THE MEMPHIS VILLAGE: How MAM & JLM are partnering to change the lives of kids in Memphis


Have you heard the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child?” I personally believe this proverb is blatant truth. The good news is there are hundreds (maybe thousands) who are living this mission out for the hope of Memphis children every day. I am blessed to work with some of them by volunteering with The Junior League of Memphis’ partnership with Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM).

Each active member of The Junior League of Memphis commits to a yearly placement after her first year (aka provisional year). After visiting Memphis Athletic Ministries’ Leawood location during my first year, my decision to apply to volunteer there was easy. If you don’t know about the greatness going on at MAM, the quick summary is this: MAM loves Memphis kids. The people at MAM believe that they can make a significant and positive impact on Memphis kids. MAM makes this impact “by providing access to year round, quality mentoring programs with well-trained staff to all at-risk youth, ages eight to 18, through 10 neighborhood centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods in partnership with families, schools and other community organizations.” The Junior League of Memphis believes in Memphis kids too and is committed to improving their communities and futures. So… the partnership with MAM makes perfect sense.

For the individuals involved in the partnership, it is a rewarding and personal experience. I felt an immediate bond with the kids during my first visit as a guest volunteer last year. Despite my being a brand-new volunteer, they welcomed me with hugs and smiles. That particular night, a pediatrician was responding to kids in a Q&A format, and the kids were enamored with his expertise on rashes and incisions. They listened… and they laughed. Most importantly, they learned while doing both. I believe that all the adults involved also hoped that some of the children would think about the possibility of choosing a career in medicine in their futures. After one visit, it was to easy to see that MAM was a safe haven for these children – a place to connect, learn and grow. It was also easy to see that the adults involved believed in these kids and their futures.


The logistics of the Junior League’s MAM team is simple. We plan a theme (lesson) for the first and third Tuesday of each month. Under the leadership of the always smiling and superbly positive JLM member Mary Agnes Ellis, team members split up the responsibilities of picking up food, planning crafts, buying supplies, contacting speakers and any other tasks. The first Tuesday consists of a healthy snack and on the third Tuesday, we invite the families of the children at MAM to a family-style dinner.

Our planning efforts are always worth it. Watching the kids respond to the lessons and planning is nothing short of exciting. I loved the energy they had during our Zumba for kids night and the bright eyes on their faces as they watched Memphis firemen talk about fire trucks and fighting fires. Their heartfelt messages writing thank-you notes during our Thanksgiving lesson made our hearts swell. The kids in MAM at Leawood are always eager to raise their hands and ask questions and quick to explain what they just learned.  (The snowman-making contest was too much fun!)


The Junior League team members come along with MAM staff members and volunteers to engage each child and provide love and support. MAM boasts that, “97% of youth say that MAM made them a better person.” I am proud to be part of an organization that wants to be part of their effort, and I am grateful to work with the incredibly hard-working people dedicated to changing the lives and futures of these young Memphians.


The MAM S.L.A.M. Committee members are Mary Agnes Ellis, Linea Adcock, Ashli Avis, Elizabeth Barzizza, LaShawnda Boddie, Amanda Crowder, Maya Ervin, Hope Gilbert, Catherine Guidry, Lindsey Mackie, Kathryn Parham, Amanda Pounders, Katherine Wright and me.

For more about MAM, visit For more about the Junior League of Memphis, see

Jamie Kidd
2014-2015 MAM Committee Member

‘Tis the Season…for shopping!

November 13-15th, 2014 Memphis Botanic Garden

If you are anything like me, you are just about tired of hearing people say, “I’ve almost finished my Christmas shopping!” Uggh!!! It sends my anxiety into overload because, of course, I haven’t even started. The good news is that Merry Marketplace is THIS WEEK and it is the PERFECT place to check off a variety of gifts on your shopping list.

This is the second year that the market will be held at the Memphis Botanic Garden and you will love the high-quality vendors coming to the show this year. I will include a link to view of all the vendors later in this post, but first I wanted to tell you about a few of my personal favorites.

Agape North

Agape North

One of my first stops every year is the Agape North booth. Joe Williams has been a friend of the JLM for several years and we love partnering with him to provide custom embroidered school shirts for Memphis school children. You can read more about our partnership here but let me tell you about the quality of their clothing!  From long sleeve t-shirts and pullovers to hats and now even scarves, you are SURE to find the perfect gifts for the men, women and children in your life.



I’m super excited to see June Bug Designs on the list again this year. This father-daughter duo from Memphis turn beautiful old pieces of wood into custom painted art for your home. I purchased a wooden Christmas tree last year for our front yard and I can’t wait to put it out again.

Magic Light Wand

Magic Light Wand

Perhaps my favorite purchase last year was the Magic Light Wand.  Fellow JLM member, Lindsay Hammond, and her family developed this innovative and magical way to turn your holiday lights on and off. I purchased several for teacher gifts, hostess gifts and even a few for our home. My two girls have small Christmas trees in their bedrooms and they loved being able to wave their Magic Light Wand from their bed to turn their lights off at night. The other BRILLIANT thing about the Magic Light Wand? It works on outdoor lights, too. No more tromping down in the basement to unplug the outside lights at our house…one wave of the wand and “poof” out they go.   Now that is truly magical!

I hope this post helps get you in the mood for some fun holiday shopping…with a charitable twist!  Funds raised support the JLM’s ongoing efforts to improve the Memphis community.

Click here to see a list of this year’s merchants and be sure to like the JLM MMP Facebook page to see great photos of merchandise coming to the show – including beautiful handmade jewelry and fine art. Online ticket sales have ended, but tickets for all events can be purchased at the door.

General Admission: Friday, November 14, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturday, November 15, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ($10 tickets)

Merry Marketplace Girls Night Out: Join us for cocktails, appetizers and exclusive shopping before Merry Marketplace opens to the public. Thursday, Nov. 13 from 6-9:30 pm ($30 tickets).

Boutique Breakfast: Attendees will enjoy brunch and mimosas while taking advantage of stroller-free shopping before Merry Marketplace general admission begins at 11 a.m.  Friday, November 14, 9 a.m. – Noon ($25 tickets).

Grab a friend and come shop with us!

Jeni Linkous
Community Outreach Director

Extreme Makeover – JLM Style


JLM Pre-K Room at Lester Community Center, Memphis, TN

JLM Pre-K Room at Lester Community Center, Memphis, TN

Since 2010, the Junior League of Memphis has spent countless hours at Lester Community Center in Binghampton, through our G.R.O.W. initiative.  We have witnessed  many positive changes in the area over the last 5 years and are proud to be a part of the revitalization of the neighborhood.  We recognize that we are only a small part of the positive change going on in the neighborhood and believe that collaboration amongst other groups and businesses is key to making the most impact on the community.  When we heard the Memphis Grizzlies were adopting Lester as part of Grizz Cares Day of Service, we were eager to meet with them and find out how the JLM could lend a hand.

The day of service project focused on full refurbishment of the outdoor basketball courts, exterior landscaping, a state of the art Blended Learning Lab and several other projects going on throughout the neighborhood.  200 volunteers participated, including the entire Grizzlies player roster and over 40 JLM members.  Thanks to a gift from the John Dustin Buckman Charitable Trust, the JLM was able play a significant role in the Grizz Cares Day of Service by officially adopting the Pre-K room at Lester, and pulled off an amazing renovation in just 10 short days!

Marc Gasol helping with a mural at Grizz Cares: Day of Service, courtesy of Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images.   Click Here and Here to view more pictures from this Gallery

The Pre-K room is used as part of the after school program at Lester and is FILLED with 35+ kids every weekday afternoon.  The room is also a vital part of the G.R.O.W. Thursday night supper club, as it houses the youngest group of kids during the educational portion of the weekly program.  Recently moved to a dingy room in the back corner behind the gym, the room was filled with mix matched desks and other furniture collected throughout the years.  The two teachers (angels) who care for the children every day are volunteers, and were doing the best they could with the room they were given.

Sound the horns!  This is where the JLM Extreme makeover begins!  And it is my hands-down favorite thing about being a part of this organization.  When you  give a group of JLM members a project, even if we only have 10 days to pull it off, we rally the troops, pull from the strengths of our members and accomplish something extraordinary.

You see, nearly 90% of our members have professional careers in addition to their volunteer and family commitments.  We’re business owners, marketing professionals, doctors, musicians, FBI agents…you name it, and we probably have it! With all that outside knowledge and expertise, we’ve learned to lean on each other to create impactful change in our community.

So, what did we do when we met to discuss the renovation of the Pre-K room?  We called Hayley Davis, a beloved G.R.O.W. volunteer, who also happens to be an Interior Designer by trade!  She went straight to work taking measurements of the room and produced a floor plan for a colorful, inviting space with several centers including : an arts and crafts area, a reading nook, a dress up station, and a traditional homework area.  About the same time, Rebecca Fountain, quite possibly the league’s biggest G.R.O.W. cheerleader, secured several pieces of classroom furniture via a Facebook post by a fellow JLM member, Susie Björklund.


 Floor Plan for the newly designed Pre-K room, courtesy of Haley Davis, of Haley Davis Interiors

Floor Plan for the newly designed Pre-K room, courtesy of Haley Davis, of Haley Davis Interiors

With Hayley’s design in hand, a Design Task Force was created to pull the room together.  Made up of about 8 members who share not only a love for G.R.O.W., but also a love for all things creative and crafty, the Design Task Force went straight to work.  Members were scouring the internet and stores around town looking for everything from storage baskets to colorful rugs.  Leslie Graff, a skilled seamstress, jumped right in with a plan to recover the teachers chairs to make them fit in the new design of the room.  A Pinterest Board was created to collect ideas and share pictures of the existing room and of the furniture and decor we were using to spiff it up.  We also interviewed several Pre-k teachers to make sure the centers we were creating would be useful and the toys we purchased would be a meaningful part of their learning experience.

A call for help was made about 3 days prior to the big “reveal” day.  We needed LOTS of extra hands to help paint furniture, so that the room could become the colorful, inviting space we all imagined.  Two days later about a dozen women, many of them JLM Board Members, showed up late at night to transform dull metal filing cabinets and old wooden bookshelves into beautiful, brightly colored, “like-new” pieces of furniture.  Brooke Helsley even brought her handy dad along to install 35 coat hooks, so that the children would have a place to hang their backpacks and coats each afternoon.


Spray Paint Masters and JLM Board Members: Page Boden and Jennifer Taylor

Spray Paint Masters and JLM Board Members: Page Boden and Jennifer Taylor

October 25, 2014 was a day we will not soon forget.  We arrived early that Saturday morning to an empty, brightly colored room (Grizz Blue – thanks to the Grizzlies Foundation for painting the walls!) ready to be transformed by a host of hard working volunteers.    Tables were assembled, walls were decorated, furniture was brought in and arranged and toys were unpacked and organized thanks to the help of many JLM volunteers, several guys from Peer Power and even a “hand” by some of our most favorite Grizzlies players.

One of our pinterest inspirations turned out to be a signature part of the room.    In addition to transforming the Pre-K room, we were asked to entertain about a dozen children in the room that morning – allowing them to participate in Grizz Cares Day.  They created several craft projects to hang on the walls and then added their own “touch” to the room by placing their thumbprint on a large canvas.  The thumb prints of the children and volunteers were turned into flowers and handprints were used to create the grass.  The biggest handprints (and most exciting ones!) were provided by several Grizzlies players themselves!

Jordan Adams and Kosta Koufos lend a hand to the  Pre-k room renovation

Jordan Adams and Kosta Koufos lend a hand to the Pre-k room renovation

Around noon that day, I stood back in awe at the transformation after 10 short days.   And because we know these families so well, we have a personal connection to the room and look forward to using it weekly during the Thursday Night G.R.O.W. program.

On a personal note:  I brought my daughter and her friend along with me that Saturday to help get the room organized.  They worked hard at unpacking boxes and organizing craft supplies and helped entertain the children with art projects.  They were star struck by the Grizzlies of course, but I’m most proud of their heart to serve others.  And I’m so thankful the JLM provides me with the opportunity to include them in projects like this so that they gain perspective on the community around us and realize their own potential to make impactful change on the world.

The Pre-K room renovation was only a small part of the revitalization going on in Binghampton that day and we loved walking around that afternoon to admire the work of others.  The basketball courts are nothing short of astounding, the mural brings joy to the area, and the learning lab will significantly impact the educational lives of the neighborhood children.    I am so thankful to have the chance to be a part of the transformation.

Tony Allen visits the Pre-K room during Grizz Cares Day.

Tony Allen visits the Pre-K room during Grizz Cares Day.

Jeni Linkous
Community Outreach Director

My First Year in the Junior League of Memphis

When I told my family and friends that I was considering joining the Junior League of Memphis, I got a lot of the same responses.  “Why would you do that?” “You have to have money to be apart of that group.” “Only married, stay at home mom’s are in the Junior League.”  All of their comments only contributed to the anxiety I had about joining.

Honestly, I had a lot of the same stereotypes.  I thought all the women would either be catty or housewives with nothing to do all day.  Boy, was I wrong.  Yes, some of the ladies are married but those ladies take care of home and volunteer their time with the Junior League of Memphis.  There are wives, mothers, entrepreneurs, business women, nurses, business owners, attorneys and doctors.

I was so nervous when I went to that first information session over the summer. I didn’t know if I should put on my Grove attire (my Ole Miss people know what that is) or jeans and t-shirt. Will the ladies be friendly?Would I be able to speak with active members?

I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the CRC (Community Resource Center – the JLM headquarters) for the first time. The ladies I met were great. The actives walked around and made everyone feel like they were home. After hearing more about the League, I was excited to be a part of this awesome organization.

I’m in what the Junior League calls my provisional year.  It’s a chance to get to learn more about the fundraisers, community projects, and all the volunteer opportunities that are available. There really is so much to do, and it’s a great way to try some things that you’re interested in. You are given the opportunity to enhance your skills and serve your community.

provisional bus tour junior leagueSo far I’ve been on the Provisional bus tour around the city, completed a community shift at Lester Community Center, attended two general membership meetings  and a provisional small group meeting. I had to change my small group assignment and Maggie Harris was so nice about handling my request. Mimmie McKnight and the other ladies on the GROW team were a pleasure to work with. Mimmie made me feel like a slacker because she was running around doing everything and she’s pregnant!  During the GMM, I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Vicki Clark and she is such a great lady. She lit a fire under me to “Transform Me, Transform Memphis.”

I am so excited about my provisional year and can’t wait to get more involved and do more for the city. I know we are not only making a difference in lives here in Memphis but also within the organization.  We are more than a group of women giving money to different charities. We have been changing lives and serving the city in many ways. For years, we have been identifying the needs of our communities and creating a solution. I’m proud to be a member of the Junior League of Memphis.

junior league general meetingjunior league of memphis Vicki Clarkimage (2)

Attention Teachers: This One’s For You!

Lea Leet, a first grade teacher at Hickory Ridge Elementary school, grew frustrated when she couldn’t find a grant to meet her Etiquette Club needs.

After paying for club activities the first year, Leet, along with two other teachers, knew they could not bear the financial responsibilities again. Most of their club members come from low-income families, so outside help was needed to continue with the club, which focuses on teaching lessons relevant to young girls’ everyday lives.

“I received an email reminder from the Shelby County Schools about the Junior League of Memphis Innovative Teaching Grants,” Leet said. “I knew this was what I needed to apply for. So many grants are for specific subjects or have stipulations that don’t let you think outside of the box. But this grant did!”

Lit's display board for the newly installed Etiquette Club - a project she founded with funds received  for an Innovative Teaching Grant in 2013/2014.

Lea Leet’s display board showing off her accomplishments with the Etiquette Club.

The Junior League of Memphis’ Innovative Teaching Grants, now in its 12th year, is a program designed to improve the quality of life for children by encouraging and supporting excellence in teaching. Teachers apply for the grants that will enable them to implement original and creative learning experiences beyond the basic curriculum in school budgets.

Leet applied, and was awarded $1,000 for her “The Art of Being a Young Lady” proposal. Leet and her fellow teachers planned lessons around proper hygiene, voice control, phone manners and when to write thank you notes. Each club member was gifted a strand of imitation pearls and a manners book. The culminating activity was a Father-Daughter Dance on Valentine’s Day, that included a ballroom dancing instructor.

Rachael Thompson, a first grade teacher at the Campus School, received a grant for an in-depth, integrated art project.

“We used the funding to purchase Dr. Seuss books for four classrooms,” Thompson said. “We wanted to get some of Dr. Seuss’ more obscure works that the students hadn’t previously been exposed to.”

After reading the works, Thompson brought in an artist to teach the students to draw the Cat in the Hat. Select student works were chosen and displayed at Collerville’s Harrell Theater during the performance runtimes of Seussical.

Both Thompson and Leet acknowledge that the Innovative Teaching Grants are something that all teachers should apply for.

“I would definitely recommend ITG to all teachers!” Thompson said. “I think so many teachers have big, innovative projects in mind, but often get bogged down into finding the resources to make their instructional dreams become a reality.”

Kathryn Jasper, Junior League of Memphis Innovative Teaching Grant chair, agrees. According to Jasper, who also works in academia with the Hutchison School as the Hutchison Leads Director, the scope of the grant has gotten much larger in recent years.

“We broadened our reach two years ago, as the grants historically were designated for Memphis City Schools,” Jasper said. “With the merger and the current education reform climate, we expanded our eligibility to any PK-8th grade classroom in need in the greater Memphis area, which includes public, charter and private schools.”

The deadline for the 2014-2015 Junior League of Memphis Innovative Teaching is Tuesday, September 30. For more information, or to download the grant application, please visit For questions, please email Kathryn Jasper, Junior League of Memphis Innovative Teaching Grant chair, at

Repeat Boutique: A Study of the True Memphis

Address: 3586 Summer Ave, Memphis, TN 38122 Phone:(901) 327-4777 Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

3586 Summer Ave, Memphis, TN 38122
Phone: (901) 327-4777
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm

When I moved to Memphis, I remember that everyone used to tell me that if I wanted to see the best cross-section of Memphians, I should go to Jerry’s Sno Cones. And I quickly learned they were right. Teenagers, young families, businessmen in power suits, businesswomen in power suits, the elderly—it seemed that Memphians couldn’t get enough of this establishment that brought the people together. I didn’t think there was a place that could rival Jerry’s in this regard—until my first shift at the Repeat Boutique.

I have always had a secret desire to work in retail, and there’s nothing more fun to me than hanging clothes and organizing them—you should see my closet! So as I marched in for my first fund development shift as a provisional, I expected the hanging and the organizing. What I didn’t expect was the community inherent in the Repeat Boutique, and the wonderful time I would have working there. Ms. Gracie and Ms. Jackie are spitfires—warm, engaging and quick-witted, they are always thrilled to have enthusiastic helping hands. I spent my first shift at Repeat Boutique hanging clothes that had just been dropped off by someone who clearly did not understand what was appropriate to donate. After we had deposited over half of the clothes into the “church pile” (including a number of tops that were not discernable between a tank for a child and what an adult woman would wear to a club…yes, they were that small), Ms. Jackie and I finally got to sort through the rest of the treasure. There was little notable about this, except the number of customers who peeked their heads into the service window to check on Ms. Jackie and tell them about their week. I loved listening to the gossip, the catching-up, the banter and the obvious way that the Repeat Boutique served as a family to these patrons and to Ms. Jackie and Ms. Gracie.

Toward the end of my shift, I emerged from the back to help hang clothes and organize what was already on the floor. And that’s when I got to see the cross-section I mentioned earlier. The peekers who had stopped in to chat were only the surface of the depth of the clientele at the Repeat Boutique. College students, suburban moms looking for a deal, parents and guardians alike shopping for school clothes for children and grandbabies (often with the kids in tow)—they were all there. I immediately struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who was trying to shop for a job interview he had that Monday. He hadn’t been employed full-time in nearly a year, and he wanted to be sure he looked the part. I helped him “dress for success” that afternoon, and I left the Repeat Boutique feeling like I had been helped as much as I had helped. What a special place this was; and so much more than just clothes or a shopping excursion. I was almost gleeful when I couldn’t make up a small group meeting and had to do an extra shift at the Repeat Boutique—I didn’t know I was allowed to work more than just my assigned shift (#classicnewbiemove)! Every shift at the Repeat Boutique is an adventure, and one that I find myself looking forward to every time I sign up.

Fabulous Formal Wear!

To those who are less familiar (or just need a refresher), I have some tips and notes for the Repeat Boutique:

  1. Bring food with you!– Seriously, at least trail mix or a granola bar. Maybe even a bottle of water. You will wear an apron with pockets and can easily cart it around with you. But you will be on your feet doing light labor for at least three hours—hydration and food are key!
  2. Be sure to bring your donation with you for your shift—and be even more sure that they are on hangers!– I can’t stress this one enough. Are you sick of hangers from your dry cleaners all over your closet? Don’t even think about it—the answer is yes. This is a great way to get rid of them, and to make everyone’s lives at the Repeat Boutique easier in the process. The fact that you won’t have to continually remind yourself to bring your quota later in the year? Just a bonus.
  3. We always need men’s clothes and plus-size clothes!!– If there is anything that we run through quickly, it is quality men’s clothes (refer to my “dressing for success” story earlier) and plus-size clothes for women. I have worked shifts where we can barely push the cart out onto the floor before customers start perusing the racks for those two categories of clothing.
  4. Ask friends if they have clothes you can donate on their behalf!– This can be a win-win for everyone. You get to satisfy quota or a special sale, and they get to clean out their closet. Hooray!
  5. Be ready to “keep your own pile”– One perk of working at the Repeat Boutique is having what I call “first dibs on the good stuff.” Some of the clothes brought into the Repeat Boutique are hilarious and unusable (see: “church pile” above); others are Kate Spade shoes and Coach bags and Crane stationary. I KNOW. I keep a note on my phone with the sizes of some friends or items they’re keeping an eye out for. Show up early for your shift, stay later or work in the back to get the first look at some pretty great buys.
  6. Wear comfortable shoes!!– Pay attention to the reminder emails you get from the JLM. You’re going to want to be in a JLM t-shirt and sneakers (and, you know, something on the bottom). You will be on your feet and sometimes doing less than fabulous tasks (including hauling furniture into cars or taking out trash); a Repeat Boutique shift is not the time to bring full glamour.
  7. Get ready to have a great time!– Seriously, I love working at the Repeat Boutique. I know the three-hour shift isn’t for everyone, but Ms. Jackie and Ms. Gracie need reliable, wonderful, self-sufficient volunteers who are cheery and industrious. If this sounds like you (and I assume it does, because you’re in the JLM!), then be sure to sign up for a shift. You won’t regret it—I know I never do!

Note: Repeat Boutique is a resale shop operated by the Junior League of Memphis. The store sells gently used clothing, shoes and accessories for all ages; small home furnishings; housewares; and children’s items. Junior League of Memphis members donate most of the items sold at the store, but we gladly accept donations from the general public. Please remember the Repeat Boutique the next time you clean out your closets! and Giving

GROW SUMMER 2012 034

If anyone would have asked me six years ago what role, if any, I would hold in the Junior League of Memphis (JLM), I never would have guessed I would be serving on the Board as Community Director, Internal. Yet, here I am today, title and all, and I love it! Once I transitioned from Rochester, Minnesota to Memphis, Tennessee, I joined the JLM with the gracious support and spirited encouragement of Sustainer and mentor, Judy Akins. She assured me I would meet new friends and would be provided volunteer shifts to serve in the community. How right she was!

G.R.O.W. Committee Chairs with Director Casey from The Lester Community Center. (left to right: Brooke Helsley, Rebecca Fountain, Director Casey, Bowen Cook and Natalie Price)

My first active year, I was assigned to G.R.O.W. (Giving Readiness Opportunity Wellness). This JLM initiative started in 2011 with three programs, all within the Binghampton community.

  • Thursday Night Supper Club: a weekly program where we provide educational and recreational activities and dinner for the families participating in the program
  • Lester Elementary School (now Cornerstone Preparatory School) Pre-K and Kindergarten: a twice-monthly program in the classroom that includes reading, tutoring and craft activities
  • Saturday Special Events: a monthly Saturday event with special programming and lunch

In 2013, G.R.O.W. “grew” and we expanded the Pre-K reading program to Brewster Elementary in Binghampton as well.

My JLM placement quickly became my passion. I had no idea how much I would personally grow (pun completely intended!) during these past years. From being a G.R.O.W. committee member, to chairing G.R.O.W.Saturday Special Events, to leading G.R.O.W. for two years, my involvement with this initiative has been the most fulfilling, enriching experience I could have ever asked to possess. Now as I serve as the Community Director, Internal, I am still involved in the G.R.O.W. program and have the distinct perspective of watching it expand and evolve.

Thanks to the Give 365 Foundation, the G.R.O.W. Saturday and Special Events program has had a remarkable year.  Give 365 is an innovative program that allows members to pool their money, for only a dollar a day, to make a positive impact on our community.  Formed in 2010, GiVE 365 was created by a group of community leaders and the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

The JLM submitted a proposal for GIVE 365’s “Home is Where the Heart is”  Grant, for projects to make Memphis neighborhoods more vibrant, livable and secure. Our G.R.O.W. project was selected as a finalist. This gave us the opportunity to give a brief presentation on G.R.O.W. to all Give 365 members (see video link below). The Give 365 members vote on their favorite project presentations, which determines the winners of the grants. To be considered alongside other great projects in Memphis, was such an honor. Imagine our elation when we heard the JLM had won!!!!

Rebecca Fountain and Director Walter Casey present G.R.O.W project to Give 365

Each monthly G.R.O.W. Saturday event was held at Lester Community Center (LCC) – a partner in which the success of the G.R.O.W. program completely depends upon. The City of Memphis Parks and Neighborhood Division and the staff of the LCC willingly opened their doors and gave of themselves on the day of our events, joining with JLM G.R.O.W. volunteers to provide a festive atmosphere and safe-haven for families in the community. From making musical instruments to painting clay ornaments to devising Halloween masks, they were allowed to create unique works of art. The December Polar Express themed holiday party was one of the multiple highlights of the year. After constructing crafts and cookie decorating, the JLM provided each family with a basket of everyday necessities.  Mayor A.C. Wharton attended and made a special presentation, declaring December 14th Junior League of Memphis Day. Another highlight of the year was the April Spring Fling; consisting of a petting zoo, horse rides, Easter egg hunt and balloon animals. What a way to end another fantastic, unforgettable year!

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton declares December 14th Junior League of Memphis DAy

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton declares December 14th Junior League of Memphis DAy

This year’s G.R.O.W. Special event was held in conjunction with the Junior League of Memphis 5K for Kids.  We were able to offer free participation for the G.R.O.W. attendees to take part in the race. They were eager to sign up and we helped them prepare for the race with training events on Thursday nights and educational classes regarding the importance of health and nutrition. More than 65 children and adults from G.R.O.W. engaged in this event, with one of the young men placing third in his age division!

Rebecca Fountain with a G.R.O.W.  participant who won 3rd place in his division!

Rebecca Fountain with a G.R.O.W. participant who won 3rd place in his division!

Every child and every family was provided multiple occasions to grow, to create and to learn. Cherished memories were made and endless fun was had by all. Tapping into the childrens’ potential and inspiring them in unique ways, cultivated and molded this year’s G.R.O.W. program. During the committee-planned activities, many members witnessed the transformation of children and adults first hand. With the Give 365 grant and G.R.O.W., a difference is being made in lives of families in Binghampton. The G.R.O.W. families I adore and the loving Junior League friendships I have made are unparalleled. For this, I will always be beyond grateful to the Junior League of Memphis and its community partners for transforming Memphis and transforming me.

Rebecca with a G.R.O.W. participant

Rebecca with a G.R.O.W. participant

Welcome to the Junior League of Memphis Blog!

jlm collage

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome!   The Junior League of Memphis is excited to join the the blogging community!  We plan to use this space to spotlight people and organizations making a difference in the Memphis community.  We will highlight the community partnerships we currently have, as well as other notable organizations doing good work in our city.  There will be member profiles, guest posts, and all sorts of other fun information.  Please add us to your “favorites” or to your blog reader so that you can stay up to date on good things happening in Memphis!

See you again soon!

Jeni Linkous

Community Outreach Director, 2014-2015

Junior League of Memphis