SHERIDAN — Memories were shared as members of Sheridan’s Jaycees and Jaycettes from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s picnicked together at Kendrick Park as they reminisced on their years of service together.
Since beginning nationally in 1920, the Jaycees have fostered more than 11 million young leaders over the last 99 years. Once upon a time, men like Jaycee Charles Lindbergh, the man who organized the U.S. Airmail Service, and President Herbert Hoover were dedicated members of the Jaycees. At a local level, Sheridan’s participants are committed to dedicating resources through the Jaycees to create a better environment for their community.
“The whole idea of the Jaycees came from the junior chamber of commerce and they had hoped that if they would take these young men and help them build their skills being a part of their community and then they’d move on to maybe be part of the chamber,” member Dave Schreibeis said.
“I think the young guys just loved the leadership training program that the Jaycees had to offer like learning how to speak in front of people,” Sharon Tracy, past Jaycette president said. “I think that was a big factor and others just wanted to volunteer because they had it in their heart to be helpful.”
What originated as a men’s club is now a not-for-profit organization of young active male and female citizens. Members rage from ages 18-40 working toward developing themselves personally by bringing energy and insight to solving problems locally and around the world. Soon, the need for women in the club couldn’t be ignored any longer. Mary Dowling organized a women’s sector called the Jaycees 18 years after the men’s chapter in Sheridan was formed.
“There (were) too many volunteers projects for the men to get done so they needed a little assistance from the women,” said Dowling, the first Sheridan Jaycette president.
Projects from the Jaycees and Jaycettes varied over the years. They started a Christmas gift giving exchange for underprivileged children, they hung street signs for the city of Sheridan, they parked cars at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo and catered during Bill Eaton Days.
But the reunion wasn’t only attended by past members who have aged out of the club. Past Sheridan County President Michelle Edwards and current state president, Jacey Johnsen, attended and compared the programs from then to now with the older members.
“The world has changed in the last 15 years compared to these people’s time,” Johnsen said. “I think it’s really cool to see their excitement to see us and see that the program is still going strong.
Edwards noticed the differences in function but similarities in spirit.
“Things are so different now but finding those similarities has been really interesting and something that’s still noticeably the same is the connections, the networks and the relationships you form,” Edwards said. “I can totally see our current Jaycees gathering in 50 years like this.”
The current Jaycees are hosting a member from the national board of Jaycees and invite anyone who is interested in becoming a current member to come join them at the Big Horn Equestrian Center Friday Night Lights polo game July 26.