Contributed by Lane Cross, JLM Provisional
The much anticipated Junior League of Memphis (JLM) Provisional Bus Tour kicked off Saturday, August 22 at the CRC (Community Resource Center). A Provisional is a soon-to-be member of the JLM. Women join the JLM as Provisionals before entering their first year as an active member. Each year, women new to the JLM experience a preview day that includes a bus tour featuring several of the JLM’s projects within the community.
Heavy rain threatened the planned events of the day, but we were able to get a huge group picture (120 provisionals this year!) and hop on our two buses to kick off the tour. We visited the Repeat Boutique, GrowMemphis, and the Junior League of Memphis G.R.O.W. Initiative. Distinguishing the latter two was confusing at first – GrowMemphis is an independent nonprofit and a new partnership/placement of the Junior League this year. The G.R.O.W. Initiative stands for Giving, Readiness, Opportunities and Wellness and has been a part of the JLM for seven years. Through G.R.O.W., the JLM partners with the Lester Community Center and Brewster Elementary School in the Binghamton neighborhood.
Our first stop was The Repeat Boutique, a thrift shop on Summer Avenue, operated by the JLM. It has a wealth of women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, as well as collections of “bric-a-brac,” or miscellaneous household goods like china, stationary, lamps, etc. “I can’t wait to sign up for a volunteer shift with my fellow JLM Provisionals to assist with sorting donations!”
Our next visit was to a few urban gardens in the McMerton Community near North Merton St. and McAdoo Ave. In 2012, GrowMemphis became an official 501©3 nonprofit, and today in 2015 there are 42 gardens in 11 zip codes around the city. The gardens we saw in the McMerton neighborhood were parking lot gardens, made in raised cement beds with rows of potential rosemary and peas. Carl Awsumb and Lana Zepponi (Lana is the GrowMemphis Chair) spoke to us about the work they are doing with the kids. The JLM is partnering with GrowMemphis this year to help expand existing neighborhood gardens around the city. This placement peaked my interest, even though I have limited gardening abilities (evidence –dead succulents all over my house… and they say it’s almost impossible to kill them!) In spite of my lack of green-thumb skills, I see such value in urban gardening projects with Memphis youth. I will definitely volunteer here during the year… I just hope they pair me with an experienced gardener!
The last visit of the day was to the Lester Community Center for a firsthand look at a G.R.O.W. program in action. The three areas of focus under the G.R.O.W. platform are:
- Brewster Elementary tutoring (pre-K readiness)
- Lester Center Thursday night supper club (special programs for developing strong relationships and focusing on the family)
- Saturday special events (a time when G.R.O.W. is able to do more than on weekdays… for example, bring in a petting zoo complete with llamas and ferrets.)
Saturday’s special event included a bounce house – which turned into a bit of a slip n’ slide due to the rain. The kids were undeterred and loved it! Director Casey proudly showed us around the center and talked about the daily work and services the center provides to kids in the community by making sure their minds are stimulated and bodies are active in a productive way.
The day wrapped up at the CRC with the cheesiest grilled cheeses you’ve ever seen (thank you, Say Cheese food truck). Thank you to all of our new member advisors, board members and leadership teams for making this preview day such a success!