I'm Richard Lewis

DevOps Consultant by day and Community Orginzer by night and most weekends

Why I Jaycee

Illinois Jaycees Member with IL Gov. Bruce Rauner & State Senator Charlie Meier

The second week of October annually is Jaycee Week, it’s the week where we as Jaycees celebrate the founding of our organization in 1915 by Henry Giessenbier Jr. Ironically this month marks my 14th year as a member. So what better time of the year than now to share with you why I Jaycee? I joined the Jaycees to help make my community a better place. But I stay a Jaycee because it gives me the opportunity to be a Young Active Citizen, who can create positive change within my community. What’s the difference? Well making my community a better place is about helping my fellow-man or women with their need and creating positive change in my community is about fixing the root cause that is causing hardship to my fellow-man or women. This is one of the most important things the Jaycees have taught me and have given me the ability to do. Most of the time people tackle problems with a one-time donation or one day of volunteer work, but as Jaycees, we focus on making a sustainable impact.

Second I Jaycee till this day because it gives me the better opportunity to be a better leader. Since I was Chapter President back in 2005 each year as a member I’ve become a better leader and In 2016 I served as the leader of the Illinois Jaycees, the largest Jaycee membership state in the nation. Being an effective leader is a universal skill and not everyone can master but the Jaycee organization gives me the opportunity to be a great one and these skills are applicable outside the organization. John F. Kennedy credited the Junior Chamber with providing his ‘informal’ education, which he considered equally important as his Harvard ‘formal’ education.

Finally, I Jaycee because it gives me the opportunity to meet amazing people and see new amazing places around the world. In this great organization, I had the ability to meet some really awesome people, make some amazing lifelong friends, and meet my wife.

The Four Component Approach

The Jaycees as you all know by now is more than just a community service organization. Since the founding in 1915 it has held true to its primary purpose of building young leaders to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. In 2013 I will be servicing you as your State Membership Development vice President; the Member Development area encompasses four key components and all them vital. First Recruit since our organization is based on membership requirements it’s important that we replace those that no longer meet our requirements to be members. One of the best ways to end the year positive is to plan on replacing the members who will not meet your chapter’s requirements for membership right away. The second component is Orientation, once a new member joins our organization it is essential that we teach them about what they just joined and how they can make their mark on your chapter and their community. Did you know your Region and state staff can provide assistance with planning and or conducting your training? The third component and my personal favorite is Activation. It’s no secret why people stay in our organization and it certainly no secret why they leave. But we can prevent a large portion of them from doing by getting them involved. On numerous times I’ve seen members for the first time get involved with our organizations at social’s, or local food drives. The fourth component is Retention; did you know the hardest thing do for most of our chapter isn’t just to retain a member it’s to show them the value of continuing their membership in our organization? Each person joined the organization for a different reason then the last. Understanding what they are looking to get out of our organization will help you understand how to retain them. A survey of your membership each year is great start. They don’t have to be lengthy just ask the most important questions. The most important part is the actions they see come out of the survey. Another way is get down and dirty with your members. When I was a local director I was assigned to a group members our chapter considered be at risk for lost during the year. These were members who we were pretty sure we would need to replace throughout the year. I regularly called every one of these members, course I left a lot of messages but I would call anyway, I would send them emails updating them on what happened at the last meeting including anything funny, I would send them birthday card during their birthday’s months and so forth. The whole point is to make them feel as if they were getting a value out of their membership. At the end of the year we were able to retain about 85% of those members. But without any effort or dedication we would have lost 100% of them. In 2013 keep on growing as young leaders, leaving your mark on your communities, and sharing the Jaycees every opportunity you can. But make sure your teaching your members too and getting them all involved in their chapters and together we can all Make Our Mark !!!

Richard Lewis

2013 Illinois Jaycees Membership Development Vice President