Secrets of the Southern Junior Leagues
Dispatches from the inside.
It’s kind of like pledging a sorority—except less matching and more volunteering.
Once prospective members are accepted they become a provisional, which is a yearlong introduction to the League. Provisionals are immersed into their chapter’s projects, fundraising initiatives, and the community as a whole. They volunteer—a lot. At the end of the year, they’ve often made friendships that will last a lifetime.
You can be a member for life.
After meeting the requirements set by each individual league, active members are able to transition to sustainer status. Sustainers are still members of the League family but they aren’t required to log as many volunteer hours and often do a good bit of socializing. Group shopping trips, holiday parties, and luncheons abound.
The Junior League is one of the oldest and largest women’s volunteer organizations in the world.
With all the attention the Junior League gets in the South, it was actually founded in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. But, we Southerners have a history of such credit-giving conundrums.
The majority of members work outside the home.
Unlike what’s portrayed in The Help (yes, many of us got to screen it before it hit theaters. Reviews were… mixed) most members work outside the home and are prominent members of the workforce, at that. Speaking of which…
You might recognize a few of our current and former Leaguers
While not all of these women hail from Southern Leagues, some of our more prominent members include five former First Ladies (Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, and Eleanor Roosevelt) and numerous congresswomen, mayors, senators, lieutenant governors, and a state attorney general. Shirley Temple, Eudora Welty, and your favorite cookbook author and mine—Julia Child—were also members.
Speaking of cookbooks, we put out some of the best collections around.
If you’re looking for a newcomer in town, nothing says welcome like a cookbook from the local League. Now, Southerners won’t be surprised to find out the first Junior League cookbook (released in 1940) was, of course, created by a Southern chapter—The Junior League of Augusta. It was entitled Recipes from Southern Kitchens.
Leaguers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty
Aside from logging an average of 5 hours per week in Junior League-related activities, 80 percent of Leaguers are also involved in other volunteer organizations and a whopping 98 percent of members have made charitable donations elsewhere in the past year.
There will be wine…
When appropriate, of course. Monthly membership meetings are fair game.