Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another Successful Bright Beginnings 5K Race

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) extends a big thank you to all of the runners, walkers, and fans who participated in the 2012 Bright Beginnings, Inc. annual 5K race on Saturday, May 12th!

Each year, this 5K race, which is sponsored by the JLW, raises critical funds to help support the Bright Beginnings child and family development center. Bright Beginnings helps prepare homeless children in our community for kindergarten and helps the children's parents get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. Of the many important duties Bright Beginnings assumes, the center provides free full-day developmental care for preschoolers and young children whose families reside in shelters and transitional housing.

Bright Beginnings' services help ensure that underprivileged children in the DC-metro area have better footing to succeed on their first day of school. The center's great work helps increase literacy, which is the JLW's primary mission.

This year's race was held at Hains Point and there were over 350 finishers. The race is a huge success year after year thanks in no small part to the many JLW members who donate their time, money, and energy to the event.

The JLW is grateful to work with such great community partners as Bright Beginnings and we look forward to next year's race!

AshLee Strong
Member of the Public Relations Committee

JLW Facts: May 29, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

JLW Facts: May 17, 2012

The Junior League and Julia

Did you know that Julia Child, a famous Junior League member, lived a five minute walk from JLW headquarters in Georgetown?

Julia was a member of the Junior League of Pasadena, but she and her husband Paul lived in the house at 2706 Olive Street as newlyweds when Paul worked for the State Department and Julia worked as a file clerk. At the time, Julia struggled to prepare palatable evening meals, and it wasn’t until she and Paul moved to Paris in 1948 that she mastered the art of French cooking and wrote her famous cookbook.

In the mid-fifties the Childs returned to Georgetown, where Julia hosted cooking classes for local residents and was even known to frequent Morgan’s Pharmacy to purchase Tums.

To learn more about Julia, you can visit her kitchen at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Inspired by Julia to cook? Contact Special Events to purchase a Jr League cookbook or click here. Proceeds from cookbook sales help support the League's efforts to increase childhood reading skills, and to provide trained volunteers and targeted grants.

Monday, May 14, 2012

JLW Facts: May 14, 2012

Community Partner Spotlight: The Corcoran Gallery of Art

One of my favorite Junior League of Washington community partners is the Corcoran Gallery of Art. At 17th and E streets downtown, it’s a short walk from my office and is my top choice for a lunchtime escape.

I’m so proud that the League is dedicated to helping the community learn what the Corcoran has to offer. In fact, for over 50 years, JLW volunteers have promoted cultural and visual literacy as museum docents.

The word docent comes from the Latin word docere, meaning “to teach.” The Corcoran considers its docents an important link between the public and the art and credits them for offering an interactive, educational experience for visitors.

If you haven't already visited the Corcoran, I encourage you to find a friend on the committee and sign up for a tour. In the meantime, please enjoy this virtual guided selection of Corcoran highlights:

Permanent Collection: The permanent collection includes historic and modern American art, European painting, decorative arts, photography and media arts. I especially like the Luxembourg Gardens painting by William Glackens, who is known in some circles as the American Renoir.

Todd Gray's Muse: Something about the museum's cafe is reminiscent of a modern lunch spot in Paris. Seasonal, local ingredients are featured in all of the colorful, creative dishes on the menu curated by Chef Todd Gray.

Continuing Education Courses: Indulge your inner artist with for-credit and non-credit classes in areas of study including ceramics, digital media, interior design and photography. Many courses are on nights and weekends and are held at the upper Georgetown campus.

Artini: The guest of honor at this Corcoran party is the art - paintings that inspire drinks created by mixologists around Washington. The celebration lasts for an entire month, with participating venues around the city hosting Feature Nights until the evening of the benefit, when the winning artini is revealed.


Editor's note: Interested in going on a JLW docent lead tour? JLW members are usually on the schedule Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m. Contact the current placement Chair with questions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

JLW Facts: May 11, 2012

The Literacy Lab, a New Community Partner and Grant Recipient

The Junior League of Washington is proud to announce our newest community partner – as well as grant recipient – is The Literacy Lab, a local nonprofit organization devoted to dramatically increasing the reading levels of low-income children in the District of Columbia. Founded in 2009 by a former DC public school teacher, the organization currently serves over 250 students attending 45 public schools in Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland.

The Literacy Lab’s mission is to provide high-quality, targeted reading remediation to low-income students in order to increase their literacy skills, leading to increased academic success and greater opportunities in life. Their experience has shown that students will make progress when they are given quality instruction in a consistent and structured manner. By providing individualized reading instruction which targets fundamental skills, The Literacy Lab's trained volunteers will lead students to higher reading levels and increased confidence, which supports the League's focus of increasing reading skills in children.

The JLW has awarded $25,000 to The Literacy Lab, allowing them to operate the Ready to Read program at DC General Family Emergency Shelter, the largest of Washington, DC’s government-run family shelters, through weekly Parent-Child Literacy Development Workshops. Ready to Read is a critical reading readiness program for families with toddlers and young children ages 0 – 5. The program will deliver a consistent amount of read aloud and print exposure to high-risk homeless children ages 0 – 5, as well as provide homeless parents with a skill set to read with and engage their children in literacy activities from birth onward. Funds will specifically be used to create a lending library housed at the shelter with reading materials and pre-literacy activities for parents and children to use during the workshop and then to check out afterwards for their use during the week.

The Literacy Lab anticipates approximately 250 parents and children (125 families) will be served over the course of the year though the weekly two hour Parent-Child Literacy Development Workshops. For the first hour, parents will participate in a workshop where they will learn an early literacy skill and practice implementing that skill while their children are participating in a read aloud and related read aloud session. For the second hour, the parents and children will reconvene; a healthy snack will be provided, and then parents and children will go through literacy centers together, allowing the parents the opportunity to practice the skills they learned. At the end of the session, the parents will have the option of checking out books and materials. The goals of the program are to increase parents’ skills and knowledge in the area of early literacy development, to provide a print-rich and engaging environment for young children in order to increase their reading readiness and early literacy skills mastery, and to increase access to high-quality reading materials for families living at the DC General Shelter.

The Literacy Lab will use trained JLW volunteers to help implement the Ready to Read program, providing them with a meaningful, manageable, high-impact opportunity on Saturday mornings. Trained volunteers will run the read aloud sessions with the children, which can include reading a story aloud, asking questions, listening to/singing songs with the children, reviewing basic vocabulary and modeling reading habits. During the second hour, volunteers will run the literacy centers, examples which include rhyming, make-believe dress-up, vocabulary puzzles, sound identification, and letter naming. Finally, volunteers will help monitor the lending library and help parents check out books and manipulatives.

If you would like to receive further information about the 2012-2013 grant process, including notice of the application and deadline information, please contact Alicia Lee, Chair, Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee at grantsandvolunteers@jlw.org.

Alicia Lee
Chair, Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Boy and (Water) Bottle Soiree

The Boy & Bottle Soiree is a signature Transfer event, held by the Junior League of Washington's Transfer Committee twice a year. I had sadly missed the one in the fall, but managed to make up for it by attending the one at Darlington House back in March. As a Transfer member, I am somewhat new to D.C. and definitely new to the League in D.C. Being part of the transfer group has been a great opportunity to meet people from different chapters throughout the U.S. and also connect with a few Floridians, one of whom is also a transfer from Junior League of Miami!

Now, getting back to the actual soiree… what is particularly special about this transfer event is the ability to bring friends (single or married) to the event. Ladies – this is a great opportunity for you to bring your cute & single male coworker or male friend! The “more the merrier” was the motto for that evening! Darlington House Cantina was pretty packed that Friday night in March. The atmosphere was fun, lively and everyone was quite approachable. What a great way to make new connections in a new city. As the saying goes: “every person is a new door to a different world,” so it’s time to go out and explore!

Editor's note: If you're a member of another League looking to move, or have just moved, into the D.C. area, check out information on how to Transfer into JLW. We would love to have you!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Club: A Renewed Junior League Tradition!

This spring, Membership Outreach revived a Junior League of Washington tradition - book club. A prior book club led by Esprit ended in 2003, but member feedback brought it back!

The online sign up that initially had space for 25 members filled up within 15 minutes after going live. It was expanded to 75 to accommodate the wait-listed members, and it kept growing until 284 members expressed interest.

Members were placed into 30 groups of ladies who either indicated preference in the same literary genre or geographic location in the metro area, based on survey responses they provided upon registering. For fun, each group was assigned a notable female author like Ann M. Martin, Margaret Mitchell or Lucy Maud Montgomery as a sort of “mascot” for organizational purposes.

Each group decided what books it would read. My group started with Rules of Civility, but I plan to add some of these selections from other groups to my summer reading list:

Editor's note: One of the best things about the Book Club is that it promotes League Literacy. Whether you are interested in chick-lit or the New York Times' books of the year, you can find a place to read your favorite books, discuss them with League friends and socialize in a fun setting while promoting reading. It's another way to help us stay excited about our literacy goals in the D.C. community!

*Missed out on signing-up for Book Club this spring? Don't worry, sign-ups will be available again in the fall!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Upcoming D&T – How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice

More than likely, you have heard of human papillomavirus, or as it is more commonly referred to, HPV.  It’s now known that approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, while another 6 million people become newly infected each year. While there are now vaccinations available to help prevent HPV, there is no treatment for the virus itself.  As scary as it sounds, HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.

What’s even scarier? Sometimes HPV can lead to Cervical cancer.   Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. Almost all of these cancers are HPV-associated. Cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.  

On Monday, May 14, the JLW will host Michelle L. Whitlock, author of How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice.  At age twenty-six, Michelle thought she had it all: she was in the best physical shape of her life, she had a promising career, and she had a budding romance that looked like it could finally be the real thing. Then doctors informed her that she had HPV. Weeks later her worst nightmare became her reality when she was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. In her memoir, Michelle recounts how she took charge of her healthcare and pursued an experimental surgery that treated the cancer while preserving her fertility. The surgery was a success, but just years later—a week after the love of her life proposed—Michelle discovered her cancer was back. How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice follows Michelle as she wonders if she will live or die or have children. This is one woman's story of falling in love, battling HPV and cervical cancer, facing sexual dysfunction, confronting her conflicting feelings about motherhood, and becoming her own best advocate. Inspirational and honest, this memoir tells the emotional story of love, loss, resilience, and survival.

This is an important topic that likely could impact you, a friend, a family member, or a colleague.  Please join us for this important D&T on Monday, May 14th, at 7:00 p.m. at the offices of Winston & Strawn, 1700 K. St. NW.

You can RSVP on the JLW siteThis event will be the last opportunity for a membership credit for the 2011-2012 year. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Give a Placement A Second Look

When I was a new member, in 2003-2004, I volunteered for my new member shift at Tossed and Found’s move in day at the Tuesday Morning location in Rockville. It was cold, dirty, wet and my first assignment was to sweep the floor and clean it up as best I could. Within an hour, I was covered head to toe in dirt and dust, with water spots from the leaking ceiling. An hour later I found myself working the book section with 3 other new members- Angie Quinn (my best friend from college), Kim O’Connor Tuomey, and Elisabeth Somerville. Angie and I met Kim and Elisabeth the first time that day in books… at one point I said to the other three, “Who would ever want to be on this committee?” They of course agreed….

A few years later, I received a call from nominating to be the Chair for Tossed and Found’s 2010 sale. For some reason I said yes… even with doubts and memories of my first Tossed and Found experience at Tuesday Morning on my mind.

Turns out the great site that Vornado has donated in Crystal City for the past 6 years is nothing like Tuesday Morning and it gets better with each year. This year, Tossed and Found turned 20! And at an alumnae breakfast, I learned that I wasn’t the only one that thought they’d never do T&F. Of the 20 or so past chairs and members of the T&F committee gathered together… everyone had a similar story. Several transferred out of the league and came back mid-year and the only placement with significant requirements still left was T&F- with a groan, they took it and never left. All ended up chairing. All gathered around the circle had fun stories, happy memories.

When Caren Forsten (our current JLW President) was chair, they lost the site a week before the first drop off and 74 people dropped off their rummage in her 1 bedroom apartment! There were lots of stories about pregnant chairs and Tossed and Found babies. Many had children that spent their first 6 months at the site. All have friends they met at T&F that they still talk to today. Many still close friends. And everyone continues to volunteer at a shift… normally Sunday, Bag Day! We all love T&F for the camaraderie, the satisfaction of seeing a warehouse full of piles of clothes, kitchen items and furniture all transform into a neatly organized store and lots of low dollar purchases can all add up to over $120,000.

It turns out that thanks to that dreadful morning at the Tuesday Morning site, Kim, Angie, Elisabeth and I are extremely great friends today. Elisabeth and I chaired Bright Beginnings for 2 years together, and Angie and Kim chaired Langley for 2 years and have worked the Tossed and Found Administration Sub-Committee for the last 3 years. Elisabeth even joined Tossed and Found as a secondary placement the year I was chair. Kim will be chair for the 2013 sale. And Angie for the 2014 sale.

So... be careful of first impressions, they aren’t always right. Give a placement a second look. It doesn’t have to be Tossed and Found (although I highly recommend you try it again!), but give a placement that you may not think is a good fit for you a second look. Hopefully you’ll meet great friends and enjoy your league experience as much as all of us have!

Amber Huffman

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Advisor meetings -- what they're like

This year is my new member year in JLW, and part of being a new member is attending advisor meetings. Thankfully, I was assigned to a wonderful advisor group and a very helpful new member advisor.

Having advisor meetings as part of the new member requirements is a very smart idea. There are many times that I have questions about events or other requirements, and having a person dedicated solely to answering our many questions is very helpful.

It is also exciting to share in a new member advisor group. I think it is a wonderful way to meet women in my area that I might not have met in Junior League otherwise. Many times the members in our group all have the same questions, so getting together for group meetings is a great way get all of our similar questions answered at the same time.

As new members, we are required to participate in four advisor group meetings. For our first two meetings, we decided to meet after work for drinks and appetizers. We started out talking about JLW-related topics, but soon the conversation turned to work, socializing, sport, food and other things that interest us. I am so glad that I was placed in a great group of girls with similar interests.

At that first meeting, we found out that one thing we all had in common was that we all loved a good Sunday brunch. So for our next meeting we decided that it would be a good idea to meet for brunch one Sunday morning. We are all looking forward to some good food and a great conversation.

Seeing as how advisor meetings are not a requirement beyond your new member year, I know I am going to miss getting together with these wonderful ladies next year. I hope to keep in touch, and who knows, maybe I’ll continue the fun and take on my own advisor group one day!

* JLW member tip: for ladies missing their close-knit groups from their new member days, consider joining a JLW Small Group. Small Groups make it easy to connect with JLW ladies outside of your placement based on things that interest you.