Jaycees sees 70 years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Who hasn't been touched by the Austin Jaycees in the last 70 years?

It's hard to believe any family hasn't been touched.

Operation Sandbox, Kids Kare ID, Christmas For Kids, Haunted House, Mower County Fair beer garden, WeisFest, Jose Cole Circus, Adopt A Highway, July 4 street dance, Beer and Brat Fest, Dart Tournament, Alumni Campout and Miss Austin Pageant.

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Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts,

March of Dimes, Arc Mower County and dozens of other organization, who received donations.

Name it and the Austin Jaycees have been there, done that.

Let's get this out of the way first: Albert Lee is the oldest established Jaycees chapter in Minnesota.

But the Austin Jaycees is the oldest continuing chapter in existence. Something about "broken service" puts Austin second to Albert Lea.

"Most of my friends are people who I met through the Austin Jaycees," said Frank Soucek, a past-president. "They are friends I've made for life."

Soucek is now a regional director for southeast Minnesota. When he travels on the road, he frequently takes along his 8-year-old daughter, Janae.

"I want to show her you can make a positive difference in the world through the Jaycees. You can do that at the local level and all the way to the national level. We're role models," Soucek said.

Peggy Young, the organization's vice president for public relations, brought an anniversary cake to Tuesday night's meeting at the Austin Eagles Club. Young also has the club's history.

"The Jaycees were established in 1920 to encourage young people between the ages of 21 and 39 to develop leadership and management skills through projects that benefit the community," Young said.

When they were chartered in 1933, the Austin Jaycees were the third chapter formed in the state.

Currently their are 200 Jaycees chapters in Minnesota.

But leadership, management and community service, the question remains: Is it fun?

"We make a difference," Mike Lahann said. "That's what makes the Jaycees special. That and the friendships to be made."

Now 63 members strong, the chapter is equally divided among male and female members. There are married couples and singles.

Amy Mueller, the chapter's current treasurer, has belonged to the organization for nine years.

Her sister, Amanda and her husband, Kevin Klouse, are also members

Mueller said she is learning new leadership skills that will help her in the workplace.

Craig Byram, a past-president, has belonged for seven years. his wife, Kathy, is also a member.

On the subject of relevancy, Byram weighs in on behalf of the Austin Jaycees.

"We've had the city of Austin through its mayor talk about how important volunteers are to the community and how their roles will grow in the future," Byram said. "The Austin Jaycees have been volunteering for 70 years."

"If the city has a need, the Jaycees will consider the opportunity to serve," he said.

Byram also pointed out how the organization helps an individual become "known in the community."

"An individual can be involved as much or as little as he or she wants," Byram also said.

"It's important for a new business to get known in the community," Hoerter said. "And one way to do that is to become known in the community. The Austin Jaycees helps you do that."

For more information, call Young at work 433-0602.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at :mailto:lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com