Eleanor Roosevelt. Barbara Bush. Marisol Deluna. Mary Harriman. Judith Giuliani. Carolyn Maloney. Nancy Reagan. Suzanne Perron. Sandra Day O’Connor. Extraordinary women, right? And what do they all have in common? They have all been members of the Junior League.
And now you can add me to their ranks!
I joined the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. last fall, and after finishing my provisional year, I am (as of last night’s Annual May Meeting), an official active member.
I moved to the city two years ago without knowing a soul, and a friend of mine back at home had just joined the Junior League, meeting a host of extraordinary women herself. She encouraged me to join. I went to a perspective members meeting, and the rest is history.
I’m constantly impressed with these women’s dedication and drive to the community. These are the types of ladies I want to know and spend time around.
The Junior League started in 1901 (we’re in our 85th year!), founded by a New York City debutante with a social conscience and wanting to improve health, nutrition, and literacy among the children of immigrants living in Manhattan. A 17-year old friend, Eleanor Roosevelt joined 2 years later, teaching dancing to young girls at a settlement house.
The second Junior League was formed in 1907 in Boston, MA, and quickly spread to 30 leagues, then to 100, and now there are more than 255 internationally.
The Junior League has been an integral part of major historical events. In the Great Depression, leagues responded by opening nutrition centers and milk stations. In World War II, they operated day clinics for working mothers with children still in the nursery, and training schools for nurses. In the 1950s, members volunteered in reading centers and worked with diagnosing gifted and challenged children. As the 60s brought about great political and social change, programs were established addressing the housing, education, and employment needs of urban areas. Through the 1970s, the Leagues expanded participation in the juvenile justice system, and worked with the National Commission on Crime and Delinquency with the U.S. Justice Department. Also, in 1978, the first Junior League is established outside of North America, in London. During the 1980s, Junior Leagues worked to improve the child welfare system and addressed domestic violence and was awarded the prestigious U.S. President’s Volunteer Action Award.
Most recently, over 225 Leagues have participated in the launch of Kids in the Kitchen, an initiative to address the problems of childhood obesity.
So as you can see, I’ve been very blessed to be a part of such a prestigious group of ladies.
With all of life’s busyness, there are many weeks that go by that I look back and think that the only lasting and valuable work I’ve done all week was with the League. But it’s a good feeling. To have bundled packages for foster care children, or to have taken place in a walk sponsoring a cure for diabetes, to help decorate the library beautifully for Christmas, distributing free helmets to children so that they might have a fun and safe summer riding their bicycle… all these give us a chance to give the smallest bit back to a community who gives us so much. If you’re a lady, who cares about your community, I’d encourage you to look into joining the League, or other similar organization.
What do you do to give back to your community?