Later today, at Lakeview Park in Portage, the Kalamazoo Jaycees are going to celebrate their 80th anniversary. Since 1932, the Jaycees have been in our community providing leadership opportunities to young professional between the ages of 21 – 40. Some of Kalamazoo’s historic leaders have been a part of the Jaycees, including Harold Vandenberg, Clarence Bell, Dick St. John, Bill Shauman, and many others.
I have been blessed to be a Kalamazoo Jaycees since 2000. In that time, I have observed my home chapter raise over $100,000 for cancer research, provide entertainment by sponsoring the Taste of Kalamazoo & the Island Fest, help clean up parks and highways, and represent the best of what the Kalamazoo community does. Many of the leadership skills that I use in my professional job and on the many advisory boards that I’ve served on come from my time in the Jaycees.
At my fundraiser this week, I sat at a table with some of the Past Presidents of the chapter and we traded many fond memories. Times at the Haunted Forest in Portage (later the Haunted Halls of Havoc at the county fairgrounds). Times we worked with other chapters in southwest Michigan to help with charity golf outings. And in every story there was a smile that comes from the positive impact we’ve left on the community.
Congratulations my friends on a great 80 years. I look forward to the next 80 and beyond.