Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Junior League

I do not know if many of you are familiar with the Junior League. It is a philanthropic organization of 292 leagues in the United States, Mexico and United Kingdom that supports women and girls through a variety of services. Our mission is to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

I am a member of the Chicago Junior League, which is more casually referred to as the JLC. I just joined last August and have enjoyed all the new women that I have met and the activities that I have done. Basically we are broken down into about forty committees. Most committees do events in the community, but others run events and some others do internal work for the league. Our current mission is to promote healthy eating for children so many (but not all) of our community projects revolve around this.

My committee is the Corporate Relations Committee. We contact local and national companies to try to get them to donate money or products. Since our member's dues go towards the running of the league itself and we are a volunteer organization, all the donations go directly to the community (or in the case of gifts of food, to the events). The Junior League focuses on creating a group of trained volunteers. I knew nothing about corporate solicitation or non-profit development, but the League is actively training me how. They want their members to use this training not just for the League, but to join other local organizations and to help other non-profits benefit.

Other committees include Kids In the Kitchen which teach kids how to eat healthy. Another one, called Project Con:Cern partners with a non-profit that is not as effective as they would like to be. We support them with marketing, fund raising, board development, or whatever they need help with.

Usually we start a new community project and then spin it off into it's own non-profit. For example, in the 1990s we started a program called "Next Step for Teen Moms". This group helped teenage mothers finish school, get a new job and stop having other children. We just cut it lose this last year. Another example is the Children's Museum in Navy Pier which was started back in the 1980s. In the 80's the JLC also started the first pediatric aids hospital in the midwest. In the 1950s we started the first pediatric psychiatric center in the country. Aids in the 1980s was so scary and in the 1950s people were really overlooking the importance of mental health, but that didn't stop the JLC! In the 1920s we event got women restrooms in the loop for secretaries and other women working downtown. Yes, you can thank us for loos in the loop!

We also hold several events through out the year. Our next event is on March 28th is called "Windy City Nights: Aunty Up for Charity". It's a Vegas themed party with an open bar. There will even be a poker tournament, which my hubby will be participating in :).


For more information about the Junior League or to locate one near your, go to the Junior League International's Website. For more information about the Chicago Junior League, you can visit our website here.

7 tidbits:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a worthwhile cause.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

This sounds like a great organisation, Lauren. Healthy eating for kids is so important, and can be really fun and creative - especially when the kids come up with their own recipes and menus!

Shelli said...

We love the JR league - thx for coming by. Good to see you again ;)

Lauren said...

@charles- I think it is :), but then again, I'm biased since I'm a member.

@raph- Healthy eating is so important. I don't know about your world, but it is pretty sad the types of food that some kids eat, espcially inner city Chicago lower income kids. I feel very blessed to be part of an organization trying to help.

@shelli- I'm glad you love the JR league! :)

strugglingwriter said...

I never heard of the Junior League but it sounds like a great organization. So cool that you are a part of it.

Paul

Lauren said...

@writer- I'm sure there is one in your area! You should look it up and see some of their events. Many junior leagues have a family themed yearly event...and many others have more frequent ones than that (for example, in Chicago we have the Mad Hatters who put on monthly fun/educational plays for kids and A Family Affair--I don't know what it is, just that it is fun for families).

jack said...

The Junior League is doing great things all across the country. To hear the impact of volunteering with the Junior League, check out this video at http://www.ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/2567. I think you'll find it inspiring. You might even want to tell the story of your aha moment.

Thanks,
jack@ahamoment.com

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