Sixty Years of Filling Someone’s Need
The following community projects are a sampling of the partnerships and the trained volunteer resources that Junior League of Lafayette has provided since 1957.
Southwest Louisiana Rehabilitation Center Pre-Vocational Unit
This community project was the first major long-term project of the Service League and the recipient of the major portion of proceeds of the League’s first fundraiser, a Mexican Supper. League volunteers initiated the establishment of this center and it officially opened on December 15, 1958. Additional funds donated by the Service League furnished all necessary equipment for the facility and then made the facility operational on February 8, 1960 by funding the salary, $6240, of a Registered Occupational Therapist. League members worked in the office, did inventory, sewed garments and edited and mailed the newsletter. The League continued to fund the salary of the therapist and provide additional financial support until 1966-67 making the total $27,589.38.
Lafayette Charity Hospital Children’s Ward
Service League volunteers began work in this area in 1958-59. Through the years, members aided social workers, began a recreational therapy project in the pediatrics ward and visited the ward bi-weekly to distribute toys and candy to patients. They also read, helped with paper work, played records and hosted seasonal holiday parties for the patients. In 1963-64, League members assisted the hospital in receiving a state grant by meeting with Governor Jimmy Davis in an appeal made for $75,000 to construct a playroom and a 26-bed addition.
Mental Health Clinic
The Service League of Lafayette began its community service efforts in 1958 with one member volunteer and $50. Through the years, League services to the Clinic included presenting filmed programs and acting as hostesses to direct contact and work with the patients.
Lafayette Charity Hospital Nursery Layette Program
In 1960, the Service League expanded volunteering at Lafayette Charity Hospital by furnishing handmade layettes to new babies in the nursery. Each committee member was given material to make three blankets, one gown, three dresses and three sacques with members donating trim and talent to beautify the tiny garments. Diapers, socks, booties, crib blankets and plastic pants were purchased and included with each layette. Several bottles of vitamins, donated by a local doctor, were also included. Layettes were no longer needed from the Service League in 1968-69 so Christmas gifts were purchased for children patients instead.
In 1960-61, a personal shopping program for the patients and their families was started by the Service League. In 1962-63 the Service League provided financial assistance to create a PX. Members volunteered their time at the hospital PX until it was turned over to a rehabilitated patient in 1968-69 to serve as employment. Members then began a new service of volunteer hours at the Attakapas Area TB Association office.
The League initiated this community project in 1960-61 with members learning the art of making puppets and their manipulation, and becoming a member of the Puppeteers of America. Their first production was “The Magic Sneeze” performed at area schools and hospitals. Service League members created every element of this production and many others, from the building of the puppets and stage to the lighting and sound.
In June 1961, the Service League launched a new educational program directed toward a child audience. This fifteen-minute television program taught conversational French and was produced daily, five days a week for an eight week summer season in its first year.
Music For Youth
The Service League of Lafayette initiated this community project in its first year of organization by arranging six concerts in local schools. Throughout the years of this project, Service League members sponsored additional band/choral concerts, held school music contests and donated instruments.
On March 20-21, 1970, the Service League of Lafayette sponsored the USL Players Children’s Theatre production Niccolo & Nicolette for 3000 third graders of Lafayette Parish.
In June 1974 the League began a joint venture with the City of Lafayette and the Chamber of Commerce resulting in a Community Arts Council Seminar to study the structure and potential of such an organization in the community. The League pledged $30,000 to the initiative over a three-year period. The charter was filed on January 17, 1975 and soon after the Arts Council had hired its first executive director. In 1991-92, the League continued its support by developing the Acadiana Arts Council Support Team where members assisted the Council with public relations, marketing, and grants.
In 1978, the League pledged $75,000 over a three-year period as seed money for this initiative. During this time, an interim board was selected and goals and objectives formulated. In 1979, the parenting center opened as The Family Tree Center for Parent Education. League volunteers at the Family Tree provided publicity services, a complete video tape, a foster care program, doubling of the number of books in the library, direct service to clients by facilitating special programs for children and a Volunteer Auxiliary. In 1991 the Family Tree, with financial support from the League and the United Way of Acadiana, expanded its operation and began providing counseling services.
Initiated by the League, members worked at local elementary schools teaching hands-on knowledge of computers and drug awareness through the use of computer programs. The computer programs (purchased by the League) provided information about types of drugs and their effects on the body as well as the effect of alcohol. The programs also offered lessons on decision making and peer pressure to help the children learn to stand by their convictions if pressured to use drugs.
DARE (Drug Awareness Research and Education) provided professional guidance and education on substance abuse through a training course. This program was developed by the League with the help of the Lafayette Parish School Board Substance Abuse Coordinator.
In cooperation with the Lafayette Parish School Board, Junior League helped fund the REACH (Responsible Educated Adolescents Can Help) America Program. REACH America is a youth project of the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth to teach young people about health hazards of the use of alcohol and other drugs. This program trains student “peer leaders” to take a stand against drug abuse.
Kids on the Block
This program, created by Barbara Aiello in Washington D.C., was used to educate children about handicaps, disabilities and differences. Kids on the Block used a style of puppetry based on the Japanese “bunraku” puppet theatre where the puppeteer traditionally stands behind the puppet and wears black clothes to fade into the background so that the colorful puppets stand out. In 1983, Junior League of Lafayette began offering this program to the community with a team of members serving as puppeteers who brought the program to 3rd graders in Lafayette Parish. In 1984 the League began incorporating a substance abuse program in cooperation with the Lafayette Parish School Board’s Substance Abuse Prevention Program.
This referral service for the homeless was developed by Junior League of Lafayette, in conjunction with Lafayette Catholic Social Services and opened its doors on September 9, 1991. Members volunteered at St. Joseph’s Shelter Annex assisting the homeless in procuring benefits and services available to them within the community.
On October 14, 1991, Junior League of Lafayette volunteers began the six-week pilot program of a live call-in peer facilitated homework assistance program on Acadiana Open Channel. During this period, a total of 199 viable phone calls were received with an average of 16.5 calls per night. The majority of the calls from students concerned the subject of math (62%).
Habitat for Humanity
Every member of Junior League of Lafayette donated time and energy toward building a new home for a local family, which took approximately three weeks. In addition, the League arranged for promotions and donations for the project.
Beginning in 1991-92, League members attended clinics at Children’s Special Health Services, a program administered by the Office of Public Health that provided medical intervention to children at risk from birth to twenty-one years of age. They attended to the needs of children and parents who were waiting to be seen by doctors. Toys and games that had been collected or purchased were used to entertain the children while also providing educational and social skills. Mothers were assisted in handling paperwork and with childcare while they were in the waiting rooms.
Junior Quiz Bowl
In 1991, Junior League of Lafayette organized an academic recall competition so the junior high school students could academically compete against one another in the areas of math, science, current events, history and general knowledge. The first competition was held at USL in Griffin Hall. Today, League volunteers continue to host this community project.
Junior League members served as group facilitators for children and teens that had experienced the loss of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver. The program allowed children and teens to work through their grief with unique activities.
Members of Junior League focus on recognizing immediate needs in the community and worked to complete done-in-a-day projects for a variety of local agencies.
Junior League developed a program designed to provide interaction between the elderly and high school students. This program allows high school students to learn compassion and empathy for the elderly, and the elderly to enhance their life through communication with young people. Junior League members serve as a liaison between the two groups.
Boys & Girls Clubs
League volunteers work with children visiting the Clubs to educate them in the areas of basic nutrition food preparation, table etiquette and food/kitchen safety including cooking classes and a restaurant field trip.
NO FEAR NO FUTURE
In 2004 Junior League of Lafayette, in collaboration with local agencies, began an annual two day school-based outreach program that promotes responsible decision making regarding drinking and driving to high-school aged students through a series of events including a dramatization of a ‘real-life’ vehicle crash. The program strives to illustrate to students that there are real choices when it comes to drinking and driving and/or distracted driving, and that one irresponsible decision could be a life-altering event for themselves, as well as innocent victims and their families.