Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry & Bright

Take a look at this little guy. The handsome one sitting in Santa's lap. Isn't he the cutest thing EVER?



Meet my adorable nephew! This is Carrie Lane's little boy, Dawson. He and Carrie and his dad, Jim, had a great time at this year's Breakfast with Santa held on December 1 at the Bright Shawl. Breakfast with Santa is only one of many kid-oriented activities and programs that are woven into the fabric of our own JLSA.

Carrie was looking for a way to meet moms with children the same age as Dawson, and she recognized that the League provided a great resource to reach out to other moms with similar interests, so she started the JLSA Moms' Group, one of several special interest groups that have formed under the JLSA umbrella. In its inaugural year, the group has had playdates at Phil Hardberger Park and Landa Library, and they rode the train at Brackenridge Park. They also participated in JLSA events like this year's Pajamas and Pancakes at Holiday Ole Market and had Breakfast with Santa. They have met for lunch at Bigz, and fun upcoming events are planned in January 2013, like lunch at MoMaks and a playdate at Walker Ranch Park.

JLSA moms and babies visit at Hardberger Park.

I love the varied nature of these different outings--moms get to connect with (and maybe commiserate with!) other moms while exploring the wide variety of kid-friendly parks and venues our city (and our League) has to offer. Click here for more information about upcoming Mom's Group events. Everyone is welcome to attend the JLSA Moms' Group events.

And speaking of JLSA, the holidays, and children--don't forget that the Royal Canvas will be at The Bright Shawl Gallery this Saturday, December 15, from 12pm to 2pm. Bring your kids to paint a Christmas nutcracker on canvas. Light snacks will be provided at this event, which costs $30. RSVP to Maria Downes at gallery@jlsa.org to reserve your spot.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving

I had planned to blog this week exclusively about the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, a massive "community dinner table" held every Thanksgiving at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center where approximately 25,000 elderly and less fortunate people are treated to a holiday meal and entertainment. A group of JLSA New Active members, spearheaded by First Year Active Chair Heather Beard, along with additional JLSA volunteers, will be helping with turkey delivery and kitchen setup this Sunday, November 18, from 10am to 1pm, in order to help make this event a success. So far, 16 ladies have signed up to help, and there are 25 slots for volunteers. Log in and sign up on the JLSA website if you want to contribute your time and energy to this fantastic and inspiring seasonal event.

I also want to share with you an experience I had this week. On Tuesday, I, along with a room full of JLSA members, attended a November Community General Meeting at the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas in Olmos Park. I really enjoy this annual opportunity to visit and explore some of our community partners. The Children's Bereavement Center is just one of a handful of special places around San Antonio that our members are visiting this month. I think the November Community General Meetings are win-win: not only do we get a firsthand look at a nonprofit partner, we also get a meeting credit as well.

I was so moved by the Children's Bereavement Center,  its staff, and the short, powerful movie that we watched that showed us who the Center is and what it does. In a nutshell, the Center is a place where grieving children who have suffered the loss of a loved one can go to heal. The Center is the sole provider of grief support programs for children through young adulthood in South Texas. The facility is gorgeous--tucked behind the circle in Olmos Park, the building is newly renovated and has been the Center's home for about three years. It is filled with bright and cheerful meeting rooms and spaces for all types of play therapy for children. After we viewed the film, we were able to tour the Center, checking out the various therapy rooms. There was a room with doll houses and castles and little figurines for children to play with, there were art rooms, stocked with all types of art supplies. There were music rooms loaded with instruments and drums, rooms for dance, rooms for physical play, a playscape and a labyrinth. My favorite room was a magical space with beautiful murals and an Avatar-inspired tree with feathery blue-green leaves hanging from it, like a weeping willow. It looked like the type of place where a grieving child could snuggle up and have a good, long cry; a peaceful space to ruminate over memories of lost loved ones. Our JLSA members provide support to the Center in a variety of ways, and the staff expressed such gratitude to the League for our help and support.

So it comes back again to gratitude, to giving thanks. I'm thankful that our city is home to the Children's Bereavement Center, where the single goal is to provide healing for our community's grieving children. I'm thankful for the volunteers who share their time and talents to provide Thanksgiving dinner to our elderly and less fortunate citizens. I'm thankful that our Junior League and its members contribute to the success of these two very different,  but very important, nonprofit organizations, that provide help, love and support to an entire spectrum of people living in and around San Antonio.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Running Resolution Revolution

Can you believe that it's November? This month marks the beginning of a crazy time in my family. After polishing off the Halloween candy, my daughter and I share a birthday on November 5 (my 40th, her 9th), my twin stepsons share a birthday exactly one week later on November 12 (14 this year), and then we free-fall into Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas. After we ring in the New Year, my husband's birthday is the exclamation point at the end of all of these festivities on 1/7. Whew!

The app that started it all.

So, yes, in a few short days I will be 40 years old. And, several months ago, in preparation for my big 4-0, I decided to start exercising. It has been hard for me to fit in a consistent exercise routine with my busy schedule, but I recently read that the single worst thing I can do for myself is be sedentary. As an in-house attorney, I sit at my desk for eight hours a day, five days a week. I decided it was high time to get off my butt. I noticed that our very own Junior League is sponsoring a fun run in January, and I made it my goal to run a 5K. I downloaded a really cool app to my iPhone, active.com's Couch-to-5K, bought a pair of good shoes, and took off walking and running. In 9 weeks, on September 17, 2012, I met my 5K goal. I kept up my running routine and decided to start training for a 10K on October 8, 2012. This past Saturday I ran the longest I ever have, continuously--40 minutes. Folks, I have asthma, and I really thought I would never be able to do such a thing. I feel great, my body is remarkably stronger, and my pants fit better! It was, and still is, shocking to me that something so good for me can feel so good!

Enough about me--I want to tell you about a group of runners in the League who made an exciting resolution this year. Erica Ellis (Communications Council Chair), Kristen Henry (Treasurer), Ariana Barbour (Community Council Chair), Mireya Gideon (Membership Development Chair) and Anne Farringer (Prevent Blindness Chair) made it their collective goal to run in a race every month in 2012. They are well on their way to meeting that goal. All in all, they have run in over 20 races so far this year, many benefiting a variety of our JLSA community partners, and these ladies are heading into this month with their sights on the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on November 11! It's pretty amazing that one person would set out with this kind of goal, much less a group. Says Ariana, "Not many people dedicate themselves to some sort of resolution as a group and actually make it happen! With friends waiting at the finish line for you, it definitely makes it more fun."

The "Resolution Runners" were ready to hit the ground running at a race in May.

Erica has been running regularly since May of 2008. She ran the full Rock 'n' Roll Marathon here in San Antonio last November. Even though she decided she wouldn't run a marathon again, she wanted to stay with the training. When her friend Kristen decided to start running last winter, she told Kristen about her idea to run a race every month for a year. Word spread to Ariana and Anne, who had recently talked about doing a "Couch to 5K" training program while they were attending a JLSA social event, and then Mireya jumped on the bandwagon once she became "addicted" after running in the first few races. Anne even encouraged her husband, Mike, to run with them. They all believe that running together has been motivational--they challenge each other, encourage each other, and commiserate with each other. Kristen, who is excited about running the half marathon later this month, sums it up, "I could have never done this without the support of my friends and running partners. In the end, I feel better, have more energy, I get sick less, and, best of all, I have a great social activity!"

These ladies are also a part of the JLSA Running Club. This group meets twice a month, usually on a Sunday evening and a weeknight, in a variety of different locations in and around San Antonio. Erica says, "Everyone is welcome, if you're a walker or a runner! We're nice and not crazy runners, I promise." Anne adds, "Running Club is welcoming to friends and family outside of the League as well. Members can bring along a sister, husband, mom or boyfriend and get them hooked on a fun, healthy lifestyle." If you are so inspired, meet up with the Club for their next outing on Sunday, November 4, at the Valero Trailhead, Leon Creek Greenway, at 6:30pm.

I will be telling you a lot more about the JLSA's Resolve for a Better SA 5K, scheduled for January 12, 2013, as the race date approaches. In the meantime, get out there and get running! Even if you have been super sedentary for a few years or have never run before, you have plenty of time to train. Find a friend or a group of friends to motivate you, or download an app to your smartphone. And just think of all the calories you will burn as we head into the indulgences of the holiday season. You can do this!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Olé!

To all the mothers of "youngish" children out there (you know who you are), let me live vicariously through you. I'm about to tell you about two very cool JLSA Holiday Olé Market-related events that circumstances are unfortunately preventing my daughters and me from attending. So I want you to go. And I want you to tell me later about how much fun you had--okay, you don't have to rub it in. Be easy on me. But if you could take a few pictures and send them to me, that would be swell. Just so that I could feel like I was there, you know? Because I'm going to say it again: I hate that I am missing these two events!




First up, next Friday, October 26, you have the opportunity to attend a brand-spanking new Holiday Olé Market event called "Starstruck -- A Red Carpet Event." From 4:30pm to 6:30pm, you will be treated to a fabulous "tweenage" fashion show by Allie G's (a fantastic kids' clothing boutique in Alamo Heights) with entertainment by none other than RADIO DISNEY. My almost-9-year-old daughter, Eleanor, was all fired up to do a little turn on the catwalk a month or so ago when we realized we had a legitimate direct conflict (her elementary school's biggest fundraiser, the annual fall carnival) and we had to bail. I'm sick that we are missing it, and I just know it's going to be an awesome event. I had just bought my tickets when I realized we couldn't go, so I'm sending a good friend of mine, along with her mother and her daughter, to enjoy the style show, sample tasty snacks and drinks, pick up a little swag, and have a great time shopping Olé afterwards. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.




The following morning, on Saturday, October 27, from 9:00am to 11:00am, you simply must take your little ones to the first-ever "Pajamas & Pancakes" event at the Holiday Olé Market. While you are enjoying your delicious pancake breakfast, participating in fun hand's-on activities from The Royal Canvas Painting Parlor and the San Antonio Children's Museum, having a great time listening to The Twig Book Shop's Miss Anastasia perform a spectacular story time, and doing a little shopping, I will be sulking cheering for my daughters on the soccer field sidelines. Go it alone or with friends, or meet up with the JLSA Moms' Group, headed by Carrie Lane. (Contact Carrie at jlsamoms@gmail.com for more information on the Moms' Group!) Kids under 2 are free, the over-2 set costs just $7 a ticket, and adult tickets are $15 and include general shopping all day Saturday.

I LOVE the way that the awesome Olé ladies are extending the League's unique "shoppertainment" experience to families, and these two events really round out the great line-up of events surrounding the JLSA's annual Holiday Olé Market. It's all happening at the San Antonio Shrine Auditorium, 901 North Loop 1904 West, San Antonio, Texas 78232.

By the way, if you also have too much on your plate next Friday afternoon and/or Saturday morning, there are still other fun events to attend sans kiddos, or you can just head out to Olé to do some good old fashioned shopping! I, for one, will be at the Preview Party on Wednesday, October 24. Olé, Olé! 



Thursday, October 4, 2012

San Antonio Cellar Classic

A Good Time to Wine

I enjoy wine. I'll come right out and say it. Why beat around the bush? Why wind around the grapevine, for that matter? I like to have a glass of chardonnay when I come home from work and am busy cooking dinner in the kitchen. I enjoy a cold, dry rosé when I'm at the beach, looking out at the Gulf waves. A glass of something bubbly (Prosecco, please!) cajoles my BFF and me into good humor when we are feeling crazed, frantic, or even a little down. A slightly chilled pinot noir is the prelude to a romantic date night with my husband. Wine is natural. Wine is good. Not everybody drinks it, but everybody should. (Thank you, George Michael.)

One fun place to enjoy good wine, accompanied by good food, here in San Antonio is MAX's Wine Dive. I Yelped about it awhile back here. And MAX's sister restaurant, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden, a new spot for noshing and grape guzzling, is set to open soon in the fantastic Pearl Brewery. Both of these restaurants will help set the stage for this fall's San Antonio Cellar Classic, a two-day event celebrating wine and wine-friendly cuisine. Our own JLSA Fête du Cuvée committee will be volunteering at the event, and part of the ticket proceeds will support the League. The San Antonio Cellar Classic is a great addition (or perhaps an alternative) to Fête du Cuvée, the League's annual fine wine auction fundraiser, for JLSA wine lovers and wine lover wannabes.

Fête Committee Members Tina Taulbee and Brooke Swallow Meabon
volunteering at last year's San Antonio Cellar Classic.

Want details? Here they are! Cheers!


"Reserve Dinner"
Friday, October 12, 2012
6:30pm to 9:00pm
MAX's Wine Dive
$125 per person, $225 per couple (limited to 40 people)
Take a look at the awesome menu here!

Grand Tasting
Saturday, October 13, 2012
1:00pm to 4:00pm
The Stable at Pearl Brewery
General Admission $40
VIP Admission $90

For more information, check out the Cellar Classic's website.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

JLSA Signature Project: Childhood Obesity Awareness

Taking Stock

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m on a constant quest toward personal improvement. I’m always thinking about being a better mom, a better attorney, a better wife, a better blogger--a better woman. I’ll get on kicks to try to improve things that might lead to a new-and-improved me--some fizzle, others seem to set in. One area that has caught my attention recently is in alignment with this year’s JLSA Signature Project, which is focused on improving awareness of the current childhood obesity epidemic.


Did you know that 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese? That ⅓ of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes? Did you know that food portions are 2 to 5 times bigger compared to 30 years ago, and that beverage portions have grown a whopping 68%? Today's children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day watching TV or movies, using cell phones, and playing on computers and video games. And only 1/3 of high school students get the recommended level of physical activity.


Expressed in 4 simple, colorful blocks, our Signature Project has challenged me to consider how I can improve my kids’ chances of not becoming a statistic in the obesity epidemic. You may have seen this graphic flashed up on the screen at our last General Meeting:





As expressed by this graphic, the most important steps we need to take to combat childhood obesity are relatively straightforward: eat 5 fruits and veggies a day, limit fast food, eat meals as a family, watch portion size, eat breakfast daily. We are encouraged to limit our kids’ screen time to 2 hours or less, and not allow TV in our kids’ bedrooms. Along these lines, we should try to focus our kids on getting at least an hour of physical activity every day. Finally, we should completely eliminate sugared beverages from our kids’ diets.



Sounds easy, right? Wrong! I imagine every family’s achilles heel will be different. For my family, it is a significant challenge to get our kids (and ourselves!) to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day. We try to eat a varied, rainbow-colored diet, but we are so busy in the evenings that it is easy to get into a rut of opening a can of green beans to go along with whatever the main course du jour happens to be: Voila! Veggies! And who really has time to “trick” their kids into eating nutrient-packed vegetables by cooking them into foods where they will be masked? Not this mom. I have had more arguments with my youngest daughter (a complete carb loader!) lately over simply trying the array of vegetables that we have started preparing at dinner time (it really is amazing how many good frozen veggies there are out there that can go conveniently from freezer to microwave to the dinner table quickly). It’s challenging, but it’s our burden to bear if we want our kids grow into healthy, active adults.



I look forward to hearing more about the Signature Project in the months to come, and I’m making a personal commitment to implementing the 5-2-1-0 model into our family "rule book." 


What are your challenges when it comes to nutrition and exercise in your family? Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share to help us encourage the children in our lives to be healthier? 

Comment below!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back to Meetings!

September. Can you believe that it’s SEPTEMBER? My kids are back in school, and even though it’s still hot outside, every now and then I can almost feel a subtle hint of cooler temperatures on the way. Back to school for the kids also means back to JLSA monthly general meetings at the Bright Shawl, and our first general meeting will be next Tuesday, September 11, at 7pm. In case you’ve missed it, the theme for our first meeting is “Be True To Your School.” Prizes will be awarded for Best In-State Spirit, Best Out-of-State Spirit, and Best Overall Spirit, so everyone is encouraged to come in theme. This gives me the perfect excuse to head to the University of Texas Co-Op store over in the Quarry to pick out some fine burnt orange apparel. It’s so weird, because when I went to college at UT in the 90s (wow, that sounds like a long time ago), most of us wouldn’t have been caught dead in our team color. Burnt orange was reserved for a few service-oriented groups like the Silver Spurs or the cheerleaders. The rest of us wore our wrap skirts, Cole Haan clogs and Harold’s tops to the football games. Now, Texas fans wouldn't be caught dead in anything BUT something showing their school pride. Times have changed, I think, for the better.

Showing school spirit at last year's first general meeting. Gig 'em & hook 'em!

​Thinking about next week’s general meeting makes me think about general meetings, generally, and why JLSA members should attend meetings. Yes, I know it’s an obligation. Actives have to attend 5 meetings every year in order to fulfill our membership requirement. But there are lots of reasons to look forward to attending our monthly general meetings. Here are ten:

10. You get to reconnect with your friends and acquaintances in the real world—not on Facebook, not on Instagram, not on Twitter, not on Pinterest. You can actually talk to someone live and in person. I know, it’s retro. It’s crazy and old fashioned. And it's pretty great!

9. You learn something new about the League. Almost every time I go to a meeting, I learn something. It might be about something we have done out in the community, an upcoming opportunity that I was unaware of, an upcoming deadline for a membership requirement, an event I might like to attend, or something that’s happening in our city. Meetings are a great place to expand your horizons.

8. It’s an opportunity to meet new people. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have many opportunities to meet new people--I have my work friends, my family, and my social circles pretty well established. But the JLSA is definitely a place where there are always new faces, whether they are transfers from a different city who are new to San Antonio, new members, or even sustainers.

7. Meetings are fun. A meeting is like a big theme party, but with a purpose. When's the last time you were encouraged to wear your pajamas to a meeting?

Slumber party-inspired fun at the Bright Shawl.

6. You get to be a part of the process. This is your League, this is our League. If it’s a voting meeting, it’s important to be there and be heard.

5. You can sample tasty snacks and delicious wines. You can check out the art in the Gallery. And you can win prizes!

4. Being at the Bright Shawl is neat—I always think about the generations of interesting, motivated women that have met in that building. It’s inspiring to be a part of that tradition.

3. JLSA meetings are efficient and well organized. You know that the JLSA leadership respects your time and will do their best to make our meetings interesting, informative, entertaining, and brief.

2. Our meetings provide leadership opportunities, a public speaking forum for our members, and a platform for members to be publicly recognized for their important contributions. When you come to a meeting, you are demonstrating your support for our fellow leaders and members.

1. Finally, our meetings provide a wonderful monthly opportunity for everyone in the JLSA to get together--regardless of membership status, and regardless of placement.

See you at our first meeting! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Women Building Better Community Gardens

My good friend and fellow JLSA volunteer, Shannyn Romero, sent me a text last Wednesday morning. She asked me if I would post some pictures to the JLSA website that she planned on sending me later that day. Not knowing what she was up to, I asked her if her photos were "blogworthy," because I've been crazy busy at work and have had a bit of writer's block. I wasn't sure what my next post would be about. And, as luck would have it, this week's blog found me! How remarkable. Serendipity. Shannyn is the Co-Chair of this year's brand new community placement, Green Spaces Alliance. She spent last Wednesday, along with a bunch of other League and non-League volunteers, making over a 65,000-square-foot community garden on Center Street, on the East side of town.

Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas' mission is "to sustain the natural environment and enhance urban spaces through land conservation, community engagement and education." A key feature of its mission is its Community Gardens Program, which endeavors to start and maintain community gardens, which it defines as "places where people can gather with neighbors, exercise, educate children, find fresh produce, grow beautiful flowers, and preserve San Antonio's green space."

Later that day, just as she promised, Shannyn sent me "before" and "after" photos of the amazing work she and others did to transform this urban space.

Before.

After.

Shannyn is passionate about being involved and helping our community, and it just seems to emanate from within her. She texted me: "...today with the sweat pouring down my face I found myself thinking about actually being a part of something bigger than JLSA, or even San Antonio. Fiskars brought down 10 people from Wisconsin and spent $45,000 to do one little community garden. I think in total there were 60 people there today. Home Depot had a huge team since they were part of the sponsorship. It was cool."

It is cool. Cool and hot at the same time, because temperatures hovered around 101 on August 15. As I read her text and peered at the photos on my cellphone, I thought of my friend, working hard in the heat along with 11 other JLSA volunteers and a bunch of other hard-working folks while she contemplated how profoundly awesome it is to be a part of something that pushes even beyond what the Junior League's mission is all about. They funneled energy, love and care into this small spot in our community and simultaneously made our whole world a better place. I felt proud of her, of the great things that she and her fellow volunteers accomplished, and of the things that JLSA volunteers all accomplish through passion, hard work and dedication. I also felt a little guilty to be sitting in my office with the A/C on full blast!

There is a great article and video clip here about the project if you'd like to know more about it. 

What are you doing this year to build better communities with energy and passion? I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or just text me, like Shannyn did. ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sister Stories

JLSA Communications Council Chair Erica Ellis recently informed me that the first Sunday of August is "Sisters Day," and it got us to thinking. Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about JLSA's awesome Reading Camp? I told you that my older daughter, Eleanor, went to camp this summer for three long weeks. And I showed you a letter that she sent me from camp. Well, while I only received a couple of post cards and letters, I sent her a letter EVERY DAY. And because I'm type-A, and because I didn't want her to think we weren't thinking of her and wishing her well every single day she was gone, and because I wanted her to receive sweet, vivid, colorful reminders of her friends and family at home, I ordered a ton of photo greeting cards at Treat. Check it out! I had so much fun picking out the cards, choosing just the right photos to add, and coming up with cute little things to tell her. I should have worked at Hallmark. (And, y'all, they are cheap! And Treat will even send the card to the recipient with a stamp and everything! You can even schedule cards to be mailed far in advance! It's awesome!) One of the cards I created to send to Eleanor was from her little sister, Sadie. Here is the front!


I included a cute picture of the girls in their Mexican wedding dresses that I took during Fiesta, and I included a quote by one of my favorite authors, Toni Morrison. Here is the inside of the card:


You probably can't read it because it's so tiny, but the quote is:
A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves 
and very much not ourselves--a special kind of double.

I can totally relate to this quote. My sister and I are definitely "a special kind of double." We are also both active members of the JLSA, and I probably wouldn't have joined had it not been for my sister urging me to do it. And if you know me, or you know her, or you know both of us, you might not even know that we are sisters, because we look sort of different and we both are married and our last names are no longer the same. My sister is Carrie Lane, who many of you know from last year when she was Vice Chair of Placement, or this year as Board Secretary. I probably wouldn't even be writing this right now if it wasn't for Carrie, who knows me sometimes better than I know myself, telling me, "Hey, maybe you should apply for the Blogger position!" when I was angsting over placement options.

Carrie and I are not the only sister duo in the JLSA. Araceli and Lorena Pena moved from California to San Antonio during their early teen years and both ended up having careers here after college. Araceli originally joined the League to make new friends, since most of her high school friends had moved away from San Antonio. She loved it and urged her little sister, Lorena, to join. Lorena said, "Celi thinks it was her persistence that finally got me to join [the JLSA], but it was the way the JLSA came to her aide one horrible December that made me want to give back to the League. During Celi's Provisional Year, her condo burned down. It was a complete loss. During that really hard time, the JLSA brought her meals and even some clothes. It wasn't the items that made a difference--it was the gesture that complete strangers would help her out just because she was a part of this organization." At that moment, Lorena said she knew she had to join the Junior League.

The Pena sisters in NYC!

Emily Gary and Sarah Wannarka are also sisters in the League. Somewhat similar to the Pena sisters, while they were in high school, their family moved to San Antonio. Big sister Sarah was able to finish high school in Maryland, but Emily and their three brothers moved to San Antonio, where Emily graduated from Churchill High School. (Small world--the Pena sisters also graduated from Churchill!) Sarah ended up in Austin and transferred to the JLSA from the Austin Junior League before Emily moved back to Texas after having lived in Denver for 14 years. Sarah was anxious to have Emily join the JLSA so that they would have something they could do together, and because she knew the JLSA was a great place to make new friends. Emily said, "Sarah was absolutely the reason I joined JLSA. When I first moved to San Antonio, I wasn't working outside of the home and was looking for ways to meet friends and learn more about the city that I was now calling 'home.'" Emily joined the League last year, and while the two went together to every meeting possible her New Member year, Emily has missed Sarah while she has been away in Afghanistan as a Senior Legal Advisor for the United States Department of Justice Rule of Law Program. We will have to check in on this "sister act" when they are reunited when Sarah returns!

Emily Gary and Sarah Wannarka

Remember that picture of my daughters in their Mexican wedding dresses? Here's an old picture of my sister and me, circa 1983, not too much older than my daughters are now:

Yours Truly and Carrie Lane

So Happy Belated Sister's Day, everyone! If you are a sister, or have a sister in the League, or just feel a sense of kinship and sisterhood with your fellow JLSA members, I feel like I should create a special, personalized card on Treat just for you!

Are you a sister or do you know of other sister duos in the JLSA? Let us know and comment!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where the Art Is

I had a delightful lunch today, surrounded by a large and diverse collection of stunning small art pieces created by women artists. No, I wasn't on vacation--and no, I wasn't in a local museum cafe. I was at the Junior League of San Antonio's very own Bright Shawl tea room, where I caught up with this year's Gallery Chair, Maria Downes, over enchiladas suizas and caprese sandwiches. Maria and I are kindred spirits--both of us are lucky to be following a creative pursuit, very different from our day jobs, as our JLSA placements this year. Although she is not an artist herself, Maria started collecting art when she was around 15 years old and even thought about scrapping her business degree for an art degree. One of her goals this year is to expose Bright Shawl patrons--many of whom are JLSA members--to a wide variety of art that is priced to inspire beginning a collection of one's own. Oil on canvas is her favorite medium, and she particularly enjoys still life paintings and florals, especially works with a "pop of color." Her Gallery Chair placement has afforded her the unique opportunity to meet artists in and around San Antonio, and to bring their works to The Bright Shawl for us to enjoy while we gather for lunch or wait for a meeting. While our former Gallery Chair, Michelle Anderson, is responsible for the placement of the current collection, I think the current works on display certainly fall within Maria's vision for the Gallery this year.



I was amazed by the variety of pieces in the collection, "Summer Small Works," curated by Sylvia Benitez, President and Founder of the Gentileschi Aegis Gallery Association, that is currently on display--from simple black and white charcoals to glossy, complex, colorful abstract pieces, there is something for everyone. There are classic pieces and portraits, landscapes, mixed media and watercolors. There are pieces with subdued colors and pieces that are bold and vibrant. Maria and I agreed that San Antonio newcomer Jennifer Polnaszek's two portraits were among two of our favorites. Here is Polnaszek's provocative "Girl in a Doorway," which can also be found on her website here.


I was particularly intrigued by an abstract piece by local artist Elizabeth Williams titled "Pink," and I enjoyed the beachy colors and textures of a pair of paintings by Ruth Mulligan. I was older than Maria when I started my modest art collection of images of the Alamo, but looking at the various works currently on display made me think about what my next art purchase might be. 

"Summer Small Works" will be on display until August 13, and Maria has some exciting and intriguing shows planned on the horizon. Her friend, Emeka Okoro, a Nigerian artist, will be showing his work in the Gallery in the near future, and The Royal Canvas Painting Parlor will provide an upcoming collection of fanciful paintings created by children and adults. For now, make plans to stop by The Bright Shawl for lunch or a Happy Hour glass of wine tomorrow, July 25, for the monthly "Wine Down Wednesday," from 5pm to 8pm, and immerse yourself in a fascinating array of pieces by a diverse group of female artists. You may just be inspired to start a collection of small works of your very own!



Do you have a favorite piece or artist from the current collection in the Gallery? Comment below!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting Ready for the JLSA Golf Tournament:

"Fore" JLSA Lady Golfers Share Their Love of the Game


I don't golf. I have golfed, but I'm not a golfer. That being said, I've always been drawn to the game. My grandmother, Martha Westmoreland, was an avid golfer. She loved the game. In a seemingly odd pairing, my dad and his mother-in-law (my grandmother; "Mammaw" was what I called her) would play together almost every Sunday at Onion Creek Country Club when I was in college at UT. Given my Mammaw's true athletic prowess and passion for the game, I always assumed that I would eventually pick it up. Two full time professional careers (mine and my husband's), volunteering, twin teenage stepsons and two busy young daughters later, my golf clubs are still sitting in the closet, patiently waiting for me!


Did you know that our immediate past President of the JLSA, Gretchen Garceau-Kragh, is an avid golfer? Here she is with her husband on the links in Vancouver!


Gretchen, along with several other JLSA members, told me a little about their love of the game and imparted some words of wisdom for those of us who have thought about venturing on to the golf course. Janet Peavy, this year’s Fund Development Council Chair, learned to love golf while she was working at her first job out of college. She quickly discovered that playing golf was a great way to get to know the executives in her company. Melissa Unsell, Vice Chair of Membership Engagement and Retention, played her first round of golf at the Mission Hills Course in Rancho Mirage, California, where the Kraft Nabisco LPGA Championship is played. While it was a tough day for Melissa and not the ideal course for a beginner, she says she was “completely hooked.” This year’s Sustainer Liaison, Lesley Vernor, started playing golf in high school but then took a 15 year break and started playing again when she met her husband. Gretchen says she learned to play golf before she was born! Her mom played golf until she was 8 months pregnant with Gretchen. “When she could not see the ball any more, she stopped,” Gretchen says. Gretchen played off and on with her dad, brother, and grandfather when she was a little girl, but she really picked it up again when she got out of college.

JLSA golfers have played courses all over the world! Janet loves Bearpath in Eden Prairie, Minnesota (a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course) and has played in a couple of tournaments there. Melissa’s absolute favorite course is Luana Hills on the island of Oahu—she calls it the “Jurassic Park of golf courses” because you are surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains and the rain forest. Lesley played Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, last year for her wedding anniversary. Located right along the edge of the Pacific Ocean, she says the course is beautiful. Gretchen has played a variety of courses across the country and is planning a trip to Australia in October and possibly Scotland (the birthplace of golf) in 2013.

Melissa Unsell playing Luana Hills.

Our profiled JLSA golfers identified a variety of reasons why they love the game. Janet loves that golf combines strategy, athletics and social skills. “Depending on who you play with, it can be a fun, casual afternoon or a really competitive outing,” she says. Melissa loves that no matter how many lessons she has had, she can go out on the course and have an “off” day or an “on” day—you just never know with golf. She says, “The game will definitely test your mental stamina. Even if you play the same course over and over, the game is always different.” Similarly, Lesley says golf is something she can do with her husband or girlfriends, and it’s always a challenge to improve each time she plays. Gretchen says that golf “is a sport that I will be able to play, hopefully, well into my 80s and beyond. It is a sport I can play with my parents, my husband and now my niece and nephew.” 


What words of advice do our JLSA golfers have for you if you’re thinking about picking up a club? According to Janet, “Take the time to get at least a few lessons from a pro. There are a lot of little things you can do to make your game better—things that are next to impossible to pick up yourself unless you have someone else watching and critiquing you.” Lesley also suggests taking lessons, “otherwise, you will just get frustrated and quit.” According to Lesley, “There are about 100 things to remember each time you hit the ball. You should learn the 100 basics from the very beginning.” According to Gretchen, if you are looking to learn the game, “first take lessons from someone other than your husband! Also, look at joining a women’s golf league that has women at different golfing abilities. Take the time to learn the rules of the game. Last, don’t be intimidated when you go out to play on a Saturday or Sunday and you are the only woman on the course. It is such a thrill when you hit a great shot and you shut all the guys up who were watching and waiting for you to chunk your shot into the woods.”

After hearing all of these wise words from some wonderful women about the sport, I feel inspired to dust off my clubs and hit the course! Are you with me? If you’re ready, register (or encourage your golfing friends!) to play in the JLSA’s inaugural Golf Tournament at TPC San Antonio! Click here for more information.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

JLSA Reading Camp:

Letters Home from Camp

It's SUMMERTIME. And this week, 3 of my 4 kids are off at various camps. My older daughter, Eleanor, is 8 years old and has been at a sleep-away camp on a lake in the Texas Hill Country and won't return until after the 4th of July. My 6-year-old youngest child, Sadie, is at a day camp all week in New Braunfels. And one of my teenage twin stepsons, Eric, is spending his mornings at football camp. This is Eleanor's first time to be away from home for any extended period of time, and her letters home, although limited in number, are chock full of entertainment. She sent a note home recently to Sadie that said:

Hi Sadie. I miss u and it's hard to believe that. Guess what! A lot of bugs are getting in my cabin. I hope I hear from u soon.
- Eleanor


Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh...

My mother kept all of the letters that I sent home from camp--the same camp that Eleanor is now going to. I had no idea she saved them. She recently gave me a big blue file folder full of them. I read them a few days ago and was astounded by my younger self--what she thought about, what she loved, what she worried about. I plan to keep all of my kids' letters home from camp for them to read and ponder when they are grown and gone.

The camps my kids are going to this summer are just a handful of a multitude of camps offered to kids all over Texas to break up the monotony of a long, hot summer and to provide unique opportunities to learn and grow. For the past several years, our very own JLSA members have been providing San Antonio kids with a first-rate summer camp experience, focused on helping them with their reading skills. For two weeks this June, approximately 25 students at SAISD's Hawthorne Elementary School were led by 10 enthusiastic JLSA Volunteers, many of them professional educators, working on reading skills and doing fun activities designed to instill a love of reading. What's the Reading Camp experience all about? Julie Moczygemba, this year's dynamic Reading Camp Chair, told me. Based on our conversation, I imagine a reading camper's letter home might look something like this:

Dear Mom & Dad,

On my first day of reading camp, I told my counselors that I thought it was going to be lame. They were all wearing matching JLSA t-shirts. How lame is that? But it wasn't very long before I realized that this camp was not lame at all! We learned a lot about the different habitats that animals live in. From the Arctic tundra, to the African Savanna, to under the sea, and many places in between, every day we learned about a new, different habitat and the animals that live there. My friends and I especially loved the daily science lab. The coolest one (for real--it was COLD!) was where we got to put on latex gloves. We put one hand in Crisco, and then we put both of our hands in two ice water cans. It was amazing how the hand with the Crisco on it didn't get as cold as the hand without Crisco on it. That's how polar bears are able to stay in such cold parts of our world--they have an extra layer of fat to protect them. Every day, our counselors served us a yummy lunch catered by The Bright Shawl. And we got to do lots of different learning stations like reading, writing, and art. We made bird houses one day, and we get to take them home. I can't wait to see what kinds of birds might come to my bird feeder. On my last day of camp, I got a cool t-shirt and a bag with books in it to keep so I can practice my reading the rest of the summer.

Love,
Your Happy Camper,
Ima Reeder

The Arctic Tundra Science Lab was so "COOL"!

Way to go, JLSA Reading Camp volunteers, and way to go Julie Moczygemba! It sounds like another fantastic community partnership has come to a successful close for the year--and our year is just getting started! You'll be hearing more about Reading Camp wrap-up in the upcoming edition of Scrawls.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Bright Shawl

Summer Reading List v. Summer Eating List

Did y'all know that the JLSA's beloved meeting space and tea room, The Bright Shawl, is named after a relatively obscure novel that was published in 1922? I just downloaded the book, by Joseph Hergesheimer, on my Kindle for free. At the time, the book was very popular and was even made into a film in 1923. Here's what the Turner Classic Movies website has to say about the plot:

Charles Abbot, a wealthy young American, goes to Cuba with his friend Andres Escobar to help the cause of Cuban independence. He falls in love with Andres' sister, Narcissa, although he spends more time with Spanish dancer La Clavel, who is in love with Charles and gives him information she garners from Spanish officers. La Pilar, a Spanish spy, discovers their scheme and sets a trip for them and the entire Escobar family. La Clavel gives her life to save Charles, but it is a chivalrous whim by a Spanish officer that enables Charles, Narcissa and Narcissa's mother, Carmenita, to escape to the United States.

All this time, I thought that The Bright Shawl was named after the Mexican Ballet Folklorico dancers' bright skirts, colorfully embroidered, that the dancers wave around enticingly while twirling to mariachi music. But I guess that makes no sense, because the building would be called "The Bright Skirt," which has less of a ring to it!

If the Junior League of San Antonio was building a meeting place and tea room today, and the members were feeling literary, I wonder which contemporary book it might be named after?


What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions? Get creative and comment below!

Since we're on the topic of reading, you can read more about The Bright Shawl's rich and interesting history here.

While I don't think I'll put "The Bright Shawl" at the top of my summer reading list (I tried a few pages and just couldn't get into it), I do plan to put it at the top of my summer eating list! I have plans to meet my girlfriends for lunch at The Bright Shawl's tea room soon. The tea room is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm. Bring your JLSA membership card and you get a discount! And be sure to save room for a slice of famous almond crunch cake.  Yummmmm.


Friday, June 1, 2012

5... 4... 3... 2...1...  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

There’s no fireworks display.  And there are no noisemakers, unless you count my kids, who are currently chasing each other around the dining room while I am typing this.  And I should probably say there is no champagne, but I bet I could manage to rustle up a glass if I searched my fridge long enough.  Tiny bubbles....  I digress.  
Happy New Year, JLSA! Welcome to your new year, a happy new year, filled with new challenges, new placements, new opportunities, and new faces. I might even be one of those new faces. I’m Kelly Anderson, and I’m this year’s JLSA Blogger, on our fabulous Communications Council. I’ve been in the League since 2008, and this is my first time to match one of my creative interests (writing/blogging) to my League placement. I’m excited about this opportunity. But enough about ME--there’s plenty of time for that. We have a great big year ahead! Let’s talk about YOU. Do you have any resolutions for this New Year in the Junior League? Have you tackled a challenging placement that you hope will help you grow? Are you heading into a brand-spanking-new placement, with no idea what the new year will hold? Are you inspired to give back to our great community this year? What are your new year’s goals? I asked a few of our members what their JLSA New Year’s Resolutions were.  Here’s what they said:
Mallory Ahl, Vice Chair of New Members, shared, “Communication is the key to a successful year.  This includes communication with the new members, mentors, and any JLSA members who are helping the New Members to complete a successful New Member Year. Communication needs to be timely, detail-oriented, and reach the appropriate audience. With successful communication, the New Member "team" will understand its responsibilities and my expectations throughout the year.” Sounds like Mallory is up to the challenge!
Diane Castillo, a New Member Mentor, told me, “Last year I was the Business Manager for FÊTE DU CUVÉE, which is more of an in-league position.  So, this year I decided that I wanted to be in a placement where I could get back in touch with our Community Partners but also be in a leadership type of position. Luckily, I was given my first placement choice of being a Mentor to our New Members!  What a blessing, and I've already started on this year's journey with Super Saturday!”  Terrific, Diane! I remember Super Saturday fondly--I learned about several of our community partners and made new friends in the process.
Finally, Shannyn Romero, Green Spaces Alliance Co-Chair, remarked that she and Brett Beyer “are excited to chair a new placement this year. Having the opportunity to develop a new partnership in a placement that is so intricately tied to our mission and new signature project is an honor.” I can’t wait to hear more about this new partnership and what our members will be doing to help keep South Texas green. And I’m looking forward to sharing the stories, challenges, and successes of the women who comprise our League this year, on-line, with you.
It’s going to be a great New Year, JLSA. Oh, hey--there’s that bottle of champagne I was looking for.  I think I’ll pour myself a celebratory glass. Cheers!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

What are YOU doing this Easter Sunday?

The holiday is almost HERE! Ask yourself, "Do I really want to go grocery shopping, clean the house, plan an egg hunt, or do I want to wake up Sunday morning, enjoy church with my loved ones and let The Bright Shawl do all the work?"  If you haven't made your Sunday plans yet, check out this latest blog post from Flicks and Food.com about what's on the menu at The Bright Shawl for  Easter brunch.  Try NOT to drool too much when you fantasize about the waffle station with maple syrup and whipped cream.  Dream about loading up at the omelet station or heading over to the main entree section and grab some down home country fried chicken and a slice of glazed ham.  Okay,I don't want to spoil the rest of the menu for you so go ahead... enjoy your own culinary fantasy!

This year take a break  to focus on family and let us do the cooking and the dishes! This is an Easter treat the whole family will love! Just remember you might want to wear a bigger belt! You may be letting it out a few notches!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easter Day Brunch at The Bright Shawl

Are you looking for something special to do on Easter morning with the kiddos? Do you have family and friends in town and just don't want to mess with the headache of cooking? Do you want to start a new Easter tradition? Then why not join us for Brunch at the Bright Shawl April 8.


The Bright Shawl first opened its doors in October 1925 and served as the Junior League's very first fundraiser project.  The ladies of the league borrowed the name, "The Bright Shawl," from the popular novel by the same name written by Joseph Heigerheimer in 1920.  Back in the 20s, only league members and their families were allowed to dine at The Bright Shawl. Times have changed, and now The Bright Shawl is open for dining to all, and encourages local business men and women working in the downtown area to come over and try some of their delicious specialities!

Reservations are recommended for our Easter Brunch so make sure to call 210-225-6366.  Kids age 5 and under are FREE (an added bonus).

For more information about The Bright Shawl and its unique history, visit www.brightshawl.com .  And if you are unable to join us this Easter, try to host your very own special brunch with a variety of cinnamon rolls, french toast, fresh fruit and dips, and a fun punch! And don't forget the egg hunt for the kiddos!

Happy Easter from Your Junior League!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Another Wine Wednesday!

Welcome back to Wine Wednesday! This week, our guest blogger is Sheila Mayfield, Fête du Cuvée Silent Auction Chair. Read on, as Sheila gives us a sneak peak into the auction items for our upcoming inaugural Fête du Cuvée!


Prior to moving to San Antonio in 2007, I worked in wine marketing in Napa and San Francisco for Robert Mondavi, and then Constellation Wines. I loved my time in the wine world, and still carry the mission card we received at Robert Mondavi in my wallet at all times! "Our vision: To enrich life through wine." Wine is an integral part of gracious living, and I am beyond thrilled to be involved with the Junior League's newest fundraiser, Fête du Cuvée, the first charity fine wine auction in San Antonio. I'm proud of the Junior League's long history of initiating projects and programs to meet the rising needs of the thriving San Antonio community. Fête du Cuvée has provided the opportunity to work with an amazing team of women volunteers to put on a fabulous black tie event that will raise critical funds for the Junior League of San Antonio.


There will be six chef's stations around the ballroom of the Bright Shawl for an evening of exceptional wine and fine dining. Each chef has personally selected a red and a white wine to pair with their dishes. Chefs include Jeffrey Balfour from Citrus at the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, Steven McHugh from Lüke San Antonio, John Brand from La Mansión del Rio’s Las Canarias, Stefan Bower from Feast, James Moore from Max's Wine Dive, and Ernie Estrada from Francesca's at the Westin La Cantera. In addition to the wine at the chef's stations, there will also be eight other featured wineries around the room. We'll have a live and silent auction, and entertainment from the Monte Vista Jazz Band following the auction.


We are so grateful for the generous support of wineries, distributors, and private donors, and thanks to them, we have secured some spectacular items for the auction. Here are a few of my favorites that I'll be watching closely at Fête du Cuvée!


Live Auction Highlights: (and these are just 4 of the 14 awesome packages!)
  • A trip to Napa including a two night stay at the Villa Valentine guesthouse on the Terra Valentine Winery estate where you will have the entire 75 acre estate at your leisure to explore the vineyards. I have been dreaming about this one for months! We have lined up some phenomenal winery tours and tastings, including a private tour and champagne reception at Opus One. Opus One is part of the Robert Mondavi/Constellation Wines portfolio, and I've had the pleasure of visiting several times. It is a very unique winery, and the tour and tastings will blow you away!
  • A trip to Oregon including a tour, tasting, and dinner at REX HILL Vineyards. Spurs Head Coach Popovich is a winery partner, and dinner at a winery is an unforgettable, bucket list experience! The package also includes a stay at a nearby guesthouse, a tour and tasting at Bergström Winery, and a magnum of REX HILL Pinot Noir to enjoy at home. There is also a bonus stay at the Sunriver Resort including a round of golf.
  • A trip to Santa Fe to attend Pioneer Wine's exclusive, invite only Renegade Party. Dallas' esteemed Suze Chef/Owner, Gilbert Garza, will prepare an out-of-this-world dinner, paired with winemakers' wines, in a showcase home on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Package includes first class accommodations for six at Casa Milagro, a breathtaking vacation home in Sante Fe.
  • San Antonio Staycation! Spend a weekend at the Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk, and enjoy dinners at Citrus and Lüke. The package includes tickets to the San Antonio Symphony and a $150 gift certificate to Rent the Runway to make sure you have a fabulous dress to show off that weekend. How fun is that?!
Silent Auction Highlights:
  • A bottle of 2002 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon - Robert Parker gave this wine a perfect score of 100!
  • A magnum of Cakebread Cellars 2007 Dancing Bear Ranch, Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon presented in a wood box signed by winemaker, Bruce Cakebread
  • A magnum of Schramsberg 2008 Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine signed by winemaker Hugh Davies - Schramsberg is often served at White House dinners and is my favorite sparkling wine
  • A magnum of Ridge Vineyards 2007 Montebello - I have to put in a plug for this incredible winery located in my hometown of Cupertino, CA
  • Hotel stay at the luxurious Four Seasons Chicago with a tour/tasting at Lynfred Winery outside of Chicago
  • Tickets to the 2013 Rodeo including terrace level seats, reserved parking, and dinner - once you Rodeo this way, you'll never want to go any other way!
  • Night of Discovery at Fleming's including appetizers and wine pairings for 16 in a private room - buy this one for your next birthday party!
  • Wine and appetizers for 10 at 20nine Restaurant & Wine Bar - this is one of my favorite spots for girl's night out
  • $100 gift card to Max's Wine Dive - I just had Sunday brunch there - yummy!
  • Sitting fee and 10x14 portrait at Langmore Photography - okay, so this isn't wine related, but if you have kids, you will forever treasure a Langmore portrait of them!
And this is just a taste. There are so many other bottles of fine wine, tours/tastings, gift certificates, and other superb items. I look forward to seeing you all at Fête du Cuvée! Buy your tickets now - you won't want to miss this fantastic event!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And the Winner Is.......


Hello Ladies and thank you to all that entered our Holiday Blog and Facebook contest!  We officially have a winner.  Drum roll please...

Our winner is ERICA ELLIS!

Erica, congratulations, and thank you for spreading the word about our fabulous League and our blog!  We will present you with your winnings at the February General Meeting.

Ladies, continue to spread the word about our blog and league happenings through social media such as Facebook and Twitter!  We have a lot of exciting events coming up, including Fete du Cuvee and Brunch at the Bright Shawl. You and your friends won't want to miss them!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Join a Junior League....Make a Difference!

It's a fact, ladies: Junior League women make things happen. Even though we're a little past the beginning of the new year, why not add another resolution to that list of yours and JOIN the Junior League of San Antonio? Or, if you're already a member, why not resolve to bring a friend into JLSA?

Have you heard about all the benefits Junior League members experience? Here are a just a few:

*Improve the communities they live in
*Build leadership skills
*Make INSTANT friends that share the same passion of volunteering!
*Enjoy fun and productive networking opportunities
*Get to the attend the hottest, hippest, and most happening events around town all while making a difference
*Drink wine and shop (at Fete du Cuvee and Holiday Ole Market!)
*Sleep better at night (okay, that one hasn't been completely proven) :)

Right now, we are in our yearly membership drive to find new women to join our premier women's volunteer organization, where women work together to build a better community through leadership and community service. And we want YOU as a new member and an important part of our organization.

Now, if all those amazing benefits listed above didn't catch your eye, then are you a name dropper? If so, you're in luck, because by becoming part of JLSA, you have the opportunity to share a bond with some amazing women, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Sandra Day O'Connor, Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Nancy Reagan, Katherine Hepburn AND Shirley Temple. That's right - they were all Junior League women!  And, if you're looking for some big names in your own community, look no further than JLSA members Kara McCarthy Cleveland, VP and COO of Eureka Connect Research, and Emily Jones, COO of San Antonio Museum of Art. These two amazing ladies will be honored this Thursday at the Omni Hotel in San Antonio for receiving the "Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders" award presented by the San Antonio Business Journal. 

Why not add your name to that stellar list of women TODAY?

Already a member? Then help spread the word through your own testimonials of events you have volunteered at and invite women you may know that would benefit from this exciting opportunity to make a difference.

For more information, contact Jane Mozingo, 2011-2012 Admissions Chair at admissions@jlsa.org

"Those who can do. Those who can do more volunteer!" ~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions~This Weekend

Heather Russo, Met Opera Chair, along with her amazing team, has been working diligently to prepare for this weekend's auditions.


Here's a quick summary of what's going on this weekend, as well as some deep-rooted history on this placement and how important this partnership has been through the years for the Junior League of San Antonio.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Southwest Region will celebrate its 53rd annual auditions with the Finals Concert held Sunday, January 15. This event will be at the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center on the campus of Trinity University. The public is invited and encouraged to attend at no charge to hear some of the most promising young singers in the world of opera. Curtain time is 2 p.m.

Attending the Met Opera regionals is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear national and international talent compete in this year's competition. These rising stars offer an exciting performance before a panel of three distinguished judges. On hand for this year's competition will be Scott Altman, General Director for the Arizona Opera, Bruce Stasnya, Young Artist Program Director for the Palm Beach Opera and Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director of the MONC. Singers will be accompanied by Thomas Jaber, Professor of Music at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.

The Southwest Region winner announced at the end of the performance will receive coaching from the Metropolitan Opera's artistic staff, and then compete at the National Semifinal Auditions at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in March. The Grand Finalist named at that competition will perform on the stage of the Met with full orchestra before an audience eagerly anticipating the professional birth of future worldwide opera stars.

These auditions have produced more than 35 national finalists, with many joining the permanent roster of singers at the Met.  JLSA members are especially fortunate, because we've had the opportunity to enjot their stellar performances at our General Meetings!

This tradition of the MONC Southwest Region auditions in San Antonio began in 1959 with Margaret Batts Tobin.  One of San Antonio's strongest arts philanthropists, Mrs. Tobin was pivotal in developing the National Councils regional auditions program to identify and develop top operatic talent throughout the United States.  Mrs. Tobin was a very active and involved member of our Junior League and she helped establish the auditions program right her in San Antonio, as well as create that strong partnership with the league, recruitment of volunteers, and awareness of this program.


We hope you can spend part of the long holiday weekend at the Finals Concert and feel like you are in the audience of the Met in New York City. Who knows - you might actually be hearing one of their future stars!
(Thank you to Kim Biffle, Publicity Chair. For more information Kim can be reached at 210-573-0684)