Friday, December 21, 2012

The JLW Awards Opportunity Grant to Little Lights Urban Ministries

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is pleased to announce Little Lights Urban Ministries as the second of three organizations the JLW has awarded an opportunity grant to this fall. Opportunity grants are grants for less than $1,000 and are awarded to community organizations that are addressing one of the following complex areas of the JLW’s narrowed children’s reading literacy focus (1) lack of books in the home; (2) lack of books and resources in the school; and/or (3) reading out loud to children ages 0 – 5.

Since 1995, Little Lights Urban Ministries has been committed to providing sanctuaries of encouragement, hope, and practical assistance to at-risk children, youth and families in Washington, D.C.  Little Lights has evolved from providing an after-school tutoring program to providing both academic and social support. Throughout the year, Little Lights provides programs that focus on four main objectives: improving academic achievement, providing emotional support and encouragement, building character and leadership, and developing creativity and practical skills. The cornerstone of the organization’s programs is one-to-one interaction with caring adults through mentoring and tutoring.
Little Lights works primarily, but not exclusively, with families from Potomac Gardens, a public housing complex in Southeast DC where income for a family of four does not generally exceed $7,830 per year. Ninety percent of the Potomac Gardens children live in one-parent, female-headed households. It is estimated that, without intervention, less that 2% of the complex’s youth will attend college. Little Lights currently serves approximately 100 children and youth each year, many who attend schools designated "In Need of Improvement" by No Child Left Behind.  Little Lights provides a safe and welcoming place for children to learn after school.

At “Reading Heroes”, a weekly program, students improve reading skills, gain confidence, and develop a love for reading through working with caring adults. Last school year, the elementary and middle school Reading Heroes students gained almost a grade and a half in reading accuracy and comprehension skills. Little Lights plans to continue building on this success by accelerating our students' fluency and comprehension skills this school year, ensuring their success as life-long readers.  Students are paired with tutors for one-to-one focused reading tutoring. Each volunteer tutor is trained and equipped with a specific lesson plan, including curriculum, for their student based on his or her reading level as determined by our assessments at the start of the school year. Additionally, the reading curriculum is being supplemented to include an online element called “Ticket to Read”, which tracks reading progress online and provides reading activities that are appropriate for each child’s reading level.

The $1,000 from the JLW will contribute to Ticket to Read program. The JLW also awarded 140 books through Resolution Read, which will enhance the after-school program’s library. Stay tuned to learn more about Hope House DC, the third of the grant recipients awarded this fall.

In the spring, the JLW will be awarding additional opportunity grants to community organizations, with a deadline of February 1 for submission of materials. Additional information can be found online. If you have questions about the opportunity grants or want additional information, please contact Alicia Lee, chair of the Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee at

Alicia Lee
Chair, Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

JLW Chair Extraordinaire

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
- John Quincy Adams
We are proud to honor Biffy Cathcart, chair of the Horton’s Kids committee, as JLW Chair Extraordinaire.  A third-year Active, Biffy has served on Horton’s Kids since 2010. Her conscientious leadership and  careful attention to detail have ensured a successful placement for her committee members, as well as for our community partner.  Congratulations, Biffy and keep up the good work!

Did you know there are more than 125 leadership positions in the JLW?  Each year, an amazing group of women answer the call to serve and their talent and skills form the support structure upon which our organization runs.  Just as we value and appreciate your membership, we appreciate their service.  The JLW Chair Extraordinaire is a new award for our Centennial year.  Each month, council directors may nominate a leader for consideration and one chair will be recognized by the president.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jubilee JumpStart, Grant Recipient

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is pleased to announce Jubilee JumpStart as the first of three organizations the JLW has awarded an opportunity grant to this fall. Opportunity grants are grants for less than $1,000 and are awarded to community organizations that are addressing one of the following complex areas of the JLW’s narrowed children’s reading literacy focus (1) lack of books in the home; (2) lack of books and resources in the school; and/or (3) reading out loud to children ages 0 – 5.

Jubilee JumpStart is an early childhood education center located in Jubilee Housing, a subsidized housing community in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, and provides comprehensive dual-language early education services for fifty-two children from six weeks to five years of age; Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Their mission is to ensure that children are fully prepared for success in school and beyond by providing them with early education enriched by an intense focus on social and emotional well-being and practical support to their families. Jubilee JumpStart empowers families to move up and out of poverty by helping children and parents to realize their educational and career opportunities.

Jubilee JumpStart serves a diverse community of primarily low-income families, 75% of whom are eligible for government childcare subsidies. The families Jubilee JumpStart serves are among the most economically-disadvantaged in the District. More than 65% of Jubilee Housing families bring home less than 30% of Area Median Income, and half earn less than 20% of Area Median Income. Jubilee JumpStart’s student population reflects the diversity of our community. Currently, 25% the children served are Jubilee Housing residents, 75% are from low-income families, and 80% are either African-Americans or Latinos.

Jubilee JumpStart has begun the process of obtaining accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), with a candidacy date of January 31, 2013, and successful completion anticipated by July 31, 2013. By achieving NAEYC accreditation in July of 2013, the subsidy reimbursement rate will increase by 16% which will help in the organization’s daily operations. In order for to achieve NAEYC accreditation, specific criteria must be met, some of which specifically addresses cognitive development in early literacy, including varied opportunities for the different age levels to have access to books that enable independent exploration, writing materials, ways to retell and reenact stories in books, and exposure to print books, songs and rhymes. Jubilee JumpStart’s dual language program requires that books and other literacy materials are provided in both English and Spanish.

The $1,000 from the JLW will allow Jubilee JumpStart to enhance the early literacy materials they currently have for each age group, such as writing materials, CDs, dramatic play supplies, and language literacy training for the teachers. The JLW also awarded 164 books through Resolution Read - the age appropriate books, for children ages six weeks through five years old, will include durable board books, picture books, books with rhymes, and books with print so children can familiarize themselves with words in both English and Spanish.

Stay tuned to the blog to hear about the other two organizations the JLW has given grants to, Hope House DC and Little Lights Urban Ministries.

In the spring, the JLW will be awarding additional opportunity grants to community organizations, with a deadline of February 1 for submission of materials. Additional information can be found online. If you have questions about the opportunity grants or want additional information, please contact Alicia Lee, chair of the Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee at

Alicia Lee
Chair, Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

JLW Marketplace Virtual Pop-Up Shop

During this holiday shopping season, you can cross multiple names off of your list with just one stop at JLW Marketplace.  Check out some of the unique items available now…

Order your annual holiday party invitations and greeting cards through JLW Marketplace and 15% of your order goes back to the League.  There are dozens of designs, ranging from traditional to modern – you can even customize your envelope liner!
Decorate your Christmas tree with a beautiful JLW Centennial Celebrations glass ornament – priced at $35.  These commemorative ornaments would make a lovely gift for a fellow JLW friend or even Junior League family members back home!
Here are some more JLW Centennial Celebrations items – these convenient May Books ( notebooks, only $8, would make a great gift for your favorite woman on the go!  May books’ notebooks were featured on Good Morning America.  Ditto for this acrylic tumbler with lid and straw available for $20.

Who doesn’t love a great monogram?  Gift your friends and family with these adorable acrylic monogramed ice buckets and lucite trays.  These would make a great holiday or wedding gift for the newlyweds in your life.

And show off your JLW love around town in this zip up jacket $75, or with a JLW branded Vineyard Vines canvas bag. Bags are $95 and the matching keychain is only $25.

To purchase any of the JLW items above, email JLW Marketplace at

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Member at Kitchen Tour Kick-off

As a new member of the Junior League of Washington, I had the pleasure of attending my first Kitchen Tour Kick Off at Scavolini Kitchen Design Center and the Ritz Carlton Degrees Lounge on October 18, 2012.

The event was a success!  This event was great because I got to meet so many League members on an informal basis, sample delicious appetizers, and get ideas for my dream kitchen.  Highlights for me included delicious Duck and Apricot wrapped in filo dough and Naaz Khatoon-eggplant puree with pomegranate juice from the Peacock Café, Mac-n-cheese truffle tartlets from Chevzous Catering, chocolates from Chouquette, and a specialty cocktail.  I also was able to see some truly stunning kitchen design ideas.  With so many options, it was hard to pick my favorite!  As an added bonus, there were ongoing door prize drawings throughout the evening.  Although I wasn’t lucky enough to win something this time; one lucky guest went home with a beautiful Hermès scarf!

The absolute highlight of my evening was meeting our wonderful President, Wendy Cumberland.  It was great to connect with her and all of the ladies I met and hear their passionate stories of their commitment to volunteer service in the Washington, DC community.

Are you interested in revamping your kitchen or enjoy fabulous kitchen designs?  If so, mark your calendars for the second annual Kitchen Tour on April 20, 2013 and stay tuned for when tickets go on sale!  Proceeds from events like the Kitchen Tour Kick Off and the Kitchen Tour support the League’s efforts to promote literacy by providing trained volunteers and targeted grants. 

New Member Sarah Bryant with JLW President Wendy Cumberland at the Kitchen Tour Kick Off Event

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

JLW Strategic Plan 2012 – 2017

The new five year Strategic Plan is built on three main goals: Building Community Impact, Building the JLW Brand, and Building an Internal Sense of Community. These three goals are not mutually exclusive, but work together as the JLW moves into its second century. Please take a look at the new Strategic Plan which can be found on the JLW website under Resources: JLW Strategic Plan, 2012-2017.

The genesis of the new plan dates back to the subcommittee of the 2010-2011 Strategic Planning Committee which laid the groundwork for the plan through a series of interviews with members of JLW leadership and evaluation of JLW Membership Survey results.

The 2012-2013 Strategic Planning Committee is meeting with the Councils to assist in implementing the new Strategic Plan and getting the word out throughout the JLW membership. Using the Strategic Plan, the 2012-2013 Board has created its own annual plan to implement the goals of the Strategic Plan.

Over the next few months we will explore the impact of the goals on the community, on our literacy focus and on our JLW membership. Think of what you and your committee could be doing to help the JLW meet and exceed the goals of the new Strategic Plan as we embark on our second 100 years. Please be on the lookout for themes from the Strategic Plan throughout our Centennial Year!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Philanthropy Matters to Us

Junior League is not a hobby. If it were, why would we work so hard? Junior League is not a social club. If it were, wouldn't our ladies be lunching more? It is about working together with other strong, powerful, and motivated leaders who are committed to making a difference, creating a legacy, and doing what needs to be done to help others succeed.

We are involved in Junior League because there is work to be done in our community. There are people in need who don't have the luxury of free time, extra dollars, or the life skills needed to fully support their families. Not only have we chosen to participate, we have chosen to be the ones who will make a difference, foster a greater impact, and give aid to those most in need of support.

To make significant impacts in our community, Junior League needs funds. Holiday Shops presented by the Junior League of Washington is the league's largest annual fundraiser. In our 54th year, this event brings together league members and the community to gather the resources we need to support the league’s literacy efforts. We cannot emphasize enough the impact your support of this event will make towards these efforts. The funds raised through our annual events, including Holiday Shops, enables Junior League to provide another year of service to the greater D.C. area and grants to valuable community organizations.

We hope to see you at Holiday Shops throughout the weekend of November 15-18, 2012 at the Sphinx Club (1315 K Street, NW, Washington, DC). Please click HERE for additional information and to purchase tickets to any of our events. Thank you for your support!

Amy Gurgle and Stephanie Jones
Holiday Shops 2012, Co-Chairs

Amy & Stephanie at Holiday Shop's Back to Beauty event at Neiman Marcus,  Sept. 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cameron Gilreath: Why I serve…

There are many reasons I serve! My volunteer work through the JLW has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in the decade-plus that I’ve lived in DC. I have had a lifelong love affair with books and I love our League’s focus on literacy. My grandmother volunteered at her local library in Jefferson, GA for many years, and my parents started reading to, and then with, me very early. I was an avid reader from day one and if they wanted my attention, my parents usually had to tear me away from whatever book I was reading.

I think most of us can’t imagine a world without books, or the lost opportunities that result from not being able to read. The JLW’s work to improve literacy in Washington, DC is absolutely vital to our community.

So first and foremost, I serve this year as Nominating Chair because I feel one of the most important parts of ensuring our organization remains stable, healthy and focused on fulfilling our mission is to cultivate strong leaders who will continue to guide the group forward. People often wonder what Nominating really does because all of our deliberations are confidential. It’s actually quite simple – our committee works very hard year-round to make sure the JLW has in place the strongest possible leadership team for the following year so that we can continue to serve our community for another 100 years. As you can imagine, it can be a challenge to match the right leaders with the right positions – but with the diverse and extremely talented group of women that make up our League, it is really quite exciting to put together next year’s leadership team. I have really enjoyed getting a birds-eye view of all of the pieces and people that form our League and I love it when we discover new leaders!!

And more broadly than the position I hold this year - aside from the great work we do for our community, I have personally gotten so much out of serving in various JLW leadership positions over the years. I’ve made some of my closest friends through the Junior League. And I think most of our leaders will say they have developed leadership skills that they have put to use at work and in volunteering with other organizations. If I can put in a plug for anyone thinking about nominating themselves or a friend for a leadership spot – just do it!!

Cameron Gilreath
Nominating Council Director, 2012-2013

Monday, October 22, 2012

What is the JLW reading?

As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, the Junior League of Washington has been heavily focused on literacy efforts for the children in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. However, that doesn’t mean that our members should be left out! Reading not only provides much needed mental stimulation, but is also a path to personal development.

Although earlier this year Joel Stein, of the New York Times magazine, kicked up a bit of dust for criticizing adults who read young adult fiction, reading something is better than nothing at all. Reading provides the storytelling and space to think that other mediums do not have the capacity to delve into. Why wouldn’t you do something that increases your vocabulary and makes you a more interesting conversationalist?

So what is the JLW reading? Here is just a snippet of what is currently on our shelves, thanks to some avid reading members and leaders of JLW Book Clubs:

A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
1993 recipient of the Hugo Award the World Science Fiction Society’s award for best science fiction or fantasy.

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
“The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet—not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds.”—Michael Chabon

Please click here for more books being read by JLW members. What books are you reading? Please post in the comments and we'll add them to the list!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Literacy Challenge

By: Bill Halamandaris, Chairman and Co-Founder, The Heart of America Foundation

Reading is the keystone skill, the foundation of a successful life.

The statistics reinforcing this point and the consequences of illiteracy are staggering:
  • Fifty percent of the nation’s chronically unemployed are not functionally literate. Forty three percent of adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency live in poverty compared with four percent of adults with strong literacy skills.
  • More than one million children drop out of school each year, costing the nation over $240 billion in lost earnings, forgone tax revenues, and expenditures for social services.
  • Seventy-five percent of school dropouts have reading problems.
  • Children in the poorest families are six times as likely as children in more affluent families to drop out of school, creating a vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
  • Eighty-five percent of all juveniles who encounter the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, as are 70 percent of all prison inmates.
  • So strong is the link between literacy and being a useful member of society that many states consider fourth grade-level reading statistics in projecting future prison construction.
So, if the literacy challenge is that compelling, what do we do about it? A problem of this depth and dimension does not yield to simple solutions.

Read the rest of the article here.

About the above article: The Community Affairs Council is launching a new article series which will feature a monthly article on a literacy topic authored by one of our community partners and/or literacy-focused organizations in the DC area.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It was one for the books!

The Library of Congress closed out another successful National Book Festival on Sunday, September 23 – with record-breaking crowds, an A-list of authors and guests, and lots of smiling book lovers. More than 1,200 volunteers helped out over the weekend – and nearly half came from the Junior League of Washington. Up and down the National Mall between 7th and 14th Streets, JLW members in their bright pink skirts, black or white hates, and smiles were spotted giving a helping hand to festival-goers.

Big draws included “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” author Jeff Kinney, “Looking for Alaska” author John Green, Pulitzer-Prize winner Junot Diaz, and Sookie Stackhouse creator Charlaine Harris. Crowds packed the tents to hear last-minute addition Bob Woodward, Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, and Eragon author Christopher Paolini speak – and to hear singer Jewel yodel!

JLW volunteers helped open books for assistance, skillfully assisting eager fans navigate the long lines for book signing, answering questions and keeping the lines flowing smoothly.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the wonderful surprise in graphic novelist Craig Thompson’s book signing line, when a young man proposed to his now-fiancee in a book! Now we call that a true love of literacy.

As we turn the page on the 2012 Book Festival, JLW members are reminded of how much they have to look forward to next year!
JLWers and James Billington, the Librarian of Congress

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kitchen Tour Kickoff!

Are you looking for a few fresh ideas for an upcoming kitchen remodel? Do you have an interest in fabulous kitchen designs? Well, you really don't want to miss the Junior League of Washington’s 2nd Annual Kitchen Tour Kickoff event on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Scavolini DC, located in the Ritz Carlton Georgetown Complex (1005 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20007).

The Kickoff event is a fun and festive evening hosted at a local design center for League members, friends, family, and the greater Washington, D.C. community where guests will be treated to the latest in kitchen and home entertainment designs. The evening will begin with “small plate” tastings and demonstrations from the Peacock Cafe, The Ritz Carlton Georgetown, Jinelle Brown- Chevzous Catering, W. Millar Catering and Chouquette. Tastings of our guest chefs’ popular menu items, signature desserts and cocktails are sure to please every tantalizing taste bud.

Our welcomed guests will be treated to a wonderful evening of food and drink, fabulous door prizes, and a goody bag with samples, coupons, and other exciting treats! We will conclude our evening with a marvelous JLW Signature beverage at the Ritz Carlton’s swanky Degrees Lounge.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased under the Special Events Homepage or They are going fast and space is extremely limited, so be sure to get your tickets while they last! We look forward to seeing you on October 18. Last year’s Kitchen Tour Kickoff was a sold out event, with over 90% of all proceeds enabling the League to provide grants and volunteer resources to community partner organizations focusing on the complex issue of literacy in the greater Washington, DC area.

The Kitchen Tour Kickoff event is a preview to the Junior League of Washington’s Spring Kitchen tour, which takes guests through inspired home designs. The Spring Kitchen tour will be another can’t miss event held on April 20, 2013.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Back in Love with JLW Shops!

The leaves are changing. Fall is in the air. And I can’t get enough pumpkin treats or college football.

This Saturday, the Tory Burch boutique at Tysons Galleria will help you update your fall wardrobe while helping the Junior League of Washington raise money! From noon to 3 pm, JLW members and their guests save 10% on most purchases and Tyson Galleria’s Tory Burch will donate 10% of the event’s proceeds right back to the League.

If you want to add a splash of Tory’s fall favorite: dark green this season, or give your weekend wardrobe an update, you can shop knowing ten percent of the proceeds enable the JLW to provide grants and volunteer resources to community partner organizations focusing on the complex issue of literacy in the greater Washington, DC area.

JLW members: Register yourself and your guests from your member home page or at

Feeling chilly? Check out the cozy new arrivals from Tory Burch – blazer-inspired jacket, plaid skirt, and peacoat – sure to keep you toasty. Then, register and attend the JLW Shops! at Tory Burch Tysons Galleria from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 13, to support childhood and adult literacy in the DC area.

Friday, September 28, 2012

League Leaders: Sandra Day O'Connor

Junior League women are known for their strong leadership and service to their communities (especially here in JLW!), but did you know we have quite a few famous League members?

Like Sandra Day O'Connor from the Phoenix, AZ League -- the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, appointed in 1981.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

JLW Fact of the Day: September 26, 2012

Still tired after a long weekend of volunteering at the National Book Festival? Well here's a stunning fact that will get you pumped up and ready to go back out to volunteer some more!

Monday, September 24, 2012

JLW Distributed Over 6,200 Books to D.C. Students for Summer Reading

For children across the country, the summer was time to celebrate – the school year had officially come to an end. But behind the celebrations of millions of K-12 students, there were some pretty startling statistics surrounding kids without an opportunity to participate in summer learning. And what that lack of opportunity means is much more significant than you might expect:
  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).
  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).
These are just a few of the disconcerting statistics surrounding students who lack a structured summer reading program. And that’s why the Junior League of Washington and a handful of Community Partners came together to provide summer reading materials to children throughout D.C.

On June 11, the Junior League of Washington launched its 100,000 books distribution component of Resolution Read with a summer reading book distribution at Smothers and Maury Elementary Schools in Washington, D.C. JLW volunteers joined forces with a new community partner, the Literacy Lab, to distribute books to the 3rd and 4th grade classes at the school. There, the children tore into their bags and were excited to see all of the new books – especially the one where they recognized the titles, like Judy Moody! The teachers were also thrilled for the kids and their summer reading adventures. One teacher commented on the positive impact that she's seen in her student that participated in the Literacy Lab's tutoring program during the regular school year, noting that one student had improved by nearly two grade level!

Then, on Wednesday, June 13, the JLW co-hosted a third summer reading book distribution with the Literacy Lab – this time at Orr Elementary School in Southeast Washington, DC. As with the other two Literacy Lab distributions, students in three classes were given seven books and one dictionary to keep them busy readers over the summer. There, JLW President Wendy Cumberland, Vice Treasurer Marie Hahn and Community Affairs Council Director Carly Rockstroh were on hand to help distribute the books and had the chance to start reading the books with the students. Among the most popular books – Judy Moody and Sideways Stories from Wayside School – which were immediately cracked open. This Resolution Read event was extra special as it was the first time the Literacy Lab worked at Orr Elementary School.

Later, in mid-June, the JLW joined the girls at Excel Academy for their last Friday of the school year to hand out two books to each girl to take home with them and enjoy over the summer, in hopes their home library would continue to grow. These books were in addition to the two books the JLW gave them over spring break. There are more stories to share, and we’ll continue to post them. So far the JLW donated a whopping 6,266 books to D.C. students aged pre-K through 4th grade in partnership with groups such as the Literacy Lab, Excel Academy, Washington Middle School, Washington Jesuit Academy, and Horton’s Kids.

And that was just the beginning of our newly expanded Resolution Read program in which the League will put 100,000 books into the hands of students in the greater D.C. community in the next one to three years.

Getting involved is as simple as reading to a child in your life, signing your children up for summer reading programs such as those sponsored by the DC Public Library and Library of Congress, and of course, supporting JLW's fundraisers by making donations to Resolution Read and attending special Centennial events.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Books that Shaped America

In preparation of the 2012 National Book Festival, the Library of Congress asked several book enthusiasts which books they believe to have shaped America and published the resulting list on its website.

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, "Alcoholics Anonymous" by Anonymous and "American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons are the first three books on that list and show the diversity of books that shaped America.

With the National Book Festival happening this weekend, the Junior League of Washington asks you which books you believe have shaped your life and who you have become. If every member of the League gave an answer – even with some repeats – we would have a list of incredibly unique and fascinating books. Because the one thing that we all have in common, is our long-standing love affair with books!

Is there anything better to have in common? You could be as different as… say… a Republican and Democrat running for President, but if you discovered that you both absolutely love to read, amazing bonds can be formed from that one discovery. And even if you have extremely different opinions about the books, you’ll have a great time discussing them.

Finding another lover of books can be like finding a kindred spirit. And EVERYONE at the National Book Festival is a lover of books! On Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., thousands of people will be gathering to celebrate books, celebrate authors and celebrate reading! And who will be there to help it all run smoothly? Over 500 members of the Junior League of Washington in pink shirts, black or white hats, and huge smiles – book lovers, each and every one! We look forward to seeing fellow book lovers at the Festival this weekend.

JLW volunteers proudly displaying their pink shirts at NBF training

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Celebrating this weekend's 2012 National Book Festival

Celebrating the upcoming 2012 National Book Festival, the Library of Congress has posted a number of podcasts from authors and leaders involved in the cause of literacy. JLW President Wendy Cumberland was featured yesterday to discuss the JLW's Centennial year and the work we do to promote literacy in the Washington area. Click HERE to listen to the podcast.

This weekend is the 2012 National Book Festival on the National Mall, and the Junior League of Washington is excited to provide 580 volunteers for the event. We look forward to seeing you!

Please share your favorite National Book Festival memory or thought below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To Raise a Reader: Sing, Talk and Read

By: Micky Freeny from D.C. Public Library

Much has been written and discussed in the media about the quality of formal education in America, and specifically in the City of Washington, DC. We hold schools and teachers accountable for the reading success—and failure—of our children. However, until more children start school ready to learn to read, our schools will not achieve the results we want or expect. Until we show parents how to prepare their children to learn to read, reading scores will not rise to the levels we desire.

This sounds like an overwhelming task to impose on the parents of young children, a group that already has its share of awesome responsibilities and pressures; and granted, real success will not be achieved until the root causes of a parent’s limitations (poverty, isolation, health issues, etc.) are addressed. Yet, experts in child development agree that a loving parent is the first and best teacher of a child. Who better knows the child’s rhythms, interests and whims? Who’s a better role model to show children the importance of language and learning?

Read the rest of the article here.

About the above article: The Community Affairs Council is launching a new article series which will feature a monthly article on a literacy topic authored by one of our community partners and/or literacy-focused organizations in the DC area. The series is kicking off this month thanks to 2012 Targeted Grant recipient and new JLW placement-- the Literacy Lab!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What’s black and white and pink all over?

5 Great Reasons to Volunteer for the 2012 National Book Festival

  1. Hang out with a bevy of incredible authors. More than 100 authors and poets will be in attendance at the 12th Annual National Book Festival, signing books and conducting readings. This year’s authors and poets include: Lois Lowry, R.L. Stine, Jewel, Thomas Friedman, Jeffrey Eugenides, Chris Matthews, and many, many more.
  2. Support literacy throughout Washington, DC – and across the United States. Not only does the NBF support the Junior League of Washington’s work  promoting literacy throughout our nation’s capital, it also helps the Library of Congress – the de facto national library for this great country.
  3. Earn a Membership Credit. All Junior League Active members will earn membership credit for their morning, midday or afternoon shift volunteer hours. Volunteer either Saturday or Sunday, hang out with more than 600 other JLW volunteers, and provide critical support to the Library of Congress’s big event.
  4. Think pink. Did we mention that this year is the “year of the pink”? That’s right. All JLW volunteers will be rocking a hot pink “staff” shirt. Those awesome C-SPAN bags we all use for our groceries? Also pink.
  5. Do you really want to miss it? Last year, more than 200,000 visited the book festival. Just look at the fun we have!
Did we convince you yet? Click here to sign up today!

The Details:

When: Saturday, September 22, 2012 – 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 23, 2012 – 12:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
*rain or shine*

Where: National Mall, Washington, D.C., between 9th and 14th Streets

Training: Due to big changes at the festival, the Library of Congress has requested that all JLW volunteers receive training this year.  There are several options for training on September 18, 19, and 20.  Check for details. 

T-Shirts: Pick-up will be at the training sessions. 

Questions: Email Tessa Wilkin at

Post your favorite NBF story in the comments!

Monday, August 27, 2012

2nd Annual Evening of Poetry & Prose

As part of the Junior League of Washington’s promotion of literacy, League volunteers hosted the 2nd Annual Evening of Poetry & Prose at Calvary's Women Shelter on May 22, 2012. We were hoping at least half of the residents would either write a poem to recite or share their favorite poem or short story, but our expectations were surpassed when over 85% of the women participated. Poetry is a wonderful way for the women at Calvary share their thoughts and feelings. We wanted to share one of the poems as it's amazing and thought provoking.
Bag Lady
By: Kimberly A. Rhones

Bag Lady! Bag Lady!

Why you still sitting in the park
You’d better hurry up
Cause soon it will be dark

Bag Lady! Bag Lady!
It’s almost seven if you want a bed
Otherwise if you’re late
where you gon lay your head

Bag Lady! Bag Lady!
Did you even eat
Well I know there’s some bread and veggies
And if you’re lucky maybe even a little meat

Bag Lady! Bag Lady!
I can see right now you’ve had a bad day
Of course no one not even me
Wants to go to bed feeling that way

O Bag Lady! Bag Lady!
Can’t you see
This thing that you’re going thru right now
Won’t last forever wouldn’t you agree

Bag Lady! Bag Lady!
Don’t give up hope
The day will come soon
When you will look back on this and joke


Bag Lady! Bag Lady!
What did you do
You went to bed miserable
And this morning you’re brand new

Bag lady! Precious Lady!
Yes I’ll change your name
Cause you’re walking like royalty
You don’t even look the same

Mighty Lady! Precious Jewel!
And O for the price you paid Looks like your
God proved faithful after all
Cause now you’re fearfully and wonderfully made

Calvary will hold the 3rd Annual Evening of Poetry and Prose in May of 2013.

Please share your favorite poem in the comments. And don't forget to attend the 12th Annual National Book Festival on September 22 and 23 to hear Poetry Out Loud, National Student Poets and much more.

Sunday, July 22, 2012