Community Projects 2019 – 2020
For more than 97 years, the Junior League of Birmingham has been a positive force for change in Jefferson County. The JLB’s 2,200 trained volunteers collectively donate more than 55,000 hours of direct community service in Birmingham each year. The JLB’s 42 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 & Culture
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.
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.
* Birmingham Education Foundation: Work Local
The Birmingham Education Foundation exists to ensure more students are graduating from Birmingham City Schools ready for college, career, and life. The Work Local curriculum is a multi-year curriculum offered to students in Birmingham City Schools as part of the Educate Local curriculum to prepare students for success in school as well as in their future careers. Participating students in grades 7-12 are offered in school sessions in preparation for a day-long professional conference, where they practice professional skills with volunteers from local businesses, corporations, and civic groups. The in-school sessions are offered in the week(s) before the conferences, with scores, results, and follow up taking place in the days and weeks immediately following. JLB volunteers visit students at their schools, during the school day, and deliver a pre-prepared curriculum (designed by Birmingham Education Foundation staff) that teaches students about a specific professional skill.
Cornerstone Schools of Alabama: Taking Steps for Success
The primary objective of the Taking Steps for Success program is to increase the percentage of Cornerstone graduates prepared for high school and college success. Cornerstone provides a world-class educational alternative in a nurturing learning environment to children growing up in inner city Birmingham. These students grow up in communities dominated by poverty and encounter many barriers to achieving academic success and completing their education. Through this program, Junior League of Birmingham volunteers will serve as trusted advisors for high school students as they prepare for high school graduation, the college application process, and success after high school. They will work alongside school staff to plan and facilitate activities while sharing their own experiences as high school and college graduates, in offering assistance to students as they navigate college admission/financial aid, in exposing students to possibilities for their future careers, and in providing hands-on opportunities for students to learn “success skills,” including communication, goal-setting, and problem-solving skills.
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.
* Girl Scouts of North-Central AL: Girl Scouts Super Troup
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) is a primary way to see girls discover, connect, and take action. As a result of GSLE, girls develop invaluable skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, conflict management, healthy relationship development, character development, daily living, and empathy. They discover the world around them by collaborating with mentors in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). They connect by building positive relationships through programs like Power Up (national antibullying curriculum). By participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls are able to develop financial literacy skills through goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. Finally, girls take action by attending council-provided leadership training and developing a community service project to earn their Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. JLB volunteers lead one K- 5 Girl Scouts Troop running meetings & planning/executing activities.
Junior League of Birmingham: Positive Behavior Incentive Program
The JLB 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 at Bush K-8 Elementary 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.
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.
The Literacy Council: ESOL Community Classes
In 1991, the Junior League of Birmingham, the United Way of Central Alabama, and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce identified a need to support those battling adult illiteracy in Central Alabama. Together, they formed The Literacy Council (TLC). The Literacy Council is addressing illiteracy in Central Alabama by teaching adults to read, providing basic English skills to speakers of other languages, and providing GED preparation classes. The Literacy Council English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) direct service programs were launched in 2013. Junior League of Birmingham volunteers will provide tutoring for learners whose primary language is not English.
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.
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.
|Impact Area: Economic Security & Financial Stability
* East Lake Initiative: Thrive Together Jefferson County
East Lake Initiative’s mission is to strategically partner to provide holistic community development within the greater East Lake Area, focusing on housing, education, health and nutrition, and economic development. The goal of the Hub is to help in restoring hope to low-wealth women and their families living in Birmingham by offering sustainable solutions in the areas of educating their children, safe and affordable housing, career training, health services and nutrition. The Hub equips women and their families in a way that allows each family to transition from a state of dependency into a life of self-sufficiency. JLB volunteers participate in special activities with the class and operate the Merchant Market Food Pantry and assist clients as they shop.
* Foundry Ministries: FAIR Independence
The mission of FAIR Independence is to empower women who are recovering from addiction to reach and sustain financial independence. Financial literacy and interview skills to secure gainful employment are at the heart of the project, and these skills add incredible value to the employment readiness training the women receive in the Recovery Program. JLB volunteers teach a group of 10-12 women basic financial literacy and job interviewing skills. The financial literacy topics covered include how to create a budget, managing income and outgo with a checking account, needs vs. wants, bank vs. predatory lenders, and understanding your credit score. The job interviewing class covers how to prepare for an interview, dress for success, answer tough questions, and how to follow up after the interview. One-on-one financial mentorship and conducting mock interviews are also part of the volunteer responsibilities.
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.
|Impact Area: Health & Wellness
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.
Community Food Bank of Central Alabama: 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.
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.
* Crisis Center: Senior Talk
The mission of the Senior Talk Line is to provide supportive connection through weekly telephone calls to seniors and caregivers of seniors with the goal of alleviating negative impacts associated with social isolation and loneliness. Loneliness can be very detrimental to one’s sense of wellbeing, as connection is a basic human need. Lack of meaningful connection triggers the response as hunger, thirst, and physical pain. Senior citizens are often at a greater risk for isolation due to losing significant people in their lives, health-related issues, etc. The phone calls help senior citizens to feel cared for and connected to other people. JLB volunteers call seniors and the caregivers of seniors to “visit” with them over the phone to provide social contact and support.
Greater Birmingham Chapter of AMBUCS: AmTryke
AMBUCS Birmingham is dedicated to creating mobility and independence for children with disabilities through the use of AmTrykes specialize bicycles. For those with a physical disability, it is extremely difficult to get the recommended amount of exercise needed to maintain health. AmTrykes bicycles are specially designed and sized to meet the unique needs of each child, which helps the child increase physical fitness time, enhance cognitive function, and decrease depression. Volunteers serve as AmTryke liaisons and have direct contact with the family receiving the AmTryke and plan experiences to provide to the child receiving the bike.
Junior League of Birmingham: Aging Community Program
The goal of program is 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.). JLB volunteers create entertainment activities to be performed with the participants. Programs include enriching the lives of adults with memory loss through fellowship and engaging activities, assistance in writing notes to help them maintain their connection to the community, reading to those who find it difficult to read themselves, and providing activities for to stimulate their cognitive skills. Volunteers plan, coordinate, and provide a project for the senior population at the organization.
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.
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.
Junior League of Birmingham: Essentials Pantry
The mission of the JLB Essentials Pantry is to serve as a resource for unmet daily essentials. The Essentials Pantry provides basic toiletry items as well school uniforms and other clothing to Bush K-8 Elementary School, Tuggle Elementary School, and Family Court. Junior League of Birmingham volunteers work with school administrators and Family Court representatives to determine the list of items needed and stocks the Essentials Pantry, based on those needs.
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.
Junior League of Birmingham: Second Servings Program
The JLB Second Servings program is a 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.
Mothers’ Milk Bank of Alabama: Nourish Alabama Babies
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.
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.
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.
UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center: Institute for Art in Medicine
UAB’s Alys Stephens Center (ASC) believes at its core that all members of our community should have access to the arts. In 2012, the ASC joined a pilot program in partnership with UAB, Children’s Hospitals and 7 assisted living facilities that became the Institute for Arts in Medicine (AIM). Junior League of Birmingham volunteers collaborate with professional artists-in-residence, interacting with patients, family members and hospital staff in four different units of UAB’s hospital to create healing experiences for patients. Volunteers work with the artists to prepare and gather supplies for the program, welcome the participants and interact with the patients, families and staff during their activities.
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.
|Impact Area: Safety & Crisis
Children’s Policy Council: Family Reunification Program
The Family Reunification Program provides a safe, comforting space for children and non-custodial parents to gather while reestablishing and developing healthy relationships. This program is designed to ensure a safe and natural setting for children and non-custodial parents to create a new and secure bond with one another under the supervision of a therapeutic visitation coach, with the goal of reunification for the family. Junior League of Birmingham assist with visitation activities as requested by the caseworker and plans activities for the children while their parents are participating in the educational component of the program. Volunteers help set-up and organize visit rooms and play areas before and between visit sessions.
Crisis Center, Inc.: 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.
Junior League of Birmingham: Anti-Human Trafficking Program
The JLB Anti-Human Trafficking Program is tasked with addressing ways to prevent and provide education around the critical issue of human trafficking in our community. Currently listed as the second-largest, fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, human trafficking cases have been reported in every state in the United States, including Alabama. It is a $13 billion per year business in the United States alone, and 75% of the victims are being trafficked as sex slaves (as opposed to general labor). Approximately 80% of human trafficking victims are female, with the average age of entry into human trafficking as a victim being in the early teen years. A major human trafficking corridor (I-20) runs through the Birmingham metro area. Junior League of Birmingham volunteers will work within three focus areas: Community Awareness, Alabama State Wide Truck Stop Campaign, and Education.
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.
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.
* Indicates a new project for 2019-2020