Transcript: Tracy Huxley, President-Elect Optimist International (The Art of Volunteering)

The following is a transcription of The Art of Volunteering Episode 20: Tracy Huxley, President-Elect Optimist International.

Stormy Bell (00:00): Welcome to another episode of The Art of Volunteering. Today we’re gonna be speaking with my friend Tracy Huxley. Now, Tracy was introduced to me by a mutual friend Jane Morrison, who has been involved with The Optimist for several years. Let me give you a little bit about Tracy. She’s been a proud optimist since 1996 with membership in both the Southwestern Ontario and the Caribbean districts serving multiple roles in the club, district, and international levels. One thing that fills her bucket is the chance to work with optimists from around the globe. Tracy’s style has been described as interactive, enthusiastic, and motivational. Her leadership approach is very based in the strength of relationships. I’ve had an opportunity to talk to Tracy before this and she’s very engaging so I’m really looking forward to our conversation now. Tracy, again thank you. Thank you for coming on.

Tracy Huxley (00:59): Thank you. This is exciting. I listened to so many podcasts in my life, in my general day because my eyes are busy on my actual work that I’m actually gonna be on a podcast!

Stormy Bell (01:12): That’s awesome. All right. Some of our friends listening today might not be familiar with Optimist International. Can you share a little bit about who and what Optimist International is? What’s their mission? Who do they serve? Just a little history.

Tracy Huxley (01:30): All right let’s hope that I get this correct. Okay. I’ll have people that’ll listen and definitely correct any of these dates. The Optimist organization started in 1911 with a bunch of men in New York in Lafayette. They wanted to create a bonding opportunity for professionals, men with the original motto of Optimist, before we became international, as the friend of the delinquent boy. In 1919, they became an actual organization where they now had those five clubs and they soon changed to just friend of the boy as our motto as our mission. We are going to be celebrating in 2024 a hundred years as Optimist International. That was when we built our very first club outside of the United States, which was built in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

[It’s] really cool because I will be the fourth female president serving that year. I am from London, Ontario so I will be the Centennial Canadian president and when we celebrate our Canadian centennial. We have gone through different mottos of the delinquent boy, the boy, friend of youth, to now you know the fFriend of youth. Our mission statement is by providing hope and positive vision, which are synonymous with the world word optimist, Optimists bring out the best in youth, their communities and themselves. It’s a three-tier approach of bringing happiness, positive vision, and optimism into everyone’s lives. Each club within Optus International, we’re in over 35 countries, gets to approach their community with the needs of their community. There is no one project every club must do. There is not one target that every club must do. They must bring out the best in their community, their children, and themselves. That’s what their mission is.

Stormy Bell (03:51): Oh, that’s awesome. I love that. What’s your favorite part of that mission statement?

Tracy Huxley (03:58): The one that hits me the most is that it’s brought out the best of me. Without a doubt. There are parts of me that I thought, gosh, if I had known this about myself many years ago, I’m not gonna date myself. I don’t care if people can see my face or not on a podcast. Many years ago, I probably would’ve taken a different career choice although I am taking what I’ve learned as an optimist and added another career into my fold because part of it. It is really nice. This might lead into one of your future questions for me. I apologize.

Stormy Bell (04:35): That’s okay.

Tracy Huxley (04:35): No worries. I’ll do that a lot. My Optimist club that I belong to in Ausable Port Franks, my first Optimist club that I’ve been a member of since 1996, was built in 1983 when I was a young child. My dad was one of the charter members. He was the second president of the club. I was the 25th president of the club. I now am a member of that club. That club, which I took as a child. They donated the first computer into my elementary school. Now I am dating myself. They sponsored my T-ball team. They were the coaches for my baseball team. I went to their art programs. I competed in the lip sync contest, you know they donated the money to my girl guides and my brownies and things like that. I’m now on the flip side of that and I get to give back to my community. I get to now serve with my club to give back to the community as I was a child who was taking when I was younger.

That’s a really beautiful thing. I think we all look for opportunities to make ourselves feel good. I had an English teacher that said, I challenge you to come up with something that truly is altruistic after teaching us the, you know, the true definition of it. He said, because no matter what you give me as an altruistic act, you’re probably getting something in return. Even if that is the warm and the fuzzies. Sadly when we volunteer a lot of times or when we sign up to give of ourselves, we feel it greedy to feel that we’re getting something in return. We wanna be giving, we’re doing it because we want to give, but there should be no shame in taking pride in feeling good about giving. That’s what makes us more human. That’s what makes us happy. That’s the beauty about giving back after taking.

Stormy Bell (06:38): Ah, I love it. You did answer a couple questions.

Tracy Huxley (06:43): You can still ask them! I can give you more answers.

Stormy Bell (06:47): Well, I was gonna ask you why you volunteer and you just shared that. You also answered my question about what you personally receive from it. As much as they give to help someone else, [everyone] ultimately [does] receive something. Volunteering is the feeling that you receive, it helps your mental wellbeing. It helps you feel connected, it gives you purpose in your life and that’s what people do receive from volunteering. They come away with a smile on their face. Knowing that they’re making an impact in someone else’s life. That’s just so important. I’d love to hear that. Now the Optimist, you’re 100% volunteer or do you have paid employees?

Tracy Huxley (07:37): We have a head office. It’s in St. Louis, Missouri with paid staff that helps support our clubs. Optimist clubs themselves, by being an Optimist club, you have liability insurance that is automatically issued to you. We have lots of supports. We do have programs. We have a world oratorical program, speeches, where the ultimate world oratorical champion gets a $25,000 scholarship. We have the world junior golf competition, which the likes of Mike Weir and Tiger Woods have been through our junior golf competition, which takes place every year, multiple different venues, and then the epitome of the whole thing in Florida.

We have essay contests with scholarships that come from our foundations. Instead of an oratorical contest, we have communication contests for the deaf and hard of hearing. The adapted version of an oratorical contest that can be done with sign language or with adaptive hearing. These are all just a few of the many different programs that are available to clubs to host. Like I said, they’re not required to do any of them. We have the staff base and then we have an international volunteer base. I’m currently in the process as president-elect, so our term begins October 1st, of creating my committees from things like the programs that I was just describing to marketing and all these other things. So they are then volunteer based committees with a staff liaison that helps pull things together in a more professional way.

Stormy Bell (09:30): Okay. That sounds cool. How many volunteers, I guess, internationally do you have?

Tracy Huxley (09:38): We’re at about 60,000 right now. We are, like I said before, just over 30 countries. I think it’s somewhere around 35 countries in the world. We’ve just created a new district that over 40 clubs we’ve built so far in the last few years. Nepal has over 40 clubs right now, and they’re going so strong. Our mission statement up by providing hope and positive vision to bring up the best suits very well to the Nepali way of life, namaste, and bringing peace and living in a harmonious way. They have really wrapped their arms around becoming optimists and spreading optimism throughout their communities. It’s a very beautiful marriage that’s happened when we tapped into that country.  It’s a wonderful thing. 

Being an optimist, whether it’s an optimist with a capital O as I consider myself and those card carrying Optimist members of Optimist clubs or being an optimistic person carries its own advantages. Optimists, people who are optimistic, are scientifically known to live longer, healthier, happier lives. We actually live, I think it’s two point something extra years over the average person when you live an optimistic lifestyle. I almost shy away from using that term of glass half empty, glass half full because to be optimistic is to have a positive outlook on the future. To see the hope and the positive vision in situations when you might more naturally go into the dismal side of things. You look for a silver lining and you look for an opportunity and an opening  to make change or to change the course of a negative situation. That’s the way I see it.

Tracy Huxley (11:36): I took an EQ test last year, emotional intelligence, and it was very sur- not surprising at all. It should have been surprising to me that my weakness is that I’m overly optimistic. When presented with a video at one point of a kid that was actually being mean to another child, I didn’t see it that way. I thought he was trying to be helpful, where everybody else in this demo group saw the mean child. I was like, oh, no, I thought he was okay. Yeah, I guess he must’ve been mean. That’s overly optimistic. I was like, well, then make me the president of the Optimist. So here I am!

Stormy Bell (12:17): I’m sorry. That’s funny.

Tracy Huxley (12:21): There’s your blooper. There’s a blooper for you. I have another one, don’t worry.

Stormy Bell (12:27): Oh good! You’ve shared that your dad was like a founding member back in, was it 1983?

Tracy Huxley (12:37): Of my club, yes.

Stormy Bell (12:38): Of your club. What drew him to the Optimists? Because this set the foundation for you coming in, so what drew him to it?

Tracy Huxley (12:47): It really did. I think we all probably look back to our parents and ask ourselves you know which one are we more like? Whether you look like them or you act like them. I am almost a carbon copy of my father. Thank God some of those crazy things that he has, I go to my mom’s side. My dad has always been an extremely giving person. I remember before the Optimist club was created in our community when we had first moved into the house that they still live in, so I was very young. He went around the neighborhood collecting funds on Canada Day so they could have, in the middle of our subdivision, fireworks go off. He was already out there doing these little things to make where he lives a more enjoyable place to be. Whether it was just for the kids or whether it was for everyone. It really, really was no line there. I mean, fireworks are for everyone, right? When the community was starting to build this Optimist club, that was a natural fit for him. When people heard a little bit about Ron Huxley, they were like, oh, well we gotta go ask this guy.

Now I will absolutely date myself. I was six years old, six or seven years old when the club was built so I knew nothing else. It was much like my love for public speaking and my ability to stand up and my desire to take the butterflies that you feel and make them excitement versus nerves. I learned that from watching my dad. Little did I know my dad was extremely nervous, but he never gave that vibe off. I just thought, yep, this is what you do. This is the shoes I fill. You go up, you stand in front of a podium, you make people laugh, and you give them wonderful, heartfelt words. I only learned later in life that when he started doing that, he was terrified, but he didn’t share the terrified feelings with me so I didn’t take them on.

Tracy Huxley (14:48): I strongly associate that with, if I hate broccoli, I won’t tell my kids I hate broccoli so that they’ll love broccoli. You know, the same kinda thing. My dad’s been that man his whole life. He’s a retired volunteer fire chief, just retired a couple of years ago when they built a brand new fire station in their rural community. He was the first to sign up and say, make me a firefighter. They all leaned to him and said, you know, with your leadership skills, we want you to be the chief. I will be the very first second generation. [He was] 2013-2014. That is very special. Fourth woman, first second generation. You can see I was slowly filling in his shoes. You were gonna ask later what I do for a living that’ll come up again filling in my dad’s shoes. I have a tight family network and that I believe has to do with the fact that since a young age, optimism has been part of our lives.

Stormy Bell (15:50): Okay. So twofold. Building off of your jumping ahead of my questions,you’re the incoming president, right?

Tracy Huxley (16:01): Yes.

Stormy Bell (16:02): What does that look like for the time commitment? What activities do you do? What does that look like? Then the second question is, after I hear this, I wanna hear what your day job is. I wanna see what this balance looks like.

Tracy Huxley (16:21): We’ll do it in your order and then it’ll make sense.

Stormy Bell (16:24): Okay.

Tracy Huxley (16:25): So what is the time commitment? This year as president-elect, I do a lot of time of planning my approach getting the synergy between the current president and what they’re trying to accomplish because we really are at a pivotal time in the volunteer world. I’m sure you are hearing this in many of your different interviews but volunteering looks very different today than it did in 1911, 1919 in how people give of their time. It was not until 1987 that this organization welcomed women into its membership. Now we’re looking at millennials and Gen Z and they all have this huge desire to give back, but their style of giving back it’s much different than a meeting every Tuesday at noon for lunch.

Stormy Bell (17:24): What volunteering do you do within your organization?

Tracy Huxley (17:27): How much time does it take for me? This is my last weekend home until the end of March. I’m gone for the next nine weeks to different cities to train. We have 42 different districts in the organization that then filter down and serve the communities. I am going to be in eight different cities, training the governors of those districts. Big time commitment there. I’m gonna be flying out at the bare minimum on Thursdays, coming home on Sunday, petting my dog, saying hello to my partner, and then flying back out again. That’s not how the past president-elects have been doing it. They’ve been doing one giant session together in our head office city St. Louis.

As you said in my intro, I’m relationship based is my leadership style and I want to really get to know these individuals as individuals and not in a giant room from a stage. I will be at board meetings. I’m on the board of directors for Optimist International as president-elect. I will be chairman of the board the third year and then I have a flux year where I get to relax and just kind of decompress. I will [then] serve on our candidates qualification committee for a four year term. That’s the committee that looks to find nominees for vice presidents, seven of them, president-elect, and the two board members that come on and off every year from a three year term in addition to traveling to some of these districts, these clubs. This is my hope in the year that I’m president that we will be able to, instead of sending me to district conferences to sit at a head table, I wanna hear about the amazing events our clubs are doing. I wanna go to the events, flip the burgers, hand out the cotton candy, you know, put air and bicycle tires. I want to continue to be a grassroots optimist with fellow optimists, shoulder to shoulder. There’ll be more traveling. What do I do for a living and how am I ever going to fit that in?

Stormy Bell (19:40): Yes, please. My listeners wanna know.

Tracy Huxley (19:43): I’m not retired. I not only work full-time, I actually have a full-time job and a part-time job which really makes things convoluted. As a full-time job, I am a goldsmith. I’m a jeweler. I am with the family business to take over from my father, as I’ve already alluded. I just keep following it in his footsteps. My sister, by the way, is a fire captain. She’s in the fire industry and I am in the jewelry industry. When my father was president in ’13 and ’14, I held the fort down at work, and now he will hold the fort down while I hit the road with more knowledge than anybody’s employer could possibly know of really what it’s going to demand of me time-wise, which is wonderful. The moment that I have that flux year, he gets to retire.

Stormy Bell (20:35): Oh, that’s amazing. Because I was just reading through your information, I’m like, she’s got me in sales. Like a salesperson could adjust their schedule to do all this.

Tracy Huxley (20:49): I’m in family. I’m in the business of family and dog training. Dog training is my other. I am a certified dog trainer.  I teach puppy classes and obedience and behavior modification and do home visits. I get to control that schedule myself.

Stormy Bell (21:09): We actually have dog training this afternoon. We have a nine month old golden doodle and she’s awesome! She’s the best thing that happened to our family.

Tracy Huxley (21:19): Absolutely!

Stormy Bell (21:21): Yes. She wasn’t a Covid puppy. I had sworn off all pets. Our previous one ran me for my money and I was just like, never again. I had a weak moment and my husband’s like, let’s go now and we came home with a puppy.

Tracy Huxley (21:36): I’m waiting for Nigel’s weak moment so that Balou can have a friend. Well, I mean happy friends. My term will end on September 30th, 2024 and I plan to get a puppy that fall.

Stormy Bell (21:49): Okay.

Tracy Huxley (21:49): I’ve been planning that for two years.

Stormy Bell (21:52): Nothing like planning ahead. Well you have to, I mean, with your schedule you have to know where you’re at. 

Tracy Huxley (22:00): Absolutely. I need to be home.

Stormy Bell (22:02): My husband is in sales and he does trade shows so I actually work year over year because I know that these trade shows are gonna happen at the same time every year. People ask, well, what are you doing? Well when? A year from now I can pretty much tell you. Yeah  I totally get that. Okay. We’ve covered a lot so far. I guess in your years of being an optimist, whether receiving or giving, can you share a story or stories of impact. Something that you’ve seen, the work that you’re doing, actually being received and how it’s received?

Tracy Huxley (22:45): I can. I can and I share this story, I select when I’m going to share it. It’s probably gonna be one that I share a lot over the next two years, meaning way more people are going to hear it. As I said, I’ve been an Optimist member since 1996, so it’s been quite a long time. For a long time I did not do anything with my membership. I didn’t attend club meetings, I barely attended club events. I was in my twenties and I was one of the managers of Canada’s largest drag racing facility so I was working a hundred hour weeks at the time. Then I got asked to participate in an event and specifically, and not by my parents. It reeled me in and over that time, anytime someone would ask me why I am an optimist it started off as every father’s day I would give my dad a card as most of us do. I would alternate this year’s funny, odd is funny even is sentimental and the card would go back and forth. One year it was a sentimental card, sentimental must have been 1996. My dad was very touched by it and told me that he wanted to sign me up as a member of our club. 

That was my story. That was why I was an Optimist member until 2013, I think it was. Back it up to 2006, I live in the city of London, Ontario. The Children’s Hospital of Southwestern Ontario is in this city and they were building an extension onto the hospital. The pediatric oncology department was going to have its own wing. They approached the Optimists and said can you make a donation? The two districts, Midwestern, Ontario and Southwestern Ontario, came together and said, we will commit to making a $1 million contribution over the course of four years.

Tracy Huxley (24:52): They did it in three years, raised over a million dollars in under the three years. That was the first million dollar contribution to the hospital here. There’s, you know, Optimist stuff throughout the oncology department. That was a huge, huge deal. They had a parade. They closed Wellington Street and all these Optimists wore their shirts and that was all wonderful. When that was finished my dad went back to them and said, now what can we do for you? We’ve done that, now what can we do as Optimists to help bring out the best in the children in the hospital? The Children’s Health Foundation of Southwestern Ontario said, well, we do a Bravery Bead program. I think this was actually developed out in Vancouver where a child comes in and gets diagnosed with, at the time, some form of cancer, maybe it’s leukemia.

The family has the option to enroll the child into the Bravery Bead program. They start building these necklaces because youth pediatric leukemia will take maybe about four years of treatment. Every time the child would come into the hospital and they had a poke, so whether it was a blood transfusion or radiation treatment or bone marrow transplant or whatever, each one of these types of treatments would have a specific bead. Blood transfusion, red bead, bone marrow transplant, a bone colored bead radiation, a glow in the dark bead and they would create these necklaces. After about four years of treatment, they’d have more necklace and beads than they’d have neck on these little tots, right. Little babes. Every year on the anniversary, they would have an anniversary bead and their first beads would be their name.

Tracy Huxley (26:40): When we approached them and said, what can we do now that we’ve raised the million dollars? They said we’d like to expand this program beyond just children through cancer treatment, but other illnesses. If we really could, we would really like to expand it to the siblings of those children. Because when kids are going through cancer treatment, it is not just the child that’s going through the whole, the treatment place, it’s the whole family. If they have siblings, those siblings are clearly and justifiably going to feel like they’re constantly taking a backseat. By bringing them into the fold, they also get beads during visits to the hospital. For many of these children to receive that bead is the end to that treatment, and it’s the thing they look forward to.

It brings that hope and positive vision. It brings that happiness to the other side of a negative situation. If we could raise the money on an annual basis to take over the funding of this program, they would be able to hire a part-time staff member and bring this into more than just the children with the cancer illness to more illnesses and more children. So we did. [Most] of our clubs in southwestern Ontario make annual fundraisers to donate money to continue to fund this since about 2010.

Tracy Huxley (28:07): I live in the city. This is my impact story now. That was the buildup. I told you I have stories.

Stormy Bell (28:12): Okay. That’s okay. I love it.

Tracy Huxley (28:15): I live in the city of London and at the time I lived very close to the children’s hospital. The grocery store that I would be most likely to travel to was across the street from the children’s hospital. It was February 3rd and I think it was 2009 maybe or I think we started this program in ’10. Yeah, we’d been doing it for a couple of years and I’m waiting in line to pay. In front of me is a mother and her son, and her son is probably close to about 10 years old but very slight in size. So slight that he was sitting in a car seat and the car seat was in the grocery cart.

Stormy Bell (29:02):  Oh, wow.

Tracy Huxley (29:04): He was wearing a black toque, a black wool beanie and on the front of it was the stitching the words, I’ll alter this. It said cancer stinks. In one of his eyes, it was his left eye socket was a tumor for a lack of knowing his diagnosis both the size of my fist. You could tell he’d had a terrible, no good, very bad day. In that moment, I wanted to be who I know I am, the Tracy that might say something to trigger a smile or a little bit of laughter but I couldn’t because the empath in me started to have tears run down my cheek. I’m like, I can’t go talk to this child crying. That’s not going to help his terrible, no good, very bad day. Then I was comfortable in the resolve that although in that moment I could not put a smile on that child’s face, in my involvement in my Optimist club and the fundraisers for the Bravery Bead program I have put many smiles on his face inadvertently. By being involved in something bigger than myself. Sometimes I am pumping up the tire of a child’s tricycle and sometimes I’m selling raffle tickets that are being donated. The funds are being donated to the Bravery Bead program, and my reach goes further than my eyes will ever see. So if you ask for my impact statement, the reason that I am an optimist ultimately boils down to that evening in that grocery store where I realized I might not be able to touch the heart of that child in this moment, but I have touched him in my past and my future.

Stormy Bell (30:56): Yeah. Amazing. You’re touching my heart right now. Yeah. That’s incredible. That you were able to recognize that and see beyond the moment, like what that greater impact was and continued to be after that time. Okay. All right. Enough of the sad or not sad, but weighty. Fun. What is your blooper? Tell me something that didn’t go right, but you learned something from it.

Tracy Huxley (31:34): It’s not as necessarily maybe didn’t go right. In 2019-2020 our international president was Adrian Elcock. He is from Barbados. A very good friend of mine and extremely intelligent gentleman. Funny how I was gonna say that and the next point I was gonna say, I should put something in between there. He is an extremely intelligent gentleman who decided to make me his Chief of Staff. Those were supposed to go back to back, but they did. What he wanted to do, he like myself when he was first elected, he was under the age of 50 and running family businesses and knew that his time available for this kind of a commitment was going to require a partner. Someone that he could dish other things off to either that he [were] not his strengths or didn’t have the time for, let’s divide this job up a little bit. That’s who I was to him.

Throughout the two years, his year as president-elect and his year as president, I was side by side with him. As he was wrapping up his year as president, and let’s remember I said 2019-2020 and our Optimist years end in September. He was our president of Optimist International when we went into the pandemic and really had to change the way that we did approach things. When we were wrapping up his year, he once said to me, Tracy, and this was the life lesson that I learned from him. One of the many, but one that definitely sits with me. Sometimes you just need to let things break.

Tracy Huxley (33:16): What he had observed was as soon as, and I do not like to micromanage, but the moment a ball looks like it’s gonna hit the floor, I pick it up and I finish it. I was doing a lot of that and he’s like, you have to start choosing when it’s okay to let something break. Because I wasn’t gonna let anything fail for him. I thought, you’re right. I wear myself out because I don’t want anybody to be disappointed. I don’t want something to go wrong, so I will not sleep to make sure something is done. I’ve had to learn that. That was a big life lesson for me to figure out when I can just let something break.

Stormy Bell (34:02): That must be difficult for you because you have a high emotional intelligence.You don’t just read yourself, you read and understand everyone you’re involved with. You know what the impact is gonna be. I gotta think that was a challenge for you, even though the light bulb went off. What that really looked like in everyday practice.

Tracy Huxley (34:25): Yeah. Yeah. It’s one thing to learn the practice of choose your battles. I got pretty good at that. That’s why I have a strong relationship with my partner. When choose your battles. It’s the same kind of skill. It’s like, when is it okay to let something fail? What is the greater impact of that not going right. Do you have the time and the capacity right now to make it succeed and if not, is it, is it okay to let it fail? Can we learn from our failures too? I mean, that means you have to then be in that mindset where you’re gonna like, okay, so what can I learn from this for the future?

Stormy Bell (35:05): Yeah. Well I like this. This is a standard question that I asked, so I find it very interesting what the comments are and I so appreciate this. Thank you for sharing that.

Tracy Huxley (35:19): You’re welcome. I’m sure it’s not as goofy  as I could have came up with keep on long enough goofy will come up.

Stormy Bell (35:26): I think my listeners will embrace that because they would encounter that in their everyday life and may not have articulated it that way. So thank you.

Tracy Huxley (35:36): You’re welcome.

Stormy Bell (35:38): All right. We’ve had this awesome conversation. We’re coming to a close, but I have one more, I guess it’s not really a question, it’s more of an opportunity. I would like you to love Optimist International. Why should people check you out? Why should they get involved? Just love on your organization.

Tracy Huxley (35:58): All right. If somebody fast-forwarded through this entire session, is only listening right now and did not hear everything else and was not enticed: Optimist International, being a member of your Optimist club, everybody has an opportunity to volunteer in their home. In their home area, in their community, in their neighborhood. What is different between volunteering with an Optimist club versus volunteering with anything else is that we offer that capital O. That ability to be optimistic, to have a positive vision and outlook for the future, to bring positive vision and hope to people within your community. Whether it is as simple as having a breakfast with Santa at Christmas time, or an Easter egg hunt Easter time or respect for law where you bring out your fire department and your ambulance and your police and the kids get to touch a truck.

What we do by surrounding ourselves with other people who have a positive vision for the future is that we increase our appreciation for life. We increase our appreciation for friendships and fellowship and with a full-hearted opportunity to try and bring out the best in our community. If you don’t like where you live, if you don’t feel your community is giving you what you need, you have an opportunity to change that. You have the chance to either build or join an Optimist club and make those changes that make your home a little better place for people to want to live and to communicate and to step out of their doors and to be with their neighbors. I have lived this almost my entire life, and I have not only continued to love the community that I came from and travel that hour back all the time, but I am also a member of the Optimist club of St. Ann’s Bay in Jamaica, which is where my partner is from.

Tracy Huxley (38:02): I have the opportunity when we return to his little hometown, to volunteer with fellow optimists who share that same pride, that same hope and positive vision, that same optimism with a capital O in a completely different country. Every optimist out there that is doing good things for their community makes me look like a better person because we all do this with the same goal in mind. That is simply to give back and to make our communities a better place to live. These people, I will always walk into a room and feel like I am at home regardless of what country or what state or what club I’m with. We all have that same little heart inside of us that wants to do better for everybody.

Stormy Bell (38:48): Amazing. Thank you.

Tracy Huxley (38:50): You’re welcome, Stormy.

Stormy Bell (38:52): I’m gonna encourage my friends to check you out. Like I said, I had always heard about Optimistic International but really didn’t know much about it. I heard great things just- you hear good things, but you really don’t know exactly what that means. I loved learning, preparing for the interview. I just thank you. Thank you for all the great work that you’re doing.

Tracy Huxley (39:19): Oh, thank you Stormy and everybody else, all the other optimists out there too.

Stormy Bell (39:23): Absolutely. All right. I just wanna thank you for being a guest today on The Art of Volunteering. I want to thank my listeners for tuning in and I hope to see you next time on The Art of Volunteering.

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