In the spirit of sparking a more engaged and active group of young professionals in the Friendly City, The Petal Jaycees have partnered with the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce to serve as the official Junior Chamber and Young Professionals Network for the chamber.
The Petal Jaycees will work to promote leadership skills in its ranks, focusing on management, individual, community and membership development.
“Basically, the chamber has always recognized the need to bring young professionals into our fold, to start creating new leaders – new individuals that are going to take over the businesses and the civic organizations in the community,” said Valerie Wilson, executive director of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce. “Many chambers have their own young professionals group … but the Jaycees have been doing this for 97 years, where they have programs that instill leadership qualities, and teach younger individuals the value of increasing their skills and increasing their networking. So rather than creating our own young professionals group, it makes sense just to partner with the new Petal Jaycees group.”
The partnership is expected to provide leadership and growth opportunities while fostering relationships with existing chamber members. The Petal Jaycees will be allowed to use chamber events to promote their organization, while chamber members will help publicize Jaycee events through the chamber website, Facebook page and newsletter.
“We realized that we could both benefit from a partnership,” said Miranda Williams, who served as 2015 state president for the Mississippi Jaycees. “A lot of the events that happen in Petal are sponsored and put on by the chamber, and I don’t think many people realize that it’s the chamber and not the city that does it.
“That’s all volunteers, so they can definitely benefit from having more people to pull for volunteers. And of course, we’re the junior chamber, so it’s going to help them grow into being future business owners and partners through the actual Chamber of Commerce.”
Collaboration between the chamber and the Petal Jaycees is already in the works, as the two organizations are planning to put on a fireworks show July 3 at Petal River Park. The event is being held with the help of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, the City of Petal, the City of Hattiesburg and the Area Development Partnership.
“We’re going to have fireworks on both sides,” Williams said. “Hattiesburg’s having their side and then Petal will have our side, and you’ll be able to walk over to each of the two sides.”
The Petal Jaycees also will donate at least 50 hours of service over the next year to a community project in Petal, in which members will attempt to build a rustic playground at Petal City Park. If all goes according to plan, the playground will feature equipment made from recycled trees, some of which have already been donated for the playground.
Williams said she’s excited for the new partnership between the chamber and the young Jaycees group, who came to Petal in 2017. The Jaycees staff is planning a ribbon cutting in early April at Southern Canvas on Old Richton Road.
“It’s nice to have something here in Petal,” Williams said. “We noticed there were … young people wanting to get involved, but there was a lack of places for them to get involved, or to find a way to get involved.
“There’s not very many civic organizations in Petal, and there’s none that are specifically for young people. So it’s great that (the chamber) is helping us, and that we’re promoting us and we’re promoting them.”
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 years old who is interested in the joining the Petal Jaycees is encouraged to call (601) 909-8022 or visit the Petal Jaycees Facebook page.
“This will give (young professionals) an opportunity to at least see the value in whatever they do,” Wilson said. “(It shows the value) in connecting with other people and becoming active, and becoming known in the community as somebody that is invested in bettering the quality of life there.
“So many of them, nobody invites them or pulls them into the fold, so they’re not quite sure what the value is of being in the Jaycees, or being a chamber member, or being a Pine Belt Young Professional. So hopefully, this will kind of bridge that gap.”