Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Cup and the Year

This time of year, we can ask the same question for both the proverbial cup and the 99th year of the Junior League of Washington: is it half empty or half full? Let’s look at our accomplishments so far and plans going forward, and you can decide.

A Capital Collection hosted a whirlwind of activities and successfully raised the funds essential to fulfilling our community commitments – both this year’s program budget and next year’s grant cycle. You might even call it resourcefull.

The record number of JLW volunteers at the 11th annual National Book Festival wrote the new definition for meaningfull experience in the community.

This fall we also renewed our stated 26 community partnerships ranging from Bright Beginnings to a Wider Circle. There is no other word but joyfull to describe the rave reviews by our partners for the creativity and commitment of our volunteers. And our committee leaders led each meeting with assurances to our partners of our dedication and asked how else we could ensure our placements are successfull.

These are some of the many milestones thus far this year, and they keep coming…

Starting now, members are gathering a bountifull harvest of gently-used treasures that will be shared with the public in the extravaganza known as Tossed and Found. Our members are so very generous in the quality goods they donate, in the Community Cash Cards they sponsor, and in the exuberance they bring to the event nights supporting T&F.

Our Member Placement Resources and our Member Outreach Committees are hard at work ensuring that we all feel matched to the League in purposefull ways this year and are well prepared for making choices for next year.

The women of Development and Training are continuing to bring strong training programs, deliver regular Town Halls, and support the Presidential Speaker Series (you›re invited to hear Glen O’Gilvie, CEO of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, on Saturday, January 7, 2012) so that we all can become our most usefull selves in our efforts to improve the DC community.

So is it half empty of half full? It doesn’t take an optimist to see we’re well on the way to accomplishing a full year worth of impact in our DC metropolitan community, and we have an overflowing cup of projects, enthusiasm, friendships, and goodwill to enjoy in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrating 25 Years of Giving People Back Their Lives

On December 1, I had a the pleasure of being a guest at the National Rehabilitation Hospital's 25th Anniversary Gala Victory Awards. I was glad to have the opportunity to represent the JLW and left the evening feeling inspired by the honorees and grateful to our volunteers that chose NRH as their placement.

The emcee for the evening was J.R. Martinez, an Iraq veteran that spent 34 months in recovery after suffering severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. While his career as a soldier has ended, his willingness to share his story with others in rehabilitation has not and has opened doors to a new chapter in his life. He is a former star on the daytime drama, All My Children, will serve as the 2012 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshall and recently won Dancing with the Stars. As J.R. navigated the guests through the evening and stories about each honoree was shared, I found myself thinking about the partnership between the NRH and the JLW, and why someone might choose NRH as their placement.

The ladies that volunteer at NRH serve for many reasons. Some have had their own personal experiences in recovery for injuries and illnesses, and found that volunteering at NRH was a way to help others in need of patience, understanding and positive reinforcement. Our volunteers are meeting people like Kevin Pearce, an honoree at the Anniversary Awards Dinner. Kevin was a star in snowboarding and an Olympic hopeful for the 2010 games in Vancouver. Kevin suffered a massive brain injury during a training run in 2009 and has spent the last two years in recovery. His story and journey to a new normal is inspiring not only to his family, friends and fans, but also to the Doctors, nurses, therapists and volunteers that are helping him through rehabilitation. His story touched me and I am inspired to know that we have volunteers that are giving their time to reach people at some of the most vulnerable points in their life.

I have been a member of the JLW for 11 years. Much of that time has been spent on service within the league and not directly in the community. I hope that we, as a volunteer organization, will continue to not only understand why we as individuals choose to give back, but take time to learn why our fellow volunteers give back. In doing that, we will further open our hearts and minds to each placement and become more aware of the impact the JLW makes each day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Celebrating the Holidays JLW Style

I'm not an organized shopper. I've always envied those people that keep their Christmas list for six months and shop along the way. I think it's the way I was raised. My father and I would always have a special trip to find something for my mom on Christmas Eve.

This year, I'm ready. I'm ready only because of JLW and their unofficial "please shop til you drop" month of December. Most Junior Leagues go MIA once Thanksgiving comes, but not JLW. The JLW events seem to reflect our lives. Holidays are filled with shopping and holiday parties, so it should be no surprise that the JLW calendar is filled with holiday parties and opportunities to shop.

This was my first ACC. Junior Leagues everywhere are filled with acronyms - I'm getting JLW's down. For those that haven't, ACC is A Capital Collection of Holiday Shops and has been running for over 50 years. I'd heard stories of the cool things at ACC and the stories certainly held up. Who doesn't need another beautiful ornament or an interesting host gift like a strange concoction in a bag that turns wine into slushies? After my shopping I helped with the cleanup and carefully took down beautifully crafted trees and watched as ACC was put away in just a few hours.

Since shopping for myself wasn't finished (is shopping for myself ever finished?), I headed to JLW Shops! - Georgetown and happy hour at Clydes in Georgetown. Although it was pouring rain, the event was still fun - and it was a great time to buy and know that part of my purchase gave support to the many service projects of JLW.

My JLW experience wouldn't be complete without something uniquely DC. So I'm also off to see the White House Christmas Tree on the Ellipse with other transfer members.

JLW isn't just about parties and shopping. The holidays are filled with opportunities to serve our communities and send a little holiday joy. Many transfers chose mini-placements, like helping plan holiday parties for the many places JLW volunteers serve. Community and Family Life Services Committee (CFLS) provided gifts for families and the Literacy Impact Task Force is making the little hands at Excel Academy a little warmer by giving mittens to the students. These small gifts that make a big difference of course have been donated by generous JLW members. The generosity of JLW members have also made the holidays a little brighter by helping fulfil wishlists at My Sister's Place and Bright Beginnings.

So there it is. Celebrating the Holidays "JLW Style" with getting and giving opportunities everywhere. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Making the Most of a Mini-Placement

Throughout a transfer member’s year at JLW, each transfer picks a mini-placement. A mini-placement is almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s a placement that is generally less intense than a full placement. Mini-placements provide “transfer members” (new members transferring from one League to
another) opportunities to learn about JLW and get more familiar with the many different placements JLW offers. It gives transfers the opportunity to be directly involved in JLW during the transfer year.

Many of us have started our mini-placements. I’ve done some blogging in the past on legal subjects, so I picked the blogging mini-placement. I liked the opportunity it gave me as attending events and learning about the league serves as inspiration for blog posts.

Some placements are particular to transfers. For example, the member outreach community utilizes transfers’ connections and previous experiences to look into what other leagues are doing to retain their members and how they approach membership drop out. Some placements are a one shot deal. There are transfers involved in the Done-In-A-Day activities. Other placements are more ongoing. There is a transfer mini-placement with the finance committee, which if you didn’t know, is charged with accounting and safeguarding the financial resources of JLW.

In addition to getting involved in JLW, mini-placements create topics of discussion at various transfer and JLW events. We are able to learn more about the workings of various other placements, committees and activities by chatting with other transfers. Some transfers have enjoyed their placements more than others. But these experiences, whether wonderful or difficult, all serve to help transfers become more invested in JLW and more informed about the types of placements to look into for next year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scholarship Breakfast to Kick-off Holiday Shopping Extravaganza!

Thanksgiving has passed and the Junior League of Washington’s 53rd annual “A Capital Collection (ACC) of Holiday Shops” is quickly approaching. ACC, the League’s largest and oldest annual fundraiser, kicks off with the much-anticipated Meg Graham Scholarship Breakfast on Friday, December 2nd at 9:00 a.m. at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. The Meg Graham Scholarship Breakfast provides attendees with a first look at the ACC shopping opportunities and proceeds from the breakfast benefit the Meg Graham Scholarship Fund, which provides a $10,000 college scholarship each year to a graduate of a D.C. public school or charter school who has demonstrated outstanding volunteerism.

Reverend Margaret M. Graham was a former president of the Association of Junior Leagues International, the rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Georgetown and a member of the JLW until her death in 2006. She dedicated her life to her family and to improving the lives of those most in need in her community. The Meg Graham Scholarship Fund was created in 1982 by the JLW to honor Graham's commitment to service to the Washington, D.C. community.

Purchase a ticket for the breakfast here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Discovering DC through the Junior League

Upon moving to the DC area, I immersed myself in learning about the city: the history, the museums, the layout of the city, and the good places to eat. While there are some things I still have yet to conquer, I can finally make it around the city with somewhat of an idea of where I am. Instrumental in this quest has been the Junior League's events throughout the DC metro area. While I'm sure there are always discussions about keeping events close to HQ, central to work locations or where members live, the variety of options has kept my Junior League experience new and interesting.

One transfer event took place at The Phillips Collection, which is an art museum almost as old as JLW. It is America's first museum of modern art and predates the National Gallery. I loved the story of the Phillips family. Their love of art led them to turn their home into a museum as a memorial to two deceased family members. After figuring out the correct bus to get me from McPherson Square to the museum, near DuPont Circle, I pulled up the website and listened to short audio talks on various paintings at the museum. The transfer event was part of the Phillips' after 5 event, which combines touring the gallery with presentations, music and cocktails. The Phillips Collection is one of the many hidden gems throughout DC, and one place even the most seasoned Washingtonians may not have been to. To complete my evening at the oldest modern art gallery in America was a stop at the newest burger craze in DC, the Shake Shack.

To contrast the fancy events are the many opportunities to do service in areas of DC that my Double Decker tour never took me on. One reason I joined the Junior League was the opportunity to expand my volunteer experiences. JLW, while focusing on literacy, provides a plethora of opportunities to directly serve my new DC community.

I've also popped in on a few happy hours with the Transfers and with Esprit. Metro Center, Georgetown, Cardozo, Logan Circle are all areas I can now navigate thanks to the Junior League. With upcoming events in Arlington, Bethesda and who knows where else, by the end of this year, I'm hoping I'll be making it around the city without any wondering about where I am.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Help the Homeless Walkathon

Last Saturday was another great day on the National Mall for members of the Junior League of Washington and thousands of DC area residents who came together to support the 24th annual Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon. This year's Walkathon drew an estimated crowd of 10,000 walkers, including many JLW members who walked with, and in support of, several of our community partners including Calvary Women's Services, N Street Village, Bright Beginnings, and Doorways for Women and Families.

It was a chilly morning but the brisk weather reminded us that many in our community struggle to survive in far colder temperatures than were present on Saturday. The route took us from the National Mall down Independence Avenue, around the Tidal Basin, and back to a crowd of cheering supporters on the National Mall. It was great to see so much diversity along the way.

The facts are staggering. Nearly 12,000 people in the Washington DC area are homeless, 40% of which are families, and 25% are children. This important annual event has raised more than $85 million for homeless service providers, including many of our community partners, who work hard to prevent and end homelessness in our community.

As we spend Thanksgiving reflecting on our many blessings, we should all be thankful to be part of a community that truly cares about the least fortunate among us.

JLW Member

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AJLI Hidden Resources

The JLW website provides plenty of information about our Junior League experiences. In addition to JLW's website is the AJLI website, a place many members seldom frequent. As a transfer, it was the first place I went when I began figuring out the details of my move to DC. Not only did it provide information on where my new Junior League would be, once I signed in, I was able to look for benefits the AJLI membership provides such as special hotel and rental car rates.

The AJLI website benefits don't stop at the Avis car rentals. The AJLI website provides information that you may want, like news and updates about other leagues and information you may need like the AJLI Bylaws and meeting minutes. Additionally, they provide opportunities to get more training and acquire leadership skills.

I joined the Junior League for a number of reasons. One of the top reasons was that my Junior League friend explained that it was a place where women trained to be leaders. The AJLI website supports this by providing online learning opportunities. The newest of these is called Webinar Wednesdays. Webinar Wednesday provides one-hour Web-Ex sessions on a variety of subjects “to help Junior League women develop as community and civic leaders." If you can't listen to it live, sign into your AJLI account to view past Webinar Wednesdays. Like me, if you are interested in leadership training, try the new Self Paced Courses.

While on the AJLI website, take a few minutes to look through The Knowledge Center, which is an AJLI resource center that provides "a variety of League-specific resources that provide insight and ideas on making Leagues healthy, viable organizations." Like the Knowledge Center, the Drop In Articles section contains news on leagues and updates on AJLI developments.

So, next time your committee is stuck, or your car is stuck and you need a rental at a discount rate, check out the AJLI's website.

Note: my AJLI log in is different than my JLW log in, so if you are having trouble logging in, don't fret, just have your username emailed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Transfers Provide a Wealth of Resources

I'm new to JLW and somewhat of new to the Junior League. I had just finished my first active year when I moved to DC. I was fortunate to be a part of the Junior League of St. Paul, a mid-sized league that, like the Junior League of Washington (JLW), focused many of its activities on children's literacy. Although I may not know the proper parliamentary procedures for conducting a meeting yet, being a transfer, I am able to bring my previous league experience with me. Like new members, transfers bring our history of involvement in other organizations. This fall more than fifty transfers also bring with them their wealth of knowledge to JLW.

Some transfers have been able to experience multiple leagues or experience multiple placements. This diversity can only improve the effectiveness of JLW. Transfers have always played a vital role in disseminating information across Junior Leagues. Although the Internet has made communicating with other leagues easier, transfers are able to share their firsthand experiences to improve their new Junior League. At our recent transfer event with President Caren Forsten, she shared with us that she, too, was a transfer into JLW.

Coming to a new Junior League is like coming to a new school. Especially in a larger league like JLW, if you've got a transfer on your committee or see an unfamiliar face at a happy hour, stop and say hello. We are all looking forward to enjoying the same opportunities for friendship at JLW that our previous leagues included.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Inspiration to Action

On November 7, I had the opportunity to attend Inspiration to Action 2011, the annual unveiling of the Catalogue for Philanthropy - Greater Washington’s paper catalogue. Celebrating its ninth year, eighty-seven local non-profits are featured in the print version of the 2011-2012 catalogue, with an additional 250 plus non-profits featured on the Catalogue’s website ( I was invited to represent the Junior League of Washington, as three of our community partners - Bright Beginnings, Building Futures, and Higher Achievement - are featured in this year’s Catalogue.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy seeks out the best of the best local nonprofits with an operating budget under $3 million. Organizations featured in the Catalogue must first apply, and then are put through a peer review process and must also demonstrate financial sustainability. The organizations ultimately selected to appear in the Catalogue represent a wide range of work in the greater Washington nonprofit community, from local charter schools to homeless shelters, from theater companies to international organizations. Members of the community can then use the Catalogue to make a donation to a charitable organization, knowing that their donation will have a high impact on a worthy organization.

Other JLW community partners which are featured in the online Catalogue include Calvary Women's Services, Doorways for Women and Families, Horton’s Kids, and IONA Senior Services. I am proud of the commitment the JLW has made to these seven community partners featured in the Catalogue through our trained volunteers, providing hands-on direct services and making an impact in the community.

If you’re looking to give your money to a local organization that maximizes their resources, there’s no need to look any further than the organizations featured in the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November President's Post

November has arrived, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the media will soon focus on community needs of the season. For our league, though, there is no 'one season of support and sharing'.

We thank our talented, committed committee volunteers and those who support them through Community Experiences (aka as CEs) and Mini-Placements.

For example...

Our volunteers ensure that seniors receive weekend food deliveries in sun, rain, and snow through their work with Iona; Doorways volunteers have taken on new duties with their shelter's pantry this year, and Done-in-a-Day actively supports the Capital Area Food Bank.

Community Family Life Services volunteers lead, support and learn alongside women in transition in their bi-weekly book club, with learning activities for the children as well. The clients at N Street Village can count on our volunteers to deliver great activities each and every time. Bright Beginnings volunteers bring sunshine with them at their regular activities with children of homeless families.
Volunteers at Teen Life Clubs work with young girls on envisioning a lifetime of possibilities and provide books that build dreams. With Building Futures, we work with children and teens as study buddies and on expanding knowledge of geography with maps and books donated by the JLW.

And our Community Training committee interweaves with these placements to support life skills learning beyond our traditional committee programs, increasing the league's impact significantly.

Additionally, our fundraising committees support all of our community placements. Each one of us has the opportunity to join that support through one of the JLW’s signature events – A Capital Collection of Holiday Shops – in early December. With ACC’s arrival each year, a new opportunity arises for the JLW to make a positive difference in the Washington, DC, community. The funds raised during ACC this year will enable the JLW to provide worthy community support organizations with the resources they need to lead new literacy and life-improving opportunities.

English author Samuel Johnson stated, "The future is purchased by the present." This is certainly an apropos statement for the Junior League this month, as we celebrate the JLW’s 51st A Capital Collection—our 53rd year of working in the present to provide new opportunities for the future of those in need.

While Samuel Johnson’s quote can relate to the JLW’s annual ACC event in numerous ways, the "Making Spirits Bright" theme, chosen by this year’s ACC Committee, certainly supports the goal of "purchasing" future chances to bring joy for community members in need. With future opportunities in mind, the Junior League of Washington also works to help the community in future years by awarding grants to community organizations that work to improve literacy skills. The value of "purchasing" chances for community members to gain skills that help them better their lives cannot be over-emphasized.

As you volunteer and shop throughout the weekend of ACC, I encourage you to remember that you are making a difference in the life of a community member in need and make a positive impact on the community we live in. And while volunteering and shopping together, ACC provides an opportunity to strengthen existing – and begin new – friendships. We thank the committee that has been working so hard, long before this JLW year began, to bring us these opportunities.

Please enjoy this Thanksgiving with your families, and I look forward to seeing you at ACC!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There’s an app for that? There’s a GROUP for that!

Love running? There’s a group for that.
Live in Arlington? There’s a group for that.
Enjoy good food and fine wine? There’s a group for that.
Work in Dupont Circle? There’s a group for that.

The Membership Outreach Committee is dedicated to helping members make connections, build relationships and have the best League experience possible. One way ladies can meet each other is to gather around common interests. The Small Groups Program matches members with common interests and/or locations in order to foster strong relationships. Each small group of five to eight women, meets monthly to socialize and/or to attend JLW events together.

JLW Small Groups have two cycles, one in the fall and another in the spring. The Fall Kick-Off Event was held on Tuesday, October 18, in the courtyard at League Headquarters. Approximately 100 ladies gathered for a wine tasting and an opportunity to meet their fellow group members. There was delicious food, stimulating conversation and a variety of wine. League members mingled and met their fellow small group members for the first time. Now the groups will plan their own outings and activities for the coming months.

Membership Outreach is looking forward to hearing about all the fun events the ladies plan and attend together. If you missed the fall kick-off and are interested in joining a group in the spring, keep an eye out for details in January!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hooray for Books Had Us Cheering!

I was so excited for JLW’s Hooray for Books book drive for Bright Beginnings. This is my New Member year with JLW and I joined because of all of the great volunteer opportunities. I have a five year old son, Carson, and exposing him to volunteerism and giving is really important to me. So, October 29th gave us a wonderful chance to have a mommy/son date for a great JLW cause!

The book drive was so much fun. Kids were encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes, so my son had another chance to put on his Luke Skywalker outfit. When we arrived at Hooray for Books, we selected a card that described the recipient of the book we were donating. My son chose – “5 year old boy” so he would know the right kind of book to pick out.

We had fun perusing the books, and Carson picked out one of his favorites “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” to donate. He also got a Star Wars book for himself. After we donated our book, we headed into the activity room at Hooray for Books where JLW volunteers had setup craft tables for the children.

Carson made a monster with googly eyes and crazy arms for his craft, and we got a fantastic idea for making spiders out of black plates and pipe cleaners! The JLW volunteers running the event did a fabulous job of making it especially fun for the kids.

Olivia and Bright Beginnings reader
JLW provides so many chances to connect with our community. I’m so proud to be a part of this organization and grateful that JLW gives me opportunities to do good things in the community with my family!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Top Five Things I Learned at Course Session

Course Session started off with a bit of socializing before the formal presentations began.  The whole event lasted less than two hours and was similar to Saturday Session with a variety of speakers covering various JLW topic.

I’m thankful JLW information is broken up into two events – Saturday Session and Course Session.  There are so many different nuances to JLW – it would be hard to absorb it all in one sitting!  Course Session covered A Capital Collection, the Structure of the League, House Rules, History & Fun Facts, Website and Technology, and Benchmarking and Breakdown of Requirements for the Year.  This year’s was organized by Nicole Dessibourg and Heather Foss

1. Men are welcome at A Capital Collection events and my husband is going to love the opportunity to get all of his Christmas shopping done in one spot! A portion of each purchase he makes will go to the JLW and assist us in providing grants to our community.

2. JLW is a well-structured operating system – it has to be to accomplish everything it does!  Looking at JLW’s organizational chart helps explain the various internal and external functions of JLW.

3. The Loughborough House, JLW’s headquarters, has a rich history with beautiful rooms throughout.  Originally, built in the 1830's, the house was a gift to the JLW from the Honorable and Mrs. Gordon Gray in 1960.  This is where a majority of the JLW meetings take place.

4. Listening to the many and varied accomplishments of the JLW in its 99 year history (it was founded in 1912) certainly instills a sense of pride in belonging to this amazing group.   JLW’s incredible history includes producing a children’s educational television show in the 1940s, helping establish the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in the 1960s, and assisting in the formation of Bright Beginnings (a Head Start program) in the 1990s. 

5. Membership in JLW includes a membership to the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI).  JLW members can log in to AJLI through JLWs homepage.  AJLI offers members many benefits including hotel, floral, car rentals, and more important, the opportunity to be a part of a women's organization determined to make our communities a better place.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three dozen name tags and a room full of women

On Monday evening, seeing the crowd of new bright-eyed potential new members was a wonderful sight. It reminded me of just how diverse our talented group of members  truly is. Out of the several dozen ladies looking for more information on the League, I talked with a hopeful member from California who had just moved to Washington for an internship with a federal agency. A group away, there was a mother looking for a new way to get involved in her community.

It was my first time attending an Open House as an active member of the Junior League and what a difference a year has made! Looking back, I remember being one of the several dozen young women, anxiously meeting as many of the members I could, exchanging stories of how we all got to Washington.

I talked about my mini-placement on A Capital Collection – those evenings folding invitations with fellow members at the Junior League Headquarters and the weekend leading up to the main event. Potential new members asked about my volunteering for our various community placements and the many opportunities the League offers to help within our organization. It’s wonderful to talk about something you truly enjoy being a part of and it certainly served as a wonderful reminder of all of the opportunities the Junior League of Washington provides for our members.

If you don’t know who we are, visit our website at and find out how you can get connected! If you are interested in becoming a member of the Junior League of Washington, please visit  I look forward to seeing you at one of our next Open Houses.

JLW Member, Web & Tech Committee

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Drowning in diapers

Diapers.  I am drowning in diapers.  Clean and dirty!  I've got them stored away everywhere.  In every diaper bag, stroller, the car, the changing station and in the bedroom closet.  I don't want to be caught without a clean diaper!  I am aware that despite my best efforts to be prepared and change my babies often, they still get diaper rashes.  My son and daughter go through approximately 10 diapers each day.  The diapers I use are roughly $0.22 each, depending on the number in the box.  At 22 cents each, that is $4.40 a day or $30.80 a week that I spend to keep them comfortable and clean.  That comes to $123.20 a month or $862.40 that I have spent on diapers since Baby A and Baby B arrived in March.  This dollar amount is not something that is ever discussed in my house as a budget concern, and for that I am so grateful.

It wasn't until I had children that I realized how expensive caring for a baby's basic needs could be.  For many families it is a constant worry. In any economy, it is a concern for families that live in communities in perpetual need.  Not having an adequate supply of diapers puts babies at risk of physical harm, due to infection and emotional harm, from being kept in a soiled diaper for a prolonged period of time.

My first thought was, what about mothers that receive public assistance, such as WIC or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP?  But diapers are considered a personal hygiene product and therefore are not allowed by either program.  This is why Huggies started the Every Little Bottom campaign.  Huggies wanted to create awareness to the problem and find ways to help families in need.  Huggies has partnered with organizations such as the United Way, March of Dimes and the Association of Junior Leagues International to reach communities all over the United States to help babies-and families-stay healthy. 

The JLW Esprit Mom's Club is helping our community by collecting diapers and delivering them to our community partners, Doorways for Women and Families and more.  We have already delivered over 1000 diapers this fall.  So, how can you help?  During the month of November, drop off a box of diapers (sizes 4 or 5 are the greatest need) and/or wipes at JLW Headquarters in the President's Office.  Your donation will help a mother in our community provide a basic need for her child, something all mothers long to do.

For more details about Huggies and AJLI, click here:

For more information about diaper deprivation, please click here:

PR & Communications Council Director

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October President's Post

As the nights cool, our thoughts turn to a break from the humidity, changing leaves, and harvests of the summer bounty.  Inside the League, though,  our thoughts are on growth - growth in our membership, our shared history  and our community impact.  Here are just a few examples:

Last month we officially welcomed almost 400 New Members and Transfers; we’ll be energized by their involvement in League activities this year and will benefit from their good ideas and dedicated follow-through for years to come.  I’ve met many of them, and they are women of action! Please reach out and say hello to these newest members of the JLW as you attend events or work side-by-side this year.

The Archives committee is seeking to grow awareness and celebrate our League’s upcoming 100 years of community impact.  There are two opportunities to support their efforts (and learn a lot of  ‘fun tidbits’ of JLW history).  The first is to support the Framing Project - individually or as a group, you can sponsor the framing of items from JLW archives.  The second opportunity is to support the committee’s efforts to record stories from JLW’s past.  Stay tuned for more information this year on these two initiatives.

Our Sustainers welcomed fall with their annual luncheon.  Guest speaker Carol Rasco, President of Reading Is Fundamental, shared more about the importance of reading in childhood development.  Thanks to Lorraine Nordlinger for organizing this year’s luncheon and for bringing in such an impressive leader in the area of literacy.

The Literacy Council, fresh off our 10th very successful National Book Festival event, is focused on growing the League’s impact in the area of literacy.  Our commitment to school libraries continues to grow; this year they will be working more with Ballou High School, one of the largest within DC Public Schools.  As they work more with this school, Literacy

Partnerships will bring more information and potential opportunities for the league to support.  And, Book for Brighter Futures is offering an opportunity for all league members to support directly our literacy efforts by holding an October event at Hooray for Books, in Alexandria.

Ways & Means’ Special Events committee is kicking off a new initiative this year with a Kitchen Tour—it promises to be as appetizing for our design dreams as for our imaginations! 

We’re well into our League year, and I am so honored to be in your company.  Thank you for the commitment, the creativity, and the  ‘heart’ that you bring to improve lives throughout our DC area community.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I never thought I would learn so much from playing Bingo

Recently, I participated in a Community Experience that involved playing Bingo with some patients at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C. When I got to the hospital I met with two other members of the Junior League to set up for the night’s activity. We set up the tables, prizes and supplies and waited for the patients to arrive.

Five patients and three family members attended the event. Bingo was a perfect game for the patients to play. Listening to the numbers being called out and associating the letters and numbers being read aloud with those on their Bingo cards helped them improve their cognitive function as many of the patients were on medication that left them feeling a little foggy. The act of putting the markers on their Bingo cards was important too, because it helped them to improve the functioning of their fingers by grasping small items and setting them in their correct spot on the cards.

Most all of the patients used three cards at once which helped them focus on more than one task and encouraged them to use their arms, hands and fingers more than they would normally. Playing Bingo was fun, but the greatest part of the night was talking to the patients and learning more about their conditions, their struggles and their lives.

The patients were in rehabilitation for many different reasons and were at many different stages in their recovery. One patient told us about how he was enjoying using Wii Tennis as a way to improve the functioning in his arms as well as his hand-eye coordination.

Another patient was excited about leaving the facility, as tonight was her last night in the hospital. Her coordination she learned through rehabilitation was excellent, and she was the big winner of the night, taking home two prizes, both of which she had planned to give to her roommate, an 80-year-old lady whom she called “the life of the party.”

Of all of the patients I met that night, none was more inspiring than a 20-something man. His state of the art wheelchair with a touch screen and remote button intrigued us and he showed us how it could increase and decrease speed, raise and lower, and deflate to take pressure off certain parts of his body.
To our amazement, through talking about how we came to the District, we realized we were both from the same hometown in Alabama. This sparked conversation about our favorite BBQ spots, college life and of course, Alabama vs. Auburn football. We also talked about his recovery story and how his condition started.

Hearing his story was humbling. But the JLW volunteers also humbled him:

I know that you have probably been working all day, but you still came to spend your night playing Bingo with us,” he said, “you didn’t have to do this.

He’s right. We didn’t, but now I’m glad we did.

Posted by: Nicole, JLW New Member

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thank You National Book Festival!

What an incredible two days! With the 11th annual National Book Festival behind us we just have a couple of “thank you’s” to make, before we officially start looking forward to next years Festival.

Thank you to all the rain gods for not soaking us. Even if you did toy with us all weekend.

Thank you to David McCullough, who came early and stayed late to ensure all his fans got their book signed. A complete class act.

Thank you Target for supplying everyone with bottled water. Considering DC humidity, it was literally a lifesaver!

Thank you Julianne Moore, for being as beautiful and charming as you always seemed in the movies.

Thank you Terry McMillan for reading an excerpt from the new book you’re working on. And for being hysterical with your one-liners in the book signing line.

Thank you Amy Chua for not being as scary as I thought you’d be. In fact you are a complete delight.

Thank You Miss International for reading a story with me, to a group of adorable, young festival goers to kick off Day-2.

Thank you Hoda Kotb, for bringing your fabulous mother with you. An employee of the Library of Congress, she looked so proud of her daughter. Considering that Hoda has her own daily television show, that says a lot about the Book Festival!

Thank you Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players for rocking out at the Family Storytelling Stage. Nothing cuter then dozens of children dancing like crazy.

Thank you to our partners at the Library of Congress including Jennifer Gavin and the fantastic security team-- Hill, Steve, and Meghan. We cannot wait to work with you again for the 12th annual National Book Festival!

And, above all, thank you to the more than 550 Junior League volunteers who make this event a success… Your hard-work and enthusiasm are what make the JLW "famous" at the Library of Congress and make me, as the President of the Junior League of Washington, extremely proud.

If you did volunteer, please take a moment to fill out the volunteer survey:

Until next time, I will be reading some books from authors I saw at the National Book Festival!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Perfect Day at the National Book Festival

With the National Book Festival tomorrow, I could not be more excited! In past years I had to squeeze all of the fun into 1 day. That’s no longer the case since the festival has been expanded into a 2-day event on September 24th and 25th on the National Mall.

This year I’m going to begin my festival experience on Saturday morning at the Book Sales Pavilion. I’ve got my eye on David McCullough’s “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris” and Terry McMillan’s “Getting to Happy”. By purchasing them first thing in the morning I’ll have the books with me as I stand in the book signing line on Sunday afternoon.

I'll make sure to get my NBF Program and get my free C-SPAN Book Festival Bag from one of the Program Distribution tents. That way, I will have something to carry my books in this weekend and can use it for grocery shopping all year!

I am planning on meeting a friend and her daughter at the Target Family Storytime Stage to hear the National Librarian, Dr. James H. Billington read a children's book to the crowd at 11:20am. The JLW will be manning the "red carpet" at the Storytime Stage which will feature children's authors and performers reading aloud from their favorite children's books all weekend.

Next stop will be to the Let’s Read America Pavilion. There are going to be all sorts of reading-related activities for families and children and I can’t wait to see what they have planned.

My favorite is the National Gallery of Art, but all of them are free and the ideal place to take a quick break. And sometimes there are food trucks parked in front of them, which is perfect for snack time!

After I’ve recharged I will be sure to make my way to the Pavilion on States, which is extremely important because it is a Saturday Only event. This is a fun exhibit because I can check all sorts of interesting facts about my home state, which is Tennessee, as well as Virginia, where I live now.

Before I head home, I’m planning to pop into the Library of Congress Pavilion. This year their theme is Past, Present, & Future, and they plan to have tools and resources available to help people research and preserve their family history. That’s something I’ve always wanted to look into so it’s the perfect opportunity.

By Saturday afternoon I’ll probably be beyond exhausted from running all over the mall trying to take in as much of this awesome festival as possible. The good news…? I get to come back tomorrow for Day Two!
Click for enlarged map.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Do the Obamas, Toni Morrison and Big Bird Have in Common?

The answer is easy. They will all be celebrating literacy September 24th and 25th at the 11th Annual National Book Festival on the Mall. President and Michelle Obama are serving as the honorary chairs of this great event. Toni Morrison will be attending the festival as one of the over 90 award-winning authors, poets and illustrators. Last but not least, Big Bird will be holding court in the PBS Kids Tent where games and entertainment will be taking place throughout the festival.

As the President of the Junior League of Washington, I am incredibly proud of the role the JLW volunteers play in the National Book Festival. This year our volunteers will be donating even more volunteer hours since the National Book Festival is two days! The Library of Congress is depending on the help of more than 550 JLW volunteers to manage book signing lines, manage the "red carpet" for a live story-reading stage, and staff the Pavilion of the States and the PBS Kids tents. It is sure to be a big undertaking – we are thrilled to partner with the Library of Congress again and welcome the

The annual free event, sponsored by the Library of Congress, features more than 80 high- profile authors and poets. Last year, more than 120,000 people arrived at the National Mall to meet their favorite authors, listen to poetry readings and author discussions, and have their books autographed. The 2011 Festival will be celebrating literacy in more ways than ever before. With new genres, such as "Graphic Novels" (cartoons!), more authors, and new activities centered on the Festival's theme of "Reading Aloud," it is sure to be an exciting weekend for all.

The Festival offers something for everyone regardless of age and reading interests. In addition to the Pavilion of States where kids can receive a stamp from all 50 U.S. states and U.S. territories, there is the Digital Bookmobile where visitors can explore some of the new reading related technology now available. Depending on your favorite type of reading material, you may want to listen to David McCullough discuss his newest book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris”. Or perhaps
you’d prefer to wait in line to have your copy of “Getting to Happy” signed by Terry McMillian.

Learn more and check out the full list of authors at the Library of Congress’ web site.

Mark September 24th and 25th on your calendar and be sure to bring the whole family to the Mall to enjoy the National Book Festival!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Welcome!  Throughout the year you’ll be getting updates from this blog on activities and on our community impact.  If there are topics that you're interested in learning more about, please let me know.

After summer days of relaxation and fun, and two acts of nature in one week, we’re surely ready for a change of pace. While our Junior League has been enjoying this summer, we've also been hard at work.  I want to fill you in on the progress of three of our initiatives. And it is hard to limit to three.

For starters, the Centennial and Centennial Celebrations Committees have begun planning and preparations to be ready for next year's League-wide events to celebrate our 100th year. And in this the JLW’s 99th year, we’re reflecting on the achievements of the remarkable women who have served the Washington community before us. Watch out for highlights in the Hotline of the many firsts, the lasting legacies, and the things to which we can proudly point to that demonstrate that the Junior League has had a meaningful impact in our Nation’s Capitol.

Next up: furthering our efforts in the complex issues around literacy. Last year the Literacy Impact Task Force sought answers to the key questions of what are the greatest literacy needs in the Washington, DC community. Tapping the expertise of women inside and outside the League, they concluded that our organization is well suited to supporting the building of reading skills of children in Washington.  The second phase of the Task Force helped to narrow the focus in ways that exploit our own special talents into three needs areas:

1.      Lack of reading materials in the home,
2.      Lack of school and classroom libraries, and
3.      Lack of awareness in the importance of reading aloud to young children.

This year, phase three of the Literacy Impact Task Force, led by Erica Anaya and Anne Riser, is identifying partners and piloting projects to meet one or more of these needs areas. Be on the lookout for more information.

And third, telling our story. The Junior League of Washington has an incredible story to tell, and you add to it every time you get together with your fellow members to make a difference. We’re looking for better ways to tell our story – so that all of us in the League, and our neighbors, friends and others can share the pride. The board authorized a special committee to explore future options for the Hotline and other communications tools. This special committee is being chaired by Angela Peluso and Stephanie See, and benefits from the added insights of actives, sustainers, new members.

As we move through our 99th year, please take the opportunity to reflect on our proven history of impact, to support efforts to raise the reading skills of Washington children, and to help us tell our story – the story of making a difference in the lives of our community – every day.