The League Pulse

The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri: women building better communities.

From our president: Celebrating 100 years

By: Marissa Schaffner, 2013-2014 President

picture: Marissa SchaffnerThis year marks an exciting milestone in our League’s history: our 100th year of developing the potential of women, promoting voluntarism and improving the Kansas City community. This is an exciting time in our history as we celebrate the first 100 years and look toward the next 100. Our history serves as a solid foundation on which we can continue to grow and develop our membership, our message, our training and our community impact.

Community Impact

Our League has a rich history and is a great source of pride for our members, myself included. For much of Kansas City’s history, we have been at the forefront of social and civic issues in our community. We have worked with more than 350 non-profit agencies to provide both our trained volunteers and funding to help address those needs.

A few notable examples:

  •  Soon after the opening of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art there was a need to make a connection between students and art.  In 1934, we developed the docent program at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  That program continues today and is a model in the field of art education serving all generations of students.
  •  Teachers identified a need for earlier provision of basic skills training for children with cerebral palsy.  In response, we helped found the Cerebral Palsy Nursery School to prepare preschool-aged children for schooling.  Now known as Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center (Children’s TLC), this organization continues to help children with all abilities.
  •  A consistent, steady source of funding was needed to design and implement educational programming for the Kansas City Zoo.  It was our development of the Zoo’s largest annual fundraiser, Jazzoo, which funds the Zoo Learning Fund providing continued education programs at the Zoo into perpetuity.
  •  Today, nearly one in three children in our city is overweight or obese; to help combat this trend, we created the Healthy U Family Dinners program where we work side-by-side with families at various schools in the metro teaching both parents and children about preparing healthy meals.

We have become highly successful at creating and growing these programs and then handing them off to other agencies in our community to continue well beyond our involvement. The scope of the League’s community involvement is as vast and diverse as the city we live in and we are committed to continuing to identify and meet the needs of our community.

 Developing the potential of women

Since our League’s inception in 1914, the role of women in society has changed dramatically. During those early years, Junior League served as a place where women could develop the skills necessary to become community leaders and advocates for themselves and others.  Today leadership training is a key element to becoming a community leader.  Our members are given the opportunity to lead and grow in ways that they may not have outside of the League.  For example, some of our leaders manage the 60-woman committee that runs Holiday Mart, the half million dollar fundraiser organized and implemented by volunteers every year. We learn to run efficient meetings, manage large teams of people and build consensus. Our experiences in the League lead us to success within the League as well as outside the League in our personal and professional capacities.

The joy of celebrating a milestone anniversary is the opportunity to recognize the dedication of the women who built this organization to be 100 years strong.  It is also about acknowledging the impact our members make in our community.  The Junior League’s legacy lives beyond our work as an organization. It is about the passion our members have for making a difference in Kansas City.

Kicking off the new League year in pictures:

pictgure: Members of the 2013-14 Board of Directors met for brunch on the Plaza to kick off the new year.

Members of the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri 2013-14 Board of Directors met for brunch on the Plaza to kick off the new year.

picture: On June 1, 2013, the League's 100th anniversary flag was raised at its Ward Parkway Headquarters to kick off a year of celebrations.

On June 1, 2013, the League’s 100th anniversary flag was raised at its Ward Parkway Headquarters to kick off a year of celebrations.

picture: League members stuff BackSnacks to distribute at University Academy as part of our signature impact area programming, Healthy U.

picture: League members stuff BackSnacks to distribute at University Academy as part of our signature impact area programming, Healthy U.

picture: eague members breaking ground on the new Truman Habitat for Humanity house for the Shumacher Family in Raytown

League members breaking ground on the new Truman Habitat for Humanity house for the Shumacher Family in Raytown: Left to right: Marissa Schaffner, President; Lori Konomos, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity, Committee member; Kori Crouse, Bylaws Chair; Jennifer Ray, Director of Community Action; Julie Randolph, President-Elect; Samara Nash, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity Chair.

League President Marissa Schaffner and 2014-15 incoming president Julie Randolph, met with Mayor Sly James and City Councilwoman Jan Marcason to discuss the impact the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri has made on the KC community for the past 100 years.

League President Marissa Schaffner and 2014-15 incoming president Julie Randolph, met with Mayor Sly James and City Councilwoman Jan Marcason to discuss the impact the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri has made on the KC community for the past 100 years.

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