Another positive sign for Dryden’s future, the emergence of a ‘Young Professionals” group. Sheila Wilson, one of our own who has come back to Dryden with her degree and her Dryden enthusiasm was guest speaker at Rotary recently.  She described the still-forming group as being a forum for ‘young professionals’ to get to know one another, to work together for the betterment of the community, and to have an opportunity to develop their social and leadership skills.

Answering questions, Sheila defined ‘young’ as those over the age of majority who think they will feel comfortable in such a group; presently they have members in their 20’s, 30s and early 40s.  She defined ‘professional’ as anyone who will feel comfortable in a group dedicated to providing fun, engaging, growth-inducing opportunities for young people. She emphasized it is an opportunity to socialize while developing your interpersonal skills and serving the community.  She said the response has been great to their events so far, and their leadership team is always looking for ways to generate more opportunities for new and home-grown Drydenites to meet one another.

Rotarians expressed a lot of enthusiasm and support for this positive sign for our town.

Sheila’s description of the need for and objectives of the Young Professionals group is pretty much identical to those of the Jaycees in my youth. Jaycees was a service club with a twist, its priority was to provide an opportunity to develop leadership skills, and membership was restricted to those under 40 years of age. Before WW2, leadership positions in business, industry and professions were generally restricted to older folks (male), and this focus on leadership training made Jaycees wildly successful among younger people.

Dryden’s first service club was the Jaycees, formed in the 30’s, grew quickly and became quite influential in the life of the town, some of their projects still go on.  But Service Clubs in general fell out of fashion and took a serious hit in the 60’s and have never recovered their prominence in people’s lives.  Jaycees being focussed on young people took a double whammy, especially in Canada, and almost disappeared entirely, including the clubs in Dryden, Kenora, Fort Frances, Marathon, Port Arthur and Fort William.  But proof of the concept remained – for decades after, the proportion of Ex-Jaycees in leadership positions in Dryden and in Canada was quite extraordinary.

Conditions facing young people now resemble conditions before WW2 much more closely than the exuberance and easy living of the postwar decades. The concept of social interaction and developing your skills while doing things for your community looks like a winner again, for the young people and for the community.  The future of our community is in your hands, and you make it look brighter.


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