Monday, March 16, 2015

Horton's Kids by Karen Garnick

JLW volunteers in the Horton’s Kids Committee have many opportunities for direct interaction with students enrolled in the Horton’s Kids program, including helping with after school tutoring on Mondays and Tuesdays, attending monthly field trips, and throwing Holiday parties. Every spring, JLW organizes an Easter Party for around 100 of the younger students in the program, which is approaching on Sunday, March 29th. The committee holds a meeting beforehand to map out a plan, organize supplies, and sign up for activity stations.

The day of the party, committee members arrive hours before the kids to transform the Cannon Caucus Room. They decorate the space with balloons, crepe paper, festive wall decorations, and colorful tablecloths. When the bus arrives, the kids are bouncing up and down with excitement for what lies ahead. During the party, activities are run by JLW volunteers, which include decorating cookies, face painting, making Easter bunnies from cotton balls, and guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar (the winner gets to take it home!) They are also offered a healthy lunch to balance out all the candy and sweets. One of the long-time Horton’s Kids volunteers dresses up at the Easter Bunny, which the kids absolutely LOVE. Throughout the party, the kids are taken in groups outside to hunt for Easter eggs, which is always a highlight. Horton’s Kids families live in subsidized housing in Ward 8, where it isn’t always safe for the kids to play outside, and there isn’t space for an Easter egg hunt. This event allows for a fun and safe environment for the kids to run around and play with each other, and celebrate the season.

After a few hours of sugar, games, and laughter, the kids are ready to crash. They hop on the bus and head back to their community center with bags full of candy, treats, and lots of good memories.

Horton’s Kids’ mission is to empower at-risk children and prepare them for successful and healthy lives through educational opportunities and comprehensive programs tailored to their needs. Volunteers are still the driving force behind Horton’s Kids, serving as positive role models for the children and helping the children succeed. For more information, please visit their website:

Friday, March 13, 2015

2015 National Book Festival

On Monday, March 9th, the Library of Congress announced the date and location for the 2015 National Book Festival – Saturday, September 5, 2015, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is proud once again to serve as the Library of Congress’s primary partner for volunteer support, a role the League has played since 2003.

The theme of this year’s Book Festival is “I Cannot Live Without Books,” and we hope this message serves as both an inspiration and a reminder to every JLW member. Each year, as the Junior League of Washington focuses our resources and time on the complex issues of literacy in our nation’s capital, we experience firsthand just how true that statement is – literacy not only enriches lives, but it is integral to leading successful lives. Our involvement in the National Book Festival, which supports the joy of lifetime reading, truly underscores our commitment to promoting literacy in and around Washington, DC.

The JLW has a long history with the National Book Festival – spanning 13 years, with nearly 5,000 volunteers providing more than 23,000 volunteer hours. Last year, as the festival moved to the Washington Convention Center, we continued to be the chief provider of volunteer support for the festival – and we want to thank everyone who helped make the event so successful in its new home. Moving forward, the JLW sees numerous opportunities to grow our involvement, improve on last year, and continue to be a vibrant presence at the National Book Festival.

This is a big year for the National Book Festival, which is celebrating its 15th year since its founding, as well as the 200th year since the Library of Congress acquired Thomas Jefferson’s personal library – which helped the Library become the largest library in the world.

We hope you join the Junior League of Washington and the Library of Congress to commemorate these anniversaries and to celebrate the joy of reading at the National Book Festival in 2015. We look forward to working with you to make the book festival a success.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

“You never know what you’ll find at Tossed & Found.”

We always say, “You never know what you’ll find at Tossed & Found.” 

Over the years there have been some fabulous finds – from a full set of silver to top designer duds with the tags still on. 

Sustainer Fernanda Fisher, a Tossed & Found veteran, knows this saying well. Recently, she joined a group of sustainers who volunteered during a drop-off shift. As Fernanda organized the Bric-a-Brac section, she diligently opened a box picturing a beautiful frame to confirm everything was still there. She found a brand new frame along with a crisp $50 bill tucked inside.

Fernanda donated the $50 to the Community Cash Card program, which funds gift cards so sale customers in need can shop with dignity. Fernanda’s find can help someone like the mother with a new job who’s moving out of a shelter and needs to outfit her new apartment and find some good professional apparel.
Thank you to Fernanda for thinking of the Community Cash Card program, and many thanks as well to all the sustainers who came to help us! 

It’s the support of members across JLW – actives, new members and sustainers – that drives our sale. It’s also one of the reasons Tossed & Found was recognized by the Association of Junior Leagues International as the 2014 top fundraiser across all leagues worldwide. 

Come find your treasure March 20 at Tossed & Found’s Preview Night event, Hoops and High Heels (tickets are going fast!), as well as March 21 – 22 for general shopping.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Experience Preserving History & Working with the Community at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

If it’s a Sunday afternoon, you’ll most likely find me dressed up in 18th Century clothes complete with a bonnet serving tea to guests in Gadsby’s Tavern restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. Go ahead, you can laugh. I did the first time I was fully dressed in about five layers of rather frumpy looking clothing. Afternoon tea is one of the many events I assist with at Gadsby’s Tavern on behalf of my Historic Alexandria Docents (HAD) Committee.

If you had asked me about this museum and restaurant six months ago, I would have given you a blank stare. But now, I can rattle off historical dates, activities, and key events from the museum and time period no problem. In case you were wondering, Gadsby’s Tavern was built in 1785 and the restaurant and city hotel were built a few years later in 1792.

That is one of the things I love best about the Junior League of Washington. It has exposed me to new women, places, volunteer activities, and culture that I never would have had if I hadn’t been a member.

Gadsby’s Tavern is one of five museums JLW members on the HAD Committee volunteer. It’s a very hands on experience. While it can be a larger time commitment (shadowing tours, memorizing historical data, and learning how to interact with the public on tours), it’s been a very rewarding placement so far.

I love volunteering at Gadsby’s because I’m able to interact with the community and work alongside amazingly friendly staff members who are so dedicated to preserving a wonderful piece of history. I interact with the community on every event whether it’s on a tour, serving afternoon tea, assisting with a birthday party or a museum sponsored ball. It’s a great feeling knowing that by volunteering I’m helping educate the community and preserve such an integral building to Alexandria’s history.

If you’ve never been to Gadsby’s or if you’ve been meaning to check it out, I highly encourage you to drop in this spring and take a tour with us (only about 25 minutes) to experience one of the historical highlights of Alexandria, Virginia. Or if you’d be better suited with afternoon tea, make a reservation for you and your girlfriends. I will warn you though, you could have me as your server.