Community Projects

Community Projects 2017 – 2018

For more than 95 years, the Junior League of Birmingham has been a positive force for change in Jefferson County. The JLB’s 2,300 trained volunteers collectively donate more than 50,000 hours of direct community service in Birmingham each year. The JLB’s 36 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.  The parent-child workshop is the Family Place Library’s signature five week program focusing on early intervention and healthy child development.

Preschool Partners: Parents & Children’s Education Program
Preschool Partners seeks to equip families of 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 a sense of the value of education. On Mondays parents attend classes and the children participate in educational and enrichment activities.

Issue: Success in School

Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Can You Dig It?
Children understand and learn best, not only by listening, but also by seeing and doing.  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. These field trips are free to the schools and correlate with school curriculum, standardized achievement tests, and the Alabama Course of Study.

Birmingham Children’s Theatre: From Page to Stage – Readers’ Theatre
From Page to Stage expands access to the arts, while promoting and improving literacy and education for children ages three through twelve across the Birmingham community. The arts-based literature program partners with Birmingham public libraries and schools to feature selected literary works. Birmingham Children’s Theatre artists, actors and Junior League of Birmingham volunteers lead youth workshops to support each work.

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.

SAIL – Summer Adventures in Learning
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.

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.

Junior League of Birmingham: Essentials Pantry and Positive Behavior Incentive Program
The mission of the JLB Essentials Pantry is to serve as a resource for unmet daily essentials. The Essentials Pantry will provide basic toiletry items as well school uniforms and other clothing. The Positive Behavior Incentive Program is a school-wide approach to discipline that is intended to focus disciplinary efforts toward positive reinforcement of desired student behaviors. Through positive behaviors, students will have an opportunity to earn Bush Bucks. The JLB will provide the prizes for the Bush Bucks as well as a pizza party for monthly recognition recipients. Additionally, the JLB will send members as speakers for the positive behavior assemblies.

Neighborhood Academy: Summer Learning, Learning through Lacrosse
Neighborhood Academy was founded in order to give structured and focused academic help to younger students in the Birmingham City School system.  The mission of Neighborhood Academy is to develop middle school aged boys and girls being raised in underserved neighborhoods in Birmingham into model citizens.  The program shows its students that a strong academic background is a requirement needed, not only to be able to play lacrosse in high school and college, but also to succeed in life.

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 who 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 in the classroom.

Issue: Woman and Children’s Literacy

Better Basics:  Birmingham Reads
Birmingham Reads Day is a literacy program for the Birmingham City Schools in which volunteers from the community read in each classroom, Pre-K through 5th grade. A new copy of the book is distributed for each student in the class to keep. The JLB works with Birmingham Reads/Better Basics throughout the year to coordinate book drives with local businesses in the Birmingham area.

Junior League of Birmingham/Better Basics: 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. The goal of the program is to enhance school readiness for children in our community.

Impact Area: Financial Stability

Issue: Personal Finance Skills Training for Woman

Impact Alabama: SaveFirst
SaveFirst trains college and graduate students and other community members to offer free, high-quality tax preparation services to low-income families, especially to those eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit refund. Free tax preparation yields immediate economic relief when these individuals do not pay commercial preparers for such services. SaveFirst also provides access to reputable tax preparers who ensure federal and state tax law compliance for all families served. Many clients are women with children, and SaveFirst strives to ensure that these families can increase their financial well-being and understanding of the tax preparation process.

Issue: Job Readiness for Women

Pathways:  Invest in You 
Pathway’s offers a range of emergency, transitional and long-term services for homeless women and Children in the Birmingham Area. The mission of Invest in You is to help homeless women maximize their personal potential whether they are currently seeking employment or not. Volunteers are responsible for teaching a four-day curriculum that covers a wide array of topics that include conflict resolution, job readiness, financial wellness, and self-image.

Impact Area: Health

Issue: Living Healthy for Women and Children

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 participants. Activities include arts and crafts, exercise, sports, cooking, gardening and dances.

Community Partnership of Alabama: Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels provides hot, nutritious meals to homebound senior citizens. Volunteers who deliver meals provide a social contact and a safety check for these senior citizens. Women make up a majority of the clientele.

Junior League of Birmingham: Project FIT 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 Project FIT Kids fitness event, which will be held in Spring 2018. Event activities include a family focused fitness event, free 5k run, and healthy treats.

Junior League of Birmingham: Project Yummy
The goal of the JLB’s Project Yummy 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.

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.

Junior League of Birmingham: Intergenerational/Aging Pilot Program
The goal of this Pilot Program is to research and develop meaningful opportunities in which the JLB can provide volunteers and create partnerships to enhance the lives of the aging population (e.g., Music Therapy Programs, Reading Programs, Arts/Crafts Programs, etc.).

NorthStar Youth Ministries: Soccer Club U6 Program
The mission of the U6 (under six years of age) Program within NorthStar Soccer Club is to promote a healthy and active lifestyle in urban youth by exposing them to organized sports at an early age.  Volunteers help implement soccer lesson plans (provided) during practice, help manage the team, and coach during games.

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.

Issue: Access to Health Care and Support for Women and Children

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.

FOCUS On Recovery: Art as Therapy for Children of Recovery Addicts
FOCUS Serves women in early recovery by providing a safe haven through residence and life skills training. Most of the program participants are professional women who have lost the means of supporting themselves due to alcohol or drug abuse.  Statistics show that 84% of the women who have completed the recommended stay and requirements of the FOCUS program are still clean and sober.

Junior League of Birmingham: Second Servings Pilot Program
Second Servings is a new Pilot Program food rescue project developed by the Junior League of Birmingham and is designed to recover prepared food and deliver it to those in need.  This initiative aims to reduce food waste and serve those who are food insecure. The JLB will conduct this program in partnership with local area restaurants and caterers. Currently, we have partnered with Project Hope, a day shelter for homeless teens, to provide food for its at-risk youth.

Magic Moments: Magic Moments Fulfillment 
Magic Moments seeks to improve the lives of children in Alabama, ages 4 to 18, struggling with chronic life threatening diseases by creating once in a lifetime “magic moments.” Some of the magic moments granted in the past have included customized playground equipment, adaptive bikes and medical gliders, even a custom fishing pond. A puppy has provided a much-needed friend to a child who was unable to play with his peers. Many of these requests are sometimes shocking in their simplicity and innocence.  Travel and Disney World vacations are the most common requests.

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

Community Food Bank of Central Alabama: Mothers’ Milk Bank of Alabama
The mission of the MMBAL is to serve as a center for collecting, pasteurizing and distributing breast milk to the sick and pre-term infants and to provide training and education for health care providers and community members about the importance of breast milk for neonates and infants, especially in low-income and minority populations.

Junior League of Birmingham: Diaper Bank
The mission of the JLB Diaper Bank is to collect and distribute diapers to vetted community agencies that will, in turn, distribute them to families in need of diapers, especially in low-income and minority populations.  The Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, located in West Homewood, has graciously agreed to allow the JLB to use a section of their warehouse for storage of the diapers for the Diaper Bank.

Impact Area: Safety & Crisis Intervention

Issue: Violence Against Woman and Children

Crisis Center:  Rape Response Advocate Program
Rape Response provides supportive counseling and advocacy to victims of sexual violence throughout their recovery. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) facility joins forensic medicine, victims’ advocacy, and law enforcement in a coordinated effort to ensure sexual assault survivors receive comprehensive medical attention, evidence collection, and emotional support after the assault. Volunteers act as on-call advocates who are available to accompany survivors of sexual assault during the forensic examination at the SANE facility or the hospital.

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 domestic violence. Volunteers lead a class using a curriculum that includes topics such as 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: Human Trafficking Steering Committee
The JLB Human Trafficking Pilot is tasked with identifying the best ways for the JLB to address the critical issue of human trafficking in our community.

Issue: Emergency and Disaster Relief

Community Food Bank: Mobile Food Pantry
One of the most valued new approaches toward fighting hunger is a program called Mobile Food Pantries (MFP). MFP are particularly effective in areas where there is inadequate “hunger infrastructure,” including lack of food pantries or pantries that are very limited in hours or refrigerated storage capacity. The purpose of this project is to execute 12 monthly Mobile Food Distribution events over the course of the project year at Tarrant Elementary School in Jefferson County.

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 Robin Seale, Chair of Corps of Volunteers, with information about your event.

 

OTHER JUNIOR LEAGUE OF BIRMINGHAM PROJECTS

Junior League of Birmingham: Community Roundtables
The Community Roundtables Committee will host roundtable events at the Junior League of Birmingham. 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: Leadership Institute
The Junior League of Birmingham Leadership Institute provides participants with the fundamental skills needed for successful service in leadership roles in the nonprofit, corporate and civic arenas.