Featured Nonprofit: Junior League of Boston

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Founded in 1906 on the idea of women building better communities, the Junior League of Boston (JL Boston) has been serving neighborhoods in the Greater Boston area for over 110 years. Today, the organization and its roughly 1,000 members, represent one of 291 Leagues internationally, including chapters in the U.S., Canada, England, and Mexico. Headquartered on Back Bay’s Newbury Street, its mission is to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, and improve their community through the effective action of trained volunteers.

The community service programs that volunteers engage in focus on promoting wellness and building the confidence and life skills of girls in underserved areas through mentoring, cooking and nutrition lessons, exploration of the arts, and promoting excitement around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Most of JL Boston’s programs target the 9 to 13 age range, as that’s when young girls are the most vulnerable and their confidence is in danger of sliding. “We work with girls in residence at the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence site in Arlington, and we have programs from East Boston, to Hyde Park, to Dorchester,” said JL Boston President, Karen Page. “Many of our programs are run at Boys and Girls Club or Boston Public School locations.” Recent initiatives, like an upcoming partnership with the Jeremiah Program, will expand on that age range with volunteers providing tutoring services to teen mothers who want to continue their education and pursue a high school or associate’s degree. JL Boston will also soon be joining a growing number of Leagues in bringing the Junior League of London’s Little Black Dress Initiative to their community. This initiative asks members to wear the same little black dress for a week to invite dialogue among colleagues, friends, and strangers to raise awareness about poverty in our community.

The JL Boston believes that its efforts benefit both the communities it serves and its members. “A key component of our mission is developing the potential of women,” Karen said. “We develop leadership skills that we can apply to all parts of our lives and careers. I’ve learned to think better on my feet, to manage a larger team, to delegate and really have the confidence that when I step back, others will step up and bring my vision to life.” Karen has been with JL Boston for over 17 years. The organization has become an integral part of her life, like it has for many of its members. “Some of our volunteers come from word of mouth,” Karen said. “But there are some women whose mothers were Junior Leaguers. We also have volunteers who were members of other chapters and have only recently moved to Boston, so they look for that network, that tie to the new city.”

For more information on how to get involved with the Junior League of Boston or visit the Show House, visit www.jlboston.org.