By Miranda Cauldwell
For decades, Pensacola has been home to a proactive and evolving group of women that believes in the power of civic responsibility. Founded in 1956, Junior League of Pensacola is a charitable non-profit organization of local women focused on improving the community through volunteer action and developing the potential of their members. Junior League of Pensacola, or JULEP, recognizes that communities are strengthened by the positive actions of its residents, and the membership seeks ways to better the surrounding areas through benevolent programs that bolster that positive intent.
Pensacola’s chapter of Junior League is a part of the larger Association of Junior Leagues International, founded in 1901. AJLI has grown to span 4 countries with 125,000 members strong who believe in the same mission to develop leadership through community service. Supporting the values of AJLI, Pensacola’s Junior League has impacted not only the local area but also its members. Just as important as the mission of civic action, is the development of its member’s potential to be leaders and pillars in the community. “Junior League is dedicated to the empowerment of its members through growth opportunities both personally and professionally by learning leadership skills, making connections, fostering fellowship, and promoting volunteerism,” says Laura Griffin, 2021-2022 President of the Pensacola Junior League. The organization encourages its members to find their passion in community relations by selecting committees to support that highlight their talents – including membership, communication, development, research, event support, and donor relations.
Junior League’s overall goal is to seek ways to improve women’s and children’s issues. Great impacts have been made through projects focusing on needs such as food and diaper insecurity, reaching hundreds of children and families across the area. Diaper drives and fundraising to care for the most basic of needs is a service the members hold as a top priority.
Out of unyielding concern for meal insecurity, a signature program of AJLI was created. Kids in the Kitchen was founded to foster healthy eating through nutrition-focused education. In partnership with local elementary schools, Junior League members take time to build connections with young students to strengthen the relationship of healthy eating while having fun with physical activity and creative crafts.
Beyond caring for the nourishment of the school-aged and the babies to diaper, members of the Research and Development Committee sought ways to support the young women of Pensacola. Discovering a need in refining leadership skills in soon-to-be high school graduates, the Spark Board was created. Spark Board awards scholarships to its applicants and trains young women on how to be leaders in their community. Through a mentorship program, Junior League members teach lessons on personal and professional skills such as public speaking, project planning, leadership, service, and self-esteem. Spark Board members have opportunities to work alongside the JULEP members at volunteer events and to develop and pitch philanthropic projects that are presented to the organization.
Junior League of Pensacola is singularly focused on the growth of its service-oriented members and the residents of the community in which they serve. Currently, at over 200 members, JULEP holds an open invitation to all local women looking to find ways to culminate change.
To find out ways to join their efforts or inquire about membership, please refer to pensacola.jl.org.