Contributed by Amy Stack, JLM President
As I type this, the JLM just wrapped up its first general membership meeting of 2016. And, as usual, I left with a full heart and with a reminder that there’s nothing quite like the experience that the JLM offers. I’m thankful that Memphis has so many incredible avenues for volunteers, from ways to individually serve to organized groups, but there’s just something special about the JLM experience.
Here are just of the things this particular meeting reminded me of that left me feeling energized and grateful for this organization and its mission:
There is a spirit of friendship and community that comes with getting to know other women over time. I’m sure all of us can recall our first few meetings as new members and walking into a room full of hundreds of unfamiliar faces. But as the years go on, walking in the room becomes an opportunity to reconnect with that fellow volunteer with whom you worked on a big fundraising event a few years ago, or that member you saw last week while volunteering in a classroom. Those shared experiences allow us to build friendships and connections rooted in purpose and service – and those always stand the test of time. I’m thankful for walking into a room full of friends and for the new faces that join each year that are friends-in-the-making.
Our members can do incredible things on their own, but when working together, the impact we can make becomes even greater. At our meeting, we heard about some of the incredible work that has gone on the past few months, ranging from implementing a successful fundraising event (kudos, Merry Marketplace team!), revising bylaws and policies to ensure sound governance and management of the organization (go Advisory Planning!), planning and building a brand new fundraising and training event from the ground up (I see you, Memphis Women’s Summit team!), being told you’re the best group of volunteers a partner agency has ever encountered (yay, Lana Zeponi and GROW Memphis Gardens!), expanding our flagship G.R.O.W. program to a new neighborhood (whoop whoop, Emily Schoenberger and G.R.O.W. Expansion team) and slating the group of women who will lead the organization for the years to come (thank you, Nominating Committee!) Whew! That is an incredible amount of progress in just a few short months, and it honestly represents a fraction of the work done by you. We’re able to do more because we do it together.
We get the opportunity to learn, stretch and grow as leaders and change agents. It was such a privilege to have Anna Mullins from New Memphis Institute, Reggie Davis from STREETS Ministries, Noah Gray from the Binghampton Development Corporation and Jennilyn Utkov from LeBonheur serve on a panel discussing how their respective organizations are revitalizing Memphis through talent, collaboration, programming and hands-on service. I left with a deeper sense of understanding and appreciation of the work being done – and a sense of excitement at how the JLM is a part of the collaboration so critical to seeing real results. We also announced and celebrated the women who have answered the call to service and will serve as the incoming Board of Directors and Senior Management Council. I’m proud of the leaders they already are, but equally excited at the journey ahead of them that will include learning so much about themselves, how they lead and each other. Congratulations to our 2016 – 2018 President, Jenny Taylor, and our first-ever Executive Vice President, Cara Sievers. I’m excited to watch your leadership in action!