The Junior League of Washington’s (JLW) reach extends to more than 20 organizations in the Washington, DC, area and provides many opportunities to volunteer within the community or within the League. When a new member (“Provisional”) joins JLW, she might wonder which placement is the best fit for her – working with a JLW fundraiser, a community partner like Horton’s Kids or N Street Village, or helping with an in-League placement, such as PR or Development & Training. To help narrow down the interests of its provisional members, a mini-placement – an eight to 10-hour commitment with one JLW committee or council – offers a glimpse into a specific volunteer experience within JLW.
Here, Daria Brunet touches on her experience with Bright Beginnings, a free, full-day child development center specifically designed for preschoolers whose families are in crisis shelters or transitional housing, which JLW helped found. She shares how her short time with the program has already reinforced her decision to join JLW.
Asked for a sneak peek on what Bright Beginnings is all about, Daria referenced her “well-rounded” experience and added what is ahead for the committee:
The Bright Beginnings Committee has created a very well-rounded mini-placement experience for the provisional members. I have had the opportunity to attend the monthly committee meetings, participate in the Fall Literacy Night in which we read “Go, Go, Grapes!” and helped the children with creating fruit-inspired chef hats, fulfill the Christmas wish list for one of the two-year-old boys in the program, organize and verify the wish list gifts for accuracy and completeness at a committee sorting shift, help transport and unload the wish list gifts from JLW HQ to Bright Beginnings, and fundraise for the Bright Beginnings 5K via the Crowdrise platform. Before the end of the year, I will also be helping out with activities and games at the Bright Beginnings Holiday Party.
What has been your favorite part?
So far, I have most enjoyed the Fall Literacy Night because it allowed me to interact with the children, see the Bright Beginnings teachers in action, and feel the impact and significance of the program.
Did you have any mission moments during your mini-placement?
Yes. At the monthly committee meetings, you can feel the commitment to promoting voluntarism and improving the community served by Bright Beginnings from each woman there. It has been really important for me as a provisional member to see that kind of commitment, and it has reinforced my decision to join JLW, as I joined primarily to obtain stronger ties to the community through volunteering. At the Fall Literacy Night, it was clear to see how JLW’s work at Bright Beginnings is “improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.” Bright Beginnings is providing high-quality education and services to one of DC’s neediest and most vulnerable populations – homeless children. The importance of this kind of program in the lives of these children cannot be overstated. Not only did JLW found Bright Beginnings, the annual fundraising and on-the-ground presence from JLW’s volunteers provides critical support that sustains Bright Beginnings in the community.
What do you like about being a New Member?
I have truly enjoyed how the New Member year requirements expose you to so many different facets of the League. From the National Book Festival to Holiday Shops to Bright Beginnings to Esprit events with my advisor group, each experience has been unique and fun in its own way. Also, having just had my first baby in August and being on maternity leave this fall, JLW events have been a great way to get out of the house and spend time with wonderful women doing good for others and the community.
Thanks to Daria for showcasing her experience! JLW provisional members – we’d love for you to share yours! Our committees give members the opportunity to engage with the community, and one another, in life-changing ways.