Emporia Jaycees Kory Shidell, bottom, and Johnny Fetko cook pork chops Friday afternoon for a Jaycees fundraiser.

The aroma filled the air as juicy boneless pork chops made their way from the grill to the plate Friday during the Emporia Jaycees pork chop fundraiser. It marked only one of several of the organization’s events to raise money to re-distribute into the Emporia-Greensville community.

The successful pork chop cook is a good sign for the Emporia Jaycees. As with other community civic organizations, the pandemic is an obstacle that slowed its fundraising abilities.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our local chapter this year,” Club President Brian Morris said. “We had originally set the pork cook date in April of this year but decided to postpone until more was known about COVID. We have also canceled some meetings and events during the year based off of recommendations from the governor as well as the CDC and VDH. It has been a tough year, but we will still end it on a positive note as we normally do.”

One positive note as the year comes to a close is the annual Emporia Christmas Parade is on. This year’s parade is 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. The Christmas season is a busy season for the local chapter. The Jaycees join forces with the Greensville Emporia Department of Social Services and adopt local families and assist in providing a Christmas they otherwise wouldn’t have. The Jaycees sell Christmas trees to raise funds for the group’s projects.

Revenues raised by the organization’s fundraisers are dispersed in the Emporia-Greensville community. The summer golf outing always reaches the limit of golfers, and the Emporia Jaycees have an ice cream social annually for students at Greensville Elementary School.

Who are the Jaycees?

“The Jaycees is a non-profit international organization,” Morris said. It began in 1920 in the U.S. and is headquartered out of St. Louis, Missouri. In the beginning, it was established to provide young men opportunities for the development of personal and leadership skills through service to others. Those same values are still strong in today’s organizational culture. Today, Junior Chamber International, or JCI for short, is co-ed and offers those same values for women. Some notable U.S. Jaycees include ani Rae Rafko- Wilson, Miss America 1988, Elvis Presley, President Ronald Reagan, and NBA legend Larry Bird, to share a few. It is an extraordinary organization to be a part of.”

For those interested in becoming a member of the Emporia Jaycees, the group meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month. The clubhouse is located directly behind Leete Tire on Main St. The pandemic altered the usual Emporia Jaycees fundraising and community events offered to the Emporia-Greensville community. Still, as Friday’s pork cook proved, the Emporia Jaycees organization is resilient and back in service-action to improve the quality of life for residents of the community.