In 1901, Mary Harriman, a 19-year old New York City debutante with a social conscience, formed the Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements. Harriman mobilized a group of 80 other young women, hence the name "Junior" League, to work to improve child health, nutrition and literacy among young immigrants living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. These families were mired in poverty and had few support systems. With community needs abundant and many women sharing a commitment to
improving conditions, the volunteer movement spread quickly to other cities across North America.
In 1934, the Junior League of Hamilton (now the Junior League of Hamilton-Burlington, Inc.) was formed, joining what had by then become a very dynamic and effective international woman's volunteer movement.
Interestingly, although Junior League members give the gift of time and service to their community, they find that membership in the Junior League is a wonderful gift to themselves. Right from the beginning, the difference in this organization has been its emphasis on learning and developing the women who have joined their ranks. Here in our own community, The Junior League has been at the forefront of community improvements while simultaneously providing its members with high quality training in leadership, community impact and voluntarism.
The international organization has now grown to 292 Junior Leagues in four countries, with over 155,000 members. This network of women, developed as community and civic leaders, positively impacting their communities, is as committed and dedicated as the group that Mary Harriman led over a hundred years ago. Today's members continue to be challenged by emerging and changing community needs.
As members get to know their community well and have opportunities to develop skills, their passion and commitment often expands beyond their immediate League experience. Whether serving with other community organizations, on for-profit or not-for-profit boards, or advocating to bring issues from committee to community, The Junior League weaves a thread throughout communities. In the current era where the need for leadership and leaders is great, womens empowerment through the Junior League continues to be an important and valuable community asset.
You too can become a catalyst for lasting community change!