Community Projects 2021 – 2022
For more than 99 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 55,000 hours of direct community service in Birmingham each year. The JLB’s 41 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
Birmingham Talks – LENA Start (Parent Education Groups)
Birmingham Talks is a free, citywide program that works with volunteers, babies and caregivers to build lifelong literacy through conversation. Volunteers help implement research-based curriculum and technology to increase the number of words children hear before they turn four. The “LENA device” counts verbal interactions between children and adults.
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.
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.
*McWane Science Center: Kitchen Science Community Program
The McWane Science Center works to share science and wonder with children and families throughout the community. Through the Kitchen Service Community Program, Members help teach children and families simple, cost-effective science projects that can be completed at home using basic household materials and supplies with a desire to foster meaningful and impactful interactions between parent/caregiver and the children.
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.
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.
The mission of the YouthServe Community Service Project is to engage youth in voluntarism and to create and innovative, sustainable culture of community building and civic engagement to promote change.
|Impact Area: Economic Security & Financial Stability
Foundry Ministries: Hope Inspired Ministries
The mission of Hope Inspired Ministries 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.
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 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.
*Collat Jewish Family Services (CJFS): Senior Grocery Delivery Initiative
The mission of the Collat Jewish Family Services (CJFS) is to enhance the quality of life and strengthen independence for individuals and families, with a primary focus on older adults. Through the Senior Grocery Delivery Initiative, the CJFS works to improve food security (a determinant of health) for low-income older adults, aged 60+ who meet income qualifications.
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. Members 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. These phone calls help senior citizens to feel cared for and connected to other people.
Founders Place at St. Luke’s
Founder’s Place enhances the quality of life for adults with memory loss and provides respite and support for caregivers.
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, allows 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 is typically held in the spring.
Junior League of Birmingham: Second Servings Program
Second Servings is a food rescue project developed by the Junior League of Birmingham 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 conducts this program in partnership with local area restaurants and caterers. Currently, we have partnered with Project Hope, a day shelter for homeless teens, and Youth Towers, an agency that helps prevent homelessness in young adults.
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
Mothers’ Milk Bank of Alabama serves as a center for collecting, pasteurizing and distributing breast milk to sick and pre-term infants and provides training and education for healthcare 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 strives to meet the social and recreational needs of mentally challenged individuals in the greater Birmingham area in order to enhance their lives through various activities such as Dances, Arts & Crafts, Youth Foundation and After School Activities.
UAB Visual and Performing Arts: 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
Vineyard Family Services (VFS) is a faith-based organization working to decrease the crushing impact of hunger in our community. Backpack Buddies is a national program started by a teacher who noticed students leaving school on Friday and not eating again until they returned on Monday. VFS, in collaboration with the Inverness Vineyard Church, started the Shelby County Backpack Buddies program. VFS works with the Shelby County Public School System to feed children who are in need of further help. Elementary school aged children who have been pinpointed by school administrators as being in need are discretely given bags of nutritious snacks in their backpacks for 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 work within four focus areas: Community Awareness, Human Trafficking Free Zone Trainings, Hospitality Industry Human Trafficking Trainings, and Communications/Meetings with Municipalities & Multi-Disciplinary Agencies.
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 Victoria Smith, 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 2020-2021