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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.



Summer Wrap Up of JLCU Happenings!


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!



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.


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 ( 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:

It case you missed it….April General Meeting Recap!

The April General Meeting kicked off with the membership voting to pass two new measures, one of which revised the allocation of required volunteer hours (click on ‘Volunteer Hours Proposal’ for more info: Volunteer Hours Proposal) and one of which revised the date on which annual dues are to be paid to align with the placement process.
Andrea Singh gave us a peek at next year’s budget, Sara Olson shared some exciting news about a possible partner for League Locker, and Jennifer Romine reminded us that 2016 JLCU Award nominations are due 05/01/16. Follow the link to nominate someone: Nominate Here!
Illinois State Trooper Tracy Lillard shared her sometimes entertaining, sometimes frightening stories from her career in law enforcement and reminded us all of the importance of motor vehicle safety.


Cynthia Bruno shared research about the psychology of dressing well and the positive impact a professional image can have on your career.
“If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” – Deion Sanders


Cynthia will be hosting an in-depth two-part class, where she will teach you how to dress to flatter your body, determining what types of clothes look best on you, and looking at your closet like a stylist and building your wardrobe. The classes will be Wednesday April 27th and Wednesday May 4th from 6pm-7pm at 301 W. Green St. in Urbana. $50 will get you entrance into both classes. For more information, or to setup a time that works for you, please contact Cynthia Bruno at
Lastly, members broke off into their respective councils to talk about their experience in League this year and to provide suggestions about how to make League the best it can be going forward! If you were not in attendance, PLEASE take a moment to click on the applicable link below and fill one out for us.  This information is extremely important for improving the JLCU member experience.  We appreciate your feedback! New Member, 1st and 2nd year actives , Active Members, 3rd – 5th year , Active Members, 6th-7th (or more) years

The spring 2016 CAF Grant Deadline is February 29, 2016!

So, what are CAF Grants?
The goal of the Community Assistance Fund (CAF) is to respond to the financial needs of nonprofit organizations, specifically for programs and projects related to Junior League of Champaign-Urbana position statements, which include child protection and welfare, families, health, hunger, literacy, shelter, school preparedness, voluntarism, and women.

Previous CAF Grant Recipients?
The following are past recipients of CAF Grant funds and are representative of the community needs that Junior League supports:

Spring 2015 CAF Grant Recipients – Total Amount Granted: $1,490:
1) The Reading Group: $400 – requested for children’s’ books for older children who read below their grade level.
2) Dream Girls Academy: $950 – requested for curriculum for girls 6th grade and up to foster life-long learning and the prevention of domestic violence and child abuse.
3) Girls on the Run (Stephens Family YMCA): $140 – requested for curriculum books designed to help girls with life skills (3rd – 5th grade).
Fall 2014 CAF Grant Recipients – Total Amount Granted: $1,500:
1) Carrie Busey Elementary School PTA: $200 – requested for display boards and science medals for Science Educational Assembly.
2) Crisis Nursery: $500 – requested for educational toys to promote school readiness and staff in-service training.
3) The GOALS Project: $500 – requested for children’s books and literacy bag materials.
4) Family Advocacy in Champaign County: $300 – requested for Reading Center school supplies.

Who is Eligible to Apply?
1) The applicant must be a non-profit or not-for-profit organization, located within the Champaign-Urbana area.
2) Grant requests must relate to JLCU position statements. Grants must relate to the current Issue Based Community Impact area: Basic Needs for School Readiness.
3) The request should relate to the development and/or management of volunteer programs, support the concept of voluntarism and training and/or volunteer involvement in the community.

How to Apply?
Follow the link below to the JLCU website to apply online or to print the application:



Dad 2

When it comes to who takes care of the kids, more men are choosing to work inside the home and take on the primary caregiver responsibility. More men are also taking advantage of parental leave benefits at work.

Dad 1

As more millennial men enter the workforce looking for flexibility at their jobs to balance their work and home life, companies who want the best are starting to respond with better benefits.

To hear more about how companies are responding to this shift, you can view the full interview here.



Festival of Trees Weekend Wrap Up!

What an amazing weekend!

“JLCU celebrated the 20th anniversary of Festival of Trees with a great weekend – one of the best attended Daddy Daughter Dances in recent memory, a brand new event, Brunch with Santa, and the Gala, back where it all began with Festival Of Trees again, honoring 20 Women of Influence. These amazing leaders are quietly and fiercely impacting our community. All of these events support our JLCU projects and as I am getting more and more comfortable saying, ‘If you like our Junior League projects, it’s equally important that you support JLCU fundraising efforts.’” – Heather Vazquez, JLCU President.

If you were not able to come to the FOT events, it’s never too late to make a philanthropic gift in support of Junior League. We hope you will make a gift today!  Make A Donation

Festival of Trees weekend kicked off Friday night with the Daddy Daughter Dance, sponsored by Busey Bank. We had 175 attendees for the 5:30 dance and 254 attendees to the 7:30 dance. We were excited to see an increase in attendees for both dances over last year, with 29 more people attending the 5:30 dance and 30 more people attending the 7:30 dance (7:30 tickets were sold out in advance!) The girls had an awesome time dancing to music provided by Bugbee’s DJ Plus, getting their hair styled and chalked by BJ Grand Salon & Spa, and getting their faces painted by Wild Style Design Company.

11-21-15 108

DDD DAncing

This year’s Festival of Trees drew 1,072 people out to see the gorgeous trees and wreaths and to soak up some of the holiday spirit. Vendors offered parents a chance to start their Christmas shopping, and guests took a chance to win all the trees, wreaths and prize packages in the raffles and silent auctions.FOT

New this year was our Brunch with Santa & Mrs. Claus, sponsored by Hilton Garden Inn.  131 kids and adults attended to have brunch with Santa and a very special story time with Mrs. Claus. Kids enjoyed their breakfast and afterwards, one lucky child got to take the story time book home with him!


As you know, this year marked a very special year for both Gala and Festival of Trees. We were very excited to honor 20 women who are making a difference right here in Champaign County by inviting them to share their wonderful, heartfelt, and funny stories with us at this year’s Gala.  The honorees included both JLCU members and non-members: The night segued into a great time filled with drinks and dancing. We sold 160 tickets and 17 of the 20 women recognized were in attendance! JLCU would like to extend a big thank you for the efforts and hard work of all 20 women: Amy Armstrong, Katie Blakeman, Cynthia Bruno, Judge Ronda Holliman, Anne Dill, the Honorable Deborah Feinen, Sue Grey, Allison Groce, Becca Guyette, Lyn Jones, Mary Konken, Lori Larson, Meredith Mills, Jen Parastaran, The Honorable Laurel Prussing, Stephanie Record, Phyllis Robeson, Kerry Rossow, Susan Toalson, and Joni Utnage.

20 Women_Gala

At the Door Event Ticket Sales & Raffle Ticket Sales for the entire weekend totaled $71,111!! Thanks for everyone for all your hard work and volunteer hours. Additionally, JLCU would like to extend special thanks to all of our sponsors of the 2015 Festival of Trees Weekend:

  • Busey Bank
  • BJ Grand Salon & Spa
  • Paunicka Chiropractic Clinic
  • Triptych Brewing Co.
  • J Scott Anderson, DDS RPh
  • I Do Events
  • Cherie Kesler
  • Bugbee’s DJ Service
  • Wild Style Design Company
  • Jackson Chiropractic
  • Wyldewood Cellars
  • Custom Flooring
  • Timpone’s
  • The Little Gym
  • Ann & Allen Gerhold
  • Urbana Park District
  • Sephora
  • TGI Fridays
  • English Hedgerow
  • Prairie Gardens
  • Arisa Naturals – Nina St. Peter
  • Roger Ebert Film Festival
  • Jenette Jurczyk
  • Fisher Chiropractic Wellness Center
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Illini Hockey
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Krannert Center for Performing Arts
  • Chicago Bears
  • Urbana Country Club
  • Two Men & A Truck
  • CU Ballet
  • Debbie Pico of Premier Designs
  • Kelly & Sarah Baxter
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Louis Rams
  • Julie & Tim Aries
  • Martin, Hood, Friese, & Associates, LLC
  • Horizon Hobby
  • Pam Hieser
  • Olive Garden
  • Escobar’s
  • Milo’s
  • Alexander’s Steakhouse
  • Big Grove Tavern
  • Papa Del’s Pizza
  • Meatheads
  • Sammy’s Pancake House
  • The Ribeye
  • Espresso Royale
  • Gumbo’s
  • Moe’s Southwest Grill
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Jupiter’s at the Crossing
  • Cream & Flutter
  • Heartland Bank
  • Sunset Funeral Home
  • Frederick & Hagle
  • Hickory River Smokehouse
  • First Midwest Bank
  • Dana Kennedy & Jen Hesch
  • KEC Design
  • Amy Riha, Mandy Davis, & Jami Houston
  • Laura Gerhold & the Project Development Committee
  • Molly Neiswender
  • Mothers Morning Out
  • Annie Kibler
  • Rape Advocacy, Counseling & Education Services (RACES)
  • Fetch! Pet Care
  • Patterson Office Supplies
  • Danielle Wilberg
  • Carle
  • First Federal Savings Bank/GTPS Insurance
  • Past Festival of Trees Chairs (Laura Gerhold, Becca Guyette, Danielle Wilberg, & Mary Konken)
  • Health Alliance
  • 2015 Festival of Trees Committee
  • JLCU Board of Directors
    • President: Heather Vazquez
    • President Elect: Jennifer Romine
    • Executive Vice President: Danielle Wilberg
    • Treasurer: Loni Trimble
    • Secretary: Katie Blum
    • Nominating Chair: Jennifer Schmidt
    • Sustainer Rep: Amy Chamley
  • JLCU Management Team
    • Executive Vice President: Danielle Wilberg
    • Treasurer Elect: Andrea Singh
    • Communications Council VP: Ashley Morgan
    • Community Impact Council VP: Sara Olson
    • Finance Council VP: Stacey Kresge
    • Membership Council VP: Jenette Jurczyk
  • The Robeson Family Benefit Fund
  • Marine Bank
  • Kale Monk & Allie Teagarden-Monk
  • Chaya Sandler
  • Emily Neal
  • Campus Recreation
  • Gray, Yallaly, & Black DDS, Ltd.
  • The Handyman Property Maintenance Service
  • Broeren Russo Construction, Inc.
  • Prospect Bank
  • Johnson Trailer Sales
  • Pixels by Emily Donohoe


You are what made this very important fundraising weekend possible!  Thank you, and Happy Holidays!