Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Jaycees

The Jaycees are community service and leadership training organization that has been around for almost 90 years. Presently, you may belong up to age 41.

I was born into the Jaycees as my dad belonged from as early as I can remember. I have fond memories of projects that helped the community such as delivering Christmas baskets to needy families. They ran a carnival each year to benefit the local hospital. My dad also ran the state Junior Miss Pagent. (I was about 9 when all of Maryland's finalists camped out in my basement. A night I'll never forget!) My dad received the highest award given -- a Senatorship.

On my 18th birthday, I joined my local chapter. One of the Senators that still hung around was Bill. I knew Bill as I had gone to jr. high and high school with his daughter Terry. Bill was a mountain of a man with a platinum heart. I learned much from Bill on how to run projects, how to lead meetings -- from the podium and the floor -- and how to take care of your community. I spent countless hours during several summers visiting with Bill and his family in his living room enjoying his stories, his company and, when I was lucky, his crab soup. Bill passed away a few years ago, but his memory will live on forever.

Throughout college, I participated when I could and served as local chapter President in 1999-2000. From there, I went on to the state level where I served in various positions. I most enjoyed my time working on the national political level, where I got to know many people across the country. I also specialized in parliamentary procedure and learned how to manage meetings, even from the floor of the meeting, by knowing the rules, particularly when most others didn't.

I learned the Jaycee political scene from my friend Phyllis. She had been a State President and got involved in politics. I took to the stories and the travel and learned by watching. During the early and mid-90's we traveled together and spoke on the phone constantly monitoring the news of the day. It was an exciting time and I will always value those lessons.

I learned a tremendous amount over my active years in the organization, but the best result was meeting Deb, which changed my life forever. When I lived in NJ, Deb would call me from our MD chapter to invite me to events. What was she smoking? Well, one thing led to another and here we are, 12 years later.

In 2000, I received a Senatorship award. It was a very proud moment, one that I hardly feel worthy of. It was presented by my very good friend Calvin, who was serving as Maryland's Senate President at the time. My parents and kids came up to surprise me that night. It was truly magical and I'll never forget it.

Since then, Calvin went on to serve on the US Jaycees in various roles, culminating with President. Today is Calvin's last day as President of the US Jaycee Senate. I am proud to call him a friend and proud of all of his accomplishments.

I have many friends that I've made through Jaycees. I'm really not involved today, but I do get the occasional call. The friends I have made, though, they will last forever.


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