Jaycees' reemergence will benefit Beaufort

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 2, 2014 

The revival of a Beaufort chapter of the Jaycees sends an important signal: Young people need to be -- and want to be -- involved in helping a community thrive.

The service organization for people ages 21 to 40 recently relaunched as a chapter of the U.S. Junior Chamber, and this week, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce announced it has forged a partnership with the new group.

The Lowcountry Jaycees take Beaufort back to its future.

A chapter of the Jaycees was a major force in civic life in the 1950s, '60s and '70s before disbanding in the 1980s.

Its members helped build parks, including what is now Basil Green Complex, and helped run youth sports programs. The Jaycees also were instrumental in starting the Beaufort Water Festival in 1956, and an active Jaycee, John Bigbee, served as the first commodore for the event that came to define Beaufort summers.

The city doesn't lack for young leaders -- indeed, Chamber of Commerce president Blakely Williams and board chairman Stephen Murray are both within the Jaycees' target age group.

But some in the younger set will simply feel more comfortable wetting their public-service feet in a pool full of others their age.

Further, the Jaycees have an opportunity to point young new arrivals down productive avenues and into beneficial relationships.

"It's not just a community-service group, not just a leadership group, not just a networking group," said Lowcountry Jaycees president Courtney Duncan, herself a transplant. "It's a combination of all of those."

The group is now 39 members strong, and with the Beaufort Regional Chamber behind it, it should grow quickly.

Volunteerism and public service are borne largely by the retired in Beaufort County, and for that we should be thankful. However, getting younger, working people involved helps maintain the sort of vibrant community and rewarding lifestyle that make Beaufort a worthy retirement spot.

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