For over 97 years, members of the Junior League of Indianapolis (JLI) have rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to build a better community.
We strive to be a catalyst for lasting change in the lives of children and their families. We know we can’t accomplish this goal alone, and that’s why we support and partner with other community organizations doing good work in central Indiana.
Since 2000, JLI has given more than $2 million in grants to organizations around the Indianapolis area that impact women and children and specifically prepare students for academic success. Just this past December, we gave $200,000 to 10 worthy nonprofit organizations including Indy Women in Tech, The Villages of Indiana, Horizon’s at St. Richards, Hope Academy, Teachers’ Treasures, Paramount Schools of Excellence, Exodus Refugee, the Oaks Academy and the Patachou Foundation.
There are nearly 60,000 nonprofit organizations in Indiana, with 10,800 of them right here in Indianapolis, according to the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Nearly 35 percent of Hoosiers volunteer 166.5 million hours of service each year, ranking us 20th among all states in the U.S. Yet all of these nonprofits vie for the same volunteers to give us their time, talent and treasure.
Junior League of Indianapolis has found success in helping nonprofits across the city with all three of those necessities. Our support doesn’t end with a check. Since our inception nearly 100 years ago, we have served as a premier training organization for volunteers and civic leaders. We recruit women who want to make a difference, who want to be part of a bigger impact and who are looking for personal development opportunities. We then train women to be strategic, effective and thoughtful volunteers and leaders. To organizations and causes big or small, we commit our time and expertise. Our trained members jump in to offer hands-on support all over the city. In fact, JLI members contribute more than 16,000 hours of community service each year.
Our single-day service events, called Community Impact Projects, provide nearly 300 active JLI members with hands-on volunteer experience. In addition to these short-term projects, we also partner with nonprofits for year-long or multi-year commitments to provide funding and trained volunteer support in an effort to build capacity and strengthen programming.
During our annual “Around the Community” event throughout the month of April, we will spend over 1,500 hours volunteering at a variety of nonprofits. Our all-female membership will clean, prepare meals, paint, prep ISTEP snack packs, facilitate learning activities, landscape and much more, in service to those in our community.
Volunteering exposes our members to community issues and empowers them to make a positive change. Many of our members go on to serve as leaders and on boards with other nonprofits, thus making Junior League a catalyst in changing lives in our community. We believe we have an obligation to assist community organizations providing critical services to those in need, and we encourage others to follow the JLI example and give back.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” The JLI has made it our mission to improve our community through the effective action and leadership of trained women volunteers. During National Volunteer Month in April, I ask you, what are you doing for others?
Stacy Payne Miller is president of the Junior League of Indianapolis.