Friends of the Junior League of Cleveland were “giving, shopping and eating locally” at the Poinsettia Place holiday brunch and shopping fund raiser in December. A sell-out crowd browsed and purchased unique gifts from dozens of local vendors at the Glidden House in University Circle.
Proceeds will support some of the community outreach the Junior League performs throughout the year, according to event chair Katie Panzica and director of communications Sarah Palagyi, both of Cleveland Heights. “Celebrating small business is a great way to give back to the community,” says Palagyi.
The Junior League is a nonprofit organization for women that focuses on promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities. Founded in Cleveland in 1912, the organization has has not strayed far from its original mission while keeping up with emerging community needs.
Over the years, the Junior League has played an integral role in many vital causes in Greater Cleveland. In 1994, it helped bring about the city’s first local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Proceeds from the event provided free mammograms and breast wellness education for underserved women in Greater Cleveland.
The Junior League also is widely credited for helping spare Playhouse Square from the wrecking ball in the early 1970s through advocacy and a pledge of $25,000 for restorations. A decade later, the group followed up with a $100,000 gift to Playhouse Square.
Today, the Junior League continues to advance women and improve the community. For example, its Girl League offers high school girls a one-day leadership development symposium with a focus on goal-setting skills and developing a positive outlook on life. The annual program partners with the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio. The Junior League also awards annual scholarships to nontraditional women students to help with tuition, as well as transportation, supplies or child care.
Advocacy is yet another major piece of the Junior League mission. Most recently, its advocacy committee enjoyed a big victory by helping pass Ohio House Bill 50, which creates a support system for young people who age out of foster care.
“We hope that Cleveland’s corporate and philanthropic communities will look to us as a potential partner for future projects,” says Palagyi. “With over 500 active and sustaining members, we have a wide range of skills and resources to offer. We are always building a diverse new membership and welcome women who may be interested to contact us.”