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A century of service – The Dallas chapter of the junior league has its own personality

JYears ago I attended my first meeting as a provisional member of the Dallas Junior League. As I walked through the doors of the residential-looking head office on Inwood Road, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I scanned the room for an empty seat. A good number of women were dressed in gowns, having just finished their shifts as doctors or nurses; some wore workout clothes; and some, like me, came straight from the office. Some were catching up with friends, while others were glancing over the neatly typed and printed agendas – something I learned is common practice; running meetings productively and efficiently is League 101.

Throughout this year, I got to know many of the women in this room as we entered our provisional year, a requirement to become an active member of the JLD.

Dallas Junior League Archives, 1929

The program included attendance at meetings describing each of SU’s service areas: arts and culture, education, family preservation, health, poverty intervention, and violence intervention. During these meetings, we received representatives of the agencies supported by the JLD, each evaluated independently and selected annually by an internal committee. JLD’s support means a monetary contribution in addition to hundreds of hours of unpaid service from its trained volunteers. After these meetings, I came away passionate about the field and completely convinced that I would choose one of its agencies for my community volunteer placement the following year.

In addition to these meetings, an interim community service project, and a community bus tour of partner agencies (I’ll never forget visiting the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and Children’s Health), we were scheduled to attend meetings monthly small group sessions led by experienced League members to socialize and answer questions. I look back on that year with immense gratitude, both for the civics education I received and for the sense of connection – things I missed, having recently graduated from college.

1944 radio program
Dallas Junior League members tape a radio broadcast in 1944.

Throughout this year, I have developed a deep sense of pride for what the JLD has been able to accomplish. Although it is part of the Association of Junior Leagues International, a massive network with over 295 leagues in four countries, each has its own personality. Founded in 1922, the JLD is one of the largest junior leagues in the world and is the oldest and largest training organization for women in Dallas. In addition to providing 130,000 hours of volunteer service and approximately $1 million in funding to area nonprofits each year, it facilitates more than 26,000 hours of training and leadership opportunities for more than 5,000 women, emphasizing the development of women’s leadership as one of its main objectives.

As former First Lady Laura Bush – who will receive JLD’s Lifetime Achievement Award at her Milestones Luncheon this month – said: “A good future in our world depends on women.

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