On Friday, October 26, 2018, at a luncheon held to honor finalists in nine categories of volunteers, the Norfolk JOOI Clubs were announced as the ServeNebraska Step Forward 2018 Volunteer Group of the Year. According to the 8/15/2018 press release from Governor Ricketts’ office, “Selected and presented by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley, the Step Forward Awards is the state’s most prestigious volunteer recognition program.” “Nominees must demonstrate leadership, innovation, and dedication to service through special projects or ongoing activities that address community needs.”
JOOI (pronounced “joy”) members are Junior Optimists and youth members of Optimist International. The Norfolk JOOI Clubs are comprised of students from the Norfolk middle, junior, and senior high schools, who are diverse in age, social economic status and ethnicity. For 17 years students have experienced varied volunteer opportunities ranging from “Youth Saluting Veterans”, “Teens in the Driver Seat”, “Dinners To Go”, retrieving coins from the wishing well at Children’s Hospital, to teaching elementary children that “Being Different Makes You Special” using Zink the (spotted) Zebra.
Mr. Mark Claussen, JOOI Club Sponsor, told us, “We have an active JOOI club with approximately 100 student members from grades 5-12 at Norfolk Public Schools. These students invest many volunteer hours serving the needs of their community throughout the year. Although I am confident that they are not motivated by a need for formal recognition for their efforts, it is truly an honor to be selected as the recipient of this prestigious award. We are most grateful to be recognized as a club and are proud to represent Norfolk Public Schools and the many JOOI clubs doing great work in their communities around the world.”