EDWARDSVILLE — The Jaycees differ from other nonprofit organizations because they don’t just focus on a single charity or service but rather look to work with communities in developing sustainable, long-term improvements across a spectrum of objectives.
“We’re not just focused on one thing,” Mike Ward says. “We work to improve the community as a whole.”
Ward is the AVP corporate banking officer at National Bank in Edwardsville and one of the area’s business leaders providing guidance for the newly established Edwardsville chapter of the Illinois Jaycees.
The chapter was established at the beginning of this year and holds monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of each month. The initial meeting in January drew 24 participants.
Membership is open to individuals age 18 to 40. Fees are $25 per year. The Edwardsville chapter will consist of members from the Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and Maryville areas.
The Jaycees promotes leadership development through community involvement, provides networking opportunities for its members and allows young people to serve their community and develop their skills at an organizational and individual level.
“Many types of individuals can benefit from membership,” Ward said. “Students and young professionals as well as blue-collar workers can take advantage of the resources we provide.”
Ward outlines the wide array of study and development opportunities available to members.
“Course material and Webex sessions are available every day,” he said.
Public speaking, project management, civic leadership, communication and mentorship are a few of the topics.
The Jaycees are an international organization in more than 120 countries around the globe. They have more than 5,000 chapters and 200,000 members worldwide. Founded in 1920 by Henry Giessenbier in St. Louis, the Jaycees’ mission is “to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.”
The organization helps members identify problems by meeting with fellow community leaders and finding solutions to create meaningful, lasting impact. It partners with corporate entities in the area that bring experience, leadership and guidance.
“The organization is a gateway to a lot of civic and developmental opportunities young people might be interested in but do not know how to otherwise access,” Ward said.
He outlined specific plans the group has around barbecue fundraisers, homecomings, block parties and even working toward possibly establishing a dog park. Ward said the group also will focus on helping individuals in challenging situations.
The volunteer and development opportunities available to members of the group span a broad spectrum of areas and interests. Young people interested in improving in specific areas as well as those just looking to broaden their personal and professional networks can benefit from participation.
The Edwardsville Jaycees meet next at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, at Stur Restaurant & Lounge, 4 Club Centre Court in Edwardsville. For information on the benefits of membership and how you can get involved, contact Mike Ward (email@example.com) or Sarah Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org). Information is also available on the Edwardsville Jaycees Facebook page.