Thursday, December 30, 2010

JLBR in Action in 2010

2010 is almost over!! (I know I'm not the only one in shock & denial.) What a great year it's been for the Junior League of Boca Raton! In the past year, we have...

  • Helped the Spirit of Giving Network give 3,500 children gifts through its Holiday Ornament Drive
  • Hosted numerous non-profit leadership trainings at the Vegso Community Resource Center 

  • Granted the Dare to Dream Foundation $750 to help with their television cooking program called Young Chefs Cooking with Chef Bart

  • Celebrated the 10th Anniversary of our James Beard Award-winning "Savor the Moment" cookbook

  • Collected 89 Thanksgiving Dinners for our local families in need

  • Granted $500 to Women in Distress of Broward County to help to underwrite their free domestic violence services in South Palm Beach County and North Broward County

  • Awarded $500 to Boca Raton Elementary School’s Safety Patrol to support their trip to Washington, DC

  • Assembled 150 plus SHARE the Season Thanksgiving meals for members of our community, and then delivered 100 meals to families in need 

  • Granted $1000 to the Women’s Circle, an organization that helps women learn English and helps them find meaningful employment so they can become productive residents of this country

  • Laid over 100 bags of mulch adjacent to the trains where they host the “Ticket to Ride” educational sessions at the Boca Raton Historical Society

And this is just a small, small part of what we've accomplished this year. I'm honored to be part of such a friendly, open and giving group of women.


Happy New Year, and here's to 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy holidays from the JLBR!

We have had some great holidays celebrations this month, such as our Champagne Holiday Tea & Shopping Spree and Provisional Holiday Party. (The links will take you to more pictures.)

From our JLBR family to yours, we wish you and your loved ones safe and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The TRUE Spirit of Giving

The Junior League of Boca Raton again partnered with the Spirit of Giving Network for their annual Holiday Gift Drive. More than 3,500 local at-risk children made ornaments that listed their holiday gift wishes. These ornaments were then shared with members of the community to help fulfill. (Click here for more.)

Last year, I picked an ornament that said "gift card." You can never go wrong with a gift card, I'd thought. I went to the store, picked up the card, and that was that.

This year, I was feeling a little more...ambitious. (Let me pause here to say that I do not have any children, and my nieces & nephews are still toddlers. So, my knowledge of the latest, hottest toys is pretty much at zero.) I rifled through a handful of ornaments at our JLBR General Membership Meeting last month until I saw one from a six-year-old girl who wanted a Disney Princess 5-in-1 Princess Playset. Now that sounds like fun! I enthusiastically grabbed it.

The ornaments. Information about the child & their gift wish is at the bottom.

A few weeks later, I found myself in walking distance of a major toy store. Perfect. I walked in, shunned the store assistant's offer for help, and marched straight to what looked like an aisle dedicated to the Disney Princesses. I scanned the shelves.....and found nothing. Fine. I'll ask.

A few minutes later I was met with the first, "Sorry, ma'am, we don't have it." Odd. If it's not at the toy store, where can I find it?!

As luck would have it, I was in walking distance of another major retail store. I wasn't able to find anyone who worked there to assist me, but I walked up and down and up and down the toy aisles looking for a Disney Princess 5-in-1 Princess Playset. Nada.

The following week I tried another store with no luck. By this point, I realized it was time to go online. The first result from a Google search for "Diswney Princess 5-in-1 Princess Playset" was... Of course! And---and---they had one!....wait....what does that say on the side? "Sold out."

Deep breaths.

That's okay....maybe they'll have one at an actual physical location. I called the Disney Stores in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs and Boynton Beach. 0 for 3. Although, I did get some helpful advice from one of the stores. "You should try online!" the cheerful lady suggested. I sighed (inwardly. She was so nice, I couldn't bring myself to unload my massive search saga on her.)

I was losing my mind. I was also kind of losing my holiday spirit. (And I mean more than "kind of.") I had to take a step back. Because, I was also losing the lesson. I was losing the true reason for the season, the true Spirit of Giving. I wanted so badly for this little girl to get exactly what she wanted, that I failed to see the real gift. The real gift will be when this little six-year-old girl *gets* a gift. A specific gift. Her very own. One that her family may not be able to afford to give her. The real gift is that I got the opportunity to take a little time and look outside of myself, and remember that there is more to this season -- more to life -- than getting stressed and getting everything exactly right. There's more to life than me. There's a six-year-old girl who, though circumstances, I am now connected to, in a way.

And she has a wish.

In the end, my little girl got this:

5 pieces + 1 gift = 5-in-1! Yes??

Not exactly the 5-in-1 she asked for, but I hope it makes her happy nonetheless.

And next year? I think I'm going back to gift cards.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

International Volunteer Day

The United Nations has designated December 5th as International Volunteer Day. In the resolution from December 1985, the UN recognized that many volunteers "engage in volunteer service at considerable personal sacrifice." They also note that volunteering "is making an important contribution to socio-economic development activities."

The Junior League of Boca Raton has been offering our service to the City of Boca Raton and surrounding areas since 1971. This year JLBR members will contribute more than 35,000 volunteer hours & donate more than $250,000 to train volunteers, develop the potential of women & improve our community.

If you are planning on participating in any kind of volunteer activities on December 5th, leave a comment and let me know.  This link has some ideas for things you can do. For example, you can participate in International Volunteer Day by taking a minute to "share your thoughts on a community website through blogging." So comment away! :) Leave a comment telling me why volunteering is important to you or describing a particular volunteer experience that has really stuck with you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SHARE the Season Thanksgiving Meals

On Saturday, November 20th, the Junior League of Boca Raton assembled more than 150 SHARE the Season Thanksgiving meals for members of our community. The meals, which included a turkey, stuffing, vegetables and more, were then delivered to families in need identified through our Spirit of Giving Network.

Participating in this Done In A Day service project was truly such a wonderful and rewarding experience. When I pulled up to the Boca Helping Hands facility in East Boca, things were already in full swing. Dozens of meals were arranged in bags on the floor. Junior League volunteers were pairing off 2 by 2 and loading up their cars with the bags. JLBR President Samantha Vasallo was there with her two children to collect their package.  

JLBR President Samantha Vasallo picking up her Thanksgiving SHARE meal.

I was going to deliver packages with Jessica, a provisional member with a big heart who had been there early to pick up and deliver some of the packages for families at the school where she teaches. Loaded up with 8 packages and my trusty GPS, we set off. 

The packages included a pie, a turkey, frozen vegetables, and more.

The first person we visited was not at home. Since the individual lived close to the Boca Helping Hands facility, we decided to try him again on the way back. Two stops later we found ourselves at the home of a woman who thanked us, apologized for her messy house, introduced us to her kids, and then thanked us again. We actually ended up delivering two meals to her place. Earlier, when we'd discovered that one of our recipients wasn't at home, we called and she asked if we could drop it off with this woman, who was her friend. I thought it was really touching that they all knew each other and were friends. Their kids were in school & extracurricular activities together.

Here's me with some of the packages.

The recipient at our next stop was so grateful and overwhelmed by the gift that she started crying in front of us. She fanned her face with her hand and wiped away her tears as she showed us where she had made space in her refrigerator for the food. She even kindly gave us back the stuffing, admitting that she wouldn't eat it, and asked if we could give it to someone else who would.

We wrapped up the afternoon with two more deliveries and gratitude in our hearts. 

Click here to learn more about SHARE.