Thursday, February 9, 2017

Making the Most of Your JLW Mini-Placement: A Conversation with Provisional Member Daria Brunett


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.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Who’s Behind Who’s News?


Junior League of Washington (JLW) Sustainer Lee-Lee Prina has been the face of beloved member column Who’s News since the 1980s. Through the decades, she has announced countless life events for fellow League members and has seen it all! We wanted to peek behind the curtain and learn more about Lee-Lee and how she’s seen JLW evolve from her vantage point.

Who's News is our very own Page 6! How do you collect news and updates?

Most of the news comes in "over the transom" (that is, by email sent to whosnews@jlw.org). And our current JLW president Elizabeth Keys is very diligent about sending me scoops! Occasionally, I read something elsewhere about a member and then attribute the news to the other publication and quote from it! In the "olden days," people would call me; I would also make cold calls to members to see if they had any news.

Tell us a little more about yourself – how long have you been in the League? What brought you to the DC area?

I have been in JLW since about 1980 and became a Sustainer around 1996. While I was never a committee chair or council director, I was elected to the Nominating Committee twice! (Editor’s note: Now, being a chair is a prerequisite for serving on Nominating.)

I was born and bred in DC (not suburbs!) and am an only child. My late dad was a news reporter here, and my mother is a retired freelance writer (and former JLW member!). I have lived in the Washington area all of my life except for a couple of out-of-town internships and four years in New Orleans at Tulane University. Now my husband and I live in Bethesda, near Glen Echo.

I work for Health Affairs, one of the leading health policy journals in the country, as a senior editor. A number of years ago, I cut back to a busy part-time position, so I could help my elderly parents with a variety of things.

How long have you been doing Who's News, and how has it evolved over time?

I have been compiling and writing the "Who's News" column since about 1983 or 1984, I want to say. The column started out under the name of "Loughborough Log" (named after JLW Headquarters, of course) and appeared in JLW's then 2-color magazine called Potomac Pages. It had a good amount of pictures. As I recall, the magazine became too expensive to produce. The column then moved to the former Hotline newsletter, and then to the online League Lines e-newsletter. At some point – though I don’t know why – the column changed to "Who's News," which I believe was copied from the name of a column in the Wall Street Journal.

When the column started back in the 1980s, job "networking" among women seemed a big thing. I have continued to ask people (no matter what news they are reporting) whether they work and, if so, where they work and what they do. That person could be a good contact for another JLW member who is job hunting! :-)

What are some of the most interesting or unique experiences you've had in documenting these updates? Have there been any impressive updates or crazy connections?

Our members are doing all kinds of interesting things! I have corresponded with two people serving as Miss DC. I also talked to a member about her husband, who was one of the hostages in Lebanon during the 1980s. Another member was one of the anchors on NewsChannel 8. 

One thing members should know is "Who's News" does not cover engagements or pregnancies. Although most engagements and pregnancies turn out just fine, it is best to wait until everything is a "fait accompli!”

What do you think your readers enjoy seeing in Who's News?

I would guess that members view it like they do "Class News" in alumnae magazines. They likely want to see what their friends and acquaintances have been doing. Who's News, of course, is not "gossip" per se: We just publish good/happy news!