To learn more about this Community Program and others, visit https://www.jlmemphis.org/community-partnerships-and-programs.
Recently a couple Junior League of Memphis members reflected on their placement with Memphis Athletic Ministries: Ladies Lounge (MAM), and shared how they spent their day impacting young girls. The article below was written by MAM Historian of the Day, Tameka H. Nelson and MAM Program Chair, Dee Lovette.
MAM: Activity Impact
To learn more about this Community Program and others, visit https://www.jlmemphis.org/community-partnerships-and-programs.
Camp Good Grief
To 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!! During 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
“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
“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.
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
A couple of years ago, I was sitting in my office and I saw a Facebook post on one of my closest friend’s wall about her experiences in the Junior League of Memphis (JLM). She, along with many of my dear friends, had initially joined JLM several years ago, and a few were already sustainers. I had always wanted to join the Junior League, but always thought I was too busy at work. Then my husband and I started out family and had our two sons, who are now 11 and almost 7.
Reading her post got me thinking, “Is it too late to join?” “Am I too old to get started?” After I talked to her about it and asked her those questions, she told me of course not! It was never too late. She was so right. Joining the Junior League of Memphis was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and here are just a few of the reasons why:
- The JLM is a diverse group of women of all ages, backgrounds and interests who come together for one common purpose – to make a difference in the Memphis community. I learned this immediately at my first activity as a provisional member, the provisional bus tour. I met some incredible women that day and we all got a sneak peek of some of the great projects JLM does to improve Memphis.
- In my provisional year, I made some very dear friends who I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for JLM. My provisional small group was so close, we intentionally created more reasons to get together than what was required. Having served as an active member this year, I’ve continued to build new friendships with some incredibly talented and passionate women. I’ve learned so much from them and am so thankful for their friendships.
- I’ve always wanted to be able to serve in the Memphis community, but honestly with so many choices in Memphis, I sometimes didn’t know where to start. JLM has helped me focus my time and efforts where I feel like I can make a contribution. I’ve loved serving at GROW, Binghampton Christian Academy and within the League
Whether you are new to Memphis or have lived here your whole life, JLM can help you develop your leadership skills, make some wonderful new friendships and serve the community we call home all within one amazing organization. I’m so glad I realized it wasn’t too late.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member of the JLM, including details for upcoming informational sessions in May, June and July.
This year, the Junior League of Memphis (JLM) is excited to be supporting the Forrest Spence Fund (FSF) as a first-time placement for JLM members. The Forrest Spence Fund was created by Brittany and David Spence in 2007 after the death of their first child, Forrest. Shortly after his birth, Forrest developed complications and was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at LeBonheur, where he stayed for the next 55 days. Inspired by the support they received from LeBonheur staff and family members during this time, the Spences wanted to set up a fund to assist with the non-medical needs of critically or chronically ill children and their families.
Our volunteers support the Forrest Spence Fund’s mission by serving alongside other volunteers during the FSF’s monthly dinner at LeBonheur, offering families at LeBonheur a place to go to get a warm meal. Some families don’t want to leave the patient’s bedside, scared something might happen while they step away. Because of that, volunteers will pack up dinners into To Go boxes that dinner attendees can take back with them. But most often, these dinners are used as a way for the volunteers to get to know LeBonheur patients and their families, so they can see what kind of assistance the FSF can offer them. Our JLM volunteers set up a craft table each month for kids to escape from the monotony of the hospital and have some fun. It’s been rewarding having the kids create something fun, and oftentimes siblings will bring a craft back to the hospital room for their sick brother or sister to complete later when they are feeling better.
In addition to the monthly dinners, JLM Volunteers have taken charge of coordinating and planning Unit Appreciation Bags for various units at LeBonheur. These bags are created as a token of gratitude from the Forrest Spence Fund, while also serving as a way for the Fund to spread their mission with LeBonheur staff. We set aside one evening each month to get together as a committee and assemble these bags. It’s been a great opportunity to get to know other JLM members, while knowing that our hard work is supporting the staff at LeBonheur who work so hard to take care of their patients.
Our committee this year is passionate about the Forrest Spence Fund’s mission, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to work with them. Our committee is composed of mothers who’ve received support from the FSF in the past, nurses from LeBonheur, and other volunteers who just want to support the FSF’s mission.
JLM-Forrest Spence Fund Committee Members are Sarah Fiser, Val Hall, Marissa Rogers, Chelsey Savage, Jennie Tucker, and Amy Wilhite, and Kristen Ellis.
If you’d like to learn more about how to become a member of the JLM and join us in making a difference in our community, please visit our website and email Jen Larkin at email@example.com to find out more.
Forrest Spence Fund – Family Fund Dinners and Unit Appreciation
One night a month, members of the Junior League of Memphis (JLM) provide the moms and dads living at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis (RMH) a special Parents Night In.
The Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for the patients treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and their families. RMH strives to provide a home environment so the whole family can concentrate on getting the child healthy and happy. As such, research has shown that the presence of family helps sick children heal faster. And for those staying at RMH, there’s also an enhanced opportunity to monitor complicated treatment plans and provide ongoing communications with the child’s medical team while providing a sense of normalcy with warm beds, warm meals and the opportunity to participate in normal activities with other families fighting the same battle.
The JLM Parents Night In project brings exciting activities to the RMH families and we have seen tremendous participation and enthusiasm from all of our JLM efforts. Our 11-person JLM committee includes Stephanie Bada, Betsy Brasher, Leslie Drummond, Kasandra Fernandez, Mary Griffin, Laura Haralson, Lesley Patel, Heather Ross, Jessie Walker, Grace Weil and myself.
One of our recent events was Oscar Night at the Ronald McDonald House. Entering the event, the kids dressed up and had their photo made along the red carpet before they moved on to arts and crafts. The kids had a fun time decorating their own gold and silver stars for the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And popcorn was a big hit while the Lego movie played in the RMH living room.
Our JLM committee has great respect and empathy for the emotional hardship these parents are going through, and as such, they have done a wonderful job creating a little normalcy so the kids can be kids and the parents can take a breath through the Parents Night In project.
Ronald McDonald House Parents Night In
I am Erica Coopwood, and as the 2014-2015 Chair of G.R.O.W. Brewster Pre-K / Kindergarten Reading Readiness, I want to offer our readers a glimpse of the rewarding work that the Junior League of Memphis is doing with its newest G.R.O.W. (Giving Reading Opportunities and Wellness) program at William H. Brewster Elementary School.
Brewster Elementary School is located at Collins and Sam Cooper Blvd. Every other Tuesday for two hours, JLM volunteers work directly with pre-kindergartners and kindergarteners by reading a book, hosting a craft activity and helping them complete an educational activity worksheet that correlates with their weekly curriculum. Each year before school begins, we meet with the teachers and principal, Dr. Angela Askew, to “map out” our year. Our goal is to make sure that each book, craft, and education worksheet that we choose follows the teachers’ curricula.
As soon as we enter the classroom hallway, the kids catch a glimpse of their “G.R.O.W. Friends,” and we get many hugs, but only one question: “Are you coming in my room today, G.R.O.W. Friend?” (For the longest time, we all thought the kids were calling us their Girlfriends because they say it so quickly!) Being able to spend one-on-one time with the kids gives the kids time to read cool books, create imaginative crafts and complete worksheets that are right on target with what they are learning. The teachers benefit from our presence by having a staff of excellent women (might I say!) who are reinforcing their weekly lesson curricula in a different format. And for the volunteers, there is simply nothing more satisfying than being able to give your time and talents to children who need it! Whether it’s helping a child “get” what’s being taught in the classroom, or being able to comfort a child whose day didn’t start out so well—the volunteers benefit from the immediate gratification of being able to see the difference they make.
Brewster also has many community partners who are ready to step in when they see a need. Last Fall, two of JLM’s provisional members who were completing their community shifts noticed that many of the kids were wearing school shirts that looked as if they’d been worn over and over. So they offered to wash the kids’ clothing! They were adamant about it, too. They saw a need, and immediately offered a solution. I shared this concern with my husband, President and CEO for Regional One Health, and Regional One Health, along with many Brewster lovers, gifted each Pre-K and Kindergarten student with a new, embroidered long sleeve school uniform shirt from Agape North for Christmas. The teachers and children were overjoyed and so appreciative of this, but for us as Junior Leaguers, it was a no-brainer: the need was there and we found a way to meet that need. That’s who we are and what we do!
JLM members have made great strides in solidifying G.R.O.W. as a top-notch, award-winning volunteer program in Memphis. Our members have had the privilege of impacting the lives of our City’s most vulnerable, and with our expansion to Brewster Elementary, we have certainly made a positive impact on many lives in this community. What’s more, we have a team of administrators and teachers at Brewster who are excited about JLM’s presence. We are into our second year at Brewster, and we look forward to continuing G.R.O.W.’s tradition of excellence with the children of William H. Brewster Elementary School. Go Brewster!
Please “like” us on Facebook to stay up to date on what’s happening with G.R.O.W. If you’d like to learn more about how to become a member of the JLM and join us in making a difference in our community, please visit our website and email Jen Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
G.R.O.W. Brewster Pre-K / Kindergarten Reading Readiness