How One Woman Made a Difference

At The Junior League, we spend a lot of time thinking about the power of volunteer groups. But sometimes, it’s awe-inspiring to look at what one a single determined woman can do.

Take Lorri Unumb, a member of the Junior League of Columbia, SC. In 2005, as the mother of a 4-year-old boy in South Carolina recently diagnosed with severe autism, she took up the challenge to get her medical insurance company to cover the cost of treatments for her son, Ryan…

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Is Dolly Parton a Member of The Junior League?

While the singer-songwriter, author, actress and philanthropist is not a member of The Junior League, she is playing a vital role in an important project by the Junior League of Birmingham to foster literacy through an innovative program that puts books in the hands of kids and their parents at what many educators say is the best time: before they go to school and before they even attempt to learn how to read.

The JLB Imagination Library, in partnership with the Dollywood Foundation, has made the 60-volume Dolly Parton Imagination Library available to all children under the age of 5 in Jefferson County, Alabama. Each month, from birth to age 5, every child registered will receive a high-quality, age appropriate book in the mail free of charge.

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What Happens When You’re Too Old for Santa Claus…and Foster Care?

There are approximately 500,000 young Americans in foster care around the country, according to the most recent federal AFCARS data. While most returned to their birth families, went to live with other family members or were adopted, the 14% who age out or otherwise drop out of foster care may find that the biggest challenge in leaving the system is survival.

“Statistics prove that the physical, emotional and social outcomes for ‘aged-out’ foster kids is often bad—bad for the kids and bad for the community that often has no way of dealing with them,” said Debbie Robinson, President of The Association of Junior Leagues International, which represents 292 individual Junior Leagues in four countries. “For all of the money, time and effort we devote to keeping kids in foster care, unfortunately they are too often left on their own when they ‘graduate.’”

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The CRC @ 20

CRC. It’s not one of those acronyms that rolls off your tongue. But the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – which, 20 years ago this month, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children – really did make a difference.

Looking back on this landmark action, we also see the value in small steps made by volunteer advocacy groups like The Junior League in advance of big steps made by international bodies like United Nations, with the CRC, or governmental organizations. Because, as we see it, passionate volunteer groups – wherever they are – can set the stage for policy solutions to tough issues.

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Happy Birthday, Big Bird!

For many, it’s hard to remember a time when Big Bird—the eight-foot, two-inch bright yellow bird who skates, dances and sings—wasn’t a daily feature of Sesame Street. But we do.

Before Sesame Street aired for the first time on November 10, 1969, TV programming for kids was a joke without a punch line. Howdy Doody was better than most commercial efforts, but it never claimed to be educational. Then came Big Bird.

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Why Not a Volunteer Nation of One?

And why not you as that volunteer?

Sounds simple? It is.

Suddenly—and this is a good thing—“volunteerism” is hot. The Service Nation ( initiative brings together more than 200 non-profit organizations (including the Association of Junior Leagues International) to increase service opportunities and elevate service as a core ideal and problem-solving strategy in American society. There are a number of Obama Administration volunteer initiatives, including the Serve America Act and United We Serve ( Even Hollywood is getting into the act with the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s launch of its iParticipate ( campaign this month to encourage a new era of service through the entertainment industry.

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Is Betty Draper a Role Model for Today’s Women?

The fictional star of TV’s Emmy Awarding-winning Mad Men is a stay-at-home mother, an active member of the Junior League of Tarrytown (now called the Junior League of Westchester-on-Hudson) and a key mover in the League’s local environmental efforts.

But how typical is Betty of real Junior League members (all 160,000 of them)?

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