For more than 100 years, the Junior League of Syracuse has trained members to be valued community volunteers. Through volunteer service and financial support, the JLS and our members have been instrumental in the development and growth of more than 100 educational, cultural, human service, and philanthropic assets in our community from the Discovery Center (which is now known as The MOST), to the Volunteer Center and have responded to urgent social issues, including domestic violence and human trafficking awareness.
The JLS operates using the Issue Based Community Impact model, in which our volunteer and training efforts focus on a single topic that is relevant in Syracuse and of interest to League members.
The Community Collaborations Committee’s goal for the next five years is to support at-risk families in at-risk situations. Our focus areas include:
-Women and Children
2022 – 2023 League Year
The 2022 – 2023 League year was a busy one! We had several fantastic volunteer events – take a look back at our year of volunteering:
Year-round: Throughout the year, we continued to stock the Little Free Libraries we installed in 2021 in Syracuse Housing Authority neighborhoods.
September – We kicked off the year volunteering at the Salt City Harvest Farm, where we harvested daikon radishes, bundled carrots, and cut fresh flowers for a local farmers market.
October – JLS planned four women’s cooking classes with the Salvation Army’s women’s shelter (supported by a grant from the CNY Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund). Each week we cooked something different and gave the women to-go bags filled with personal care items. To cap off the program, we donated cookware sets to each woman.
November – We purchased and donated cornbread to feed 200 guests at the Boys and Girls Club’s Thanksgiving dinner.
December – For PEACE, Inc.’s Holiday Drive, we collected hygiene and personal care supplies at our holiday party. We also donated five $100 Target gift cards to the cause.
January – To give back for the United Way of Central New York’s MLK Jr. Day, JLS donated the leftover socks from the sock fundraiser to go to families in need.
March – During National Women’s Month in March, we completed one of our last 100th-Year Projects with the S.M.A.R.T. Girls program at the Boys and Girls Club of Syracuse. SMART Girls aims to promote health, fitness, prevention/education, and self-esteem. JLS planned two events with local trauma-informed therapist and yoga instructor Lisa Marie Newcomb of Thrive in Healing. Lisa shared yoga poses, self-affirmations, and other coping mechanisms with the girls. JLS gave each girl a backpack, yoga mat, journal, hygiene items, and make-up.
April – This month, we completed our last 100th-Year project with Nascentia Health. Along with some of their housing residents, we were able to assemble 80 baskets of household cleaning items for young single men with children who live in the community.
May – JLS planned our annual tea party for the women of the YWCA. The women were so appreciative and grateful for the clothing, as well as the toiletry bags and household items like laundry detergent. Juhanna Rogers was our speaker, talking with the women and offering encouragement and advice.
Also in May, we hosted our annual STEM Day with the sixth-grade girls of Brighton Academy. This year’s theme was “Building the Future” and to inspire the young ladies to learn more about the fields of engineering and architecture, we invited local firms to share what they do through an activity for the girls. We also had food from XO Taco and sent the ladies home with bags of sketchbooks, pencils, snacks, STEM-related books, and more.
2021 – 2022 League Year
This past summer, we made and served sandwiches with We Rise Above the Streets.
We also helped out at the Salt City Harvest Farm, which included weeding, planting, and harvesting crops grown on the farm.
In October, we held an event at Pioneer Homes showcasing the new Little Free Library that was installed there (one of three at Syracuse Housing Authority properties).
In November, JLS volunteers provided dessert and helped serve a Thanksgiving meal at the Boys and Girls Club.
We also began a new initiative focused on Nutrition and Literacy. For this effort, we are partnering with three community organizations: Boys and Girls Club of Syracuse, the Northside CYO, and RISE. As part of the literacy effort, each child creates their own book, which is later bound, published and returned to them. For the nutrition portion, we provide a cooking lesson where the youth help to prepare (and then later enjoy) a meal together. At the end of each class, the youth take home a bag full of non-perishable food.
We also continue to volunteer with organizations, like the Samaritan Center and Central NY Food Bank, helping to package, prepare and serve food to those in need.
2020 – 2021 League Year
With the onset of the pandemic, our volunteering slowed down a bit, but we still were able to accomplish a lot!
We continued to volunteer with Central NY Food Bank and Samaritan Center throughout the year, maintaining those long-standing partnerships.
In September as part of our 100th year events, we held a build event with Sleep in Heavenly Peace. We helped to construct many bunk beds for kids in need.
In January, we held a successful clothing drive! Tons of women’s clothing was collected and donated to the YWCA and women’s business attire was donated to the Women’s Opportunity Center.
JLS volunteers built and painted seven Little Free Libraries that were donated to community organizations.
For National Volunteer Week in April we held several events. Junior League members wrote cards and sent them to local hospitals. We also held a trash pick-up around our office in downtown Syracuse. To prepare for our outdoor STEM event in May, we packed bags full of food/snacks to distribute to the kids. At the end of the week, we held a virtual STEM lesson on sustainability for students from Brighton Academy.
In May, we held a successful outdoor STEM event, where youth at the Central Village location of the Boys and Girls Club participated in multiple stations. At these stations, youth learned about recycling, planted seeds, designed their own reusable tote bags, and learned about energy efficient homes.
In 2016-2017 the Community Collaborations Committee, organized and participated in numerous community-focused initiatives:
-Women and Children
We worked to achieve those goals by spending OVER 500 VOLUNTEER HOURS actively out in the community and countless more planning our community events.
In November, we served 400 diners at a Thanksgiving Dinner with THE WESTSIDE FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER (PEACE, INC.).
In January, our members packed backpacks for a school supply drive with SCSD DANFORTH MIDDLE SCHOOL.
We also assisted with prepping and serving meals at the RESCUE MISSION to help those in poverty in our community.
In March, we had fun cookie making with the children of HUNTINGTON FAMILY CENTERS.
To celebrate NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK in April, we prepared first aid kits for Congolese Refugees, assembled hygiene kits for VERA HOUSE and learned about its programs and services, and refreshed the book nook at THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE OF HOPE (THE WESTSIDE FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER (PEACE, INC.) with new books and wall art. We also completed our 3rd #JLSMYMONDAY where our members complete random acts of kindness on their own and share with the community through social media to spread of mission/vision.
We also hosted our 5th Annual STEM Expo at SCSD DANFORTH MIDDLE SCHOOL. It was a day of hands on learning opportunities for the 6th grade girls and focused on career opportunities in the Health profession. Speakers included a Veterinarian, Pharmacist, Nurse and others.
In May, we hosted a Hygiene Education Seminar with THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE OF HOPE (THE WESTSIDE FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER (PEACE, INC.). JLS members spoke with 30 pre-teen girls about feminine hygiene and body care. We participated in games with the girls to increase self esteem.
And in August, our members helped organize/assist with the kids fun run at the INNER HARBOR 5K FOR IT’S ABOUT FAMILY AND CHILDREN.
IT WAS A GREAT YEAR DOING GREAT THINGS!
In the 2015-16 League year, the Community Collaborations Committee organized and participated in numerous community-focused initiatives:
Organized donations of casual/business clothing for My Sister’s Closet at the Burt Street YWCA.
95 FOR 95 – During a four day span in October 2015, 55 JLS members touched the lives of:
- Women and children at THE DOROTHY DAY HOUSE, preparing a hot meal, providing game night and donating yoga pants.
- Clients at THE RESCUE MISSION, preparing and serving a meal.
- Children at THE WESTSIDE FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER (PEACE, INC.), participating in painting pumpkins.
- Women and children at THE CHADWICK RESIDENCE, providing culinary instruction and children’s crafts.
- Families at UPSTATE GOLISANO CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, brightening their day with crafts and pizza.
- Men at THE CATHOLIC CHARITIES EMERGENCY SHELTER FOR MEN, supplying a hot meal and 150 pairs of socks.
Served 400 diners a Thanksgiving Dinner for THE WESTSIDE FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER (PEACE, INC.).
Prepared holiday cards for the Veterans located at the Syracuse VA Medical Center.
Coordinated a Valentine’s Day cookie decorating party for THE DOROTHY DAY HOUSE.
“NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK” – From April 10th to the 16th, our members were out in the community and volunteering in various activities at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, The Rescue Mission and an prepared an installation of the Westside Family Center’s Book Nook.
Donated canned goods and can openers to various FOOD BANK OF CENTRAL NEW YORK food pantries.
Hosted a Mother’s Day Brunch and a Father’s Day Picnic at THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE OF HOPE.
In the 2014-2015 League year, the Community Collaborations Committee has continued its Human Trafficking advocacy through the following monthly themes:
- First Aid kits creation and donation to Catholic Charities (October)
- Recreation item drive benefiting Southwest Community Center (October)
- Third annual STEM event for Syracuse City School District middle school students (May)
- In addition to events in the community, the Community Council’s Public Policy Committee is involved in influencing the League’s Human Trafficking interests through the New York State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior League (NYSPAC).
During the 2013-2014 League year, the Community Collaborations committee planned and/or participated in the following activities in Syracuse in an effort to share our anti-human trafficking message to agencies and their clients and to develop JLS member capabilities:
- Regional Market food collection for Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen (Saturdays May-September)
- Reception at and sock donation to Catholic Charities of Onondaga County‘s new men’s shelter (July)
- Kids in Motion (Saturdays September-November)
- Becca’s Closet dress sorting (November)
- McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center playroom donation event and tour (November)
- Cookie baking and donation event for Assumption Food Pantry (December)
- United Way Community Program Fund Application Review process (weekly January-March)
- Becca’s Closet dress donation event at Liverpool High School (April)
- Catholic Charities Emergency Services clothing, home goods & food pantry drive (April)
- McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training on ending sex abuse of children (May)
- Second annual STEM Expo event for Syracuse City School District middle school students (May)