By Audra Dainora –
We are halfway through our 108th year at the Junior League of Boston and I am thrilled that we are heading toward a bright new future. This organization is special because members decide how they want to enact change and – working together – they have the power to make the difference.
I want to give people an easier way to be more autonomous, more competent, more generous, not to slot them into a scripted volunteer experience. I challenge you as members of the Junior League of Boston to figure out how we want our organization to matter – how to make the mission matter.
During the September membership meeting, we held an open dialogue to ask members two very different, but equally important, questions:
* What changes could we implement this year to enhance your experience?
* What changes could we plan for future years to transform your experience?
You shared and we listened.
What our current initiatives share in common is recognition that we should keep what represents our strengths from the past and change those things that are not working in the present. This year, as we move back into our beautifully refurbished headquarters, we have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and pick out the best of who we are.
Let’s identify things in the Junior League that waste our energy and eradicate them so we can use our time more productively. If you see something that can be done better, speak up! Don’t accept the status quo.
To have a high impact, we should ask ourselves: does this activity advance the mission? Does this promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, or improve communities?
We are planning immediate changes to the website and fundraising requirements – the top areas members wanted us to improve. In addition, we have started a number of long-term initiatives designed to provide high level training to our members and opportunities for meaningful impact and engagement. Let me share with you some of the most exciting of these initiatives.
* Our 149 new members are gaining experience in creating community impact: each provisional group has identified a community need and is creating a project to address that need. These provisional projects will be showcased during the April membership meeting.
* AJLI is considering us for a community impact award for our Leader Within program. Since we started the program in 1997, more than 350 girls have learned leadership and team building skills by participating in our group mentoring sessions.
* To meet the needs of our 16+ year partner, Youth Villages – Germaine Lawrence campus, we created a Run Club for girls, which helps girls foster a healthy life style and develops goal setting skills.
* Healthy Choices Initiative is educating our volunteers and girls on various topics including serving size, sugar content, and ingredients. This new community service project was developed from the Community Research and Development committee based on our research into Boston’s food deserts and understanding that many families of children we serve shop for groceries at convenience stores and have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
* We are working to help members get placed on board seats throughout the Boston community, which strengthens the capacity of other organizations and furthers our own mission.
* During our league-wide community impact days, members can come together to make a difference. We have held two impact days this fall and are planning more for the spring.
* Our rental program for our newly renovated building offers special non-profit rates to community organizations as part of our mission of promoting voluntarism.
* On March 27, we will host a newly created AJLI regional training. Leagues from as far away as Canada have asked to participate. We are starting this program to solidify our position as a training organization and to use our headquarters to advance our mission.
* We will hold a training workshop in June for incoming chairs and board members so they start their term with collective knowledge about best practices in volunteer management, finance and budgeting, risk management and meeting protocols.
* We are planning an entirely new online member experience that we will unroll this spring. Stay tuned for details!
* The Board of Directors is evaluating member commitments to make sure the focus remains on developing leaders who improve communities. We want each member’s placement and league career path to offer the skills, training and experience she needs to achieve her goals.
* We are looking to maintain value in a lifelong league membership and are expanding the opportunities for Sustaining Members through advising programs, league wide service days and new informal groups.
* We are creating a photographic history display at headquarters that reflects our identity and century of accomplishments in serving the community. We are proud of what we have accomplished and we want to inspire all members to dream of what they can achieve in the future.
Development & Finance
* On January 28, we will hold a headquarters opening celebrations event to reintroduce ourselves to the Boston community and to bring together our best and most loyal supporters.
* We received almost $300,000 in cash from the sale of the state historic tax credits received to renovate the building. These funds will pay off the majority of the $500,000 mortgage we took out for the renovation.
* The Board of Directors is discussing how to structure the budget and member financial commitments to better align with our mission.
* Development Council members are planning numerous events, including the March 27 seated dinner and gala at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common.
* We are investigating holding the Junior League of Boston’s 36th Decorators’ Show House in 2016 and are looking for potential properties.
* We are creating a society to honor members who have put the Junior League of Boston into their wills. Seven years ago, I decided to include the Junior League as a beneficiary in my will to help ensure that other women will continue to receive the valuable skills and training I received. I want my impact on our community to be more than what I can accomplish alone. I hope you will consider the Junior League of Boston in your estate planning as well.
The high quality of programs at the Junior League of Boston is due to our dedicated volunteers, staff and Board of Directors. Thank you for being part of our organization. Happy New Year!
The Junior League of Boston