It's a new year, and the Humboldt chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI) is branching out in new directions.
Tyrell Bjarnason is taking over the role as leader of JCI Humboldt from past-president Trevor Gulka. And he's got a new executive behind him as well. Amanda Klitch and Krista Grimson share the duties of vice-president - the former external and the latter internal, Vanessa Ollerich is the treasurer and Natasha Kinar, the secretary.
JCI Humboldt, the only JCI organization in Saskatchewan, has come a long way from where it stood just a few years ago. Once on the brink of collapsing, with just a handful of dedicated members left, the club has rebounded with a wealth of new members and new community projects in the past three years.
Currently, the organization is still fund-raising for the Humboldt Spray Park.
They needed to raise $190,000 to get that park going, and with just a little of that amount left to raise, and construction on the park starting this year, JCI Humboldt is turning their attention in a new direction.
Just what that is, they're not ready to announce quite yet.
"We have a newer and larger project in the wings," was all Bjarnason would tell the Journal last week.
Another main focus of the organization this year is to get the word out about who they are and what they do, especially with so many new residents in the community, so they can attract more members.
JCI Canada's mission is to develop leadership skills, social responsibility, entrepreneurship and fellowship to create a positive change, Klitch noted.
JCI is a social club, but so much more. Every member has his or her own special reasons for being involved.
JCI Humboldt presently have 25 active members, "And we're looking for as many more as we can," said Klitch.
JCI, formerly known as the JayCees, have been in Humboldt since 1958, noted Grimson.
"It's an excellent group to join for newcomers to the community. It's a good way to meet people," she said, especially for young people, as their age range is between 18 and 39.
Getting involved with JCI Humboldt helps with leadership skills, confidence levels, and provides networking opportunities, they said of the benefits of their organization.
Grimson was one of those members who became a JayCee after moving to Humboldt to work at the Humboldt Journal three years ago.
"I needed to meet people," she said was why she joined, and Bjarnason, who works at PAMI, echoed those same sentiments.
For Klitch, an employee at Elite Innovations Salon and Spa, who has lived in the area since birth, joining JCI Humboldt also provided her with an opportunity for new friends.
"I wanted to meet new people, and I also wanted to do something," she said of her reasons for joining. "I wanted to be involved in the community."
Klitch admits she hesitated about joining JCI at first, mostly because she wasn't sure what they were about. But after attending a few JCI-organized events, and seeing how much fun members were having, she felt it was something she was interested in.
She's found, Klitch said, as she got to know more people within the organization, they've become a close-knit group.
"You develop relationships and friendships," Bjarnason put in.
And not just locally.
JCI, as you can tell by its name, is an international club, Bjarnason stressed.
"There are world-wide conferences members can attend," he said.
And there are effective speaking competitions from the regional conferences to the world levels which are open to all JCI members, providing the opportunity to travel to far-flung parts of the planet if you keep moving up the ranks.
JCI regional, national and international conferences also offer opportunities to learn from great speakers, and allow for networking within the organization.
As there are no other JCI organizations in Saskatchewan, Humboldt's region includes clubs in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. Members of JCI Humboldt regularly attend Western Regional Conferences, and sometimes, even the yearly national conference, which will be held in Toronto in 2011.
The club is hoping to host the 2012 National convention, something that was done in Humboldt about 10 years ago.
Last time it was held locally, Humboldt had to share the hosting with Saskatoon, because there weren't the facilities, particularly hotel rooms available, to host it on their own. With a new hotel in town, they now have a "better opportunity to host everything here," said Bjarnason.
This year, besides their traditional events - JCI Humboldt will be holding their 40th annual Demolition Derby this summer -the organization is looking at new initiatives.
"We're trying to widen our horizons with different projects," Bjarnason noted. "We want to do more.... to target the family demographic," he said, like hosting a kids' day in the park.
"We're going to try to do different things... to tap into different resources," he said.
The organization is also offering, once again, a $500 scholarship to Humboldt Collegiate Institute students who apply and meet their criteria of a 70 per cent average, volunteer work and community involvement.
"I like the involvement and leading projects," said Bjarnason of why he's stayed involved. "And effective speaking is a way to help your speaking skills outside of work... and university."
"I feel good about helping the community," Grimson said. And, she added, the event organization has made her feel part of the community.
"You meet so many people. Not just within the JayCees, but everyone in the community as well."
Klitch said she likes the behind-the-scenes action of all the projects, and learning what goes into them.
"Plus, it's fun," she added. "We always have a blast."
JCI Humboldt's meetings are the first Tuesday of every month in the basement of the Pioneer Hotel.
Their next meeting is February 1.