The League Pulse

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

League through the generations | The Scammahorns

Compiled by: Alise Kowalski, PR/Marketing Chair, 2013-14

The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri is an organization committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community and has been dedicated to this mission since its beginning 100 years ago. Throughout the past century of service, the League has been home to thousands of women throughout the Kansas City metro. And over the years, women have shared the League experience with their daughters, sisters and nieces.

The League Pulse asked a few women that have shared their League experience with a family member to chat about their experience on the blog. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the stories that span many years in the League’s and illustrate the impact that has had on these women.

Today, we meet a trio of ladies. Joyce Niblett Scammahorn joined the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri in 2003. Her daughters, Joy Beth Scammahorn-Orr and Julia Scammahorn, are also members of the League. All three women share an attitude of gratitude and commitment to voluntarism.

We first chatted with Joyce to learn more about her League experience.

LP: What leadership roles and placements do you remember most fondly? Why?
Joyce: Chair of Safe Home: I learned a lot about the cycles of abuse, and the great training I received to be a counselor in the hospital setting to abused women.  I made a lot of friends through this placement as I was also a member of a very strong and active committee. Also, being on the Sustainer Board I remember very fondly. I met some incredibly talented women. I was humbled by the placement of Sustainer Secretary. Wow, little did I know how challenging that role would be!

LP: Throughout your membership, how did the League change? In what ways has it remained unchanged?
Joyce:  It has changed by becoming more efficient through use of technology in communicating with members and supporters.  I am also an example of a big change the League made just prior to my joining, the age of membership became more inclusive. I believe the age requirement change provides a broader view of life today. The overall mission of the League has remained the same, since the 1800’s, it always been a group of concerned women helping their community.

 LP: What role did the League play in your life?
Joyce: It has enabled me to be more involved with my daughters in a productive community centered way, as well as, providing a more organized approach to my volunteerism.

LP: What did League membership entail?
Joyce:  I personally believe, the main requirement is one of a committed attitude to community service.

LP: What were your requirements?
Joyce: In many ways the same as today, as my membership is not that old, but the biggest change is the Junior League Resale Boutique requirement. I believe that replacing that requirement with the broad based approach to all the opportunities available through the League is more useful for new members as they become so much more knowledgeable quicker of the areas we are involved with.

LP: Were your daughters involved with League activities when they were young? If so, how do you think that influenced their decisions to join?
Joyce: Not directly since I was not a member. However, the League’s mission parallels my family’s commitment to volunteerism.  Being a volunteer has been a long generational attitude passed down in my family.  My mother volunteered throughout her life and involved me as well as her granddaughters in that process. There are smaller communities and towns where volunteerism is a community process organized through churches and other non-profit organizations such as food shelters, community arts, medical drives, United Way, etc.  So the Junior League is an organized promoter of community service which provides women an excellent way to help support our entire community and yet be involved with personal missions as well.

LP: What is your fondest memory from your League membership?
Joyce: Could it possibly be the Hooked on Books packing weekends? Yikes, maybe not! But I believe it is the knowledge that there are always going to be an army of women needed to help make a difference to those in need as well as helping to support our community as a whole to make Kansas City a better place to live for all families.

LP: How do you feel about your daughters being members of the League?
Joyce: I am very proud of their commitment to giving back to others and the League provides such a nice, organized way to maximize that spirit of giving

 LP: How has your experience in the League influenced your life?
Joyce: It has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with wonderful women who realize life is broader than oneself.

LP: What do you hope New Members and Actives get out of their League experience?

Joyce: A sense of personal worth they may not have experienced without the mission and support of all the wonderful women in the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri.

We also interviewed Joyce’s daughters. Joy Beth Scammahorn-Orr joined the League in 2001 and shared how the League has made a meaningful impact on her life.

LP: What placements have you enjoyed the most and why?
Joy Beth:
1. New Member Advisor – because my sister was in my group for one and the other main reason is sharing the history and mission of the league with new members and getting them jump started into the league was very rewarding. 2. Nominating Committee- It was great group of women committed to finding the next best leaders for the league and the time involved created a bond within the group that made for a positive and memorable experience.

LP: What role does the League play in your life?
Joy Beth
: Allows me to be productive with the time that I have for volunteering and feel connected to a well respected long standing community partner that I am proud to represent.

LP: In what ways has it helped you develop personally and/or professionally?
Joy Beth:
I have learned numerous lessons in personnel management, business meeting acumen, boardsmanship, and professional work ethics.

LP: What drew you to the League?
Joy Beth:
The League’s reputation in the Kansas City community.

LP: In your opinion, how has the League changed since your mother was actively involved in League activities?
Joy Beth:
The mission and devotion of the members has not changed however the members’ lives have changed which creates a need for different member experiences.

LP: When you get into those inevitable “then and now” discusses, what stories do you recall that struck you as interesting or so different or similar to your experiences in the League?
Joy Beth:
The Tea Room, All day meetings, Bridge etc..

LP: If you have little ones, are they or do you plan to involve them into your League experiences? Why or why not?
Joy Beth:
 I have one daughter, who is very young, however I will encourage her to join for the same reasons I did…. working for the greater good in our community with like-minded women.

LP: What do you enjoy about sharing your membership experience with your sister? How has that influenced your League experience?
Joy Beth:
Sharing a positive productive experience is very meaningful!

And finally, we chatted with Julia Scammahorn, the little sister! Voluntarism has been an important part of the Scammahorn family values for as far back as Julia can remember.  As promised by her mother and sister, participating in the League and giving back to the community has paved the way toward a lifetime of happiness in the service of others.

LP: What placements have you enjoyed the most and why?
Julia:
My two favorite placements have been Holiday Mart committee and my current placement, New Member Advisor. The reason HM is among my favorite is really two-fold. First, I gained a true understanding of how our largest fundraiser, the backbone of our giving ability if you will, really came together. This inside look led to a new level of understanding and appreciation for our League. Secondly, it is among my most valuable placements because of literally the time put into it. One of my main take-aways from the League is that the more demanding placements have also been my most rewarding experiences because the more effort and time I spend toward a common goal with other women is when true friendships really emerge. It really is true, in the end the love you make is equal to the love you take! My other favorite placement, New Member Advisor, is simply because now that I have been in the League for some years I feel not only more educated to share with potential members the history of our great organization and how to successfully navigate through it, but my genuine enthusiasm for the League as a whole. I feel honored to be a part of the League history and hope to pass that sense of honor and purpose on to other women entering our doors for the first time.

LP: What role does the League play in your life? In what ways has it helped you develop personally and/or professionally?
Julia:
Personally, it has helped me with time management and empathy. Time management because I have learned we make time for what is important to us. Some years are more demanding for us than others, but there is always a placement we can fit in our schedule when volunteerism is a priority. Empathy, because through the years I realized most who volunteer do so with the best of intentions and staying positive with the goal of team in mind we can and do achieve so much for others and ourselves. Professionally, I learned the value of Robert’s Rules of Order which has aided in my ability to create an agenda, run a meeting, problem solve and manage with success.

LP: How did your mother’s involvement in the League shape your decision to join? What drew you to the League?
Julia
: My mother’s career led her to join later in years. With my grandmother and mother, I learned the value of volunteering through the Meals on Wheels program in our community. Both my mother and sister encouraged me to see that giving back meant a lifetime of joy, rather than fleeting moments of happiness.

 LP: In your opinion, how has the League changed since your mother was actively involved in League activities?
Julia:
My mother joined in more modern times. But I love hearing stories of how our League meetings have changed, most specifically, the tone. I have been told by those that were there it was not uncommon to see League members smoking, knitting and dining over lunch that was served to them while discussing their agenda. I suppose dining is still a custom we enjoy!

LP: When you get into those inevitable “then and now” discussions, what stories do you recall that struck you as interesting or so different or similar to your experiences in the League?
Julia: I think what I have taken away in this regard is that we are very much a product of our times and culture and then, as is now, it is our responsibility to look outside our own comforts to really serve the greatest needs among us.

 LP: If you have little ones, are they or do you plan to involve them into your League experiences? Why or why not?
Julia:
I have two young daughters. The eldest has participated several times in Little Leaguers. I absolutely do and will continue to encourage them, and all of my children, to always serve as I feel that is not only our responsibility as human beings but the truest path to joy in life.

LP: What do you enjoy about sharing your membership experience with your sister? How has that influenced your League experience?
Julia
: My sister has taught me so much in life, about others and myself. What I enjoy most about being in this League with my sister is seeing first-hand what an impact her strength of character and heart has done for others. Her shared wisdom has helped me become more open-minded and patient, to better appreciate we are all giving of our time and respect of one another can conquer much.

 Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri members Julia Scammhorn, Joy Beth Scammahorn-Orr and Joyce Niebett Scammahorn.

Left to right: Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri members Julia Scammahorn, Joy Beth Scammahorn-Orr and Joyce Niblett Scammahorn.

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