Community Projects

Community Projects 2014-2015

For more than 91 years, the Junior League of Birmingham has been a positive force for change in Jefferson County. The JLB’s 2,400 trained volunteers collectively donate more than 50,000 hours of direct community service in Birmingham each year. The JLB's 37 community placements address some of Birmingham’s most critical issues, including domestic violence awareness and prevention, health education to the at-risk community, life skills for families in transition, and literacy.

The four Impact Areas with the target issues and community projects that fall under each are listed below:

Impact Area:  Education 

Issue: School Readiness

Birmingham Public Library: Family Place Library
The Family Place Library provides community-based parent-child workshops in an educational environment.  Information is presented on pre-reading literacy skills, health and safety for parents and caregivers of children ages one to three years.  Target areas include Avondale, North Avondale, Huffman, Center Point, Roebuck, Bessemer and North Birmingham. The parent-child workshop is the Family Place Library’s signature five week program focusing on early intervention and healthy child development.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church: PreSchool Partners
 PreSchool Partners seeks to equip families of at-risk preschool children with the skills necessary to achieve school readiness.  Parents participate one day a week, enabling them to meet other parents, strengthen their parenting skills, and promote for their young children a sense of the value of education. Transportation is provided to bring adults and children from various locations to St. Luke’s, where parents attend classes and the children participate in educational projects and enrichment activities.

Issue: Success in School

Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Can You Dig It?
The Education Department of the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens created a series of field trips for students in elementary schools within the Birmingham City School System. Children understand and learn best not only by listening, but also by seeing and doing. The field trips are free to the schools and correlate with school curriculum, standardized achievement tests, and the Alabama Course of Study. Over 2,500 of Birmingham’s City School students participate in this program.

Birmingham Children's Theatre: From Page to Stage - Readers' Theatre 
From Page to Stage will expand access to the arts, while promoting and improving literacy and education for children ages three through twelve across our community. The arts-based literature program will partner with the Jefferson County Library Cooperative to feature selected literary works. Books and curricula will be distributed to public and school libraries, and BCT artists, actors and Junior League of Birmingham volunteers will lead community events to support each work

Birmingham Zoo: The EcoGarden

The Birmingham Zoo is establishing a sustainable EcoGarden in conjunction with the Birmingham Zoo’s Trails of Africa Exhibit.  The EcoGarden will focus on reducing landfill waste while providing nutrition and enrichment to the zoos animal population.  The EcoGarden will be situated on 22 acres at the back of the zoo and will be used to teach Birmingham City Schools’ 7th Graders participating in a weekly Zoo School the science of organic gardening, the importance of conservation and the fun they can have while learning. Members engage students in activities designed to teach them about recycling, composting, organic gardening, solar energy, cisterns and other sustainable practices to address educational and lifestyle changes. 

College Admissions Made Possible: CAMP

CAMP is an organization assisting first generation college students and their families transition from secondary education to a college program.  The organization guides the students through the college admissions process as well as teaches ACT preparation classes and plans onsite college visits.  The students and families served are high school juniors and seniors from the Birmingham metro area who live in public housing and/ or qualify for free or reduced school lunch. Volunteers are trained to teach students ACT test taking strategies that can positively impact their ACT scores.  Classes are focused the test taking skills and approach for each subject area: Math, Science, English and Reading Comprehension.

Girls Inc.: Mother-Daughter Connection
The mission of Girls, Inc. of Central Alabama is to prepare girls of diverse backgrounds to become productive members of society by providing a safe place to learn and grow with the freedom to take risks and try new things without fear of criticism. This program seeks to provide an opportunity for mothers and daughters to share in both educational and fun workshop sessions together. Mothers and daughters strengthen their relationships with each other, as well as with other mothers and daughters, thus building a sense of community and support.

Girls Inc.: Teen Leadership
The mission of Girls, Inc. of Central Alabama is to prepare girls of diverse backgrounds to become productive members of society by providing a safe place to learn and grow with the freedom to take risks and try new things without fear of criticism. The Teen Leadership Program offers fun, educational and social opportunities for 9th – 12th grade girls through classes, workshops, field trips and presentations by professional women in the community. Topics for the events have included Mean Girls, a Healthy Me workshop, Teen Dating Violence, and College/Career Preparation.     

McWane Science Center: McWane Science Center - Animation - New!

Animation is a traveling exhibit that provides elementary and middle school-aged children
with an engaging and educational experience that combines art, math, science and
technology together to teach core learning concepts such as perception, illusion, apparent
motion, geometry, ratios, patterns and measurement.

SAIL - Summer Adventures in Learning - New!

One of the primary objectives of the SAIL program is to not only prevent the "summer slide" - where children lose months of educational knowledge, but to also advance these children and show progress and effectiveness at the end of the summer. The summer slide in academic progress disproportionately affects children from low-income families. Over the years, the cumulative loss from summer learning loss can make it hard for students to graduate from high school. The SAIL program works to counter that.

United Way of Central Alabama: Early Learning Enhancement/Success By 6

The United Way’s Success By 6 program targets families with four-year-old children living in underserved communities within the city of Birmingham. The program serves 46 childcare centers by providing trained staff to implement school readiness programs centered in stimulating the child’s curiosity to learn.  The program provides health screening, teacher education, books for children and blueprints for school readiness. Volunteers assemble kits for the children to correspond with that month’s training (Pre-K books, Healthy Snacks, Oral Health and Nutrition and Reading to Children).

Vulcan Park and Museum: Learning Adventures Field Trips 
Developing pride in and awareness of the importance of our region is central to Vulcan Park and Museum’s mission to area students.  However, not every child has the opportunity and means to visit Vulcan and experience the benefits it offers.  The goal of this program is to provide field trips for those children grades kindergarten through 5th grade that might otherwise not be able to attend. Field trips to the Vulcan Center Museum allow students to explore the city of Birmingham and beyond, through grade-appropriate instruction, interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits, and a “take-away” project that students complete back in the classroom. 

Youth Leadership Forum:  YLF Logistics Committee
Youth Leadership Forum is a leadership development and community awareness program for high school sophomores and juniors from the greater Birmingham area. Youth Leadership Forum was started as an outgrowth from the adult program, Leadership Birmingham. The program consists of eight sessions which allow participants to explore the needs, strengths and challenges of the Birmingham community in the areas of education, economic development, government, human services, the environment and the arts.

 Issue: Literacy

Better Basics:  Birmingham Reads
The Junior League of Birmingham has partnered with the Children’s Literacy Guild, Better Basics and the Children’s Literacy Guild of Alabama to collect books suitable for children and adults. The mission of Birmingham Reads is to distribute books to low-income children, while also raising awareness of child and adult literacy efforts.  Birmingham Reads take place over a two-week period in April 2015 and will consist of the 8th Annual Birmingham’s Biggest Book Drive and Birmingham Reads Day. Birmingham’s Biggest Book Drive is a community wide book drive that collects new and gently used children’s books and distributes them to agencies in need in the Birmingham community. United We Read is an existing literacy program in the Birmingham City Schools – volunteers from the community come together on the same day in April to read in each Birmingham City classroom (grades kindergarten through fifth).  A copy of the book is distributed to each student in the class.

Junior League of Birmingham/United Way of Central Alabama: Imagination Library
The Junior League of Birmingham and United Way of Central Alabama, in partnership with the Dollywood Foundation, have made the 60-volume Imagination Library available to all children under the age of 5 in Jefferson County. Each month, from birth to age 5, every child registered will receive a high-quality, age appropriate book in the mail free of charge. Since its inception in 2007, the Imagination Library program has distributed 507,348 books by mail to the children of Jefferson County.

Impact Area: Financial Stability

Issue: Personal Finance Skills Training for Woman

Impact: Save First
SaveFirst is an Alabama Financial Literary Initiative which trains college students to offer free tax services and educational seminars for low-income individuals on savings and investments. The purpose of the program is to instill in students a sense of responsibility to improve the economic situation of a large segment of Alabama’s population. The program seeks to equip low-to moderate income individuals and families with the tools they need to protect themselves from predatory lenders. Free tax preparation ensures that these individuals do not pay commercial preparers for such services, providing them immediate economic gain. SaveFirst also provides access to reputable financial institutions to bring these individuals into the mainstream economic community.

Pathways: Fiscally Fit
This mission of the Fiscally Fit Program is to equip homeless women and children with the tools needed to manage their finances responsibly, to become financially independent and to secure permanent housing. The Fiscally Fit curriculum addresses the lack of financial literacy and offers education about banking, credit, checking accounts, saving money, consumer rights, borrowing money and owning a home.

 Issue:  Job Readiness for Women

Pathways:  Employment Readiness Program 
Pathway’s offers a range of emergency, transitional and long-term services for homeless women and Children in the Birmingham Area. The mission of the Employment Readiness Program is to help homeless women maximize their incomes by obtaining and maintaining employment.  The objective is to conduct six 2-week sessions over a 12-month period to help homeless women get and keep a job. Each session includes classes on resume writing, interviewing, working with others and maintaining a job.

Impact Area: Health

Issue: Living Healthy

The Exceptional Foundation: Enrichment Activities
The Exceptional Foundation provides meaningful social and recreational activities on a regular basis for individuals who have mental and/or physical challenges. Junior League volunteers work with The Exceptional Foundation to provide social and recreational activities for persons with physical and/or mental disabilities. The programs enhance the social and recreational needs of exceptional people in the greater Birmingham area. Activities include arts and crafts, exercise, sports, cooking, gardening and dances.

Jefferson County Council on Aging: Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels provide hot, nutritious noontime meals to homebound senior citizens. The delivery of meals also provides a safety check on these elderly members of our society. Females make up 69% of the clientele.

Junior League of Birmingham: 5K for Kids
Alabama leads the US as the most obese and overweight state, with 18% of children either obese or overweight.  Continuing the JLB’s tradition of focusing on a problem and working to create awareness and solutions, the Junior League of Birmingham coordinates the Annual 5K for Kids which will be held in Spring 2014. Event activities include a 5K race, 1 mile fun run, family focused “Nobesity” expo and health screenings

Junior League of Birmingham: Kids in the Kitchen
The goal of the JLB’s Kids in the Kitchen initiative, which is supported by the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI), is to empower youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.  This initiative aims to make an impact in this area by educating the public at the grassroots level by providing lessons and demonstrations related to preparation of healthy meals and snacks that are both tasty and affordable. 

Junior League of Birmingham: Project Yummy (Mobile Kitchen for the Kids)

This is an expansion of the Kids In The Kitchen program, which empowers youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues. This initiative aims to make an impact in this area by educating the public at the grassroots level by providing lessons and demonstrations related to preparation of healthy meals and snacks that are both tasty and affordable. The JLB will conduct the education program in partnership with local community organizations, chefs and nutritionists.  

Norwood Resource Center: Norwood Learning Garden

Norwood Resource Center is establishing a new large community Garden on the grounds of Norwood Elementary School. The garden will be staffed by a Certified Master Gardener who has been educated on the proper means to establish and maintain a sustainable urban garden.  Volunteers assisted members of the Norwood Community in creating the garden and selling the produce at the Norwood Market on Saturdays. 

Oasis Women’s Counseling Center: Wise Women
Wise Women seeks to reduce stigma, increase awareness and provide treatment for mental health problems (particularly depression) for low income women ages 55 and older.  Wise Women combines education and outreach, community collaboration, support groups, individual counseling, and case management to better meet the mental health needs of low income elderly women in Jefferson County.

Vineyard Family Services: Backpack Buddies 
The Backpack Buddies Program provides children from food-insecure homes with weekend meals during the school year. Vineyard Family Services in collaboration with the Inverness Vineyard Church began implementation of a Shelby County Backpack Buddies Program. Shelby County Public School Administrators identify students who have family situations that require assistance and/or those who are currently living in shelters or other temporary housing. These students are secretly given bags of nutritious snacks in their backpacks for over the weekend. The bags contain single serve, shelf stable food items that are easily handled and opened by the child and easily transported to the child’s home or other living environment for their personal use over the weekend and holiday breaks.   

Issue: Access to Health Care and Support

Children’s Harbor: Prime Time and Weekends
The mission of Children’s Harbor is to strengthen families and children. This project addresses the need for weekend and special occasion events for children with cancer, sickle cell, kidney, heart or other life-threatening diseases, or other blood diseases. Prime Time and Weekends provides social, educational and recreational activities during weekends and on special occasions for all family members to participate in activities while the child is hospitalized.

Children’s of Alabama: Family Fun Times 
Children’s of Alabama serves thousands of children and families each year from across Alabama.  The goal of Family Fun Times is to help these children and families feel as much like “normal” kids as possible.  Patients with chronic conditions are often unable to take family trips to the Zoo or Alabama Adventure.  Likewise, their siblings often are required to attend every doctor’s appointment or test and cannot take part in family trips, either.  This program aims to give the families a brief respite from worrying and give patients an opportunity to say, “Because I’m special, we get to have fun today!” inside and outside the hospital.

UAB Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic: Every Moment Matters
The Hematology-Oncology Clinic is the largest Alabama provider of special services to children with cancer, leukemia, brain and spinal tumors, sickle cell disease and clotting disorders and other blood diseases. Some of the procedures children might encounter in Clinic 8 include chemotherapy and other drug infusions, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, bone marrow aspirates, and disease specific testing. Clinic visits for these children are frequent (often weekly) and generally take all day. The goal of Every Moment Matters is to optimize the time the children spend in the clinic by providing educational and recreational activities in the waiting room and infusion area. Many of the children who are receiving treatments have siblings who come with their family. Any patients or family members waiting in Clinic 8 are included in the activities.

 Issue: Maternal Health and Infant Well-Being

UAB Division of Women & Infants Services: Rock-A-Bye Babies
UAB’s nurseries provide care to a range of babies from the critically ill to healthy newborns. The majority of their parents lives out of town and cannot stay at UAB for extended periods. Volunteers will rock, feed, and photograph the newborns. Volunteers are trained to work with parents. They will provide support for mothers/families of the NICU babies and mothers who are hospitalized with high-risk pregnancies by stocking a cart (magazines, snacks, etc.) and circulating the unit to provide support and resources.

Impact Area: Safety & Crisis Intervention

Issue: Violence Against Woman and Children

Crisis Center:  Rape Response Advocate Program 
The Rape Response Advocate Program of the Crisis Center provides supportive counseling and advocacy to thousands of victims of sexual violence throughout their recovery. Through the Rape Response Advocate Program, individuals (including their family and/or friends) who have been affected by sexual violence receive immediate counseling under conditions of strict confidentiality. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) facility opened in 2002 and joins forensic medicine, victims advocacy, and law enforcement in a coordinated effort to ensure that sexual assault survivors receive comprehensive medical attention, evidence collection, and emotional support from the assault. Rape Response and SANE provides comprehensive quality crisis intervention services 24 hours a day at no charge.

YWCA: Children in Crisis
Children in Crisis is a hands-on placement, providing the opportunity to interact with children 5-17 years old who have witnessed violence. Volunteers lead a class using a curriculum designed for children who have witnessed violence in the home. Topics include, but are not limited to, self-esteem, anger management, choices and consequences, good and bad secrets and safety planning.

Issue:   Juvenile Crime

Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education:  Teen Court
Teen Court provides first time non-violent juvenile offenders of misdemeanor crimes (vandalism, shoplifting, etc.) an alternative to the normal juvenile court system. In Teen Court, these first time offenders present their case to a jury of their teenage peers who give them an appropriate sentence. This program can keep teen offenders from having a criminal record. The program has been proven to effectively deter teens from committing future offenses. Teen Court also introduces teenage volunteers to the justice system.

JUNIOR LEAGUE OF BIRMINGHAM PROJECTS

Junior League of Birmingham: Choral Group
The JLB Choral Group serves the community by singing and visiting with many of our community partners as well as nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, underprivileged schools, communities, and church shelters. They bring music into the lives of those in need. The Choral Group performs approximately 40 times a year, reaching thousands in the community.

Junior League of Birmingham: Community Roundtables
The Community Roundtables Committee will identify meetings/events in the community that address our target impact areas (education, financial stability, health and safety & crisis intervention) to attend on behalf of the Junior League of Birmingham. The committee will research the issues within these impact areas and become educated on available services within that area. The committee will also report back to the Junior League of Birmingham Community Council the needs of the Birmingham community. Additionally, four times a year, the Community Roundtables Committee will host roundtable events at the Junior League of Birmingham where agencies serving issues identified by the Committee are invited to attend, with a goal of improving dialogue and collaboration between the agencies on the designated issue within an impact area.

Junior League of Birmingham:  Corps of Volunteers
The purpose of the Corps of Volunteers is to provide a Junior League of Birmingham volunteer presence at a multitude of local one-time events, which, due to their short nature, do not qualify as Junior League of Birmingham placements. Some of these events are scheduled well in advance, while others are brought to our attention in a more immediate manner.  To request assistance, please email Jennifer Settle, Chair of Corps of Volunteers with information about your event.

Junior League of Birmingham: Leadership Institute
The Junior League of Birmingham Leadership Institute provides men and women with the fundamental skills needed for successful service in leadership roles in the nonprofit, corporate and civic arenas.  The curriculum covers six topics: Board Basic, Marketing, Leading Change, Finance, Risk Management and and Strategic Planning.