I met Jay McGinnis shortly after I moved to Sheridan in 2008. One of the first things I did upon arrival was sign up for a YMCA membership so I had access to the gym.
My job as a journalist meant that meeting and interacting with McGinnis would become a regular occurrence. He’s involved in so many things and has always been such a champion for progress in the community.
When I would pass McGinnis in the halls of the YMCA, he’d always stop to greet me. His calming, kind demeanor was something I always admired. His ability to motivate and mobilize a group struck me as even more admirable.
On Friday, as many gathered to wish McGinnis well in retirement, I began thinking about what comes next.
McGinnis served the YMCA, its members and the community for more than 40 years. His replacement isn’t even 40 years old.
As longtime advocates for the community and its organizations retire or take on different roles, the younger generations are stepping up to take on the next challenges. They are doing so willingly and with a drive to continue and expand on all this community has to offer.
I’m not just talking about at the YMCA, either.
Young professionals lead a number of organizations in town. Shawn Parker at Sheridan Travel and Tourism can exhaust anybody with his energy. Adam Bunker leading the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce board brings a new perspective to the business community along with young business owners like Jessica Garrelts at the Cottonwood Kitchen Shop. All of these folks have been involved in the community in a number of ways for years, but they — and dozens of other young professionals — are starting to step into leadership roles that will shape the future of the place we call home.
It’s all very exciting.
It’s fun to see the longtime members of the organizations mentor and guide their younger counterparts. While the relationship isn’t always a direct mentorship, the willingness to answer questions and provide advice speaks to the desire of all involved for Sheridan to succeed.
In September, The Sheridan Press will once again recognize 20 individuals who are 40 years old or younger and who are making a difference. Many of those honored in the past few years have continued to give back and provide Sheridan with fresh ideas and energy.
As we discuss and choose the 20 individuals to be recognized this year, know that they are not the only ones who have made the area a better place to live, work and play.
They stood out to the staff at The Press, but this community certainly has more than its fair share of go-getters.
As we thank those who have guided us for decades, I look forward to meeting, greeting and working with the new class of leaders.