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.