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.