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A long standing organization in Kelowna could see some major changes in the New Year because of an upcoming vote.
The Kelowna Jaycees are a group of young male professionals and entrepreneurs that help to positively impact the community. For more than 80 years the group, which is affiliated with the Junior Chamber International (JCI), has been an important part of the community as thousands of young men have had an opportunity to be a part of the organization.
The Kelowna Jaycees are best known for transforming the former Glenn Avenue School into the Kelowna Jaycees Downtown Youth Centre. The centre is where the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club run many programs including the youth shelter. The members, who range in age from 18 to 40, will look at turning co-ed with an upcoming vote in 2016.
According to the group’s president Sean Glendinning, the vote came about because a member asked the group to consider the change. This isn’t the first time the organization has considered allowing women into the group, but the previous vote failed to garner support.
“We had a vote and it was turned down by a narrow margin, we need to have 75 per cent for a motion to pass to change a bylaw or constitution. We were very close to that,” said Glendinning.
While controversy has been stirred in the past regarding the all-male group, Glendinning says there has not been a need for the Kelowna Jaycees to turn co-ed as there is already a co-ed chapter in Kelowna with the JCI Okanagan group.
“There has been an interest from women to be part of the organization, but as there has been a female organization for a long time, there hasn’t been a need to join our organization, there is already one in place,” explained Glendinning.
Glendinning says that every few years the question of turning co-ed is usually brought before the group by a member and they take into consideration the change through the voting process. It is left up to the members to decide what is best for the group and would be best for the future of the organization, which is made up of just 72 members.
The vote will take place on January 7th, 2016 and if the vote is successful the group will form a committee to discuss the next steps. If the vote fails than that will be the end of the motion, unless another member decides to introduce another, differently worded motion, another vote will take place.
Work done by the Kelowna Jaycees can be seen throughout the community as this year alone they raised $4,500 for the Central Okanagan Food Bank through the annual CANstruction event. The group gave out three scholarships to students at UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College worth $2,250. And they raised $4,500 to the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and Elizabeth Fry Society in 2015.
The Kelowna Jaycees were established in 1935 and are the only branch of the chapter not to allow female members.