At the zenith of its popularity in the 1970s, the Jaycees, a civic organization for ages 18 to 39, had 500,000 members in the United States and 15,000 members in Florida, including active clubs in Palmetto and Bradenton.
Now, there are less than 500 Jaycee members in the entire United States, 200 in Florida and no clubs in Bradenton and Palmetto, said Palmetto’s Bill “Willy” Orr, who was a lifetime Jaycee member until the local clubs gave out in the 1990s.
“It was basically the Baby Boomers and the Baby Boomers have kind of moved on,” Orr said Monday. “The new generations haven’t gotten into volunteerism. They are more into their iPads and computers.”
But Orr hopes to resurrect the Jaycees, which began in 1933 and was well known for doing civic projects, like bringing stuffed animals to children in hospitals and supporting youth sports.
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He wants to form a new variation of the civic organization called Florida JcCongress.
A meeting to talk about starting Florida’s first “JcCongress” club, which would be in Palmetto, will be 7-8 p.m. Tuesday at Popi’s Place Too, 815 Eighth Ave. W. Palmetto, Orr announced Monday.
“We want anyone with an interest to come by,” Orr said. “It’s a social gathering, just to talk about it.”
“The Florida JcCongress would be an older age version of the Jaycees,” Orr added. “Florida JcCongress members will be age 40 and older.”
The mission of the Florida JcCongress, which had to have a different name than Jaycees due to the different membership age requirement, would be to give anyone with a passion about doing something in the community an outlet, Orr said.
“They can be a leader or a helper,” Orr said. “They can do as little or as much as they want. It’s for people who want to get back in the game, volunteering.”
Orr sees the Palmetto JcCongress as helping school children with school supplies, supporting youth sports, arranging fun community events and other activities.
The Jaycees once ran beauty pageants in Manatee County, Orr added.
Orr has spent most of his life as a volunteer in various civic organizations in Palmetto, where he and his dad ran an electrical and plumbing supply business for decades.
“I enjoy community work,” Orr said.
For more information, attend Tuesday’s social meeting, email Orr at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or, on Facebook, JcCongress.