Why I Joined
Our members join for many different reasons. A first-hand account is often the best the testament to an organization.
When I joined the Jaycees, I wanted a better connection with my community, rather than feeling like I just lived here. This organization helps me build that connection and become friends with people who want to make Palatine a better place.
Those same people taught me not to wait to create projects or run existing ones. The age limit of 40 pushes me to do what I can now, and it keeps an even experience level across the organization—including its leaders. On my own, I couldn’t have accomplished what I have as a Jaycee. The energetic, supportive environment empowered me to run a fine arts fair, co-chair a project to give families a holiday party they otherwise couldn’t afford, and raise money for local and national charities.
My Jaycee experience started about two years ago. My husband and I had recently bought our first home in the area. Working from home, I initially joined the Jaycees to “get out of the house” and to get more involved in the community now that we had settled down. I did some research and decided to attend a meeting; I joined that night.
To be honest, when I joined, I had no clue what I was getting into – I decided to take a chance and see what it was all about. Over the past two years, I have gotten so much more than just an opportunity to “get out of the house”. Through the Jaycees I have grown both personally and professionally and gained a great set of friends along the way. I’ve gained confidence through running projects and serving as a board member that has carried through in my career and non-Jaycee life.
I would not be a part of this if I was not having fun. I have made a great group of friends in the past few years and enjoyed a lot of time together in back yards, dining room tables, local bars and restaurants and working shifts at projects. I took a chance and encourage anyone to do the same.
I have been a Jaycee since before I can remember. I was a Jaycee kid growing up. Some of my earliest memories and friendships were built around the Palatine Jaycees. I grew up, playing at Jaycee events, making friends with other Jaycee kids. 20+ years later, I continue maintain many of these friendships.
I watched my mom become the Jaycee Ladies Auxiliary President (she was the last Auxiliary President before the Jaycees became co-ed.) I was so proud of her and understood that service to humanity was our obligation as community members. I loved watching my parents be leaders and make a difference.
So when I turned 21 and moved back to the area after graduating college, there was little question that I would follow in my parents’ footsteps and be a Jaycee. But to be honest, when I joined I wasn’t so sure it was the best fit for me. I was shy, the chapter was big and I had trouble connecting with other members and figuring the whole thing out. My boyfriend and I attended a few projects, but mostly sat in the back at meetings and felt a little left out.
When it was time to renew my dues for the first time, I hesitated. And then the incoming president called me and asked me to be a local director on his board. I decided to stay in the chapter for one more year, and see if things changed. And did they ever! Being on the board allowed me the opportunity to make connections with other members in a smaller group. I started figuring out the people, the processes, the projects, etc. I started running my own projects and getting more involved. I joined committees, I worked, and I started building some friendships. I started having a ton of fun.
The Jaycees is where nearly all of my strongest relationships have been built. These relationships have opened doors to new jobs and lasting friendships. As my own children become the “Jaycee kids” that I once was, my appreciation in the organization grows and the Jaycees continues to be an organization where my family and I can continue to build a sense of connection and make our community a better place.