The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri: women building better communities.
By: Amy Hunkeler, President 2012-13, and Gina Stingley, Director of Marketing 2012-13
The Junior League operates on the monies we bring in through the efforts of our members. We are self-sustaining because of ongoing fundraising activities. When the League started in 1914, there was no roadmap for success; only the determination of the members to do more to better the community and themselves. To this end they needed money to combat the social woes of the underprivileged.
Using skills gained in school and in the home, the ladies of the Junior League first produced, directed and starred in a Follies-type stage show selling tickets to the community in 1915. That show, called ‘Campus Mouser,’ raised $2,500 for the Swope Settlement. The shows continued on and off through the 1920s and 1930s, and they were brought back again in 1961 and 1977. In total, the Follies raised nearly $150,000 for the League.
As the League transitioned out of the Follies, we opened a shop to sell used goods in 1934. Members of the league emptied their homes and closets of gently used items of clothing and brought them to the shop. The store was a way to directly serve those in need and raise funds on an ongoing basis. Operations moved multiple times, eventually landing along the Troost corridor, the crossroads of Kansas City in the 40s and 50s and back to Troost where it remained until its closing as the Resale Boutique in 2011. Over the years, the thrift shop raised well more than $4 million to support Junior League activities in the community.
The next fundraiser was a tasteful foray into the world of cookbook publication. Our first cookbook, Company’s Coming, was published in the 1974-1975 League year. In 1980, it was added as a permanent volume of the Culinary Collection in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College. Our second book, Beyond Parsley, was published in the 1984 League year, and just eight years later, the book had sold its 100,000th copy thanks in part to Ladies Home Journal magazine publishing 17 recipes from the cookbook. Following its success, the League published Above and Beyond Parsley in 1992. The cookbook fundraisers were phased out in the early 2000s but not before raising close to $2 million for the League.
This League year marked the 25th anniversary of the League’s most successful fundraiser in our 99-year history, Holiday Mart. In 25 years, more than a million shoppers and vendors have helped us to raise well more than $8 million.
As we continue to diversify our fundraising efforts, we are looking to new opportunities through such events as grant writing, member and community donations, and our newest fun-raiser, Take Five. This is the second year for the Take Five and judging by the success of the 2012 and 2013 events, Take Five will soon be on the honor roll of fundraisers for which the League has undertaken.