Junior League of Stark County | Nonprofit spotlight

With a membership of nearly 300 women, the Junior League of Stark County is continuing its efforts to promote volunteerism. The local organization officially changed its name in June from the Junior League of Canton.

With a membership of nearly 300 women, the Junior League of Stark County is continuing its efforts to promote volunteerism. The local organization officially changed its name in June from the Junior League of Canton.

“The name change is an effort to better reflect who we are as members, as well as who we serve through our community projects,” said Megan Pellegrino, president.

“The Junior League is known for supporting the community through our numerous projects. However, our true legacy is the hundreds of trained volunteers we have empowered to better the community and themselves by serving on the boards of leading nonprofit agencies in Stark County and beyond.”

The Junior League has been promoting volunteerism locally since 1915, thanks to the efforts of 12 women who formed the group with the goal of bettering Stark County. Members research and identify community needs and develop programs to meet them.

Over the years, these programs have addressed issues such as childhood obesity, domestic violence, affordable day care, pregnancy, health research for women, senior citizen care and family literacy.

The league trains volunteers to ensure they have the tools necessary to implement change. Members have the opportunity to participate in a number of training programs, such as leadership, organizational development, community program work and fundraising. Many go on to serve on the boards of other nonprofits in Stark County.

The Junior League of Stark County forms partnerships with public and private agencies to provide services and develop projects that meet community needs.

In June, the Junior League partnered with Pathway: Caring for Children, a foster-care agency in Canton, to plan and host a prom for foster and adoptive youth, ages 15-20, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend their prom, due to behavioral or financial concerns.

Prior to the prom, the Junior League of Stark County will coordinate monthly classes for the youth to attend. Topics will include dance and etiquette. The youth will earn credits for attending classes, which can be used toward the cost of purchasing clothing for the prom.

Junior League members and a “Prom Committee” of Pathway children will be responsible for planning all of the details of the event.

In addition, each year, the league completes Done-in-a-Day Projects, allowing members to make a big impact in a short time frame.

Recent projects have included a partnership with Hammer and Nails to update the home of a disabled single mother and her 15-year-old daughter. A FACES of Stark County facility was renovated, and 50 backpacks were put together for Stark County Children Services to be given to foster children who were being relocated.

The 2009-2010 provisional class of new members coordinated and facilitated an evening of learning for the expectant parents served by Pregnancy Support Center.

Members presented classes on bonding and soothing a newborn baby, and healthy food preparation. In addition, the provisional class volunteered more than 60 hours at PSC, completing such tasks as filing and sorting items for its Hanna’s Hope Boutique, which provides maternity clothes, cribs and diapers for the expectant parents who attend classes at PSC.

JUNIOR LEAGUE OF STARK COUNTY

WHO: The Junior League of Stark County

WHAT: An organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

BOARD MEMBERS: Megan Pellegrino, president; Wendy Menegay, president-elect; Meredith Bailey, secretary; Jodie Ricks, treasurer; Cara Beisert, treasurer-elect; Leslie Letner, community council vice president; Cathy Williams, finance council vice president; Eileen Ziegler, sustainer council vice president; Kari Willoughby, training and development council vice president.

FUNDING: The Junior League of Stark County is funded by membership dues and fundraisers, such as Spring Fling Gala, the next of which will be March 5, 2011. Funds are returned to the community through Junior League projects.

DONATIONS: Can be made to The Junior League of Stark County. 4450 Belden Village St. NW, Suite 106 Canton OH 44718. For more information, call (330) 491-4552 or visit www.jlstarkcounty.org.