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After years of inactivity, Jaycees back on their feet in Riverton

Dec 19, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The Riverton Jaycees is in the midst of a years-long revitalization effort after receding from civic engagement earlier this decade after many years as one of the community's top service organizations.

"It was just kind of the right time for everybody to ... really get our name out into the community," state advisor and local management vice president Cathy Rosenthal said.

"We want people to know what we're doing and who we are."

The work began in 2013, just a few years after the group "just kind of fell apart," Rosenthal explained.

"(It) took a little hiatus," Rosenthal said.

Back to hometown

She was living in Sheridan at the time and serving as the Jaycees state president, but she still had ties to Riverton, where she grew up.

She said she worked with local Jaycees leadership to get the chapter reinstated. But challenges persisted.

"They held some really great projects (and) got some good members, and then due to various reasons some members moved away or moved on to other things, so membership went down again," she recalled. "It's been a little up and down."

When Rosenthal moved back to town in 2016, she began working more closely with the Riverton Jaycees to build on the progress that already had been made.

"At the end of last year we said, 'OK, let's really gear up for 2017,'" she said, "'let's set some really good goals (for) things we want to accomplish (and) projects we really want to do.'"

Busy again

The effort has paid off in the form of multiple events and fundraisers that Rosenthal hopes will be repeated on an annual basis. In May, she said, the Jaycees held a Daisy Dash with the Center for Arts, Technology and Science in Riverton to celebrate Mother's Day.

"(It was) just a quick little obstacle course for kids and parents," she said, adding, "We donated the funds from that race to the CATS museum."

Most recently, she said the Jaycees organized a "daddy-daughter dance" - something organizers had been hoping to do for the past several years.

"That was one of those goals we'd talked about the beginning of the year," Rosenthal said. "We really wanted a fun event for dads and daughters to get out to."

The event was successful, she said, noting that the fathers and daughters who attended "had a blast."

Proceeds from the dance went to the local animal shelter.

Scavenger hunt

Another idea that had come up in the past came to fruition this year in the form of the Riverton Rocks ongoing scavenger hunt. Rosenthal said the Jaycees painted "a bunch" of rocks with various designs and scenes and hid them all over town.

Anyone who finds a rock is invited to take a photo of it and share it on the "Riverton rocks" facebook page, then hide the rock elsewhere, or take it home and replace it with one of their own.

Rosenthal said the project has been well-received.

"It's been huge," she said. "The community ran with it. (It's) got this big following, and people have really enjoyed it. They've put rocks out there with inspirational saying on them, or just cute things to make peoples' day by finding these little hidden gems all over town."

Also this year, she said, her group helped Ducks Unlimited put on its banquet, and the Jaycees formed a team to participate in Fremont County's Relay for Life fundraiser. Jaycees volunteers also organized the Fremont County Fair parade this year, set up a booth at other local events, and got a group together for trick-or-treating in October, in addition to various internal trainings and meetings.

Membership

As a result of the push for visibility, Rosenthal said the group has attracted new membership this year. But, she said, "We're always looking for more members."

She pointed out that the Jaycees mission - to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change - is open to a wide variety of interpretations.

"The sky's the limit - there are so many different opportunities," she said.

"If you're interested in community projects, this is a great organization for you. If you're interested in meeting (like-minded) people ... that are engaging and developing leaders in the community, this is a great organization for you. "If you're looking to better your leadership skills, this is a great organization for you."

Membership is open to anyone age 18-40 for an annual fee of $90-100. Rosenthal has been part of the group since 2005, and she said the benefits that come with that membership fee are "very well worth it."

Meetings typically are held at 6 p.m. the first and third Monday of the month at 1130 Major Ave.

For more information visit the Riverton Jaycees facebook page.

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