Jaycees chapter tops in nation

Photo by Andrea Poteet

Wyandotte Jaycees Treasurer Shaun Abshire (right) and Chairwoman of the Board Julie Abshire, pose with the Harold A. Marks Memorial Award, given to the top chapter in the country.

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — For members of a local service organization, a recent conference led to a big surprise.

Wyandotte Jaycees Chairwoman of the board Julie Abshire said the announcement that the chapter had won the Harold A. Marks Memorial Award came as a shock when she and seven other chapter representatives attended the organization’s national convention in Chicago June 9.

“When they called Michigan, I got up and clapped and I didn’t hear them say Wyandotte,” Abshire said. “It was a little bit of a surprise.

The award is given annually to the top chapter in the country. The Wyandotte chapter was recognized at the state level for their work in the last year, but were beat out for the state’s top prize by the Greater Muskegon Jaycees. The top five chapters from each state were still in the running to take the top prize, but Abshire said she was still shocked when the announcement was made.

“I was just clapping and looking around and then everyone was looking at me,” she said. “It was kind of crazy.”

The chapter, which includes more than 80 members, is the only one of its kind in Downriver. With this recognition, they are now eligible for honors covering the international organization’s Area C Conference, which includes chapters from North and South America.

Though she was shocked that her chapter was recognized, Abshire said they worked hard for the honor in the past year. They’ve gained more than 30 new members and raised $40,000 to fund more than 130 projects, including a Thanksgiving meal for needy families, an Easter egg hunt, senior citizen spaghetti dinners and a haunted house every Halloween.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Abshire said. “It’s unexpected, but in some ways it’s not surprising. We worked hard and our chapter came together and did so much for the community.”

The Jaycees, also known as the Junior Chamber, was established in 1920 and teaches skills including business development, management and community service to people between the ages of 18 and 40. It now has chapters in more than 100 countries.

One thing that set the Wyandotte chapter apart in the last year was its focus on communication, Abshire said.
“I think it’s really hard for any business, any company, any organization to communicate in a way that makes a lot of sense to chapter members and gets them out to projects,” Abshire said.

Abshire said the credit for the award belongs to every member of the chapter.

“It was a culmination of a great year where we all came together as a team and made a difference,” she said.