The Junior League of Memphis, an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, and improving the community through education and charitable works, is marking their 90th anniversary.
"I volunteer with G.R.O.W. This is such a strong sense of community here," said Stephanie Beliles, who was loading school supplies into her brother's pick up truck Thursday for delivery to a Binghampton neighborhood elementary school.
"We started our G.R.O.W. program which addresses some issues in the Binghampton area - education, personal growth, wellness, health," Beliles said.
G.R.O.W. is a three-year-old educational initiative that focuses on improving the Binghamton community through programming through literacy, education, health and wellness, personal growth and development, and community empowerment.
Take a tour of the Community Resource Center, which is the turn-of-the-century mansion at the corner of Central and Highland, and you will see walls covered with Junior League leaders from the past, 90 years of women volunteering their time and skills to make Memphis a better place to live.
What the Junior League is not is an organization that just hands out checks and shows up for photo ops.
"We have our Thursday night supper club, which is great and involves the whole community at the Lester Community Center, which is right in the heart of Binghampton," Beliles said. "We have a couple of people who work with us providing a hot meal because it brings the whole family together. At the program we teach kids music and arts. While that is going on we work with the parents on how to balance a checkbook. At the end we bring them all together and have a hot meal."
In addition to the many fundraisers conducted year round, including the big Christmas shopping spree, the Junior League of Memphis sells cookbooks and has a pre-owned clothing store called the Repeat Boutique. All the proceeds go back into the work they do, things like truckloads of school supplies.
"Brewster Elementary, Cornerstone Prep, and Highland Heights - all three are newer and as they are growing," Beliles said. "They need help with some school supplies and so as Junior League women, we are always on a mission. If you tell them there is a problem we are going to keep busting it till we can solve it for you."
"It's really exciting to have the Junior League in the building," said Cornerstone Prep Principal Lisa Settle. "They helped us last year with pre-K and this year with tutoring. With the supplies we just think it's wonderful to be able to partner with the Junior League."
A lot has changed with the Junior League of Memphis over the past 90 years. In the early years most of the members did not work outside the home. Now 80 percent work full time in addition to their work with the Junior League and taking care of their own families.
Junior League of Memphis website: http://www.jlmemphis.org/
Junior League of Memphis Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jlmemphis
Junior League of Memphis Twitter page: https://twitter.com/JuniorLeagueMem