This time last year, I was filling out my application for the Junior League of Charlottesville with visions of volunteering within my community and meeting a few new people while I was at it. I had no idea that a year later, as I watch applications roll in for the next provisional class, that volunteering and meeting new people would end up being just a small part of why I joined the organization.
I grew up 45 minutes south of Charlottesville. I have known the same people my entire life. We started kindergarten together, matriculated through high school together. We were in the same Sunday School class and our parents went to school together. But when I moved back here in April of last year, I was a different person. I’d been places, experienced things many people in our small town dismiss as not an option, for one reason or another. The few people I remained in touch with after high school had also moved away and those that remained, I no longer had common ground with. I was eager to make new friends and expand my social circle.
In Nashville, I spent hours working with Musicians on Call, a non-profit that brings music to the bedsides of patients. It was incredible, and easily some of the best time I’ve ever spent. Throughout college, I logged hour after hour of volunteer work through my sorority, particularly at the Salvation Army. I knew I needed to be a part of some sort of volunteer activity in Charlottesville and the Junior League seemed to offer what I was looking for.
I loved everything about my provisional year. I met so many incredible women and was able to be a part of a number of volunteer opportunities throughout Charlottesville, particularly the local toy drive. I was a co-chair for our provisional class project, Kids In The Kitchen, and when it was time to apply for leadership positions for the next League year, I threw my hat into the mix. To say I was surprised and completely thrilled to be offered Provisional Vice Chair for this League year would be an understatement.
The last two days have been full of JLC events. We had an interest social on Monday and an incredible leadership training on Tuesday. During the social, we had a moment where active members started sharing why they joined the League. It was completely organic and totally unprompted. I had tears in my eyes, listening to women from so many walks of life sharing with a group of strangers interested in filling out a JLC application why they joined, each of their reasons as different and unique as they are. I realized, as I listened to my friends sharing their experiences, that why I joined last year is no longer the only reason I joined, nor why I took on a leadership position that involves bringing in the next class of exceptional women.
I joined Junior League because I have a purpose. I want to make the community I live in, the community that I love, a better place. Junior League puts me in a position to reach people, to pour my heart and soul into someone else. Our League happens to be literacy focused and there are few things I love more than books, few things I’m a bigger supporter of than giving people access to education and encouraging them to pursue their dreams, reach for options they may have not thought were possible for them, be it because of their socioeconomic status or simply because they’ve never had someone believe in them. Junior League lets me do that.
I joined Junior League to be surrounded by smart, diverse women who each have something unique to offer. Sitting around a big table, discussing leadership and all that goes along with it last night, I saw so much – passion, dedication, determination, confidence. We all come from different backgrounds and have different interests, different skill sets. Some of us are new to the League, others have been there for much longer and continue to be a part of it because they believe in it. Surrounding myself with such a high caliber of women only makes me better, teaches me more. Junior League lets me be a small part of these women’s lives.
I joined Junior League to be an example. As the Provisional Vice Chair, incoming members will see a lot of me at meetings and social events. I’ll be sending emails and acting as a mentor of sorts, helping them find their place in the League. But I’ll also be in a position to show them what an incredible organization they are a part of. I was inspired by my Provisional Chair and Vice Chair last year to pursue leadership within the Provisional committee. I can only hope I inspire a member or two to do the same, be it the provisional committee, fundraising committee, or otherwise. Junior League lets me be an example.
Joining Junior League has definitely served to accomplish what I set out for it to do. I’ve made some amazing friends and I volunteer throughout my community often. But it has done so much more for me as a person, as a woman and as a leader. I’m encouraged and excited for what the League holds for me.
Happy Wednesday, y’all!