More than a Placement: A Closer Look at Camp Good Grief

Camp Good Grief

CGG - logoTo help children who have lost loved ones, Camp Good Grief (CGG) started in 1999 as the first bereavement camp in the Mid-South area.  The goal of the free annual camp is to give area children ages six to 12 an enjoyable, accepting and supportive environment, in which they can freely express their feelings about the loss of a loved one. The camp is made possible through a grant from Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation, partnerships with local businesses, private donations and fundraisers. The two major fundraisers consist of “The Art of Caring” auction and the CGG 5K and 1-mile walk. The 19th annual Art of Caring was held on September 13, at the Grand Carousel Pavilion & Ballroom at the Children’s Museum of Memphis.  The 5K, which was held on September 30 at Memorial Park cemetery, is a family-fun event that also offers food and things such as moon bounces, face painting, and games for the kids.

A few Junior League Members took time to reflect on their placement with Camp Good Grief and how being involved with the camp has been a life-changing experience.

“As I reflect on my Provisional year, I think about the various placements I was exposed to. Although, there are many great placements in the JLM,  it was after viewing the documentary on Camp Good Grief that I decided I really wanted to be a part of the Camp Good Grief placement.  I felt like this would be a good fit for me, as I love working with children and to be able to help kids that have experienced a loss made it more appealing to me. We began preparing for camp in early spring, making the arts and crafts for the children’s various camp projects.  The closer it got to June the more excited I was!  Camp was everything I imagined it would be and more! My only wish is that Camp Good Grief would one day receive funding that would increase the camp from three days to a full week. After camp, I couldn’t stop thinking about my “buddy” and the entire camp experience.  I went on and on about it with a few of my coworkers who happened to be Provisionals last year and as a result, they selected Camp Good Grief as one of their placement choices and actually got it!! Camp Good Grief 5kDuring the summer, I received a call from someone within the Junior League who asked me if I would be I interested in being the chair of Camp Good Grief. Me? Needless to say, I was shocked and surprised and after much thought accepted the position. For me, this was a great opportunity to utilize the skills and knowledge I obtained through the LEAD program and I get to spend another year in a placement I enjoy so much.  Working with Angela Hamblen- Kelly and Melissa Surles from Baptist Hospital and the ladies in the placement has been such an honor and pleasure.  In getting to know the ladies, I discovered several have experienced the great works offered through the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief. I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to share.”Jameta Young


art of caring

“My history as a volunteer started while in college as a member of my sorority.  After several years of focusing on career I began looking for a way to get involved in the community again.  During my search, two of my friends spoke highly of the JLM and the opportunities it provides to get involved.  They were right!  From my Provisional year to my now first active year I have had ample opportunities to meet new people and be of service to others.   Camp Good Grief was my placement choice for personal reasons.  On April 29, 2016 my family suffered an unexpected tragedy and in the blink of an eye my nieces were without their mother.  While we as a family stepped in to try to aid them in their hurt, we could never fully understand their grief and quite frankly just did not have all the skills and tools to give them all they needed in their healing process.  I think being a part an awesome ray of hope such as CGG will allow me to develop skills to aid not only my nieces, but so many other youth who are going through similar situations.” –Metrica Spears

Camp Good Grief

“Flashback to April 2013 and I lost my mom. It wasn’t expected, she hadn’t been sick for an extended period of time. It was sudden and it left me in a lost and numb place. My mom’s nurse told me the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief and that was the beginning of navigating my new normal. After months of attending counseling sessions, I was invited to attend an adult Grief Camp. I was nervous and scared and didn’t know what to think. How was a camp, an adult camp mind you, going to help me? Skip ahead and in March 2014 I am at Ducks Unlimited on a Friday night with a bunch of strangers to be with my grief. We had dinner that first night and discussed what was to come the next day. All the work began Saturday morning. We talked in smaller groups throughout the day and I started to feel more at home. There were people that were in my same shoes. Throughout Saturday we would have heavy moments and then the next activity would be outside or making our way “down a path.” This was to help us see that grief can be sad and happy and full of heavy and light moments. We had several activities that included creating concrete garden pavers in memory of our loved one, a collage about our loved one, writing a letter to our loved one, and several group activities.


Courtney’s Collage

 Some of these activities seem elementary, and in the moment they sometimes felt that way, but the healing that came through the small, simple things was amazing. The camp ended Saturday evening when we were able to attach the letter we wrote to a balloon. I remember standing there, about to release my balloon, and feeling sadness but at the same time a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. My grief didn’t disappear with that balloon but, some of my anger and things I was holding on to did. I can never thank the staff of the center enough for what they did for me. For the first time in almost a year, I woke up on Sunday morning a bit lighter and a bit happier. I definitely moved a few steps forward that weekend. The staff and the camp gave me more than I can ever express in words. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. The Camp really helped me move forward. It allowed me dedicated time to work on myself and my grief without the noise from normal life. I still have my grief journal and the collage I made. When I need it I can pull it out of my “grief toolbox” that I keep around. When I learned that Camp Good Grief was a placement I knew it was for me. It spoke to my heart. I wanted to give back to something that gave everything to me. I wanted to help someone walk through a lonely and hard journey if even for a short time. I am so blessed I have that opportunity through the Junior League. Grief is a constant journey and this is just another step in mine.”  –Courtney Ray



Member Spotlight

Tabitha Glenn

What is your favorite placement?

I have treasured all of my placements because I’ve learned how to be a better leader from all of the remarkable women that I’ve volunteered alongside. Yet if I had to pick, it would be the Salvation Army Common Ground placement because it’s where I had my first and most memorable “JLM moment.” The Salvation Army is Memphis’ only shelter dedicated to women and where the Junior League of Memphis provided educational programs for the residents. One night while we were hosting one of these programs, I heard my name called from across the room. I turned and was greeted by a familiar face that I was surprised to find living there at the shelter. It was an acquaintance that I met through work. I was heartbroken to even think about what she must be going through. Yet she was so appreciative that we were there helping to make a positive difference in her life. I was so touched by her kind words and was so proud to be involved with an organization that was helping so many deserving women in our community. This moment reinforced my commitment to the JLM and put a face and personal connection on the outcome of the great work that our JLM women do every day.


Why did you get involved in the JLM?

I joined JLM for three reasons: 1. To serve the underserved while advancing the Memphis community; 2. To broaden my perspective and to learn new skills and 3. To make new life-long friends.


What have you learned from being a member of the JLM?

Being a JLM member has given me the opportunity to challenge myself through a variety of experiences and activities throughout the league. This experience along with the relationships that have been built has also given me the confidence to tackle new opportunities in other areas of my life (like going back to school to get an Executive MBA). Through my placements, I’ve learned how to embrace conflict and I’ve become a better and more purposeful listener.


What advice do you have for other members about choosing a meaningful placement?

My suggestion is to give some intentional thought to where you want to grow as a leader and go from there. For example, if you want to improve your strategic thinking and forecasting abilities, then you can nominate yourself for a board or senior management council position. If you want to work on prioritization and organization, then pick Merry Marketplace. Or if you want to have direct contact with some of the benefactors of our community programs, then check out GROW. There are so many wonderful options to choose from so I’d also recommend talking with other members to hear about their experiences as well. You can do a quick search by placement in the JLM membership online directory to get names and contact info of other members. Or folks can contact me too.


What’s been your favorite GMM location and/or speaker?

There have been so many yet Coach Bill Courtney is one of my favorites. He’s the football coach that inspired the academy award-winning documentary, Undefeated. He taught me not to be a “turkey person” and that “serving and attempting to inspire others is a responsibility, not a choice.” Wise advice that I try and live by every day.


What is your occupation?

I’m honored to serve as the Executive Director at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where I assist a team of fundraising professionals who raise money through direct marketing channels (TV, digital, direct mail and phone). It’s a mission that’s close to my heart because families shouldn’t have to worry about paying medical costs while their child fights to live.


Who has inspired you in your career/field?

The women I work alongside at ALSAC/St. Jude and the women that I volunteer alongside at the Junior League of Memphis. The authenticity and wisdom demonstrated through these dynamic impact makers leaves me in awe every time I see their mighty works in action. This servant leadership inspires me to be a better human.


What is your favorite Memphis restaurant?

Los Pilares


Who’s your favorite sports team?

The Dallas Cowboys


What is your favorite quote?

“It’s infinitely better to fail with courage than to sit idle with fear, because only one of these gives you the slightest chance to live abundantly. And if you do fail, then the worst-case scenario is that you’ll learn something from it.” – Chip Gaines


What is the last book you read and would recommend?

I’m a huge fan of upcycling, farmhouse chic and Fixer Upper so I just finished Chip Gaines’ book – Capital Gaines: Smart Things I’ve Learned Doing Stupid Stuff. It is amazing and so empowering. I finished the whole book in 3 hours!


Greetings from our President


Hello!  My name is Erica Stiff-Coopwood, and I am the President of the Junior League of Memphis.  For almost 100 years, the Junior League of Memphis has been an organization that our community has equated with excellency in voluntarism, mentoring, serving, and developing women into leaders.  I am so proud to continue the legacy of strong leaders who have greatly impacted our community. From the founding of the Memphis in May International Festival, Hope House, Children’s Museum of Memphis, Church Health Center, just to name a few, our members have had a direct and substantial impact in making Memphis a better City for us all!  

Over 1,600 members strong, our membership is comprised of women dedicated to building community partnerships.  We do this by working alongside the neighbors we serve to identify and develop effective programming. As a membership organization, we are also deeply committed to helping develop the potential of women who are willing to accept the challenge of being servant-leaders.  This commitment to community responsibility and investment in its members is what attracted me to the Junior League of Memphis.

I extend a hearty thank you to all our members who have chosen to devote their time, talents, and resources to Memphis through their voluntarism with the Junior League of Memphis.  To our future members, I encourage you to reach out to a member of the League, or if you don’t know one, reach out to me at, and I’ll help direct your pathway to becoming a part of the Junior League of Memphis.

It is with great pleasure that I serve the League, and I thank you in advance for your support as we continue impacting the great City in which we live.

Thank you so much!


A Stand Beside Her Story “Developing the Potential of Women”

The following post is a cross post with Stand Beside Her. The link can be found here:

An Interview with Leah Fox-Greenberg, Director of Operations & Development, Junior League of Memphis

Through the local collaborative efforts of Stand Beside Her Memphis, many women and girl serving organizations have come together to strategically tackle key issues that disproportionately affect girls and women. Through this collaboration, many amazing organizations have joined, taking a seat at the table. With shared values of propelling women and girls forward, we are excited to highlight Leah Fox-Greenberg, Director of Operations &Development at Junior league of Memphis. To quote from the organization’s vision, the Junior League of Memphis puts a “focus on the development of the potential of women. We believe women are change agents in the community, and perceives women as catalysts for lasting change in the Mid-South.”

What does it mean to you to develop the potential of women?

I have a renewed engagement and respect for developing the potential of women from my work with Junior League of Memphis (JLM). At JLM, when we talk about community development and support, many automatically think of donating money. Donating money is important, but it isn’t everything. I believe what we do is more integral towards benefitting the city than just donating money. We believe time, what a person does in their hours before, after work, or whenever they can, is just as valuable as the dollars they spend. We focus extensively on most effectively utilizing our members’ talents. We look at their strengths and where they have potential to grow. We will sometimes ask them to step out of their comfort zone because we want to give them the chance to learn and grow. We see empowering women more than just in training but also getting these women out of their comfort zone. Giving them experiences they wouldn’t normally experience in day to day life. We have found this makes for a more well-rounded and active person in our community.

Who has been influential in developing you?

It takes a village! I had a mother and father who were both social workers who believed in and loved working in the nonprofit world. My mother ran an organization called Operation Action – She was a geriatric social worker. My father was an activist in many ways. He was on boards of several organizations – developing the Playhouse on the Square, the Jewish Community Center, and more! All this to say, nonprofit has always been in my blood. It was no shock when I began development work in Chicago and eventually here in Memphis. Along the way, beyond the support of my parents, I’ve realized I need both mentors and colleagues. June West from Memphis Heritage and Kevin Dean from the Alliance of Nonprofits are a couple I’d like to shout out.  I am the first to say I don’t know everything. I will often call other executive directors and nonprofit professionals for guidance and often receive calls from others. That’s what’s so great about Memphis. Our community is focused on collaboration.

What are ways women can support developing the potential of other women?

You don’t have to be in my position or on the board to affect someone’s life. It is easier than that. It could be something simple like a random act of kindness. I’m a cook – so make them a lasagna! Beyond that, be the connector. You may not be able to solve every problem, but connecting others to the right services and supporting them along the way can be just as impactful. It’s not about the amount of money you have. Being a connector is more. At the heart, that’s what Junior League is as well. Through Junior League, you become a connector within your community. It’s the easiest way to help other women rise.

What drew you to Stand Beside Her?

The power of these women organizations.  The mission of Stand Beside Her Memphis is synonymous with everything we try to do at Junior League through our programming. I love the collaborative efforts of Stand Beside Her Memphis.  In other cities I’ve worked in, the first thing nonprofits will do is say, “Oh gosh, you’re trying to come after our donor dollars!” That’s not what we are trying to do at all. We are trying to be a resource for all women and girls. If you are in this city to help women and help girls, how can you say no to that? It can be so easy to ignore the issues at hand. As women, we need to bring up the issues like poverty and education and not hide from them. It takes great women organizations to start that conversation and begin making change. If we are not going to do it, who’s going to?

What is Your Stand Beside Her Story – something that inspired you to support women?

The first job I had out of college was in the correspondence office of Governor Sundquist. I was one of very few women. I began noticing little issues here and there. Some of them because I am a woman. Others from being Jewish in the South. And just being different. I’m 6 feet tall. I didn’t go to a major state school in the south. I went to school in the Midwest. I’ve always been a little bit different. A little bit loud. A little bit mouthy. As my mother would say, “You’re very out there, Leah. You may want to tone it down.” Fast forward to working in an all-woman organization, I realized, I don’t have to tone it down. There are a lot like me out there. We are all amazing professional women. So often women are told to tone it down. I’m done with it. I think a lot of us are done with it. This is why I love Girl Scouts. I get to be a Brownie Troop Leader and see my daughter learn through Girl Scouts and through powerful female teachers that she doesn’t have to tone it down. If we can keep that up, we can truly make change in our culture. I’m not saying you don’t have to follow the rules, but I believe you can make some of the rules. I believe women can be advocates for themselves and for others! We are finally getting to a point where women feel okay to be the loud voice. I see it in my daughter. I see it in Junior League. It’s okay to be that person who doesn’t tone it down. When I graduated college and first joined the work force, I felt the need to be demure and watch what I say. Thank goodness this is changing. Speak up, speak out! That’s really what Stand Beside Her is about. It’s about community involvement and empowering women. The more we can get that out there, the better the entire city will be. I firmly believe that women are going to be the change agents. It’s not going to be city council. It is going to be our local organizations. Most of them are run by women. That’s who is going to make change. By bringing them together, this will make it happen faster.

A Letter From the President and Executive Vice President

The 2016-2017 Junior League of Memphis year was one of courageous new beginnings and impactful initiatives and collaborations. As we have continued to do great work in the community, we have been very intentional the last few years about how we can best help our city, while continuing to improve the membership experience for the nearly 1,600 members of our organization.

Developing the potential of women. Junior League of Memphis continues to provide unique and valuable training experiences for its members. Whether gaining hands-on training while supporting a Junior League partner or program, or attending one of several training sessions offered by the training council every year, all of our members are provided opportunities to continually learn and evolve, both personally and professionally.

Additionally, Junior League of Memphis ventured into uncharted territory this past year by evolving its original Board of Directors into two new governance and management bodies the Board of Directors and Senior Management Council. This effort will further empower our leaders at all levels, while better defining the strategic and operational goals of the league.

Improving communities. A few years ago, Junior League of Memphis adopted an issue-based community impact model, and the membership voted to focus on neighborhood revitalization as the organization’s main initiative. By gearing the majority of our programs around this platform, we are able to make a more targeted, measurable impact on the neighborhoods we serve. Currently, we have a concentrated effort in the Binghampton, Berclair and Highland Heights areas, all of which have seen new or improved Junior League programming in the past few years. We are happy to see our reach within these neighborhoods growing each year as we build new relationships and meet new families.

Promoting voluntarism. Through everything it does, the Junior League of Memphis is proud to continuously promote voluntarism throughout its membership and the city as a whole. A group of women like no other, Junior League volunteers are a force in Memphis change agents who volunteer their time, effort, resources, heart and soul in order to make our community a better place for everyone. It’s an inspirational thing to witness and be a part of every day!

Regardless of where JLM volunteers concentrate their efforts, one thing is for sure: you will see a difference. Some programs are wildly successful from the outset, and some need constant adjustment, but it’s clear these women will never give up not on their community, not on the people they serve, and not on themselves.

Here’s to another great year of developing the potential of women, improving communities and promoting voluntarism in Memphis.

Jennifer Taylor, President                                             Cara Sievers, Executive Vice President

Member Spotlight: Kassidy Johnson


What has been your favorite activity/project this year?

  • My favorite activities have been Merry Marketplace, my community shift at Su Casa and working the sustainer activity at the CRC.

Why did you get involved in the JLM?

  • My great colleagues! Both Bethany McRae and Lauren Price spoke so highly of the League and all that it offered. As a new Memphian, I was looking for an opportunity to get involved within a structured organization of women.

What have you learned from being a member of the JLM?

  • I have learned that there are a lot of underrepresented communities that need our assistance, and, unfortunately, we can’t do it all. I have also learned how to be more flexible with my schedule and still complete all the tasks at hand. Finally, I have learned that there are women just as Type A and just as enthusiastic about serving as I am. It is impressive to be amongst a group of women like that.

What are you passionate about in the community and in JLM?

  • I am very interested in the interworking of the League. My background is in communications and public policy, and as a subject matter expert in the field, I am passionate about sharing that expertise. I am looking forward to working on the AJLI conference to learn more!

What’s been your favorite GMM location and/or speaker?

  • My favorite speaker hands down is Sally Pace. Her matriculation in her career and the League are a blueprint for me. Amazing!

What is your occupation?

  • Liaison for Issues Management

Who has inspired you in your career/field?

  • I have been inspired by many women; Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Julianne Malveaux, Sara Hall and Emily Callahan, to name a few.

What is your favorite Memphis restaurant?

  • Golden India. I LOVE Indian food. Plus the owner is adorbs.

Who’s your favorite sports team?

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But since I am in Memphis…Go Grizz!

What is your favorite quote?

  • “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” Maya Angelou

What is the last book you read and would recommend?

  • Looking On Me by Katrina McGhee


Member Spotlight: Dorothy Collier



What is your favorite placement?

  • Special events. It’s a great placement for a work from home mom.  I could choose shifts that worked with my schedule during the weekday and we helped during various JL events, so I got to see different areas that the League works with.  I enjoyed my group I was with and it helped me form strong friendships within the League.

Why did you get involved in the JLM?

  • Not originally being from Memphis, I knew that it would be a wonderful and fun way to get involved and learn about our community. I also knew that I would be surrounding myself with the most driven and successful women in our city. I’m so glad I did! I’ve made so many friends and continue to be inspired by them and the work they do.

What have you learned from being a member of the JLM?

  • That it takes a village!  Every position and every effort helps, no matter how small. When this many women come together, great things can happen!

What advice do you have for other members about choosing a meaningful placement?

  • Start with what you’re passionate about and think about what you personally can bring to the table to help the organization out.

What’s been your favorite GMM location and/or speaker?

  • I love the GMM meetings at The Orpheum. Any excuse to go to downtown and a dinner with friends afterwards!

What is your occupation?

  • I am an artist.  I have been so lucky to do what I love and grow Dorothy Art for the past 7 years.  I’m recently most excited about my new shadowbox painting series that I started creating since getting back in the studio from maternity leave last month.  I’m honored to be the Featured Artist at Bingham & Broad during Broad Avenue’s Spring Art Walk Friday, April 7th!  Shameless plug!  Follow along with what I’m doing in the studio and for upcoming shows on Instagram and Facebook!

Who has inspired you in your career/field?

  • My family. My mother is an artist, so I gained a lot of trade secrets from watching her while I was growing up.  A lot of the materials I use are a nod to my grandmother, who owned two antique stores. My baby boy Johnny has been a more recent inspiration through the new subjects I’m painting. My husband John always inspires me to keep going, no matter how much of a “painter’s block” I get. I’m so lucky to have them!

What is your favorite Memphis restaurant?

  • Second Line.  The food and atmosphere make me wish I was in New Orleans and Kelly English’s talent and hospitality are tremendous!  

Who’s your favorite sports team?

  • Die hard Ole Miss Rebels fan my entire life. Hotty Toddy!  I love me some Grizz!  Nothing beats playoff season in the Forum!!!

What is your favorite quote?

  • “With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.” -Oprah Winfrey 

What is the last book you read and would recommend?

  • Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow It’s his collection of interviews with his comedian friends and colleagues.   It’s inspiring hearing those artists’ struggles and triumphs. Also hilarious!