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Happy Holidays – A Year in Review

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From the desk of tIMG_2404(1)he President of Junior League of Champaign-Urbana

2017 has been an incredible year of growth and change for our league.  It has been a time to reflect on our history, appreciate where we come from and actively evolve into the inclusive, flexible and dynamic organization we truly want to be.   All year long, we have been celebrating our 85th Anniversary,  sharing the stories of our past accomplishments with our members and our community.  Mayor Feinen of Champaign and Mayor Marlin of Urbana to share a proclamation at our 85th Anniversary Gala during Festival of Trees weekend.

We made some bold moves in 2017.  We welcomed Vicki Clark in February, to help us understand what Servant Leadership is all about and why we strive to make Junior League a place for women to connect, learn, and make a difference.   We stood up to the challenge when Courage Connection was faced with the risk of closing their doors and created the Match for Courage, raising over $150,000 in the final weeks of their fundraising campaign.  We launched a new Project Model, allowing us to partner with local agencies to build stronger relationships, expose our members to different experiences and broaden our outreach.   We aligned with Crisis Nursery, finding new ways to help them overcome obstacles by writing letters, participating in work days, and raising over $16,000 at our Gala Auction and Paddle Raise.  We are standing strong knowing that we have made an impact on the lives of the women and children who use the services of these vital programs.

We worked together to host our signature event, Festival of Trees, with over 90 trees and wreaths on display.  Thanks to the astounding success of FOT weekend, we raised the funds to support our Kids in the Kitchen and Bright Starts programs, as well as the grants and scholarships we distribute each year.  We can say with certainty that we are making a measurable difference.

We end this calendar year knowing we have so much to be proud of as an organization and as individuals.  But our work is not yet done.  We still have ambitious goals ahead.  We laid the groundwork to roll out a membership model transformation, which aims at increasing member satisfaction and retention.  We are deep in a review of the financial health of the organization and will be making long-term strategic decisions about our fundraising efforts.  We are excited about training opportunities and fun new events coming in the spring.  We are continuing to develop our members and encouraging everyone to step up into positions of leadership.  I can truly say that the more you put into your experience with Junior League, the more you get out of it.

For now, let’s all take a breath and be thankful.   As we all go forward into the hustle and bustle of the holidays, remember to enjoy the little things.  Each moment with family and friends is a gift to be cherished.  I have cherished each of you this year for the part you play and I celebrate you!

Much Love and Happy Holidays,

Jenette

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JUNIOR LEAGUE’S FESTIVAL OF TREES GALA CELEBRATION RAISES OVER $16,000 FOR CRISIS NURSERY

I hope you didn’t miss the year’s Junior League of Champaign-Urbana hosted the 22nd Annual Festival of Trees at the Hilton Garden Inn. For the organization’s 85th anniversary, the Festival was bigger and better with over 90 trees, wreaths, and vignettes on display to enjoy and win.

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During the Gala Celebration Saturday evening, sponsored by Clark Lindsey, we announced our new Project Partnership Program and introduced Crisis Nursery as the first selected partner for this program which provides financial and volunteer assistance to local non-profits. A live auction and paddle raise brought in over $16,000 which will go directly to support Crisis Nursery’s mission to prevent the abuse and neglect of children.  Live auction packages included a VIP Shopping Trip to the Kendra Scott store in Chicago, a Private Tour of Historic Downtown Champaign, a week’s stay in an Orlando resort, and a Private Painting Party with Lola’s Brush.

Other highlights of the evening included a proclamation by the Mayors of Champaign and Urbana, special guest Marilyn Thies, who served as pre

sident of Junior League from 1970-72 and a live performance by Katie Flynn, Central Illinois’ premier jazz and cabaret singer.

“The Gala Celebration was not only an opportunity to celebrate the history of Junior League of Champaign-Urbana,” remarks Junior League President, Jenette Jurczyk, “but it was an extraordinary platform to launch our partnership with Crisis Nursery by raising funds and awareness for this important institution in our community.”

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The Festival of Trees served as a festive backdrop to the weekend’s events, which also included a Daddy Daughter Dance Friday night, sponsored by First Midwest Bank, and Breakfast with Santa Saturday morning,

sponsored by Iroquois Federal.  The Festival was open to the public Saturday and Sunday and was enjoyed by hundreds of community members, hoping to win a tree or wreath to enjoy for the holiday season.  Each year, Festival of Trees raises tens of thousands of dollars to support Junior League’s community programs such as Kids in the Kitchen, Junior League Bright Starts, high school scholarships, Community Assistance Fund Grants, Leadership Training and the new Project Partnership Program.

A huge thanks goes out to all of our sponsors, tree decorators and contributors, and the Festival of Trees committee for all their hard work that made the exciting events of the weekend possible!

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JLCU members march in the Parade of Lights as a THANK YOU for all of our wonderful sponsors of FOT!

Member Spotlight: Heather Miller

img_9753Junior League member Heather Miller, is in her first active year with JLCU and happens to be the assistant chair of Festival Of Trees which is coming up November 17 -19.  She moved to Champaign a year and a half ago, but her family has been here for 17 years, so she “came home” in a sense, but is technically new to the area. She spends her daytime hours as the Office Administrator for the local McDonalds franchises, and has 1 dog named Pinkie and 1 cat named Grimace.

She agreed to answer some questions for us about herself and Festival of Trees!

JLCU:  When and why did you join JLCU?

Heather: I joined Junior League last year.  I was looking to meet people and find a way to get involved with the community.  My family (parents and brother) have lived here for about 17 years and while it was great to move close to them I also want to find my own identity and JL has helped me do that!

JLCU:  What has it been like planning FOT this year?

Heather: Totally and completely crazy – in a good way!  Seriously though, it’s actually been great!  Our chair Emily Cross is super organized and very good at giving direction, she has been able to make decisions quickly and easily and any time there is anything at resembles a setback she takes it so well and just problem solves a solution.  The board and management team have also been VERY supportive, helping with everything from initial vision to getting donations and general planning.  Of course the committee has been amazing.  They have worked diligently for the past several months, and they are still giving everything they can in time and energy down to the last minute to make this the best FOT yet in celebration of our 85th year of League in Champaign County. They are amazing and I want all of them on the committee next year with me!  I have personally never planned an event at all, much less something to this scale, and to see it all come together and the amazing  teamwork that has happened makes me very proud to be a part of it, so I know we will have successful event!

JLCU: What aspect of FOT are you most looking forward to this year?Logo_FOT_Large-300x247

Heather: EVERY.SINGLE.MOMENT!  Truth-telling time though … I have never been to the Daddy Daughter Dance or Breakfast with Santa, so I’m really excited to be at those specific events because I keep hearing they are so special for families to attend together!  I really can’t wait just to see people at the public hours as well, enjoying the start of the holiday season amidst all the trees and decorations.  We are going to have over 85 trees and wreaths and donated items, I can’t wait to see people walking around looking at our little winter wonderland.  Overall, I’m excited to see the kids excited about and enjoying the displays with their parents.

JLCU: What are your JLCU plans after FOT is over this year?

Heather: This is going to sound crazy, but …start planning for Festival of Trees for next year (<3 ❤ <3)!  As the assistant chair this year, I will be chair next year, and I couldn’t be more excited to keep the momentum going from this year! So, we want to start planning right away based on the aspects that go really well, and the areas we can keep improving.  In short, I’m going to be full-time Festival-of-Trees-Champion until this time next year!

JLCU: Any advice for next year’s new FOT committee members?

Heather: ABSOLUTELY!

#1. This committee is a lot of work but it’s all fun work! I love the holiday season and getting to prep for that year round with a group of awesome women in order to support amazing organizations within our community… I call that a win.win.win!

#2. I think it’s important to remember that we are a committee and not just one person so at no time are you alone!  We are here to support, help, grow, teach, and learn from each other, which is truly what Junior League is all about – women supporting and empowering other women!

October 2017 General Member Meeting Recap

Who went where?

Laura Gerhold, Jennifer Schmidt, and Jenette Jurczyk attended the AJLI Fall Leadership conference in Salt Lake City, Utah October 12-14. One stand out aspect of the conference was when current presidents of Junior League in cities impacted by recent tragedy (Hurricane/Texas/Las Vegas) shared their outreach efforts within their membership and to support vicitims in their communities, with the support of AJLI and other leagues.

Community Spotlight & JLCU Connections

COMMUNITY: Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club – Jordan Hornickel the Academic Services Coordinator shared information about a new facility called the Martin Center to open in 2020!

JLCU CONNECTION: Kids in the Kitchen – Amy Riha shared about the October success where the theme was “All about Veggies” for kids 5 – 8 years old, who afterwards received quite a fun workout with the firemen who came to help out!

COMMUNITY: Urbana Early Childhood School – Cris Vowels the Principal shared some information and statistics to help us better understand the obstacles and opportunities within our community as they pertain to the Early Childhood Center. For example:

  • 60-100 Kids at risk are on the waiting list for pre-school such as Head Start.
  • For every dollar spent on pre-school $7-14 return on your investment for the community
  • Children who have attended pre-school: listen better, more emotionally secure, healthy relationships, sit in groups, and less likely to be incarcerated

JLCU CONNECTION: Junior League Bright Starts (JLBS) chair Jami Tanner shared more information about how you can get involved in this fun and rewarding volunteer opportunity!

  • Assistance and Volunteer duties:
    • 5:00-7:00 Soft Set-up and classroom assistance
    • 5:15-7:15 food service and sibling care.
  • If you have children you can bring them to Bright Starts!

Community Impact Model

Crisis Nursery partnership plans and needs were communicated by Miranda Smith and Mary Wakefield. Check out these volunteer opportunities.

  • Thursday, Nov 9
    • Casual dress-will be working on holiday shop need 10-12 people, 6-9PM
  • Saturday, Jan 27
    • Crisis Nursery workday activity TBD Noon-3PM
  • Monday, Feb 19th
    • Crisis Nursery workday activity TBD Noon-3PM
  • Wednesday, March 7th
    • Crisis Nursery workday activity TBD 6-9PM

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Committee Updates

DIAM and CAF Grant Update was given by Annie Bruno, and we were happy to hear that JLCU collected 21 Pillows, 22 towels, and 10 washcloths last month for Courage Connection!!!

Laura Gerhold discussed creating partnerships with JLCU requesting that we reach out to organizations that may be interested in partnership opportunities with JLCU. The application for next year is on the website and is due November 30.

Diversity and Inclusion presentation by January Boten and Denise Poindexter really made us think, and challenged us to grow. Their talking points included the following:

  • Think about what it is like for someone else to walk into this room (it isn’t easy for everyone!)
  • Think outside your own experiences (sometimes hard to do!)
  • We will get who we plan for (so let’s make plans to include everyone!)
  • Think ahead (be proactive!)
  • Food is important (makes people feel at home and welcome, so include options that appeal to all diet-types!)
  • Diversity is more than just ethnicity (so much more!)
  • Don’t make assumptions (re-train your brain!)
  • Everyone’s experiences are normal (to them!)

General Business

  • Kids in the Kitchen Re-Proposal by Miranda Smith (3 more years with an increased budget) will be voted on at the November GMM
  • Festival of Trees
  • New membership Transformation Rollout – Jennifer Schmidt and January Boten
    • In-person discussions will be held
      • Tues, Nov 14th 7-7:30 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn prior to the GMM at 7:30.
      • Tuesday, Jan 23rd at 6PM at the Hilton Garden Inn prior to the GMM

Match for Courage

Courage Connection Matching Campaign

Where do you turn when you feel like you don’t have any place to turn? When your family isn’t there, your friends won’t understand, and you still have to take care of your kids – in the midst of difficult circumstances? For many women in Champaign County, the answer has been Courage Connection, but due to the State of Illinois’s failure to pass a budget, the Courage Connection remains on the brink of closing.

This is where Junior League of Champaign-Urbana is stepping up and stepping in along with current and former board members of Courage Connection. Together we have created a $50,000 matching gift fund called Match for Courage to support its mission of providing housing and supportive services for individuals and families who are victims of domestic violence.

Starting June 12th, all monetary donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $50,000. Donations can be sent to 508 E. Church Street, Champaign, IL 61820 or made online here.

Courage Connection provides support, shelter and service: 24 hour hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy, transitional housing, job readiness programs, parenting education, children’s programs, safety planning, and more, and we have the opportunity to help see these services continue.

“We are honored to be able to work with Courage Connection and support them at this crucial time,” said Jenette Jurczyk, president of JLCU. “Junior League has been serving the Champaign-Urbana community for 85 years and has been part of the creation of so many organizations that supply such important services to women and families. We cannot stand by and watch as Courage Connection faces the risk of closing their doors. As a long-standing supporter and partner of this institution, we are choosing to step up and participate in this $50,000 donation campaign with matching funds.”

The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has been a long-time partner and supporter of Courage Connection, from its earlier days as The Women’s Emergency Shelter of Champaign County and A Center for Women in Transition. JLCU’s mission includes a commitment to programs that work towards the elimination of domestic violence and support shelters for children and families. JLCU has also supplied grant money and volunteers to support Courage Connection throughout its evolution and has created, funded and supported programs for its residents and children.

Thank you for your consideration of support as we seek to make the Champaign/Urbana community the best it can be for ALL of its residents.

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Summer Wrap Up of JLCU Happenings!

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As the summer comes to a close, the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana had a busy summer. The most important decision made over the summer was the relocation of the JLCU office. As our lease is set to expire on September 30 at the North Prospect location, the HQ Relocation Committee viewed several office spaces around the Champaign-Urbana area in Ma y and June before recommending to the Board that a lease be signed on office space at 2105 Dunlap Court, Suite 2A. The Board approved the measure at the July Board meeting and a lease was signed at the end of July. Now comes the hard part – moving!!! We need as many volunteers to help purge and physically move as possible – we even invite significant others who are not JLCU members to help out! Hours are posted on the website so sign up today: JLCU Website. You can also sign up for other volunteer hours at the same link!

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Other news from the summer includes the new location for the majority of our General Meetings. All our General Meetings for 2016-17 will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn except for the October meeting which will be held at our community partner, Urbana Early Childhood Center. Our first meeting of the year is September 20 at 7pm. And, our February meeting will be a special training meeting with Vicki Clark, AJLI Trainer and owner of Building the Capacity of Organizations.

We want to emphasize “Developing the Potential of Women” this year so we are making a concerted effort to ensure our members are properly trained. You will hear more about the training as the year progresses!

Of course, with the move from the North Prospect location comes the close of the Junior League Locker. While the project will not officially sunset until May, our last open hours for teachers to pick up supplies occurred the first two weekends in August. You will hear more about our efforts to provide supplies to teachers over the remainder of this year later. And, at the October General Meeting, the Project Development Committee will present the proposal for our new project.

Finally, the New Member socials were well attended and we had a great group of women attend the first New Member meeting on September 6. It is so much fun to meet a diverse group of women who will only make our League that much stronger.

I hope you will make every effort to meet and greet each new member throughout the year! – Jennifer Romine, JLCU President 2016-2017

Highlights of the AJLI 94th Annual Conference by Jen Romine

AJLI (Association of Junior Leagues International) hosted its 94th Annual Conference May 12 through May 14 in Atlanta. President Jennifer Romine and President-Elect Cherie Kesler attended the 3-day event. Beyond the spectacle of Roll Call when each league’s voting delegate parades into the large conference hall preceded by a local high school marching band, some serious issues were discussed and voted on.

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The most important work of the Annual Conference occurred during the Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 14. At that meeting, two advisory resolutions – resolutions that the AJLI Board must consider but are not bound to – were discussed and voted on. The issue of the advisory resolutions concerned the ODI (Organization Development Institute) meeting in Raleigh, NC, October 21-23 in light of the recent legislation enacted by the North Carolina government to restrict LGBT rights.

AJLI Opening Session

The first advisory resolution discussed read:

Whereas, AJLI has a Diversity and Inclusion Statement; and

Whereas, Junior Leagues have a strong history of advocating for civil liberties; and

Whereas, The US Justice Department has stated that the State of North Carolina is in violation of federal law; therefore, be it

Resolved that AJLI resite the AJLI Fall ODI outside the state of North Carolina; and be it further Resolved that the Fall ODI be held in a state whose laws do not contradict AJLI’s Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

After much debate supporting and opposing this resolution, the delegates voted down the advisory resolution. The Raleigh Junior League incoming president was persuasive in asking the delegates to not punish her League, which is involved in organizing the ODI with AJLI, and many of the other Leagues in North Carolina who did not support the legislation. In addition, if the AJLI Board were to resite the ODI, the cost to AJLI was estimated to be between $75,000 and $120,000 just to cancel the hotel, not to mention contracting with another hotel – this at a time when AJLI is consistently losing money on its conferences.

The second advisory resolution discussed read:

Whereas, Junior Leagues have a Diversity and Inclusion Statement; and

Whereas, AJLI event sites should align with our values; therefore be it

Resolved that AJLI’s future event and meeting contracts have language ensuring that the sites do not contradict the Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

This advisory resolution passed.

Other important notes from the Annual Conference include:

  • A new AJLI President was seated. Carol Scott from the Junior League of Pasadena succeeded Ellen Rose of the Junior League of New York City. Carol will serve for 2 years.
  • The keynote speaker was Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the nine African-American students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Each delegate at the conference received a signed copy of her book detailing her experience, “A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School”. Any member interested in borrowing the book to read, please contact Jennifer Romine (jenromine@comcast.net) who is willing to lend her copy out to JLCU members.
  • The AJLI treasurer’s report was important for 2 reasons: first, AJLI will be relocating its headquarters from New York City most likely to Charlotte, NC where rent is less expensive; and AJLI conferences are consistently going over budget even though the cost to delegates for each conference is between $400 and $700.
  • AJLI announced a new partnership with Gwynnie Bee, an online women’s clothing subscription service for sizes 10-32, that could help JLCU with free money. When the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana refers 30 free trials that start by June 30, 2016, Gwynnie Bee will give our league $2,000 in funding. New trials can be from members and non-members!

 

Help JLCU earn $2000 today by signing up through our special link: http://startgb.com/JLChampaignUrbana.