In a time when women’s rights were few and far between, a group of 80 New York Debutants founded an organization with the purpose of bettering themselves and the community they lived in.
Founded in 1901 to provide assistance to immigrants in the Lower East Side, the group now known as the Junior League went on to provide the leaders of a new generation of women, winning the right to vote and leading the way for the world we live in today.
As the League spread across the country they founded Children’s Hospitals, Arts & Music organizations, and improved the child welfare program. You may be surprised once you start looking for League involvement, how much you will find in your community.
Today’s League members strive for many of the same original goals faced by the women in the early 1900’s, working to build the 150,000 members worldwide into strong civil leaders. For those who are new to a city, joining the local Junior League is a great way to meet other women, learn about the community and get involved.
Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it. – Julia Child, Junior League of Pasadena
What Does the Junior League Do?
A women’s only membership organization, the Junior League and its members work at the forefront of important issues worldwide, including literacy, childhood nutrition, and social reform. Local chapters of the Junior League support issues that are the most important to their local community through a combination of philanthropy, volunteerism and fundraising.
Members are trained in civic leadership and prepared for volunteer roles within their leagues, and the community at large. Every local chapter has unique events and activities that are hosted by league members. Some leagues focus primarily on community service while others host large fundraising events to support local causes.
Is the Junior League Expensive?
League membership dues vary, but most members are far from the debutants who initially founded the organization. Averaging $100 – $500 annually, membership dues cover the costs associated with running an organization. Outside of the annual dues, members work to fundraise for the causes their league supports.
Who Can Join the Junior League?
The one requirement of all Junior Leagues is that members must be female. Otherwise, every local Junior League has a unique set of requirements for membership. Some leagues will not accept members until they are 25 years old, while others start as young as 21. Long gone are the days of needing to have a personal recommendation from an existing member to join. Today’s Junior Leagues host recruitment meetings throughout the year and walk prospective members through the application process.
What is the Time Commitment?
As with any volunteer organization, the amount of time you can put in is limitless. Most leagues require a minimum of 1 meeting per month, translating to a 3 – 5 hour monthly commitment. Those in leadership roles may end up with a larger time commitment that will vary dependent on the role and the league you are a member of.
The initial year after joining is known as a Provisional Member Year. During this time new members are educated about the community, their local league and the requirements of membership. This first year may have additional requirements (like an additional service event or volunteer hours) that may not be required later on in your league career.
Why Join the Junior League?
With over 100 years of history, the Junior League has a legacy of tradition and commitment that will help members better themselves both personally and professionally. The Junior League works to provide leadership and civic training to prepare members to serve and give back through volunteerism or philanthropy. The skills learned in League leadership roles can transition easily into both professional careers or home life.
League members spend time with other like minded women, building friendships and networks that extend beyond the league itself. For those who are new to a town, the Junior League is a perfect organization for finding a new group of friends.
What if I move?
This is one of the best benefits Junior League can offer. If you happen to move after joining a local league, membership can be transferred to the new city you move to. Transfer members are connected and led by a group of more established League members who can help you settle into your new home. From finding a new gynecologist to recommendations for a babysitter, having a group of women to ask questions to and rely upon is a huge resource in a new city.
All serious daring starts from within. – Eudora Welty, Junior League of Jackson
Every local Junior League is unique. Find the League in your city and learn more about what work they are doing in your community.
Looking for other ways to make more connections in your community? Check out our post on 10 tips for making friends as an adult.
Photo Sources: Junior League Knoxville, TSLAC