies for implementing fund raising programs at the Club level through Club/corporate partnerships.  Howard is a shining example of what an Optimist of the Year should be!