The Junior League of Saginaw Valley Celebrates 80 Years of Community Service

Posted In: News, Local,   From Issue 791   By: Robert E Martin

29th May, 2014     0

The Junior League of Saginaw Valley recently celebrated 80 years of philanthropy and involvement in the Great Lakes Bay region, engaging women from all walks of life to focus upon the power of networking and harnessing their talents to create a better community.

With a long history of giving back to the community and developing women leaders, the organization has to date raised over $1,000,000 to deserving foundations, school programs, and non-profits in the area.

The JLSV has also supported many sustainable ventures with other organizations and was often the driving creative force behind such notable community entities as: The First Ward Community Center, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a program of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council, Hospital Hospitality House, and the Saginaw Community Foundation.

Other entities that the League has contributed towards and supported include the Saginaw Children’s Zoo, Pit & Balcony, the Saginaw Symphony, the Temple Theatre, the READ Program, The Saginaw Art Museum, Young Peoples’ Concerts, and the United way.

Since the 1987-88 league year, the Junior League has hosted the annual Festival of Trees over the holidays that has grown in popularity and clocked 4,600 attendees and sold 50,000 raffle tickets in 2013.

Training women to become leaders in both their professions and personal lives is a major component of the Junior League.  Many area leaders are current or former members, including Renee Johnston, President of the Saginaw Community Foundation and Culli Damuth, a co-founder of Hidden Harvest, which began as a program of the Saginaw Community Foundation.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with three dynamic young women about the impact that the Junior League has carried within their own lives.  For incoming president Jenifer RIfkin, the Junior League is something that enables her to develop significant relationships and also focus her energy into proactive endeavors. 

“I became involved with Junior League around the time I married my husband and my Mother In Law encouraged me to investigate it further,” she explains.  “Apart from the important relationships that I’ve developed, what I find incredibly valuable is the level of positive impact that our efforts provide in terms of making our area healthier and more vibrant.”

Similarly, Shawnette Markey also finds the Junior League to comprise an extended family of committed women that are able to strengthen bonds throughout the community through evolving skills of outreach.  “Apart from developing important relationships and having fun while doing it, I find the entire process of establishing and achieving goals an invigorating process.”

As for public relations and community outreach volunteer Adrienne Bowman, her experience with Junior League as helped to ground her to what initially was a new environment. “I moved here from Chicago after I graduated from college several years ago and found the Junior League to become a pivotal means for acclimating myself to the incredible personalities of women that populate the area, along with the unique attributes that each of them bring to the organization.

The Junior League of Saginaw Valley will be taking an issue-based focus for future funding, which will primarily focus on self-image as it correlates to physical fitness for women and children in the Great Lakes Bay region.

“Every three years the League selects a new community organization that relates to our focus of serving women and children and calls it our ‘Signature Project’,” explains Jenifer. “The League researches the community, asks speakers to present their project ideas, and then the active League members vote on a project to adopt. The League commits to helping this organization for three years and contributes $10,000 a year and many volunteers to the project.”

“Our current Signature Project is in collaboration with the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square and we are working to design and build a new playground to promote active lifestyles. Our members have been hard at work with architects, builders, and the zoo staff to create an inviting play area.”

For more information on membership and programs available, please visit www.jlsv.orgfor ore information.

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