Since 1966, the Junior League of Fort Myers, Inc. has contributed more than one million volunteer hours to community projects and programs.To celebrate the Junior League’s 50th Anniversary in 2016, its members are encouraging all of Southwest Florida to join them in continuing their ongoing volunteer efforts.The challenge is simple. From June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016, the Junior League is asking adults to commit to volunteering 50 hours of community service and/or $50 to the local nonprofit(s) of their choice. Children, ages 6 to 16, are asked to donate 25 hours. Families are encouraged to take the challenge together if they wish. During this same time, JLFM members will also commit to completing 50 community service projects. Participants may commit to the challenge and track their hours by downloading a form on the Junior League’s website at www.jlfm.org. At the end of the year, the Junior League will hold a celebration honoring all participants with a certificate and commemorative pin next May.
The Junior League will kick-off this 50 for 50 challenge at their Kids in the Kitchen Summer Festival on Saturday, June 6. The free event is open to the public and will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stars Complex located at 2980 Edison Ave. in Fort Myers. The Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative and others like it are now active in 200 locations around the world. They provide lessons and demonstrations in the preparation of healthy meals and snacks in partnership with local organizations, chefs and nutritionists to help reverse the increased rate of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.
The day will include activities for kids to enjoy including seed planting, fun exercises, free summer reading books and educational information on healthy drinks, foods and dental health. A free healthy lunch will also be offered. A number of nonprofit organizations will have booths onsite to provide information about the services they provide children and their families as well as how locals can volunteer with their organizations.“We applaud the efforts of the Junior League in this initiative that will help high-schools students attain the volunteer hours needed to receive a scholarship through Bright Futures and other opportunities,” said Marshall T. Bower, president and CEO of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc. “Once again, the Junior League is demonstrating it commitment to community and understands the importance of investing in our greatest assets: our children.” Since its founding in 1901 by social activist Mary Harriman, the Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world, encompassing 150,000 women in 292 Leagues in four countries. Its mandate has remained the same: to develop exceptionally qualified civic leaders who collaborate with community partners to identify a community’s most urgent needs and address them with meaningful and relevant programs and initiatives that not only improve lives but also change the way people think.
Through the decades, the JLFM has made major contributions to Southwest Florida to support a wide variety of community needs including founding the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium (1973), the Volunteer Service Bureau – Volunteer Action Center – now known as Volunteer Center (1992),Teen Court (1992) and the Women’s Resource Center (1996). It has also been active in feeding the hungry in the five-county area through the food drive at the annual Taste of the Town, mentoring teenage girls in foster care, supporting self defense for women, preparing women to re-enter the workforce, creating a listening library for cancer patients, preserving historic architecture, supporting the Ronald McDonald House, distributing holiday food baskets, organizing holiday gift drives, providing gender-specific programming to teenage girls in juvenile justice, supplying backpacks to children in Harlem Heights Community and more.
A member of the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., the Junior League of Fort Myers, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1966 and made up of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The JLFM is also a granting organization, providing mini-grants to organizations throughout Southwest Florida’s five-county area to programs that create better life outcomes for our area’s youth. JLFM memberships are open to all women aged 21 and older of all races, religions and national origin who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism. For more information on the 50 for 50 Challenge, call 239-277-1197 or visit www.jlfm.org.