Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why I Volunteer: Clare Richardson-Barlow

I originally joined the Junior League to serve in my community—at the time, that was a new community for me, in Monterey, CA. I had spare time, I wanted to get to know where I was living, and I was feeling ambitious, just out of graduate school and starting my career. Now, three years later and in a different city, volunteering with the Junior League of Washington (JLW) serves a similar purpose, but I am more focused on the value of what JLW provides—both for the community and me. I figure, as I learn more about the city I live in (wherever that may be), the people in JLW, and myself, my reasons for serving will probably continue to change, too.

The volunteer assistance that JLW members provide our communities is incredibly important. But I also take to heart the fact that in order to be better volunteers we have to keep learning new things, continue to work on our daily interactions with people around us, and make an effort to grow our individual skill sets (We can always improve—focusing on the “product” instead of the perks, for instance). JLW, and the Development and Training Committee, provides at least a piece of this service in my life. Seeing firsthand the incredible training opportunities we can offer our peers is inspiring; personal branding, being a mentor, public speaking, even retirement planning—those topics are useful. Maybe half of the women attending these classes are showing up because they need a membership credit, but does that really matter if they are learning something in the process?  Absolutely not; better volunteers make a better League.

When I first joined Junior League I was so pleased to have my mini placement on the Development and Training Committee—having been raised by two teachers it seemed like a natural fit. Now, 3 years later and on the same committee, when I consider what purpose I want a Junior League membership to provide me, I know that there are deeper reasons for my service than simply wanting to know my community. Yes, I serve because it’s fun, but I also serve because I want to have a positive impact on the people around me. Personal growth is a bonus.

 Clare Richardson-Barlow, JLW Development and Training Volunteer

Check out Development and Training events online! Upcoming topics include Transitioning Into Motherhood and The How To's of Home Buying.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Enchanting DC Kids, With Books!

[Photo Credit: Reading is Fundamental]

Magic happens when you give books to children, as Junior League of Washington (JLW) member and Celebrations Committee Co-Chair Sloane Hurst quickly learned in December 2012.

Participating in one of three book distributions as a part our Centennial celebration, Sloane said, “I cried my eyes out when a little first grader ran up to me and hugged me to say thank you for her OWN book! She asked me if she had to share it and I said that when she was done reading it she should give it to another little girl.”

The December event featured Paul Zelinsky, illustrator of Z is for a Moose who gave an engaging talk to the kids, sharing an animated storyline involving the moose. The kids then had the opportunity to tell Paul what they thought a “zmoose" looked like as he drew their description. The experience was truly “out of the mouths of babes,” including a flying turtle and shoes for the moose.

The power of ownership and reading is strong. In February, Junior League of Washington members will deliver over 10,000 books to children in the DC area including several distributions on February 5th, the second of three designated distribution days the JLW is hosting this year with Reading is Fundamental (RIF). 

Bringing 10,000 books (and 10,000 smiles) to DC Public and Charter School students is no small task—but  you can help “enchant” kids with books and share your love of reading by volunteering at one of the many February distributions, including those scheduled for February 5th.

RIF was founded with the mission to motivate children to have a lifelong, life-changing love of reading. This ignites a hunger for knowledge and a passion for learning.  The JLW is partnering with RIF to distribute over 30,000 books to DC area students in DC Wards 1, 5, 7, and 8.  The JLW-RIF partnership is a large component of the JLW’s Resolution Read effort to distribute 100,000 new books to kids in the greater Washington, DC area in celebration of JLW’s Centennial year.

The fact is nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books.

Eyes sparkle, smiles emerge, and imagination comes alive when children are given the opportunity to own a book. During distribution shifts, JLW volunteers give individual attention to children when selecting books, help children write their name on their new books, read aloud to children, and offer a host of other small activities that will foster a passion for books and reading.

Join us for this magical experience at one of the several JLW Resolution Read distributions in February and check the website often for distribution opportunities to be scheduled for the rest of the JLW year!

One book can make a difference—and to help remember that, here is a catchy jingle:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Meet JLW's Newest Partner: An Open Book Foundation

In honor of our Centennial, the Junior League of Washington (JLW) has committed to initiating
an effort to purchase and distribute 100,000 new books to children in the greater Washington,
D.C. community as part of the Resolution Read program.

Through this initiative, the JLW is partnering with a variety of community organizations to get
books into the hands of children who need them the most. An Open Book Foundation (AOB) is
one of our newest partners.

AOB brings children’s authors and illustrators to underserved schools in the Washington, D.C.
metropolitan area and gives each student a signed book to take home. In addition, AOB gives a
copy of the book to each student’s classroom and a set of the author’s/illustrator’s books to the
school library. Since its inception, AOB has given away over 5,500 books at over 50 events.

AOB’s program conducts several activities that support Resolution Read’s mission and vision,
  • Providing every student attending an author/illustrator reading event a signed book to take home;
  • Inviting Spanish-speaking authors to make bilingual presentations and distributing
  • Spanish language books to children whose parents speak only Spanish;
  • Providing featured author’s books to each classroom, and a set of the author’s books to the school library so children who forget their book at home can read it in the classroom;
  • Providing copies of featured books to each classroom, giving teachers an opportunity to read the classroom copy aloud to the students, while children follow along in their own books.
AOB and JLW’s Resolution Read Committee kicked off this new partnership on Thursday,
January 10 when they distributed 54 books at John Burroughs Education Campus. Author Mary
Amato was our special guest and read from her new book, Guitar Notes. As an extra bonus,
Mary played her guitar and invited the students to write their own songs to express their thoughts
and emotions.

Resolution Read is conducting some very exciting events and changing the lives of our immediate
community through improved literacy. We encourage JLW members to participate and be a part
of this initiative in celebration of our Centennial. Join us at the book distribution on Tuesday,
February 5 with another partner, Reading is Fundamental. Click here to sign-up for a shift. To learn more about Resolution Read, visit

Friday, January 18, 2013

JLW Volunteers at the National Rehabilitation Hospital

In October 2012, Wendy Cumberland, JLW President, Shiela Corley, JLW President
Elect and I were invited to attend the National Rehabilitation Hospital Board of
Associates dinner. There the Junior League of Washington was honored for providing
volunteers to the NRH for the last 20 years.

President of the MedStar NRH Board of Associates and JLW Sustainer Julia Creighton, JLW President Wendy Cumberland, JLW President Elect Shiela Corley and Chair, NRH Committee Stacey Hinton Tuneski

National Rehabilitation Hospital specializes in treating persons with physical disabilities
caused by spinal cord and brain injuries, stroke, arthritis, amputation, multiple sclerosis,
post-polio syndrome, sports injuries, and other neurological and orthopedic conditions.
Since 1986, the NRH has been building a top-quality post acute care system of services
that brings together the best in rehabilitation care, research, education and training,
assistive technology and advocacy. Every year, NRH is ranked by U.S. News & World
Report as one of America’s best hospitals for medical rehabilitation.

For the past 20 years, JLW has been involved with NRH in a variety of ways. The
JLW committee members volunteering at NRH helped educate the community and
patients on disability and daily living issues and escorted patients to restaurants and
theatres. While the committee activities have since changed, the commitment to NRH
has remained steady. Now JLW volunteers at NRH provide therapeutic recreation on
a weekly basis by playing bingo with the patients and their families. The bingo games
assist a patient’s rehabilitation with a stress-free, fun, social game that enhances
motor skills and letter recognition. The committee also collects donations of books and
magazines to stock a book cart for patients to enjoy reading materials. JLW volunteers
also plan and staff the annual patient holiday party in December and volunteer at the
annual NRH Victory Awards Gala in the fall and at Las Vegas Nights in the spring.
National Rehabilitation Hospital Committee Holiday Party

The JLW is proud to have this longstanding partnership with NRH and we look forward
to continuing our relationship in the years to come.



Stacey Hinton Tuneski
Chair, National Rehabilitation Hospital committee

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Annual Bright Beginnings Holiday Party

Each year, the Bright Beginnings Committee of Junior League of Washington organizes a holiday party for the children of Bright Beginnings. Bright Beginnings is a child and family development center that serves about 186 children annually whose families are living in crisis shelters or transitional housing. Festivities during the holiday party include entertainment, holiday activities (decorating ornaments and holiday cards) and stuffed stockings for the kids, refreshments for the parents, a festive door decorating contest and cookie packages for the teachers (with prizes!) and fun for all.

For several years, Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Banjo Man have donated their time and services to brighten the day of the children. As an added bonus, Santa also provides small gifts for the children and each child receives a framed picture of him or her sitting in Santa's lap! This year, the JLW volunteers added Jake the Magician to the lineup, and he provided an entertaining finale to the morning activities. Windows Catering was a generous repeat supporter of the holiday party, providing delicious refreshments for the parents to enjoy.

Under the direction of Emily Harris and Andrea Contres, who lead the committee in planning the Holiday Party, the JLW members of the Bright Beginnings committee baked cookies, created festive decorations and staffed the holiday party. We appreciate all of their time and efforts and could not have executed this event without their organization and commitment.

If you're interested in supporting Bright Beginnings, we'd love to see you at the upcoming BB 5K run on March 2, 2013. Click here to register.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A JLW Shops! Afternoon at Tory Burch on October 13, 2012

My New Member year was off to a great start.  After meeting, and loving, my advisor and small group, I was excited to get started with my Mini-Placement.  First task: attend and write a blog post about the JLW Shops! event at Tory Burch.

Okay, twist my arm why don’t you?


So one Saturday, after attending Course Session (I love JLW filled days!) I hopped in a Zip Car (also a JLW corporate sponsor!) and headed out to Tysons Galleria!  Having never been in a brick and mortar Tory Burch store, I was awestruck walking into the Tysons Galleria location.  It was what I wished my closet looked like - rich velvets, gold accents, and of course filled to the brim with beautiful shoes, bags, clothing, and gems!

There were two lovely gentlemen walking around with trays of mini-cupcakes and beverages, adding to the luxurious ambiance.  The staff was so helpful, attentively answering questions and fetching several pairs of shoes that I’ve had my eye on for some time now.  After indulging in a cupcake and trying on boots and flats galore, I finally settled on a pair.

The best part was, there was a 10% discount AND 10% of the proceeds went back to the Junior League of Washington!  There is nothing better than shopping for a cause.

It was a successful Saturday in my book.  Shopping and the supporting the JLW?  What could be better?  I’m looking forward to more JLW Shops! events in the future!

Courtney Lada
JLW New Member

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The JLW Awards Opportunity Grant to Hope House DC

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is pleased to announce Hope House DC as the third 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.

Hope House DC was founded in 1998 after the closing of the District of Columbia's Lorton Correctional Complex sent thousands of D.C. inmates to federal correctional facilities across the country. Currently more than 8,000 District inmates, most with families in the greater D.C. metropolitan area, are imprisoned in more than 50 facilities as far away as California. The mission of Hope House DC is to (a) strengthen families by improving the bonds between children and their fathers imprisoned far from home; (b) reduce the isolation, stigma, shame and risk these families experience when fathers are imprisoned; and (c) raise public awareness about this most at-risk population.

One of the ways Hope House DC accomplishes the mission is through the “Father to Child Reading Program”, which promotes family literacy by recording dads reading to their kids, then sending the book and recording home to the children - a unique approach to the standard family literacy model of parents and children reading together. The readings build relationships between separated children and fathers and use their desire for a relationship to motivate them to keep reading together.

The Reading Program is carried out by two Hope House staff and a small number of local contractors who visit prisons regularly with an array of children’s books and audio or video recording equipment. Fathers choose a book from the collection. After spending time practicing, fathers read the books aloud as their voice is recorded. Each father prefaces and closes his reading with a personal message to his child. The signed book and tape are taken out of the prison by Hope House staff and mailed home to the child of the inmate, at no cost to the inmate or his family.

Each year, Hope House DC records and distributes at least 2,000 books to children with fathers in prison. As books typically go to families with more than one child, about 3,000 children each year are encouraged and excited to read more often because they have received book recordings from their fathers. 

Since the program’s inception, Hope House DC has used audio tapes to record fathers reading to their children, with video recordings being the rare exception. It has become difficult to find audio tapes, and the children the organization serves tends to have more access to CD players.

The $500 opportunity grant from the JLW will purchase four Sony digital recorders that will allow the organization to make CDs instead of audio tapes. The balance will go towards the purchase of blank CDs.

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