Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Junior League of Washington Celebrates 15 Years of Volunteering at the Library of Congress National Book Festival

JLW volunteers celebrate the 2016 National Book Festival with Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden.

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is an organization of women dedicated to improving the community through trained volunteer service. JLW focuses its volunteer resources on improving literacy in and around Washington, DC. Since 2003, JLW has provided hundreds of trained volunteers each year to support the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Over its 15 years of support for the festival, JLW volunteers will have provided more than 40,000 volunteer hours, worth over $1.2 million, to ensure that book lovers have a great time at the National Book Festival.

The following post is a Q&A with JLW members Aileen Marquez and Tessa Wilkin about why JLW volunteers love coming back to the National Book Festival year after year.

It’s the Junior League of Washington’s 15th year volunteering for the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. Why do you think JLW volunteers look forward to this event?
Aileen: “This is the first volunteer experience for most new JLW members, so it’s an opportunity to meet other Junior League volunteers. It’s also awesome to see how excited visitors are to share their love of literacy.”
Tessa: “We love the National Book Festival because it brings hundreds of us from all across the organization together on one day to support a cause close to our collective heart, literacy. It’s also the first opportunity our newest members have to volunteer as a member of the JLW. The energy and excitement from that first experience creates a love for the festival that carries on into the future. NBF is like a JLW family reunion.”

How many years have you been involved in the festival, and what keeps you coming back?
Aileen: This is my second-year volunteering. I loved my time last year. Because it’s an experience that so many of us share, it’s a great way to connect with other Junior League members.”
Tessa: This will be my 10th year volunteering at the NBF. What keeps me coming back each year are the opportunities to interact with the authors, the book-loving public, and my fellow JLW volunteers. One day I’ll make the switch from festival volunteer to festival attendee but that won’t be any time soon!”

What is your favorite thing about the festival?
Aileen: “I love the Pavilion of States—it’s a great way to learn more about different states and their local authors.”
Tessa: “I love being around so many fellow bibliophiles, helping to make the festival a success for its authors and attendees, and walking away with great book-inspired memories. A favorite memory (besides the wedding proposal in the book-signing lines in 2012!) is when I saw the long lines of people who wanted to meet the author of a beloved book series I read in my childhood. I hadn’t met anyone else in my life who had read the books so seeing 20 years later that I wasn’t alone in my love, and that the author’s fans covered so many generations, filled my heart with so much joy.”

To learn more about the 2017 National Book Festival, please click here. This blog post originally appeared on the Library of Congress blog.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Leadership in Bloom: Melissa Miller

Meet Melissa Miller, a JLW member who blew her friends and family away with her sheer positivity and force of life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at just 27 years old. Facing a terrifying diagnosis and difficult treatment, Melissa fought back with optimism and determination. During and since her recovery, Melissa has served as an inspiration and role model to other young women facing the same diagnosis. She has selflessly devoted her time and energy to raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support. Read on to hear the story of how Melissa has touched the lives of so many women.

As a patient, how did you find the time or motivation to connect to others as an advocate for cancer awareness?
Being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age was a very isolating experience, so spreading awareness with my story was a way for me to feel not so alone. In opening up and sharing my personal struggles, fears and victories with my network of friends and family, I ended up connecting with a lot of other young patients and survivors and became a part of a very special community. Becoming a champion for breast cancer awareness, especially among young women, was a natural progression for me. I didn’t know that this could happen to me at only 27 years old, and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else.

How have you benefited from your advocacy work?
Becoming an advocate has helped me to gracefully move on to this next phase of my cancer “journey.” Life after treatment is hard and confusing: going from being a patient to a survivor comes with a whole new set of worries and fears. In raising money for The Pink Agenda and volunteering as a member of the Sibley Young Professional Board, I’m able to channel that energy into something positive.

The breast cancer community seems so close-knit and supportive. What do you think is so vital about women supporting other women?
We women need to stick together and advocate for one another to overcome the barriers that we face. In raising each other up and supporting one another, rather than competing or putting each other down, we create something strong and amazing. I’ve never felt more empowered than when I have had other women standing by my side raising me up. There is something special about the bond of women.

How do you see that special bond live out in Junior League? 
The relationships that I have formed during my membership in the League are so special to me. Not only have I found amazing friendship in other members, but I have expanded my personal and professional network in meeting smart, talented women I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to know. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Leadership in Bloom: Elyse Braner

Meet Elyse Braner, runner and motivator extraordinaire. When she’s not training for marathons or leading running clubs, Elyse sits on the board of Girls on the Run, a skill and confidence-building program for elementary school aged girls where she also coaches a team. Elyse credits much of her successes to both running and finding strong female mentors, so Girls on the Run is a special outlet through which she can pay it forward. Hear Elyse’s thoughts on how running can strengthen a young woman’s life, what inspired her to lead, and how running empowered her at a young age.

What is Girls on the Run? What inspired you to get involved?
Girls on the Run is a youth development program for girls in grades three through five. Each session, participants learn valuable life skills such as confidence, managing their feelings, healthy eating, and anti-bullying.  Each lesson is paired with a running workout, and by the end of twelve weeks, the girls all participate in a 5K race. Through the lessons and running, the girls recognize both their emotional and physical strength, as well as what makes them unique.

I was very shy and quiet growing up, and it was not until I was encouraged by a teacher to start running on the track team that I found my voice and confidence. Once I found running, I blossomed as an individual. I not only found my inner strength, but I found strength in being part of a team. When I heard about Girls on the Run, I was inspired to begin volunteering with the program based on how positively running had impacted my life.

Tell us about your responsibilities as a board member of Girls on the Run.
I am the Secretary of the Board for the Girls on the Run DC chapter. We plan to ensure the future of the organization by advising staff members on future growth, matters of the budget, fundraising, grants, and visibility. I sit on the Development Committee, which controls all of the fundraising activities of the organization. I believe board members have a financial responsibility to support the organizations that they are involved in, so I always engage in my own fundraising efforts for the organization as well.

Additionally, I coach a Girls on the Run team at Hyde-Addison Elementary School. My direct involvement in the activities of the organization helps me understand how the organization runs on a daily basis, as well as the needs of organization and the girls we serve.

What have you learned through your leadership experiences with Girls on the Run? First and foremost, as I have transitioned from a volunteer to a board member, I have learned to think more strategically about Girls on the Run. Instead of being a doer and constantly taking on tasks, I have had to learn how to look beyond my Girls on the Run team and focus on the entire organization as a whole, as well as be able to assist in planning for the organization’s future.

JLW’s Get on Board program absolutely prepared me to become a board member of a nonprofit.  I walked into my first board meeting knowing what my roles and responsibilities as a board member were, what my role was versus the role of a staff member, and how board meetings run. The program certainly lowered the learning curve for me.

What would your piece of advice be to JLW members who want to seek out community leadership or board opportunities?
Find an organization with a mission that you are passionate about. Start volunteering with the organization and get involved as much as you can. Often boards have committees that volunteers can join, and those are often provide ladders to the board.  Meet the board members and Executive Director and voice your interest. Find out if you have skills that the board needs…legal skills, marketing or communication skills, accounting skills, etc. The more passionate you are about the mission, the more your authenticity will shine through and the more you will want to contribute.
How have you been empowered or benefited from other women?
One of the most important roles of a leader is to train the next group of leaders. I attended a women’s college and have been involved with both Girls on the Run and the Junior League of Washington for the past 10 years, so I am lucky to have had amazing and inspiring women around me. I have always had wonderful mentors and women around me who made me see my potential and value.

How do you empower other women?
I try to help them carve out opportunities for themselves to use their skills and to put them in a position where they will be recognized by leadership. I am very big on goal-setting, so one of the first things I do if someone has a goal to be on the board is I assist them in charting out their course to get there, based on my experiences becoming a board member and voting on potential board members. I do have a goal and dream that every woman who I am able to mentor or help in even a small way will develop a strong sense of self-worth and that they know that they are valuable just simply for who they are. When we drown out the noise and unrealistic expectations that we sometimes find in society, the real work can begin.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Leadership in Bloom: Tycely Williams

Meet Tycely Williams, the 2016-2017 Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and the 2017-2018 President-Elect of the Junior League of Washington. Between these roles and her position as the Vice President of Development at YWCA USA, Tycely is no stranger to leadership and responsibility. She takes these commitments and the responsibility of a leader to heart. Read on to learn about Tycely’s experiences in the League and a few words of wisdom!

Your leadership, both in JLW and in your career, is so focused on your values and passions. Can you tell us a little about both?
At YWCA USA, I partner with individuals and institutions across the U.S. to eliminate racism and empower women. My work at YWCA USA brings me genuine joy mainly because it allows me to activate my personal values through a professional calling. Like fundraising within the Junior League of Washington, we focus our efforts on diversified revenue streams with a hefty reliance on the generosity of people and companies. We promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. We advance our values through advocacy and local programming that serves 2.3 million Americans annually. I am fortunate I truly do what I love and love what I do.

What does leadership mean to you?
In simple terms, effective leadership creates, builds and preserves trust. Leadership requires one to forge a genuine partnership with people to create shared goals and a shared understanding of how to reach the anticipated outcome.

How can we all learn to become better leaders?
Leadership requires an enormous amount of listening, an essential distribution of power, and an extreme amount of self-care. You cannot lead without hearing and heeding the good, the bad, and the ugly. You cannot delegate a responsibility without gifting authority. And most importantly, you cannot be what others need you to be unless you make healthy choices: rest, exercise, and follow Mommy’s advice – eat your vegetables.

You’ve given so much to JLW through your time and service. How has your League involvement benefited you personally or professionally?
As a young woman, I encountered women within the League who, through formal and informal exchanges, encouraged me to be resilient, inquisitive, and courageous. Through the encouragement of League members, I planned my dream wedding, built a house, and started a business. When I questioned my decision to marry and reevaluated my emotional and psychological needs, many of these same League members stood with me through my divorce and lovingly helped me regain my happiness as a divorcée. Equally as important, the League helped me become the values-driven, nonprofit executive I am today. Educational sessions, leadership seminars, and committee placements helped me hone my communication skills, deepen my understanding of collaboration, and become better equipped to resolve disputes. I can attest, JLW offers a safe space for women to grow personally and professionally.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Leadership in Bloom: Kristen Soltis Anderson

Meet Kristen Soltis Anderson, a JLW member who founded her research and analysis firm, Echelon Insights, authored “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America and How Republicans Can Keep Up,” and was named as one of TIME Magazine’s “30 Under 30 Changing the World” in 2013, among other national accolades in the last few years. Read on to learn about her challenges, how much she values female mentors, and some clutch advice for any other aspiring business owners.

You’ve had such a successful professional life – even before you started Echelon Insights. Was it hard getting your business started?
The first struggle was the fear of not feeling like I even knew how to get started, like what are the things you need to do to start a company? Get a Tax ID number, pick a name…and then what? I didn't want to jump in until it felt like I had a firm grasp on every little thing involved in running a business.

How did the experience help you grow as a leader?
I had to learn to let go a little – to be diligent and responsible – but be willing to take risks and to venture into territory where I didn't have experience already.

As a mentor to other women who aspire to start their own business, what advice would you give?
Talk to others who have done it before, and find at least one person to whom you can pose questions that you are too embarrassed to ask anywhere else. I had many questions early on that I thought, "Oh, surely, everyone already knows the answer to this, and asking will just make me look dumb," when really, you're not alone.

How has your League involvement benefited you personally or professionally?
Being involved in the League helped me build relationships with women in a variety of different industries and to learn about fields I knew very little about! I also learned a lot about nonprofit board service. Serving on the JLW Board was one of my first experiences learning the ins and outs of the duties of serving on such a board and helped prepare me for roles on other boards.

What does it mean to you to have strong female role models?
It is so helpful to not feel alone, and strong female role models help you see that you're not the only one facing this or that struggle, question, or issue. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Leadership in Bloom: Samantha Brainard

Meet Samantha Brainard, a JLW member whose life changed forever when her sister was diagnosed with Synoval Sarcoma at age 23 in 2013. Ever since, Sam has been involved with the Ulman Cancer Fund as a volunteer. This spring, she took on the near-herculean challenge of participating in the Key to Keys bicycle ride from Baltimore to Key West to support her sister and raise funds and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, which helps young patients navigate the medical system. Think that sounds hard? Well, Sam only just bought her first bike in January. A serious force of nature, nothing is stopping Sam from rising to this challenge.

Watching your sister battle cancer must be heart-wrenching. What have you done to get involved?
I started volunteering with the Ulman Cancer Fund after my sister was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in 2013 at age 23. Their staff and volunteers have been by her side throughout her cancer fight, and they have helped to connect her with other young adults facing cancer too. They provide patient navigation services for young adult cancer patients in local hospitals in the DMV, scholarships, cancer to 5K training programs, and so much more.

The bicycle ride sounds difficult to say the least. What impact will it have?
I participated in the Ulman Cancer Fund's Key to Keys bicycle ride from Baltimore to Key West from April 22-29. Over the course of a week, our team covered 1500+ miles to raise awareness of the young adult cancer fight and to support the work of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. This amazing organization works to provide support for young adults, and their loved ones, impacted by cancer.  

Your dedication to the cause is so admirable. Besides the family connection, what motivates you?
I did this ride in honor of my sister and in honor and memory of all young adults who spend their 20s and 30s fighting cancer instead of living a "normal" life.

Challenges like this are such a tangible symbol of strength and support for the cancer community. Where do you get your strength?
I would not be the woman I am today without strong female role models in my life. I'm blessed to be surrounded by strong women who inspire me to pursue my dreams personally and professionally. My grandmother was a member of the Junior League, and she encouraged me to join so I could find like-minded women in the Washington, DC, area. Through my League membership, I'm able to meet women who continue to inspire me every day.

I've made friendships in JLW that will last throughout my life. In particular, I know that I wouldn't have been able to do this ride if it weren't for my dear friend and fellow League member Kelly Hunter who has helped me to train and been my rock throughout this process! We met through the League, and I'm so thankful to JLW for bringing us together!

Friday, May 19, 2017

JLW by the Numbers: A Budget Snapshot

The Junior League of Washington supports over 2,300 members and over 20 community partners on nearly $1 million. How do we make the most effective and efficient use of our funds to support the League’s members, mission, and our community? Let’s run the numbers!

Above: JLW revenues come in mainly through membership dues and our fundraisers. The League also generates income by renting apartments located on the top floors of our Headquarters, as well as our investment accounts (House Fund, Emergency Fund, and Impact Fund). The revenue numbers shown here are net any expenses associated with that line item. For example, Dues and Fees includes both the New Member course fees and membership dues, minus the New Member Committee expenses for the programming. Building – Apartments revenue is net maintenance expenses, and Fundraisers are net their expenses.

Above: Our expenses are broken out here according to a tenet of JLW’s Mission, “developing the potential of women”, and our 3 strategic priorities: building community impact, building an internal sense of community, and building JLW’s brand. Committee budgets are categorized into one of these four buckets:

  • Because we believe in developing the potential of women, we are spending over $100,000 in training, which includes Leadership Institute and Development & Training programs, as well as AJLI-sponsored training, in 2017-2018.
  • Because we believe in building community impact, we are spending $55,000 in programming support for our members who volunteer in the community and are giving over $100,000 in grants and scholarships.
  • Because we believe in building an internal sense of community, we support the Membership Development Council, as well as our Sustainers. 
  • And because we believe in building JLW’s brand, we allocate over $20,000 toward the Communications and Public Relations Council.

A fifth bucket – supporting the work of JLW – reflects additional Headquarters-related, personnel, and administrative (phone system, cloud, internet) expenses.

The League has budgeted for a net surplus of just over $6,000 for 2017-2018.

Above: This chart is another way that the League has compared its expenses over time.  In this 2014-2018 analysis, Headquarters, personnel, and administrative expenses were allocated to the committees based on membership placement in those committees. Tracking this information over time will continue to help us understand where we are investing more and less each year. Please note that this includes expenses only – no revenue.

Above: In 2016-2017, the Board of Directors discussed beginning the budget process later in the year. Such a shift is only possible if the budget is no longer a part of the Annual Ballot approval process. As a result, a question was placed on the ballot to remove budget approval from the ballot moving forward; the measure passed with a majority of votes in April 2017. Effective 2017-2018, committee leaders will have more time and information, as well as the right people, with which to develop more meaningful budgets or plans for the coming year. It will also leave budget decisions in the hands of the Board members, the slate of leaders elected by the general membership to make these informed budget decisions and on whom fiscal responsibility rests. The budget will remain accessible to the entire membership via jlw.org.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Connecting the Dots: Learning More about Our Members and Mission through JLW’s Annual Survey

Each year, the Junior League of Washington (JLW) polls our members to gather feedback on important topics. In addition to the standard, year-over-year questions regarding member satisfaction, placements, reasons for remaining active, and training opportunities, etc., the Strategic Planning Committee also develops new survey questions based on current initiatives, including findings from the 2015-2016 Membership Task Force, as well as themes under consideration for the League’s new 5-Year Strategic Plan (2017-2022). Based on these results, JLW takes steps to improve both the member experience and our footprint in the community – such as creating new placements (e.g. Leadership Institute and A Wider Circle Committees), implementing targeted Annual Plan tactics, and taking on special initiatives (e.g. Women’s Leadership Luncheon and Day of Service), to name a few.

For 2016-2017, JLW is excited to report that 679 members participated in the Annual Survey, representing a 35% increase compared to last year’s 503 participants. Especially important to note was a spike in Sustainer participation – up 126% from last year. Through these results, we are able to gain valuable insight into members’ experiences.

Let’s explore how the survey fits into the bigger picture of JLW:

·        There was a 7% increase in members who selected “Very Satisfied” compared to last year’s survey
·        28% of participants are more satisfied with their JLW experience than they used to be, and 53% are just as satisfied with their JLW experience
·        55% of participants are very satisfied with leadership; up from 52.4% in 2016 (a 2.6% increase)

Top 3 reasons why members remain active in JLW:
·        Volunteer opportunities in the community
·        Leadership development and training
·        The professional network that JLW offers

Top 3 choices for training opportunities:
·        Time management
·        Managing resources
·        How to become a leader in the community

Strategic Goals
·        Overall, survey participants strongly agree with JLW’s goals as reflected in the Strategic Plan.
·        A new question on values was added to this year’s survey to help support the Strategic Plan. Here is what members value most:
o   League friendships and networking
o   Giving back, making a difference, and improving our community
o   Volunteer opportunities
o   Leadership and development training (for personal and professional growth)

As always, we look forward to hearing from each JLW member about her League experience and how we can continue to improve. Contact us at stratplan@jlw.org, and keep an eye out for the unveiling of the new 5-Year Strategic Plan this summer to see how your feedback has been incorporated!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Get in with the New Placements

Trying to decide where to volunteer next year? The Junior League of Washington (JLW) has 46 placements that give back in a variety of ways – through direct work in the community, through fundraising, and through League programs that help cultivate and develop our volunteers.

In 2017-2018 – our 105th anniversary year – JLW will have four new volunteer opportunities: 105th Celebration Committee, Member Communications, Washington School for Girls, and The Reading Connection.

Read on to learn about what each of these committees will do, and don’t forget to participate in this year’s placement fair – running from May 1-26.

105th Celebration Committee

The Junior League of Washington is getting ready to thrive in 105! 2017-2018 marks our 105th anniversary, and we will celebrate throughout the League year. The Celebration Committee is a special anniversary year committee that will be responsible for coordinating a year of celebration and recognition of JLW, our members today, and our bright future. The committee will be managing communications campaigns throughout the year, as well as a birthday party in the fall and a day of service in the spring – so members involved with specific events will be busier around those dates. If you are dedicated to JLW and passionate about celebrating the fantastic work we do, don’t miss out on this placement – because it probably won't be available again until our 110th. If you have additional questions, please contact Erin Buechel Wieczorek.

Member Communications Committee

Be a connector and join the Member Communications Committee! New for the 2017-2018 year, this in-League placement addresses how JLW communicates with its members to share news of events, Membership Credit opportunities, League information, and other important news. It's perfect for someone who wants a smaller, more intimate committee (4-6 women, plus the chair) and the flexibility to do work on your own time. You'll also get to know JLW well because you'll work with all committees and councils to help communicate their opportunities and activities to members. Potential volunteers should have solid communications skills, flexibility, and creativity. The monthly time commitment is around 4-8 hours with monthly meetings. Additional questions can be direct to Jennifer Lim.

The Reading Connection Committee

JLW is pleased to announce our newest partnership with The Reading Connection (TRC). In the 2017-2018 League year, we will be volunteering with TRC’s Read-Aloud program, which inspires children (and volunteers) through the power of reading aloud and a love of great books. This program trains and deploys community volunteers to serve children living in shelters and other housing complexes – situations where parents are likely to be too stressed to read for the fun of it. At each Read-Aloud, JLW volunteers will read quality, age-appropriate books to the children, encouraging engagement and interest, then coordinate activities and conversations based on the theme of the books. Every child selects a book to keep after every weekly session – because when kids enjoy a book, they’ll want more. Volunteers will be expected to plan and attend one Read-Aloud session per month with a team of four to five of your JLW peers. For more information about this placement, contact Christina Prevalsky.

Washington School for Girls Committee

Let’s hear it for the girls! Another new community placement for the upcoming year is at the Washington School for Girls – which is currently the recipient of a multi-year, targeted grant. This committee will work on literacy skills with girls grades 3-8 during their Saturday School Program (9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.). Volunteers will have the opportunity to help improve literacy in the DC ward that needs the most help. The girls are bright and eager to learn, and many don’t have much opportunity to work with an adult one-on-one regularly. Potential volunteers should be comfortable around kids of all ages and different socioeconomic levels as well as have the ability to generate excitement and motivate children to learn. WSG is in Anacostia; the location is easy to find and offers free parking. If you have additional questions, please contact Jennie Kronthal.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Celebrating Women’s History Month at NMWA

On Sunday, March 12, the Junior League of Washington’s (JLW) Esprit and National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) Committees teamed up to celebrate Women’s History Month by co-hosting a museum tour and brunch. NMWA is the “only major museum in the world solely dedicate to recognizing women’s creative contributions,” according to the museum’s website – an ideal place to celebrate the contributions of women throughout history, as well as the powerful band of women who make up the Junior League of Washington.

The tours were led by two JLW docents, Sarah Bryant, NMWA Committee chair, and Jamela “Jam” Black. Attendees viewed pieces by Lavinia Fontana’s Portrait of a Noblewoman (1580), Amy Sherald’s It Made Sense… Mostly in Her Mind (2011), and many other great works in the NMWA collection. NMWA features pieces that span generations, styles, nationalities, and subjects, with more than 100 works by women from the 16th century to the modern era on display.

Bethany Poteat, a NMWA Committee member, attended the event and said, "Our docent (Jam) structured the tour around the theme 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' and encouraged us to look at seemingly unrelated works from a different perspective. I loved hearing what thoughts and references the pieces evoked for different people."

Attendees pose for a photo in NMWA’s great hall before the start of the tour.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Keys, JLW President
After the tour, attendees enjoyed brunch at Momofuku and continued the conversation on women artists. They also discussed the artists and works featured on “See For Yourself” cards, packets that comprise a self-guided tour. JLW and NMWA volunteers help put the packets together.

Attendees at brunch pose with “See For Yourself” cards and discuss women artists and works they viewed on the tour.
Photo Credit: Jackie Frederick-Maturo

Attendees had a wonderful time learning about women artists and their accomplishments. You can join the conversation too! Join the initiative started by NMWA, use #5WomenArtists on social media and share photos of works by your favorite women artists.

NMWA incorporated as a private, nonprofit museum in 1981, opening its doors to the public in its current location on New York Avenue in 1987. JLW has been associated with NMWA since 1982; today, women from the League serve as visitor experience volunteers, staffing the Information Desk, leading Conversation Pieces, and supporting the museum at a variety of events. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Member Kelsey Sullivan Lives Out Our Literacy Focus in Her Mini Placement and Community Experience

Junior League of Washington (JLW) New Member Kelsey Sullivan served in the community for both her mini placement and community experience, gaining eye-opening experiences during her provisional year. Read on to find out all about Kelsey’s experiences in her mini placement and in her community experience.

“I've had the pleasure of completing a wonderful community experience as well as an unforgettable mini placement. For my community experience, I volunteered with the DC Books to Prisons Project, and for my mini placement, I volunteered with the Washington School for Girls (WSG) four Saturday mornings over the course of a few months.

“At the DC Books to Prisons Project, I read letters sent to the organization directly from incarcerated men and women from around the country and responded by picking out and sending books to them I thought they would like. Their letters spoke about their interests, aspirations, and favorite authors and genres, and we worked to carefully select literature, self-help books, and even textbooks that would cater to their requests. It was a very moving experience, because when we think of the criminal justice system in the United States, we think of the millions and millions of Americans who are behind bars. This experience allowed me to get to know a few of these Americans personally. It made an issue that is so vast and at times seems helpless very accessible and personal. I was nervous about my choices, because I didn't want them to be disappointed by the books they would receive. I wrote little notes back wishing them happy reading, and I do hope that they all enjoyed the pieces I picked out for them.

“At the Washington School for Girls, I had the pleasure of working with and socializing with underprivileged girls in grades 3-8. We ate breakfast with them, played some ice-breaker games, and then spent the rest of the time helping them with homework and various assignments. My favorite part of this opportunity was knowing that I was helping these girls solve problems and appreciate the learning process, and hopefully, along the way, acting as a role model for them. Despite coming from families and communities with few resources, these girls are happy, smart, confident young women with bright futures, thanks to WSG. 

“I think I was most inspired by the JLW leader of the WSG partnership. Her passion for WSG and the work the school is doing was incredibly inspiring. While we volunteers spent our time tutoring the little girls, JLW’s relationship manager [Jennie Kronthal] spent her Saturday mornings teaching a girl’s mom how to read. This was so moving, because her work truly was contributing to JLW's mission of literacy promotion. Teaching a mother how to read will not only empower her to read, but it will allow her to teach her children and grandchildren how to read, and the gift of reading will be passed on through generations to come. Improving one person's literacy can have implications that reach far beyond that one individual. [Jennie] really inspired me to think about the ways that I can contribute to society, and to JLW, in my own future as a member. This was definitely a ‘mission moment.’

“I joined JLW because I wanted to be connected with opportunities to volunteer, and I must say, it has exceeded my expectations. I have volunteered more in the last four to five months than I have in the last four to five years of my life here in DC. Additionally, I have made some great friends so far, which I honestly didn't expect. I knew I'd meet some lovely young women with similar goals and aspirations as me, but I didn't really expect to meet young women with whom I would click so fast – that has been a wonderful bonus to my JLW experience so far.

“I am sincerely looking forward to becoming a full member and joining different committees. This has been a great experience, and I have encouraged many, many friends and acquaintances to consider joining JLW. I am so excited about the coming years of good friendships, leadership experiences and most importantly, opportunities to give back to those around me who are in need.”

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Kelsey! Now, it’s your turn. What have been some of your favorite JLW experiences volunteering in our community?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Get On Board Enabled Me to Get on a Board (and Stay There)

By: Laura Lieberman

One of my favorite things about the Junior League of Washington is that it has helped me develop skills that have allowed me to enhance my usefulness in the areas in which I volunteer, allowing me to take my involvement to “the next level.” For example, my first-year community experience participation with Iona Senior Services led me to be the Meals on Wheels coordinator for my church. But another major example that stands out for me is participating in Get On Board.

When the first Get On Board class was announced in spring 2015, I’d just been recently nominated to serve on the board of directors for the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden. The Executive Director, John Christiansen, had nominated me because he believed that my volunteer experience (the museum is my Historic Alexandria Docents placement) would provide insight for the board’s governance. I was pretty nervous about this, so I thought taking the Get On Board classes would help.

And they did! My nomination to the board was approved right about the same time as the first Get On Board class, so the timing was perfect. Through the span of four lessons, I was exposed to a lot of important information, such as a board member’s responsibilities, optimal relationships between the board and the executive director, what documents a board member should access and familiarize herself with, and how to identify problems within an organization’s board.

The material taught was all useful, but learning the proper role of a board member in a tight-knit organization has proved to be particularly helpful for my own situation. The Lee-Fendall operates on a small scale—small staff, small group of volunteers, and small board. Because I’m also a volunteer, it can be easy for these roles to overlap. However, learning how to keep my involvement in these two positions separate from the beginning has been a good way to enjoy being engaged without overstepping boundaries.

The course was also a good way to learn more about nonprofit governance generally. Coming out of the sessions, I felt much more knowledgeable about the structure of both nonprofit board and staff. Additionally, I definitely recommend the program for anyone who is on (or is considering) the Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee—learning about the elements of a stable organization can be helpful when reviewing grant application documents.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Celebrating 25 Years of Fabulous Finds!

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) will host its 25th annual Tossed & Found rummage sale on March 25 and 26, 2017, in Crystal City, Virginia. One of the Junior League of Washington’s largest fundraisers, Tossed & Found provides DC-area families and community groups with quality, gently used household goods at bargain prices.

“The Junior League of Washington is looking forward to opening the doors of our Tossed & Found rummage sale for the 25th year running. We welcome not only savvy shoppers, but also members of our community in need of bargain household goods and clothing to help them get back on their feet,” said JLW President Elizabeth Keys. “Since 1993, Tossed & Found has been a fundraiser that directly connects our members to our mission by improving our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. In celebrating Tossed & Found’s silver anniversary, we are celebrating 25 years of being able to continue promoting voluntarism and giving back to our community.”

Support Tossed & Found through the following ways in 2017:

Buy Community Cash Cards – The concept is simple. You donate to Tossed & Found’s Community Cash Card program, and we give a $40 gift certificate for the sale to a JLW community partner, neighbor in need, or a charity or church of your choice. These gift certificates allow women, men, and children, often dealing with homelessness, extreme poverty, or crisis situations, to shop the sale and get much-needed items, like pots and pans, furniture, clothing, and baby items.

Attend Our EventsThis year’s sale will take place at 2200 Crystal Drive, 6th Floor in Arlington, Virginia – space generously provided in partnership with Vornado/Charles E. Smith and the Crystal City Business Improvement District. The rummage sale is free and open to the public.

Hoops & High Heels Preview Night
March 24, 2017
7 p.m.
The 25th Annual Tossed & Found Rummage Sale
March 25, 2017        March 26, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.        9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Invite Your Friends - All of our events are open to the public – show your friends and family one of the many ways JLW supports the DC area.

Work a Shift – Come have fun with the committee as we sort, organize, and set up for our events. Get to know some new people and earn a membership credit.

Over the past quarter-century, Tossed & Found has raised over $2.1 million cumulatively; in 2016, the sale raised more than $150,000. Proceeds from the sale are used to advance the League’s mission. JLW focuses its financial and volunteer resources on the issues of literacy – adult, child, and cultural – and works with a diverse group of community partners, including Horton’s Kids, the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Iona Senior Services, and N Street Village.

For a complete list of events and more information on JLW’s Tossed & Found, please visit www.jlw.org/TossedandFound. And to get a sneak peek at some of the fabulous finds from this year’s sale and learn a little more about the history of the sale, visit our Facebook event.