Thursday, February 23, 2012

So … where are you from originally?

Introductions and ice breakers at every Junior League event most often lead with the typical Washington question, “so... where are you from originally?” More often than not, this question is rephrased to “where are y’all from originally?”

The JLW 2011-2012 new member class is comprised of ladies from most every U.S. state. Our hostesses at the New Member Mid-Year Event prepared the seating chart to ensure everyone got to know others originating from the same part of the country as them. Not surprisingly, many of the ladies are from Maryland and Virgina. Other top states were California and Texas (I’m one of two girls from Nebraska).

Our first table activity was to share what we miss most about our home state. Ladies from Louisiana craved white cheese dip. The North Carolina table spoke fondly of parking lots. When the Californians claimed Five Guys can’t hold a candle to In-N-Out, the Hoosiers had to stand up and defend Steak ‘n Shake.

Yet despite our differences, the new member class has a lot in common. During the second table activity, we shared our favorite Junior League experience from the year so far. Whether it was storytelling at the National Book Festival, shopping at A Capitol Collection or an evening out with our advisory group, everyone agreed they’ve most enjoyed getting to know fellow League members and making new friends.

Maggie's table at the New Member Mid-Year Event 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

The New Member Community Experience

JLW New members are required to complete a Community Experience.  This is a chance to experience some of the great work JLW is doing in the community – usually in short volunteer projects that last between two and four hours.

The list of potential Community Experience projects to choose from is incredible, and shows how JLW is just everywhere in the Metro Washington area. New Members can select a Community Experience based on time constraints (they are available weekends, evenings, etc.), location (throughout the Metro DC area) and interest (many of the committees offer Community Experience projects).

I chose a weekend morning project last November that was coordinated through the Done in a Day Committee. My Community Experience shift was working at an American Girl Fashion Show to benefit the Prevention of Blindness Society. This experience was interesting to me frankly because I had been an American Girl doll devotee as a child and thought it would be fun to be a part of one of their fashion shows.

Fun was an understatement! I was assigned four girls to chaperone. They dressed in American Girl fashions, and I felt like a den mother to these wonderful young ladies who gave up their morning for a good cause (perhaps they are going to be future JLW members?). I met so many JLW members that morning and was amazed at how quickly the time flew by.

The greatest part of the experience was seeing Valerie Tripp, author of the American Girl “Molly” books. My Community Experience was a wonderful experience, and it hardly felt like work at all. Once again, I am just overwhelmed by the amazing opportunities my membership in JLW gives me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Advisor Meetings – Only One Left

Everyone joins the Junior League for different reasons: to meet people, get to know DC, or to find volunteer opportunities. The New Member group is in all different stages of life – married, career-focused, moms, single. With all these differences and the sheer size of the JLW, it seems like it might be hard to find your footing in the Junior League. That’s where New Member Advisors come in.

My advisor is Heather Foss, and she does a great job of turning the Junior League into an intimate group of friends and answering questions we may have. New Members are required to meet with their Advisor group four times during their New Member Year.

I have such a great time at these meetings! It’s a chance to connect with the other New Members in my Advisor group and see which Community Experiences or Mini-Placements they are doing. Heather also uses these meetings as an opportunity to check-in with each of us to see how we are doing on our requirements and fill us in on upcoming meetings and events.

We had our third Advisor Meeting last week and I was pretty sad to think we only have one more Advisor Meeting left before our New Member year is over. Getting together with new friends at Coco Sala, a chocolate lounge and boutique in D.C., doesn’t really feel like it should be fulfilling a requirement – it was simply too much fun!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cooking Up a Day of Fun and Nutritional Literacy at Kids in the Kitchen

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. We can all agree that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. But what’s the best way to reverse this trend?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched a $25 million project that aims to train children to improve their health habits by themselves. One tactic teaches elementary school students to prepare simple, healthy snacks. Showing a child how to make easy recipes builds self-confidence and encourages healthier choices. The Junior League of Washington, for the 6th year in a row, is helping to address this issue with Kids in the Kitchen. This event will take place on Saturday, March 3rd from 10am until 2pm at the YMCA National Capital in Northwest DC.

Kids in the Kitchen is an activity fair aimed at combating childhood obesity through education on nutrition and wellness. Additionally, it’s a free day of fun open to everyone! There are some awesome cooking demonstrations, and for those of you who are fans of the Food Network, there are going to be a former contestants from The Next Food Network Star at the event. There are activities and games focused on making healthy lifestyle choices. There’s a rumor going around about a giant Twister game and an obstacle course. I sure hope it’s true! One of the fitness activities will be teaching the children yoga. Is there anything cuter than a bunch of little kids in warrior pose? Namaste indeed!

There are even crafts focused on nutrition and fitness. One that I’m particularly looking forward to is a display of unusual fruits and veggies. Sure we’ve all seen star fruit at Whole Foods but does anyone actually know what dragon fruit looks like? Or what an African Cucumber feels like? I for one would love to find out! And there are activities for kids of all ages-- including our littlest chefs who can have fun "exercising" in our toddler mat/block area.

Kids leave this high-energy event with fantastic goodie bags and giveaways. These will serve as reminders of what they’ve learned after they get home so the fun and healthy lifestyle habits can continue.

Childhood obesity is a very real problem that affects way too many children. So grab your favorite little "sous chef" and head on down to the YMCA National Capital on March 3rd!

Bon App├ętit!