01 Sep

Catching Up With the President

Keith Lakatosh, President, 248-854-8446

Baby date, 37 weeks, Heather is doing great and our house is ready to welcome a new member of our family. Our basement remodel is now complete and we look forward to many happy memories down there. So we wait in eager anticipation for our new arrival, but in the mean time there is still work to be done. The work I am speaking of is fulfilling my commitment to the Rochester Jaycees of ensuring their sustainability and their influence in the community and the state of Michigan. First, let me start with the latter, our influence in the community and the state of Michigan.

As you may already know, a couple months ago an ambitious member of our chapter approached me with a request. Rob Lykins was a relatively new member, only having joined 6 months prior, but he wanted to utilize the resources of the Jaycees to fulfill one of his goals and in exchange help raise awareness of the Jaycee organization. He wanted to form a team of runners to complete a relay style run across the state, from coast to coast, lake to lake, and the Jaycees could help him accomplish it.

After a meeting or two, our committee of Rob Lykins, Krista Tocco, Julia Webber and myself decided to partner with another community organization to help raise awareness for a great cause, as well as ourselves. We partnered with Blessings in a Backpack of Michigan, who you might recall gave a heartfelt presentation to us back in May. They provide weekend lunch programs to at-risk children for a number of school districts across the state.

Rob was hard at work assembling his team, developing his strategy and designing the course for the race. He was even able to use his connections to acquire an RV to accompany them and challenge and accommodate the tireless runners. Our partnership turned out to be serendipitous because through their existing partnership with Meijer, Inc. we were able to get the food donated for our team of runners. The grocery list was long and carb-tastic, including dozens of loaves of bread and bananas, not to mention all the hard candies, which are apparently great to keep you distracted during long runs. Regardless, it was an expense we were welcome to eliminate.

When it came time to face his challenge, Rob went in prepared, energized and ready to conquer. His team was assembled and provisions collected. While they still faced a number of last minute problems, they were prepared to overcome them and still achieve their goals (You can read his account of the event later in this newsletter). They were cheered along as often as possible through the efforts of our member Krista Tocco and her communications to Jaycees chapters along the course. Conveniently the Michigan Jaycees were hosting their quarterly convention in Lansing and the team’s course led them directly past the event. They even received a police escort through downtown Rochester at Midnight on the second straight night of the relay. The team reached their final destination at Lighthouse Park in
Port Huron at 10:00 am Sunday morning after having run 40 hours and 234 miles. Not only was a Jaycee member able to accomplish his goals, but he was able to raise awareness for a great cause. This is truly a great accomplishment and at the core of the mission of the Rochester Area Jaycees.

My hope is that the aforementioned story can inspire you to think beyond the status quo and think of what goals you want to achieve. The Jaycees will always be here to help make your goals a reality. Now I want to discuss my second responsibility, the sustainability of our chapter. With the summer coming to a close, the Rochester Jaycees are entering what I will coin as the “make it break it” season. Over the next two months we have three fundraisers that are critical to the sustainability of our chapter and our ability to provide the great opportunities to our members and the support to our community.

The first fundraiser we have is the gate-keeping for the Paint Creek Center for the Arts Annual Arts & Apples Festival. This event is being organized by our Community Vice President Julia Webber and she is in need of volunteers for Saturday and Sunday September 11th-12th to work a couple hour shift passively collecting donations at the entrance gates of the event. If you have time in your schedule that weekend please refer to the Evite you received from our chapter or contact Julia Webber (jwebber@rajc.org).

The second fundraiser involves the Rochester Heritage Festival. This is the second Rockwall fundraiser we are running this year on Saturday and Sunday September 25th-26th. If you missed the opportunity to volunteer at the first rockwall event over Memorial Day, it is a fun and entertaining fundraiser for our annual Rochester Jaycees Scholarship. Doug Allen is running this event and if you are interested in helping that weekend please contact him at nellaguod527@gmail.com.

The last fundraiser I want to talk about is the 40th Annual Rochester Area Jaycees Haunted House, The Tunnel of Terror. As you know, this event takes a lot of coordination, preparation and physical manpower to be successful. I am asking all the Jaycees who can spare a night or two on any Friday or Saturday in October to please help out at the Haunted House. Positions will be available by first come first serve so contact Paul Jackson (pjackson5677@hotmail.com) or Dan Moellering (dmoellering@rajc.org) to select your nights to volunteer. I will be hard at work acquiring hospitality from local restaurants from around Rochester, so I promise volunteers will be well fed!

Thank you all for taking time to catch up with the Rochester Area Jaycees. While I eagerly await entering into my new role as a father, I examine the accomplishments and goals of our organization. I think about the new and adaptive projects we have run for our community, like the first ever Michigan Green Career Expo. I think about the successes of our members and the impact they have had to the people around them. I look forward at the remainder of the year and aside from the fundraisers mentions above we also have great community events like the Christmas Shopping Tour and the Rochester Christmas Parade/Santa’s Mailbox. I am inspired everyday by the impact our organization has on the community and the benefit derived from the efforts of our members, both for themselves and the people they influence. My hope is that all our members take advantage of the opportunities the Jaycees have to offer.