Saturday, June 18, 2011

Junior League House in New York City

rThe modern girl, in spite of everything that is laid at her door, is not all frivolity and selfishness.  She is making an effort, though not always a well directed or sustained effort, to be a useful member of society and to help her less fortunate fellow citizens.  Is it not possible to guide her impulses and efforts, and turn them to good account?  The organization called the Junior League exists to do this very thing.  Its objects are stated as follows:  "To foster among its members interests in undertakings for betterment of the social, economic, and educational conditions in New York; to help them to study conditions and to find their own work; to raise funds to carry on the work."

The Junior League was started thirteen years ago by a group of young girls interested in the college settlement, who decided to combine their separate efforts and work together towards the same end.  The following year they took in, from among the younger girls of their acquaintance, new members interested in other settlements.  The work still continued to grow, and we now have seven hundred members, divided into eight committees, an office with a secretary, and a budget of about fifteen thousand dollars a year.  The committees are as follows:  Settlement, charity, organization society, hospitals and district nursing, visiting teachers, music and entertainment, flowers, lectures, and Junior League House.  The work under these heads includes routine clerical work, teaching classes in sewing, teaching backward children, providing supplies and luxuries for the sick, giving entertainments of singing or playing, etc.  We have every year a course of lectures on economic subjects, which are largely attended.  We subscribe to many of the settlements, notably Greenwich House and the College Settlement.  We pay the salaries of four district nurses, and of two visiting teachers thru the Public Education Association.  The balance not annually pledged to these purposes is generally distributed in the field of investigation or experimental philanthropy.

Three years ago a large number of members interested in housing conditions, thru the City and Suburban Homes Company, financed the building of the Junior League House, a model hotel for working girls, at Seventy-eighth street and East End avenue.  It is run by a joint committee of the company and the League.
It is not the financial side, but the personal side of our work which makes the League unique.  We form a sort of clearinghouse for volunteers.  On the one hand the settlements and charitable societies come to us with requests for help and service; on the other hand we find girls who wish to do something useful and don't quite know how to begin, and we bring the girls in touch with the work.  The success of the Junior League idea has been proved by the establishment of leagues in eleven other cities in this country and Canada.

Originally published in The Independent Magazine, March 30, 1914.
Written by Harriet Alexander, ex-president of the Junior League.

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