Aiken Jaycees elect new board

Submitted Photo Carey Sarka, 2012 Aiken Jaycees president, presents the Outstanding Project Chairperson Award to Samantha Dennis.

The Aiken Jaycees has a new board, including a new president, as of its awards and installation banquet on Jan. 19.

Taking over for Carey Sarka as president is Gina Kelly. The two have known each other for at least eight years, with Kelly being Sarka’s “right arm” all during Sarka’s presidency; Sarka was president for five years, she said.

“She’s a very spiritual young woman,” Sarka said of Kelly. “She’s very driven …(and) can accomplish anything she puts her mind to. I think she will be a great leader.”

Joining Kelly is Wes Jerrell as the vice president of community development, Betsy Davis as vice president of membership development, Ashley Garrett as vice president of individual development and Chris Dennis as treasurer.

“The group itself is a diverse group,” Sarka said. “They probably will put together great projects. (I would like to) see Jaycees grow and see different things come out.”

Sarka has high hopes for Kelly and the new board, she said.

As for Sarka, she received a senatorship award in late 2011 and will serve as chairman of the board this year.

“I will always be there for support,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

During the ceremony, Jerrell was also named Jaycee of the Year and Rookie of the Year, while Kelly was given the Key Man award. Other awards presented were Outstanding Project Chairperson to Samantha Dennis, a Haunted House award to Tyler Jarchow and the Easter Basket Project award to Frances Coleman.

The banquet was held at the Aiken Brewing Company.

The Aiken Jaycees are part of the nonprofit, worldwide Jaycees organization. The chapter puts on the annual Christmas Parade and a haunted house. Around Valentine’s Day, they conduct a carnation project, where they give out the flowers to residents of a nursing home and spend time with them.

Last Easter, they donated around 20 baskets to the children at the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons.

The next meeting of the Jaycees will be held on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant, 716 E. Pine Log Road. For more information, email