The League Pulse

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

League through the generations | A shared sense of service

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. We are grateful to our members for sharing their stories that span many years in the League’s and illustrate the impact it has had on their lives.

Today, we meet a group of women that have made Carrie Fotopoulos Barnthouse joined the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri in 1982 and remained active in the League for more than a decade. She now enjoys her Sustainer status along with her sister-in-law, Angie Fotopoulos who joined the League in 1986. Carrie’s daughter, Kristi Barnthouse McNearney, and daughter-in-law, Maggie Murphy Barnthouse, joined the League in 2012.

We first chatted with Carrie  about her League experience.

LP: What leadership roles and placements do you remember most fondly? Why?
Carrie: The roles and placements I remember most fondly would be Jazzoo, because it was the first year, and such a fun new concept! And AT THE ZOO!!! Additionally, the Center for the Visually Impaired, because of the kids and a parenting Seminar we gave to groups of moms.

LP: Throughout your membership, how did the League change? In what ways has it remained unchanged?
Carrie: Throughout my membership the League changed a lot! First of all, when I joined the numbers were small, then years later they vastly increased. Also, we had all of our meetings in the pretty little stone building on the Plaza, which they have now torn down. It was a wonderful place.  The League has remained unchanged in that it continues to help the community in great ways!

LP: What were your requirements?
Carrie: The requirements when I joined were the Provisional Year, which included pricing at the Thrift Shop on Troost, a donation of clothing to the Thrift Shop each year, and Provisional and General League meetings. As an active, requirements included a yearly League placement, clothing donation, and monthly Membership meetings, as well as placement meetings.

LP: What role did the League play in your life?     
Carrie: The role the League played in my life is fondly remembered. At the time with young children, it seemed there was so little time to fit everything in. But over the years I realize how many wonderful friendships I made back then, both of other young moms, and also older women who were so nice and so much fun. I met so many wonderful people who I am still crossing paths with today. It also gave me a sense of being able to help in the community.

LP: Was your daughter involved with League activities in her youth? If so, how do you think that influenced her decision to join?
Carrie:
My daughter, Kristi Barnthouse McNearney was always involved in my League activities, as I was a stay at home mom, so she was always hearing me on the phone, or talking about my placements. She was familiar with the League and the League activities since she was born, so her joining felt familiar to her.

LP: What is your fondest memory from your League membership?
Carrie:
My fondest memory from my League membership is definitely the friendships I made, as well as being such a wonderful way to volunteer in our community, connect with friends and make new friends, many which I have continued to cross paths with throughout the years.

LP: How do you feel about your daughter and daughter-in-law being members of the League?
Carrie:
I feel so happy and proud of my daughter, Kristi, for being a Junior League member! She is a very busy working mom, with a very active 2 year old daughter. She is still able to find the time and energy to contribute in such a helpful way for others in the community. I am also very proud of Maggie Barnthouse (my son Nick’s wife). She is a doctor, and is currently a resident at KU Medical Center. She also has a very busy schedule and is a member of the Junior League, donating her time and energies to the Kansas City community as well.

LP: How has your experience in the League influenced your life?

Carrie: My experience in the League has contributed to my life in so many positive ways! It is such an excellent way to connect with the community by helping others. I have made new friendships, expanded old ones, gotten to be part of the volunteer community, and hopefully made a small difference in Kansas City.

LP: What do you hope New Members and Actives get out of their League experience?
Carrie: I hope New Members and Actives get as much out of their Junior League experience as I have been fortunate enough to get out of mine!

Angie Fotopoulos shared her League experience with the League Pulse.

 LP: When did you join the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri?
Angie:
I joined the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri a year after I married my husband Sam and moved to Kansas City from Oklahoma City. I’m thrilled to be a part of such an outstanding organization and group of women. The League gave me a wonderful, enriching and invaluable opportunity to serve my community and learn more about it.

LP: What leadership roles and placements do you remember most fondly? Why?
Angie:
One of my fondest placements was being a member of the Holiday Mart Public Relations steering committee for the Mart’s inaugural year. I’m still so proud of all the women who put their heart and soul into launching this tremendous fundraiser in Kansas City. What a dynamite group of women I had to work with on this committee; and how wonderful it was for us to see the Mart successfully launched, and its continued success through the years. It’s truly one of the crown jewels of our League’s many fundraisers whose profits have positively impacted so many organizations and lives over the past two decades. Another fond League memory would be my provisional year thrift shop requirement hours. Checking, pricing and tagging merchandise, along with fabulous hours of memorable chit chat with fellow Leaguers, was priceless!

LP: Throughout your membership, how did the League change? In what ways has it remained unchanged?
Angie:
I feel the League’s ability to adapt to the needs of the community throughout the years, no matter the obstacle, is one of the most exceptional qualities about the organization. However, the most exceptional  and beautiful aspect about the League is the incredible women within the organization who have gladly and humbly given hours of community service to Kansas City for the past 100 years. I’m truly honored to have been able to work with some of these women, which include my sister-in-law, Carrie, and niece, Kristi. My daughter in college is already looking forward to joining our family of League volunteers after graduation. I’m thrilled to be a part of the League’s 100th anniversary! I hope our New Members and actives will continue this great legacy of volunteer community service in Kansas City for another incredible 100 years.

 We also chatted with Kristi Barnthouse McNearney about how her League experience has been influenced by her mother and aunt.

 LP: What placements have you enjoyed the most and why?
Kristi:
I am currently a part of the Family Dinners Committee and I absolutely love it.  I volunteered for several family dinner shifts during my new member year and loved the interaction I had with the families participating.  We are helping these parents and children learn life skills, teaching them healthy eating habits and showing them how fun and valuable eating together can be! Seeing the joy on their faces makes me proud to be a part of this committee.

LP: What role does the League play in your life? In what ways has it helped you develop personally and/or professionally?
Kristi:
I am from Kansas City but moved away for a while after college. Once we moved back, I really wanted to get back into the community and find a way to become more involved and make a difference. The Junior League has given me that opportunity.  I love being able to be a part of so many different organizations throughout the area. When I leave a JL volunteering opportunity I feel so fulfilled and inspired knowing that I have helped someone in our community. It is helping me fulfill my passion for helping others.

LP: How did your mother’s and aunt’s involvement in the League shape your decision to join? What drew you to the League?
Kristi:
For as long as I can remember, my mom has been making references to the Junior League.  She used to always talk about volunteering at the resale boutique and both working and shopping at Holiday Mart. I always felt proud of my mom for being so involved in her community and I think that helped me with my decision to join the league. Growing up, we would always run into people she knew and when I asked her who they were, most of the time the answer was “I know them through Junior League.” I used to think she knew everyone in Kansas City! The social aspect is a great side-benefit of the Junior League and I hope to one day leave the league having gained life-long friends just like she did!

LP: In your opinion, how has the League changed since your mother/aunt/grandmother was actively involved in League activities? 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?
Kristi:
I have had a fair amount of conversations recently with my mom about the league as I am in my first active year. Last year, I asked her about her provisional year and it was interesting to hear how much the requirements have changed. She tends to bring up the resale boutique a lot as this was a huge part of the League during her involvement and I can’t relate because that is no longer a part of it. The Junior League is also so much bigger now than it was when she was involved. She talks about having meetings in the little building on the Plaza and now we have them in auditoriums! It’s such a great testament to the quality of women involved, both past and present, that have made the League what it is today.

LP: If you have little ones, are they or do you plan to involve them into your League experiences? Why or why not?
Kristi:
I have a 2 year old daughter and I would love to have her be a part of my league experiences. I see a lot of opportunities for child involvement-when she is a little older I will be so excited to get her involved! I really looked up to my mom for being a part of the League and I would love my daughter to look at me the same way. I think exposing her to volunteering and helping others at a young age will help shape her into a caring, compassionate and empathetic human being.

 And we also chatted with Maggie Murphy Barnthouse who not only shares a League affiliation with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law but also her mother, grandmother, aunts and cousins.

LP: What placements have you enjoyed the most and why?
Maggie:
I enjoy Wayside Waifs for the chance to work with animals after being with people all day. I also enjoy the immediate gratification of walking the dogs and doing clean-up work, it’s nice to see results for volunteer hours.

LP: What role does the League play in your life?
Maggie:
The Junior League gives me a chance to volunteer within a large organization that makes profound and noticeable impacts. It allows my efforts to be multiplied exponentially, and I have been able to see discrete changes in the lives of those the organization has worked with.

LP: In what ways has it helped you develop personally and/or professionally?
Maggie: 
I am not native to Kansas City, and the Junior League has provided me with lasting friendships with like-minded, driven, professional women.

LP: How did your family and in-law’s involvement in the League shape your decision to join?
Maggie:
My mother, grandmother, several aunts and several cousins are involved with Junior League and I was able to watch how their relationships with women in the league persisted long after their active years – I wanted to form those kinds of bonds with women in the Kansas City area.

LP: In your opinion, how has the League changed since your mother/aunt/grandmother was actively involved in League activities?
Maggie:
It is much more conducive to women with professional careers, changing requirements and meeting times as well as focused on training and fostering skills that can be applied to a professional career.

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?
Maggie:
The similarities between the people that are involved then and now. The demographics may change (age at joining, employed outside the home, graduate degrees) however the fundamental driving force in the women my grandma joined with and the ones I joined with are that all are motivated to better the world around them.

Membership to the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri is a family affair. Left to right: Angie Fotopoulos, Kristi Barnthouse McNearney, Maggie Murphy Barnthouse and Carrie Fotopoulos Barnthouse.

Membership to the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri is a family affair. Left to right:Carrie Fotopoulos Barnthouse, Kristi Barnthouse McNearney, Maggie Murphy Barnthouse and Angie Fotopoulos.

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