Monday, August 29, 2011

Spicing Up Cluster Meetings

 Cluster meetings.
 What are they? They’re an opportunity for new members to get to know other JLSA members, AND to get to know the organization as a whole. Dana Cleveland has taken the cluster meeting to a whole new level with recent challenges issued to her new member group.
 Read Dana’s account (below) to learn more about what Dana does to keep cluster meetings interesting, innovative and inspiring. Then, challenge yourself to complete the same activities, or to come up with new ways to more fully comprehend the mission, vision and objectives of JLSA. 
Each cluster meeting I decided I wanted to challenge my ladies to learn more about themselves AND the league they have joined.  I do research on my own and bring to each meeting a sort of history lesson and copies of documents from past leagues and the true history of the junior league.  Their first assignment was as follows:  I asked each of my new members, for our Cluster Meeting #2 was to reflect on themselves and why they are becoming part of an elite group of women.  I told them that all great women in history had a purpose and mission for doing what they do.  I told them the "God Mother" of the Junior League, Mary Harriman Rumsey, once said, "Our League, as I see it, was organized as a means of expressing the feeling of social responsibility for the conditions which surrounded us. We have the responsibility to act, and we have the responsibility to conscientiously act to affect the environment around us."
 I then asked them their "Mission Statement" or their purpose in the Junior League. Here are a few of their responses:
·         Celeste Oliver wrote, "To partner with socially conscientious women to promote health, education, and well-being of families and individuals to create the clean, compassionate and viable community that will enhance our lives, the lives of our peers and leave a better place for our children."
·         Janet Pedrotti wrote, "I come from a background of fundraising where I learned the biggest reason people don't donate to charities is because they have never been asked and I realized the reason I never volunteered, even though I wanted to, was because I was never asked. I joined the league as my way of throwing myself into volunteering. And I am a huge fan of the "pay it forward" theory and I truly believe it you show compassion towards someone and do something nice there will be a chain reaction of kindness."
·         Alejandra Baptista wrote, "My purpose to make a difference with the league is to help people in need within my community driven by my belief that it can only lead to more positivity and I am grateful that I have two arms and two legs and the time to volunteer and fulfill my purpose."
 I told them that during my provisional year I was voted as Spotlight New Member and was asked the very same question.  I told them that as we do our duties as leaguers, we should see our “new member requirements” as more than requirements; we should think of them as opportunities.
The next Cluster Homework (due in October) revolves around some information I provided my group at Cluster meeting #2 regarding a Junior League article in the Junior League Magazine from October 1952.  It describes the “average” League member of that time from a certain demographic.  As we read it in our cluster meeting we laughed and saw how different we think the league is now.  I plan to have each lady describe their idea of the “average” League member now.  I’m curious to see how this has changed and what each of them see as the same or different from the 1952 article.
 I feel very fortunate to work alongside such incredible women doing great things!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Member Perspective: SA Eye Bank

New member Emily Gary recently volunteered at the San Antonio Eye Bank's  Memorial Donor Quilt Ceremony. She graciously provided a recounting of her experience:

Today I volunteered for the San Antonio Eye Bank at their annual Memorial Donor Quilt Ceremony. This day was for families to honor and remember those loved ones who have passed and subsequently donated their eye tissue to SAEB. They were able to pin a personally-decorated memorial patch on a donor quilt in their family member's honor. The ceremony included testimony from both donor families and recipients.

It was so moving to speak with families who were there to honor their loved ones. One mom in particular touched me, teardrops falling onto the registration table as she filled out her remembrance card, still hurting from the loss of her 7-year-old donor. A father spoke to the group as a recipient who had lost vision in one eye. He now lives his life each day, with vision in both eyes, in such a way as to respect and honor the donor who made his restored vision possible.

I didn’t go into the day expecting to take anything from this experience other than five more required hours, but this amazing circle of life that we witnessed was touching and it gave me an entirely new view on organ/tissue donation. The day ended with a grand release of a hundred or so yellow balloons.

About the San Antonio Eye Bank:

The community-based San Antonio Eye Bank has become a pioneer and leader in providing eye banking services to patients, surgeons and hospitals in San Antonio and throughout South Texas for more than 40 years.

The eye bank reaches out to the community with innovative programs designed to increase awareness about the importance and need for donated eye tissue for transplant. The non-profit, non-governmental San Antonio Eye Bank is a member of the TBI/Tissue Banks International non-profit network of vision and certified by Eye Bank Association of America.

The San Antonio Eye Bank Donor Family Quilt is an opportunity to honor and remember donors and allow transplant recipients to express their gratitude for the gift of sight. Organizations across the country use quilts as a visual display of how lives are touched by donation and transplantation.
The San Antonio Eye Bank is proud to sponsor the quilt in partnership with quilting maker, J Larry Beauchamp of the Greater San Antonio Quilt Guild.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reading Camp Rocked!

Summer was anything but boring for reading camp volunteers and participants. With an entire world of knowledge to explore via safari, the students were excited and their JLSA leaders created unforgettable learning experiences.

Read more about Reading Camp from JLSA volunteer Shannyn Romero:

JLSA Summer 2011 had a fantastic start.  The 5th Annual Reading Camp Safari at Hawthorne Academy wrapped up on June 17 after completing 330 service hours during the seven days of camp.  Twenty-five 2nd graders, along with 16 JLSA volunteers, went on a Safari exploration of habitats of the world. Along the way, they learned about habitat locations, characteristics, and residents (the animals of each habitat community).   

The students, guided by dedicated JLSA volunteers, explored each habitat through reading, research, arts and craft activities, and snacks coordinated with the day’s habitat.  Students began camp with a story-time introduction from Cat in the Hat (Thanks Cameron!) and left camp with tote bags over flowing with stories, art, play-dough hermit crabs, animal masks, bird feeders, and shoe-box dioramas as well as reading tools, books, and activities to last through the summer.

Thanks you to Amelita, Bonnie, Holly, Jan, Jennifer, Krista, Lynne, Lucy, Samantha, Sarah, and Suzanne along with extra support from Flex Placement volunteers Angela, Amy, and Johanna for making 2011 Reading Camp Safari a fantastically fun and positive learning experience!

Reading Camp participants show off their crafty masks.