BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN During the 4th of July Celebration, organizer Alex Roeser is easy to find, as he spends the entire duration of it at Central Park.
Fellow organizer Martin Bauman knew this and decided it would be the perfect venue to present Roeser with a Junior Chamber International senatorship, the highest honor a Jaycee can receive, for his 23 years of service to the local chapter and community.
Despite previously receiving the ranks of statesman and ambassador, Roeser did not expect a higher honor.
“When he got his ambassadorship, he said, ‘I’ll never get a senatorship,’” Bauman said. “’Why?’ ‘I’ve never done anything on state staff. If you get me to go to another convention, I’ll know something’s up. We said, ‘We have to find a new venue to give it to him.’ The beer stand was his office. I knew he’d be available. The light went on, and I started the ball rolling.”
Bauman started the process back in January.
“Other than the chapter president (Kevin Jaunich) and myself signing off on it, we needed three letters from senators outside of the chapter. I got five,” Bauman said, adding that three local individuals also wrote letters of support.
It meant a lot to Bauman and Jaunich to sign in support of Roeser receiving the honor. Roeser and signed Jaunich into the Jaycees and, as president, had signed off on Bauman becoming a senator.
With everything in place, Bauman and company surprised Roeser Saturday during the beanbag tournament.
“This is the way we get even with each other,” Roeser said. “We put each other up for awards. I didn’t think I qualified . . . The chapter has a history of really, really high standards . . . It means a lot, but I don’t feel worthy.”
Roeser hasn’t had a lot of time to process the award.
He went from being recognized and getting choked up right back to work, moving garbage cans and helping to clear vehicles from the lane leading to the fireworks prep site.
“One of these days, I’ll sit down and think more about it,” Roeser said.
One thing Roeser has had to think about, and memorize, is his senator number: 77,927.
“If you don’t have your number and someone asks, it costs you,” Roeser said. “I memorized it right away.”
He is proud of those who have gone before him, including three other senators from Delano, who all held state office and “did incredible things,” he said.
“It drives me nuts when I get recognized,” Roeser said. “It feels like I take attention away from those who do so much. I’m just a small piece of it . . . I’m really blessed. I’m very humbled by the award. Those who have won it before me, I think the world of. I don’t feel like I’m quite at that level . . . It’s hard to be put in with that class of people.”
Regardless, he takes the Jaycees creed seriously. It states, in part, “that service to humanity is the best work of life.”
Junior Chamber International, which operates the Jaycees, initiated the senator program in 1952.
Fewer than one out of every thousand Jaycees have become senators.