Q1: Amy, can you tell us what JSL is?
AC: The Junior Service League of Rome is an organization of women whose mission is to foster interest in the social, economic, educational, cultural and civic conditions of the community and to make efficient our volunteer service. Our purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. We focus the majority of our efforts on groups/initiatives that support women and children in need in the Rome and Floyd County areas. We serve children who are hungry, people who have suffered abuse, families who are homeless, women who cannot access healthcare, people who are battling cancer. The list goes on and on. The needs in our community are great, but we are a great group of women, who can make a meaningful and lasting impact together.
Q2: How did you become involved with JSL?
When I joined Junior Service League as a new Roman six years ago, I had no idea the impact this group has on our community and would eventually have on me. I was not really familiar with JSL, but just about everyone in my Sunday School class at my church talked me into joining the group. So I thought “I’ll give it a try,” not really knowing what I had committed to do. I remember going through my first year amazed at the projects our group takes on, like the volume of school supplies we purchase, sort, and distribute year after year to local schools through our League for Learning Program. What an impact we make through just this one endeavor! At the end of my first year, I got asked to serve as the Publicity Chair. I thought: “I don’t know a lot about JSL, and I certainly do not have a background in PR,.” But our group assured me that I’d have support and I could do it! So I gave it a try! I spent the next two years doing PR and learning so much about our organization. We have such a rich history in this community and have accomplished so many things in our over 80 year history. To name a few:
- our first project in the 1930s was selling tuberculosis seals in Floyd County to benefit individuals fighting the disease.
- Starting sewing and story time for the Open Door Home.
- Starting a speech program that was adopted by the City Board of Education.
- Working with the Red Cross and the USO during World War II.
- Providing vision, hearing and scoliosis screenings at local schools.
- Opening the Chieftains Museum.
- Starting our League for Learning school supply project.
We are certainly a busy group! After my time as PR Chair, I was asked to step into the assistant treasurer role. Again, I thought, “I have never been in this type of a role, but I’ll give it a try.” I ended up learning so much about our group’s finances and giving. I was amazed that we raise enough funds each year to purchase over $15,000 of school supplies, support the Chieftains Museum, fund scholarships, and more. And then bi-annually, we fund special projects in our community through our community partnership program. We have funded a variety of projects, such as:
- Visitation rooms for foster children
- Lunchroom and playground equipment for schools
- Summer programs for kids
- The playground at ridge ferry park
This past year, I had the honor of serving as Vice President. I spent the majority of last year continuing to learn about league and the community. As VP, I served as the league’s representative on the Friends of Chieftains Board and have learned more about our history with Chieftains Museum, as well as the amazing educational programs that the museum provides for our area. However, my favorite part of serving as VP was getting to deliver the items we collect from our Good Samaritan Member drives over the course of the year. I had the privilege of getting to walk into the facilities of many of the organizations we serve and see the faces of individuals that directly benefit from the work of this group. It is easy to forget that each dollar raised, each volunteer hour, each item collected, each meeting night away from family has an impact, makes a difference, and changes lives!
In looking over my short time in JSL, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Ghandi which states “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And I truly feel like Junior Service League has provided me the opportunity to serve others in my community, to learn more about myself, and to get out of my comfort zones and try new things.
Q3: Can you tell us about your recent Poinsettia sale and who it benefits?
Our Poinsettia Sale runs every year from mid-September to mid-November. Pick ups and deliveries are the first weekend in December. These plants are great for decorating your home or business or church, for teacher gifts, hostess gifts, and each plant sold allows us to buy school supplies for at least one child for a year. And 50% of each purchase is tax deductible. These poinsettias are absolutely beautiful and cannot be bought just anywhere. In fact, we are the second largest buyer from our grower, second only to Disney!
In the 2004-2005 league year, with the proceeds from the poinsettia sale, we served 545 elementary students through our League for Learning school supply project. From the 2017 sale, 2,223 students received backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, and more; and we expanded the program to include middle and high schools in addition to elementary schools. All Rome City and Floyd County schools benefit from our League for Learning Program. The League for Learning project is funded entirely by the Junior Service League. The more the community supports us in our fundraisers, the more school supplies we are able to purchase and ultimately give back to the children of Rome/Floyd County.
We just concluded the 2018 Poinsettia Sale and sold $40,000 worth of plants, which will allow us to continue to provide school supplies to thousands of kids in our community who need them to learn and thrive!
Q4: What do you have planned for this upcoming year at JSL?
We are gearing up for our major Follies fundraiser, a cherished tradition in Rome for many decades. Our “Box Office Revue” Follies show will be on February 1st and 2nd at the City Auditorium, with a Patron Party each night before the event at the Desoto Theater. This show is sure to be a crowd pleaser with numbers from a variety of popular musicals, including The Greatest Showman, Singing in the Rain, Mary Poppins, LaLa Land, The Little Mermaid, Phantom of the Opera, Sister Act, and many more! JSL members, local dancers and actors, and local community celebrities will be in the show. The money raised from this event will go directly back out into our community through our Community Partnership Program, which supports a variety of nonprofit organizations that serve women and children in need in our area. We are not able to do this work without the generous support of businesses and individuals in our community. Tickets and Sponsorships for the Follies production can be purchased on our website at www.jslofrome.com/follies.html
Q5: How can interested community members get involved?
First off, we would love for women in our community to consider joining our organization. We will be accepting applications for membership in the late winter/early spring for perspective new members. Check our website www.jslofrome.com for more information. We would also love for members of our community and businesses to support our fundraisers, which include the annual poinsettia sale, bi-annual Follies production (February), and bi-annual Garden Tour (April). Also, we would like to invite members of our community to share our mission/programs with organizations that may benefit from our fundraising and volunteer efforts. We are now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 Community Partnership Program. To submit an application, Organizations will need to complete a fairly straightforward set of instructions and questions which may be found at the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/
Through the Junior Service League of Rome’s Community Partnership Program, the Junior Service League of Rome provides partnership opportunities for selected organizations in multiple ways: (1) JSL Volunteers; (2) JSL Community Project Opportunities; (3) JSL Member Drives; (4) JSL Board Participation; and (5) JSL Community Funding Opportunities. Partnerships run from June 2019 through May 2020. Selected organizations must be a 501(c)(3) organization with a special interest in improving the lives of women and children in the City of Rome and Floyd County areas.
Our 2018 – 2019 Community Partners are:
- Angel Express
- Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Georgia
- Brighter Birthdays
- Chieftains Museum
- Exchange Club Family Resource Center
- Good Neighbor Ministries
- Harbor House
- Hospitality House
- Restoration Rome
- Rome City Schools
- Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth
- Sexual Assault Center
- Women of W.O.R.T.H.
- YMCA of Rome and Floyd County