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The Junior League of Charlotte Supports the Community with Voluntarism and Effective Action

By S. Mathur

Carrying on the early twentieth century tradition of reform, the Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC) is "an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, to developing the potential of women and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers." The first Junior League was founded in New York City in 1901 by Mary Harriman, a social activist and daughter of a railroad millionaire.

JLC is a member of the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) and has completed 90 years of service and leadership. It has been instrumental in donating more than 1 million volunteer hours and $13.5 million to the Charlotte community.

Dedicated to improving life for children and families in the area, JLC has helped in the establishment of landmark arts centers and health and human services organizations. These include the Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Discovery Place, the Charlotte Nature Museum, Charlotte Speech & Hearing Center, Teen Health Connection, the Council for Children's Rights, the JLC Resource Center at Levine Children's Hospital among others.

According to Sara Sprague, Communications Manager, one of the most popular JLC projects and the most important source of fundraising is the JLC WearHouse. The high-end consignment merchandise is popular with shoppers, who can find great deals on designer brand clothing, accessories and housewares. All proceeds from sales go to fund JLC programs.

Another exciting fundraising event is Lights! Camera! Fashion! (LCF!). The fall fashion show is held every year in October and offers fashion previews, hors d'oeuvres, desserts, wine tastings, a silent auction, and raffles. Funds raised support the physical, dental and mental health needs of children and families in the Charlotte community.

As well as community improvement, JLC programs support training and professional development for women. Members of the League can join educational courses on personal, professional and civic development educational courses. These cover such topics as negotiating salaries, financial planning and non-profit board training, along with healthy meal planning, self-defense and stress management.

The League's Leadership Development Institute offers training in leadership roles and hands-on experience through advocacy at the local, state and regional levels. With a membership base of nearly 2,000 women, it also provides opportunities for networking.

Current advocacy initiatives address dental, physical and mental health issues for children. Human trafficking has become an issue in the Charlotte area recently and JLC has released a position statement opposing the practice. The statement reads: "The Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC) opposes human trafficking in all its forms.

The JLC supports programs and legislation aimed at preventing the importation and detainment of children, women and men for the purposes of exploitation. Additionally, we are committed to advocating for victim services for those affected by human trafficking and to educating our membership and greater community on this issue."

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