Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Junior League of Washington Celebrates 15 Years of Volunteering at the Library of Congress National Book Festival

JLW volunteers celebrate the 2016 National Book Festival with Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden.

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is an organization of women dedicated to improving the community through trained volunteer service. JLW focuses its volunteer resources on improving literacy in and around Washington, DC. Since 2003, JLW has provided hundreds of trained volunteers each year to support the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Over its 15 years of support for the festival, JLW volunteers will have provided more than 40,000 volunteer hours, worth over $1.2 million, to ensure that book lovers have a great time at the National Book Festival.

The following post is a Q&A with JLW members Aileen Marquez and Tessa Wilkin about why JLW volunteers love coming back to the National Book Festival year after year.

It’s the Junior League of Washington’s 15th year volunteering for the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. Why do you think JLW volunteers look forward to this event?
Aileen: “This is the first volunteer experience for most new JLW members, so it’s an opportunity to meet other Junior League volunteers. It’s also awesome to see how excited visitors are to share their love of literacy.”
Tessa: “We love the National Book Festival because it brings hundreds of us from all across the organization together on one day to support a cause close to our collective heart, literacy. It’s also the first opportunity our newest members have to volunteer as a member of the JLW. The energy and excitement from that first experience creates a love for the festival that carries on into the future. NBF is like a JLW family reunion.”

How many years have you been involved in the festival, and what keeps you coming back?
Aileen: This is my second-year volunteering. I loved my time last year. Because it’s an experience that so many of us share, it’s a great way to connect with other Junior League members.”
Tessa: This will be my 10th year volunteering at the NBF. What keeps me coming back each year are the opportunities to interact with the authors, the book-loving public, and my fellow JLW volunteers. One day I’ll make the switch from festival volunteer to festival attendee but that won’t be any time soon!”

What is your favorite thing about the festival?
Aileen: “I love the Pavilion of States—it’s a great way to learn more about different states and their local authors.”
Tessa: “I love being around so many fellow bibliophiles, helping to make the festival a success for its authors and attendees, and walking away with great book-inspired memories. A favorite memory (besides the wedding proposal in the book-signing lines in 2012!) is when I saw the long lines of people who wanted to meet the author of a beloved book series I read in my childhood. I hadn’t met anyone else in my life who had read the books so seeing 20 years later that I wasn’t alone in my love, and that the author’s fans covered so many generations, filled my heart with so much joy.”

To learn more about the 2017 National Book Festival, please click here. This blog post originally appeared on the Library of Congress blog.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Leadership in Bloom: Melissa Miller

Meet Melissa Miller, a JLW member who blew her friends and family away with her sheer positivity and force of life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at just 27 years old. Facing a terrifying diagnosis and difficult treatment, Melissa fought back with optimism and determination. During and since her recovery, Melissa has served as an inspiration and role model to other young women facing the same diagnosis. She has selflessly devoted her time and energy to raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support. Read on to hear the story of how Melissa has touched the lives of so many women.

As a patient, how did you find the time or motivation to connect to others as an advocate for cancer awareness?
Being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age was a very isolating experience, so spreading awareness with my story was a way for me to feel not so alone. In opening up and sharing my personal struggles, fears and victories with my network of friends and family, I ended up connecting with a lot of other young patients and survivors and became a part of a very special community. Becoming a champion for breast cancer awareness, especially among young women, was a natural progression for me. I didn’t know that this could happen to me at only 27 years old, and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else.

How have you benefited from your advocacy work?
Becoming an advocate has helped me to gracefully move on to this next phase of my cancer “journey.” Life after treatment is hard and confusing: going from being a patient to a survivor comes with a whole new set of worries and fears. In raising money for The Pink Agenda and volunteering as a member of the Sibley Young Professional Board, I’m able to channel that energy into something positive.

The breast cancer community seems so close-knit and supportive. What do you think is so vital about women supporting other women?
We women need to stick together and advocate for one another to overcome the barriers that we face. In raising each other up and supporting one another, rather than competing or putting each other down, we create something strong and amazing. I’ve never felt more empowered than when I have had other women standing by my side raising me up. There is something special about the bond of women.

How do you see that special bond live out in Junior League? 
The relationships that I have formed during my membership in the League are so special to me. Not only have I found amazing friendship in other members, but I have expanded my personal and professional network in meeting smart, talented women I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to know.