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