It is a Tuesday evening, and I am seated in an auditorium surrounded by women I admire from afar for their absolute commitment and dedication to our community. All around me are ladies who generously share their time and talents with the members of the Junior League of New Orleans so that as a group we can create change and have an impact on each other and our city. And while I have no doubt that I am better for my membership in JLNO, I can’t help but wonder, “Will Jane resent me because I am here and not at home with her?”
Like most of you, I am constantly trying to strike the perfect balance in life. Between being a working mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and an influential member of our community, I am not sure how successful I am at this. There are those days that I am really great at what I do professionally, and there are those days that I know I have made an impact in this community, and I know there are the days where I am a really good mother/wife/daughter/sister/friend. But rarely, very rarely, have I been able to be great at all of these on any given day.
Why I Volunteer
And so I ask, why do I do this to myself? Why do I add more to my plate than perhaps I should? The answer is as complex as the question. The easiest answer is that by nature, I am a joiner. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m an over-joiner. And an over-planner. I cannot help myself. When I see a calendar that has an opening, I fill it. This tendency leads me to join groups and committees with reckless abandon.
As a working mother, I carry the guilt of missing so many amazing moments with Jane. So you may ask (as I often so often do) why I choose to spend my off duty time doing something without her (thus the complexity of the question and answer). I suppose it is that I want Jane to see that our world, as great and vast as it is, is remarkably small when you consider that we are all truly connected. When I envision volunteering, I often picture the ripples that occur when something as small as a pebble is tossed into a pond. If the actions of one person can serve as that of the pebble, the effects are as far reaching as the last ripple the pebble creates. While I make no attempt to move mountains, nor is that my expectation of Jane, I want her to see that her actions can create change in her world.
What Have I Learned From the Junior League of New Orleans?
Individually, I think women make amazing servant leaders in our community, but, as I mentioned, it can be impossible to move a mountain without support. I have seen through women’s groups, like Junior League of New Orleans, that collectively we can make a significant impact in our community. I chose to participate in JLNO because I strongly believe in the organization’s mission to promote volunteerism, develop the potential of women and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. I love that service to the league is dual purposed: it strengthens its members’ gifts and talents through training and then sends those women out into the world to improve the lives of those around us.
In the short time I have been in a leadership role in JLNO, I have learned so much about building relationships, communicating more effectively, and planning strategically for the future. But when I look back on my years in JLNO, I know it will be the memories I made and the people I met when I was out in the community that will be most significant. There’s the time I spent an evening in the Superdome volunteering for the Hornets holiday toy giveaway. To see the look of pure joy on a child’s face as you help them onto the bike they asked for and received because they had perfect attendance, good grades and exemplary behavior is like nothing else in the world. To sit in front of a group of four year olds and read Goodnight NOLA to them in hopes that doing so will encourage their love of learning is rewarding beyond words. To spend three hours in the Bloomin’ Deals Thrift Shop assisting the youngest and smallest of shoppers select the perfect Mothers’ Day gift is exciting and sweet and meaningful. It is in these experiences that I learn more about myself and the world than any other, and it is the lessons I have learned from them that I hope to pass on to Jane.
How You Can Help
Of course, you too can get involved with the Junior League of New Orleans! The league’s website offers valuable information for anyone interested in learning more about its membership opportunities and responsibilities.
You can also help support JLNO through one of its exciting fundraisers. In just a few days, the Junior League of New Orleans’ Buy, Save and Serve fundraiser celebrates its 2013 kickoff. All of the proceeds from the savings card directly benefit JLNO’s nine community projects that serve the at-risk population of Metropolitan New Orleans through charter school outreach, nutritional programming, and youth development. By purchasing a $35 Buy, Save and Serve card, you can save up to 20% from November 1st through November 10th at over 150 AMAZING merchants (like Jean Therapy, Banana Republic – Lakeside, Hattie Sparks, Adler’s, Zuka Baby and Orient Expressed) throughout New Orleans. The cards make great hostess and birthday gifts as well, so head on over to the Junior League of New Orleans site and BUY, SAVE and SERVE!
For a chance to win a Buy, Save and Serve Card, please enter the giveaway running now through October 31st!! Two winners will be selected to receive a Buy, Save and Serve Card.