Check out our JLGNF 30th Anniversary video! Special thanks to Cynthia Tanner, Jill Willis, Teri Butler, Kathryn Fletcher, Jenny Horton and everyone who contributed photo memories!
The Junior League of Gwinnett and North Fulton Counties (JLGNF) began as The Chattahoochee Junior Service League (CJSL) in spring of 1986 by a small group of women who were interested in forming a volunteer-oriented organization to serve the Gwinnett and North Fulton county area. From outset, the goal was to affiliate with Associations of Junior Leagues International (AJLI), since there was no existing Junior League in the immediate area.
To accomplish the goal, members in the targeted area were contacted and asked to attend an organizational meeting and to invite friends who would be interested in community service. The membership grew rapidly over the first few months, soon reaching over 100 active members.
The growing CJSL membership was polled as to their interests and previous involvement in the community, and the decision was made to focus the group’s efforts and resources on issues influencing women and children. More specifically, the issues of child abuse and prenatal education.
A Community Research Committee was established, which contacted more than 250 agencies and advocacy groups in the area. Today, we continue the League’s efforts in community research and project development and hold annual fundraisers to support these projects.
Our affiliation with AJLI was completed in July 1991 and CJSL became the Junior League of Gwinnett and North Fulton Counties.
CJSL Community Placements
CJSL’s first Placement Fair was held in 1987 and offered 25 Community Placements, including the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Harbor House for the Homeless, Rape Crisis, Gwinnett Medical Center Auxiliary and Meals on Wheels. Over the next four years, other placements that generated significant membership involvement included the Pinckneyville Arts Center, Young Audiences, Gwinnett Community Clinic, Project First Steps, Autry Mill Nature Center and Quinn House. In 1988 we began Project Self-Esteem, an in-school program implemented to boost self-image in elementary and middle school children. A pilot program began at Berkely Lake Elementary School and expanded to 16 schools in Gwinnett and North Fulton counties.
Fundraising began and all funds were placed into a community fund and used to fund League projects and community assistance. Our first fundraiser in 1987 was a fashion show in cooperation with Neiman-Marcus. The event was a great success and continued until 1989. Also in 1989, “A Day of Croquet” was introduced. This event consisted of a croquet tournament and ball and was also successful and continued until 1992.
In 1993, after becoming affiliated with AJLI, JLGNF took two major steps in revising the structure of the organization:
1. The membership voted to adopt the Council System as recommended by AJLI
2. The membership choose two focus areas in which to focus our community efforts
The Council System redefined the management structure of the League and led to the creation of the League Board of Directors. This system has proven to be highly effective and was a positive change, enabling the League to function from the “bottom up”.
The two original focus areas were Children at Risk and Homelessness. In 1993, the League approved the implementation of the STAR House, an after-school mentoring and enrichment program for children living in the Frazier Street Apartment community in Roswell, Georgia. This program, “Seeking, Teaching and Reaching” provided our membership an opportunity to work with children providing a challenging curriculum to integrate the basic principles of education with stimulating projects and activities, and directly meet the personal needs of the youth in the community. In the 1998-1999 League year, we “handed off” Star House to the community, and implemented a new signature project, Fairhaven Inn. This project was designed to help break the cycle of abuse through education, training and family life skills development.
Other community involvement and projects have included Gwinnett Council for the Arts, Sheltering Arms, Christmas in April, Head Start, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Norcross Cooperative Ministries and the Foster Care Foundation. Additionally, the Done in a Day Committee (now a part of IMPACT) provided service for short term or one-time community projects. The League has also helped numerous teachers and schools in our service area through our previous Educational Mini-Grant program.
As a result of extensive research, in March 2013 the League took another major step by implementing issue based community impact (IBCI) and adopted Girls’ Self-Esteem as the League’s overarching focus area. This focus area has allowed the League to integrate our programming, events, and volunteering efforts into one area and strengthen our presence and impact in our local communities. For the 2014-2015 League year we are excited to begin our “Strong Girls, Bright Futures” programming that will work to create awareness, education and empowerment for t’ween and teen girls, with an emphasis on girls in grades 5-8, regarding the value of intelligence, competence and education to assist the girls in making positive decisions. Some of our current community partners include: Girl Talk, Girls Inc., Girls on the Run, Jesse’s House, Rainbow Village and local Girl Scout chapters.