The Jaycees: Making a Difference for Decades

It's only appropriate on the eve of the Shad Derby that we take a look at the community work done by the Jaycees since the establishment of their charter in 1967.

Through the execution of the Patch Difference Makers weekly column, an overriding constant in interviews conducted with those who have given their all toward community development has been the shunning of the spotlight. Thus far, each Difference Maker interviewed has expressed an overwhelming discomfort with talking about themselves.

The Windsor Jaycees are no different (which is why we have not consulted with them prior to running this article). In fact, it was The Jaycees who approached Windsor Patch with the idea of developing a series meant to shine a light on everyone (save for themselves) who works tirelessly to do good in town. 

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It's likely the group of young volunteers would shy away from their name being included among those they intended to honor; however, Windsor Patch would be remiss in failing to celebrate their contributions to the community, particularly on the eve of an event they've helped make the preeminent First Town affair: the Shad Derby.

So forgive us Jaycees, for your time in the sun will momentarily extend beyond the blue skies that hover over Windsor Center each third Saturday in May.

Since 1972, the Shad Derby parade and Green festivities have been under the auspices of the Jaycees. Legend has it, the festival, just 6-years-old at the time, was growing in popularity, and with its growth came a greater need for helping hands. Enter the Jaycees, and 40 years later the Shad Derby stands as a quintessential small-town experience second to none.

Along with the 10 local civic groups that make up the Shad Fest Bureau, the Jaycees' work has allowed the festival to flourish and expand far beyond .

Four months of planning go into the development of the Festival each year for the Jaycees, culminating in a spectacular day in which the group's work starts long before the first family steps on Broad Street, and after the final booth is cleared off the Green.

But what might be more remarkable is the group's work on the other 364 days of the year.

Sure, the group runs an event or fundraiser nearly each month of the calendar year — everything from bringing roses to those at Kindred Healthcare and Kimberly Hall on Valentine's Day to selling Christmas Trees to raise scholarship funds for local students — but the foundation of the difference they've made is far more simple: their mission.

Whether you're a member of the group or not, The Jaycees either want to encourage you to be involved in the community, or they want to make your life in the community a little better.

That approach, particularly the group's fostering of community leaders is evident throughout Windsor today.

Since the group's charter was established in 1967, many of its members have gone on to become pillars of the community.

Past members include the likes of Windsor Mayor Don Trinks, John Carmon of Carmon Funeral Homes, Bob and Valerie Gange, Thomas Demkowski of the Pickleworks Restaurant, Paul and Laura Jary, Kerry Ruiz of Ashley's Distinctive Jewelry, Stan Gryskiewicz of PC Development, and the list goes on and on.

Those individuals and the many more Jaycee alumni — and there are far too many to name here — are local business owners and invested community members who have continued to give back, providing a large part of what makes Windsor the town it is today.

You can catch the Windsor Jaycees on the Town Green Sat., May 19 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. during the Shad Derby Parade and Green Festival.


Tonya Healis May 18, 2012 at 01:29 PM
What a wonderful article Julian, and yes, you are right, you will be hard pressed to find a Jaycee who would not experience that overwhemling discomfort speaking about what it is that we do for our community. We are a very lucky organization to have such wonderful members who not only work tirelessly for our community, but enjoy what it is that we do. It truly is an inspiring group of indivduals! We are proud of what we are able to accomplish together, the friendships we have with one another and more importantly the difference that we make within the community in which we live, and where we choose to raise our families. So here's to The Windsor Jaycees and the 40th year Shad Derby!


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