Thursday, March 15, 2012

Community Impact

I’m thankful to a lot of people this year, but, as we get closer to the end of another year, I want to highlight the role of Committee Chair. It’s the most rewarding, demanding, and impactful role in the Junior League of Washington.

While the League helps us each create life-altering experiences, opportunities galore to meet talented women, and lifelong friendships, these good things are bonus to the mission of trained women having positive impacts on our Washington, D.C. community. And the collective group of women who ensure it happens every day, is our cadre of committee chairs.

Let me highlight the three areas of impact that come together for the League to be successful. First there is leadership. Committee chairs are often the first line in terms of member experience and satisfaction, as well as providing the best opportunity to foster and mentor future leaders. We all watch women we’ve worked with go on and lead great things, all because a Committee Chair encouraged them along the way and gave them opportunities to spread their wings and try new things. Likewise, committee chairs embody the spirit of community impact as they set their priorities and recognize the potential in the committee and in the League to get the job done. Because, really, none of us can do it alone. We work as a JLW community for the DC community, and our committee chairs provide the structure to connect the two.

Second, there is the success of the committee itself. Everyone knows that committees’ programs don’t just ‘happen’. They take organization, planning, cooperation … and meetings. For every hour spent in a rewarding volunteer experience, our committee chairs have spent time planning. And as all of these events are coming together, a critical thing is happening: members of JLW are teaching, learning, growing as trained volunteers for the community. The work of the committees is fulfilling our promise to the community.

Third, there is the community impact that must be considered. For example, look at the accomplishments of the children mentored through Higher Achievement Program this year. Consider the visitors to the Corcoran having a greater understanding of the permanent collection. Think about the family who will get a new set of dishes for their fresh start from this year’s Tossed and Found. And the list goes on...

So, to all you past, current, and future committee chairs, thank you for your commitment to our league and to our community.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Tossed and Found Work Shift

As a JLW New Member, this was my first experience with Tossed & Found, a giant rummage sale benefiting JLW’s literacy community programs. When I arrived for my three-hour work shift at the Tossed & Found space in the Crystal City Shops in Arlington, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of donated merchandise: linens, books, children’s items, furniture, holiday décor, handbags, clothes, clothes, and more clothes!

During my volunteer shift, I worked in three different areas: pricing items in the children’s area (The JLW Tossed & Found Committee has created an amazing children’s boutique in this space!); sorting linens, and helping sort and merchandise holiday décor items. It was fun to see all of the donated merchandise and learn what a significant impact Tossed & Found has on the JLW’s mission and its community partners. I was also impressed with my volunteer shift partners who had incredible hidden talents in organizing, merchandising and pricing these items!

Leaving my shift, I was amazed at how the vast assortment of donations was transforming from “piles of stuff” into a thoughtfully designed shopping experience.

I was there to work, but I was definitely scoping out some of the great items on hand! If you’re looking for some new handbags, beach reads, holiday decorations, home accessories, or children’s clothing – you won’t want to miss JLW’s 20th Annual Tossed & Found General Shopping Days: Saturday, March 24 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday, March 25 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sharing the spirit of Valentine’s Day

I can’t remember the last time I cut a heart from craft paper. Not until yesterday evening, that is. Actually, I was more successful at helping the six year old girl create a Valentine’s Day card for her mom than attempting to do it on my own. I tried to fold the paper a thousand different ways, yet I still ended up with a backwards heart. Some of us are just not that savvy when it comes to arts and crafts! However, don’t let that scare you. Savvy or not, that didn’t stop me from volunteering a couple of hours with kids at the Community Family Life Services (CFLS) for a literacy-focused community event.

On the second Thursday of every month, the Junior League of Washington provides volunteers at CFLS, an 18 month transitional housing facility for women. The women who belong to this facility are formerly homeless, but now are on the road to recovery and have gained custody of their children from the foster care system.

What I personally found most interesting about this community experience was the breakdown of the actual evening. As an incoming transfer, I signed up for the shift, thinking that the focus of the CFLS placement is childcare related. I didn’t expect it to be a literacy focused community event, where the League Committee members engage the mothers with poetry and book discussions. I found this absolutely fascinating! While the women enjoyed their adult time with a committee member and each other, Junior League volunteers entertained the children with various activities such as games and arts and crafts. Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, all of the kids were eager to make Valentine’s cards for their families. They were also eager to run around the gym like cheetahs - so if you are feeling low on energy one of these days, come and join in the fun!

Friday, March 2, 2012

JLW Offers Flexibility for New Members

Looking at the list of requirements that New Members in the Junior League of Washington must complete can seem daunting. How can you accomplish all of these commitments?

Really, it’s not that hard if you stay organized and don’t wait until the last minute. What makes it all especially simple is the JLW website, which tracks your requirements and checks when a task has been accomplished.

While JLW stresses the importance of showing up and being on time for the volunteer assignments you sign up for, everyone also understands how life can get in the way of volunteer commitments sometimes.

My grandmother passed away a few days before the New Member Mid Year Event. As I figured out flights to get to California and helped arrange her memorial service, I also had to clear my calendar for the dates I would be out of town. My new member advisor was so helpful and considerate, and there were several Community Experience opportunities that furthers the League's literacy focus to schedule as a replacement for the Mid Year Event.

While we aren’t encouraged to miss events, JLW is a supportive group of women. There are numerous ways to fulfill obligations if we simply can’t make something happen. I’m so proud to be a part of this organization!