HenryGiessenbier_med.jpgOur founder, Henry "HY" Gissenbier wanted to develop the business skills and the reputation of young men. He felt that young men could make a difference in business and in the community. This approach was unusual, because during this period most young men were out of school by the age of fifteen, and their first jobs were the jobs they died in. If they were lucky, they might work their way into an executive position by the time they were in their forties. But Hy knew that twelve signers of the Declaration of Independence were under 35; Thomas Jefferson was only 33 when he wrote the original draft of the document.

Hy Gissenbier felt that in order for young people to improve their prospects for social and career advancements they would first have to join forces socially. The Herculaneum Dance Club became the most popular in the city. This progressive attitude, that young men can make a difference, became the hallmark of the Junior Chamber.In 1914, the Herculaneum Dance Club merged with six other socially-minded groups to form the Federation of Dancing Clubs; Hy was elected president. In this capacity, he led a meeting of the Federation on October 13, 1915, at the Mission Inn in St. Louis, Missouri. It was at this gathering that 32 young men agreed to form the Young Men’s Progressive Civic Association (YMPCA), developing their skills as leaders by tackling difficult civic problems.

Gissenbier wanted young men to make an impression early in life, so development of business and leadership skills was offered to members of the early movement. Those skills and other benefits are still offered today.

The official date of birth of The U. S. Junior Chamber of Commerce was January 21, 1920. Henry Gissenbier and a group of young men in St. Louis , Missouri established the Junior Chamber for personal reasons. They wanted to move ahead in their careers and their lives, but they faced a classic "catch-22." To advance they needed more experience, but the only way they could get more experience was to advance. They found they faced similar problems and had different solutions. That diversity became their strength. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, they discovered they possessed a wide range of talents, skills and abilities, with the natural leaders in the group able to find and use available resources.

With the help and guidance of established civic and business leaders, the St. Louis group determined its own needs and set about meeting those needs. To advance in their careers, members needed skills in planning, budgeting, training, communication and supervision. To gain those skills they channeled their collective efforts in a unified direction. Committees were formed. Chairmen elected. Goals set. Timetables established. Resources marshaled. Management and workers trained. Manpower took action.

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Since 1935, the city of Sioux Falls has benefited greatly from the efforts and commitments of the Sioux Falls Jaycees. Many programs offered today are the direct result of the Jaycees' desire to improve our community by seeing a need and employing the means necessary to provide a solution to these problems.


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The year was 1946; the place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.; the event, the United States Unior Chamber National Convention. Visitors came from Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, and the Philippine Islands.

Past President of the Ohio Junior Chamber and National Vice President of the United States Junior Chamber C. William Brownfield realized at this convention that the organization did not have a Creed. He was inspired by the devotion of the Junior Chamber members "to the purpose of serving mankind in a thousand different ways, right down at the grass roots where freedom lives or dies."

Brownfield saw Junior Chamber as "the potential for a new force in the world, one capable of changing the balance between victory or defeat for our chosen way of life in a time of crisis."

The actual writing of the Creed took place in July 1946 during a drive from Brownfield's home of Columbus, Ohio, to his coal mine in New Lexington, a journey of about 75 minutes. He started that journey with a firm conviction in his mind to work on the Creed. It was during that trip that the words above came to mind and were put on paper.

In 1950 the first line, "We believe that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life." was added.

Since it was written, Junior Chamber members all over the world recite the Creed at local, national and international meetings and functions. During that time there has been much discussion of the interpretation of the Creed. The author himself said, "Every Member is free to interpret the Creed in the light of his own conscience."

Source: "Individual Development" issue Number 2, Junior Chamber International (JCI), Inc.