Monday, January 23, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Community Placement Volunteer: Literacy Lab

By: Lauren Niles, Literacy Lab Committee Chair

Every Wednesday, women from the Literacy Lab Committee meet at the DC General Shelter. When they arrive at the shelter, which used to be a city-run hospital, the residents are eating dinner. As they gather the supplies and set up the room, everything is relatively quiet and calm. But that changes in the blink of an eye, when dinner wraps up and the halls and the room used for the Ready-to-Read program fill with sounds of excited squeals, sneakers squeaking, and laughter;  both the children and the volunteers look forward to a high-energy night of sharing, reading, and playing together.

The goal of the Literacy Lab Ready-to-Read program is to provide low-income children experiencing homelessness with individualized reading instruction to improve their literacy skills, leading to greater success in school and increased opportunities in life. Each week, volunteers in the Literacy Lab placement spend one-on-one time with children ages three through eight. While the focus of the placement is on literacy, more than anything, the time spent with these children having shared positive interactions is the most valuable part of the program. The majority of the women in the Literacy Lab placement come back year after year, and have long-standing relationships with many of the children in the shelter. The Literacy Lab Committee looks forward to continuing this partnership and program for many years to come, and truly believes that this program is making an impact on our community.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Leadership Spotlight: Amanda Walke

1.     How long have you been in the Junior League of Washington (JLW)?

I joined in 2003, so this is my 14th year in the League.

2.     Tell us a bit about your first JLW leadership experience. What inspired you to lead?

When I was in my early years of membership, Esprit had a large following for our monthly happy hour, and began partnering with our community placements and fundraising committees to collect financial donations and goods at the happy hours. The chair asked for volunteers to reach out to the Community Placement Council (CPC) chairs to coordinate the events, and looked for volunteers to lead the effort. I volunteered and stepped into what was then a small leadership role, as a vice co-chair of that subcommittee. It allowed me to make connections and meet members from other parts of JLW, as well as learn more about JLW and our volunteer opportunities.

3.     Tell us about the other positions you’ve had and what you’ve experienced through the process of developing your leadership in JLW.

I moved on in JLW leadership to serve on the Nominating Committee, as Transfer chair, then as an assistant council director for a couple of years on Membership Development, before being asked to serve on the JLW Board of Directors. 

4.     Share an example of how your leadership skills have grown or evolved as a JLW leader.

In my first year on the board as New Membership Council Director, I found I had a lot to learn about much of JLW, especially when it came to the grant and budget process. I came from the membership councils, and hadn't experienced the "inner workings" of the League yet. I learned to listen and learn at the board while topics were being discussed, but learned the most from sitting on Finance Council. I found that I learned the most from sitting in those discussions and working on the budget. You see what all of the Councils are doing and what resources are needed. That extra meeting a month helped me get up to speed and take a more active role as a new board member. 

5.      What is the number one piece of advice you would give another woman in the League who is considering a leadership role for the 2017-2018 year? 

Take advantage of the small leadership opportunities to gain experience and knowledge. Also, you may be asked to serve in a role you weren't expecting, but it could end up being a great fit, so be open to try new things.

Are you or someone you know interested in JLW leadership? Nominations for assistant council director and committee chair and rising chair positions and willing-to-serve forms are now being accepted. Be sure to nominate or self-nominate by February 1, 2017! If you have any questions about the nominating process, contact Brooke Horiuchi. Here are links that provide the 2017-2018 Chair descriptions and  ACD descriptions. Find the Nominating form here.