Contributed by Amy Stack, JLM President
Three Junior League of Memphis (JLM) members – myself, Stephanie Simpson and Julie Ellis – have the privilege of serving on Mayor-Elect Jim Strickland’s transition team along with other citizens from different areas of business, non-profit organizations and civic leadership. The team has been tasked to take a detailed look into several platform issues and make recommendations from the perspective of citizens as to what the new administration should make priority actions for the start of 2016.
This work has been enlightening to say the least. I’ve learned more about city services, budgets, state and municipal codes, policies and government entities than I ever thought possible. I’ve felt overwhelmed by the weight of some of the challenges Memphis faces in the years ahead, and I’ve felt inspired and encouraged by the people and organizations who are committed to facing those challenges head on.
I’ve also never felt more proud of the JLM. Let me explain.
During a recent team meeting, one of the platform groups reported on some of the research they had done with regards to community centers and the programming and opportunities they offer for youth. They concluded their report with mentioning one community center in particular – a glowing account of their visit to Lester Community Center, its staff, the programming it offers and about the incredible families that use the center. They raved about Director Walter Casey and his leadership and vision for the center and how his team has created a place that is truly “homebase” for the Binghampton community. The group then shared how essential partnerships have been for the center, and specifically mentioned the JLM and our G.R.O.W. program for the programming and volunteer support we provide week in and week out.
I felt so proud I nearly jumped out of my seat.
We know what an impact our G.R.O.W. program makes on the community center and the families served (and us as volunteers, too!) but to hear it referenced among recommendations of best practices to the incoming Mayor? And, we know what an incredible leader and partner Director Casey is. I was so proud to hear him specifically mentioned as a shining example of people making a hands-on impact daily.
I then had an opportunity to share more about our G.R.O.W. program and partnership with the team. How amazing it was to tell your story of women who identified a need and developed an idea for how to meet it (education initiative committee) and then who brought G.R.O.W. to life (Jeni Linkous and Brooke Helsley) and continued to watch it well, grow, over the years (Rebecca Fountain, Jordan Stephens, Emily Schoenberg). These leaders represent the hundreds of JLM women who have invested their hands and hearts at G.R.O.W.
And that effect is being noticed all the way to City Hall.