The Junior League of Long Island has one mission: to improve communities through active volunteering and to challenge women to greatness through friendship, compassion and commitment to their local community.
The Junior League was founded in 1951 as the North Shore Service League, a nonprofit organization comprised of 288 young women volunteers. In 1959, the North Shore Service League purchased the current and existing Thrift Shop in Roslyn. Along with hard work, fundraising and help from The Phillips Foundation, the League was able to purchase the building with the help of the original group of women who painted, cleaned and decorated to make a true home base for the future Junior League of Long Island, which was inducted into the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) in 1962. The building is now considered historic, marked not only as headquarters, but as a legacy of the league.
“I’ve learned a great work ethic and sense of volunteerism,” says Jennifer Livingston, communications director for the board of directors for The Junior League. “Not only are you working with like-minded women and trying to do something for the greater good, you’re also building friendships.”
Livingston has been a member of the league for the past seven years and manages marketing, internal communications and public relations for the organization. She also handles the photography of events and social media pages.
The women’s nonprofit charity organization is based in Roslyn, but covers the entire island. According to Livingston, the league was established during a time when women recognized the need to bring education to more communities, and along with education, proper funding as well.
“The majority of our work is in towns or lower income communities that don’t have the funding. We bring the wealth of the island and the knowledge of the world to these people,” says Livingston. “Whether it’s finding an interview outfit and résumé writing for women trying to get back into the workforce, learning to eat healthy or gaining better self-esteem, there are different resources available to people to help better themselves.”
The Junior League’s focus is on women and children, but they give back to all of the causes and organizations they work with, including Bethany House, The Safe Center LI, The INN and The Ronald McDonald House. Of their signature projects, the League has two: Kids in the Kitchen and Project Playground.
“Kids in the Kitchen is an event that we put on every year where we educate children and parents on better eating and healthy habits when it comes to hygiene and exercise,” says Livingston. “Project Playground happens every two years. We vet proposals one year and build the next year. Last year, we partnered with the Town of Oyster Bay to build a sensory playground.”
A responsibility-based organization, The Junior League currently has close to 200 members including 50 active members. After a prospective member has fulfilled their first year, they have six active years in the organization. Once that time period is complete, the option is given to become a sustainer within the organization. One of the member requirements is to complete a “done-in-a-day” or DID.
“We work with Birthday Wishes, a Long Island-based organization that helps children celebrate their birthdays. That is one of our DIDs and we do about 7 to 10 for a calendar year,” says Livingston. “We try to bring some joy to these children in safe houses by having a party for them, complete with wrapped presents.”
With the AJLI as the New York City based parent company, the organization hosts guest lectures and speakers as well as conferences all over the country. Getting the word out, Livingston helps to organize a mailing list to members, local nonprofits and businesses and also advertises digitally and in print. She says that the Thrift Shop is by far the biggest fundraiser annually.
“At one time, the majority of The Junior Leagues had thrift shops, but that went away. With our thrift shop, we’re doing better every month and all of that money goes back to how we can fund these projects,” she says. “It’s a cross between a goodwill store and thrift shop, with prices ranging depending upon the donation. Our manager Maureen is a great asset to the thrift shop. She has a great gauge of what items are worth.”
The Thrift Shop accepts items that are suitable for sale and re-use that meet the league’s quality standards. Gently used or never worn items including clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories as well as household and home décor items, furniture, books and sporting equipment are also accepted.
“Our members range from all ages and [The Junior League] is just a great, well-rounded organization,” says Livingston. “I’m proud to be a member.”
The Junior League of Long Island is located at 1395 Old Northern Boulevard in Roslyn. For more information, call 516-484-0485 or visit www.jlli.org.