Serving our community is a year-round focus of volunteers with the Junior League of Jackson. Volunteers focus their efforts in several key impact areas, including early literacy, teen pregnancy prevention, nutrition, physical activity, and social and emotional wellness. All of our projects are aimed at increasing the high school graduation rate.
In keeping with the Junior League of Jackson’s focus on children and youth, Early Literacy volunteers work primarily with elementary school students, exposing them to language and print to help students read at grade level. Along with our community partners, we also provide support to teachers. This support ranges from tutoring students to awarding grants for classroom needs.
In partnership with Jackson Public Schools, volunteers with the Book Buddies project conduct one-on-one reading sessions with Oak Forest Elementary School third-grade students who began the year reading below grade level. The Barksdale Reading Institute trains our volunteers on its curriculum to help students improve fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Volunteers also coordinate a book drive to collect reading materials to give back to the school.
Junior League volunteers also serve JPS students through our Jackson Public Schools Mini-Grants project. In partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and JPS Partners in Education, volunteers evaluate grant proposals and award a total of more than $100,000 in grants to teachers in elementary, middle, and high school to enhance, enrich, and support the JPS educational curriculum.
Projects in the Health Area serve the most fundamental needs of children and their families, while encouraging families to make safe and healthy life choices. The projects range from teaching children and parents about nutrition to caring for critically ill premature babies.
Professionals at the McClean Fletcher Grief Center train League volunteers to assist in providing grief support to families who have experienced the death of a significant person in their lives. Volunteers work to encourage caregivers and children, ages 4-18 years, in positive ways to process their grief and grow through their experiences.
The League partners with the Mississippi Food Network to provide 150 Mid-Town Jackson school children who attend Brown and Johnson Elementary Schools with a backpack filled with nutritious food to take home each weekend over 34 weeks. Meals are also provided for these families during extended school breaks like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and Easter. This year the League is expanding involvement with MFN to include a school pantry program to increase access for families to fresh produce and staple foods.
Volunteers with Recreation, Enrichment and Assistance for Children’s Health (REACH) Night staff the playrooms on the third and fourth floors of the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. Their companionship enriches the lives of children receiving extensive medical care at UMC and supports their families, who are often unable to stay with them at all times. Through play, parties, games and activities, volunteers make the patients’ time in the hospital more comfortable.
Our dedicated Rockin’ Mamas volunteers rock and stimulate infants in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants at The University of Mississippi Medical Center. This project, now in its 36th year, continues to ensure that each child is provided the opportunity to be rocked, nurtured and given interactive attention seven days a week.
Time for Two Volunteers provide monthly parent workshops on college admission, financial aid, careers, and the realities of life as a working mother. Working with young women at the Methodist Children’s Home, in collaboration with the Education Services Foundation, volunteers teach participants about financial literacy, maintaining a sense of health and wellbeing as a mother, parenting in a safe and nurturing manner and sex education. In addition, volunteers plan monthly cultural outings for the young mothers and their children.
Junior League volunteers develop an innovative and engaging curriculum for Wholesome and Healthy that combats the myth that eating healthy is expensive, and celebrates cultural differences and works to prevent childhood obesity. Volunteers also teach low-income families and children to cook wholesome and affordable meals by providing hands-on cooking classes at Operation Shoestring.
Social and Emotional Wellness Projects support children and families in the Jackson community by developing problem solving skills and building self-esteem to empower good decision making. The projects range from improving the environment in which children live and are educated, to giving these children experiences of a lifetime. Through these projects, children are taught how to develop new interests and skills, how to stay healthy and how to achieve their goals.
Our volunteers operate a merit-based store at the CARES School operated by Mississippi Children’s Home Services. The store recognizes and rewards students, ages 6 to 18, who are working to achieve individual behavior and therapy goals. Volunteers recognize each student’s birthday and welcome new students with a care package and assist with MCHS’s Christmastide project and Family Fun Day.
Each month, Junior League volunteers with our Foster Children Enrichment project provide hands on activities that teach vital life skills for children at Youth Villages. While the children are learning about a variety of age-appropriate topics such as physical fitness, nutrition, hygiene and teenage pregnancy prevention, their foster parents are receiving support and training from the Youth Villages staff.
In partnership with the Methodist Children’s Home, volunteers mentor at-risk girls, ages 12 to 18, through GRACE – Girls Rule! Accepting, Caring, Empowering. The goals are to build the girls’ self-esteem, self-respect and values to promote healthy choices and to encourage steps toward independent living.
Helping Hands volunteers assist in filling the volunteer needs of a variety of community partners. Junior League volunteers assist with staffing events, help with day-to-day operational needs, and provide extra support for the partners’ existing volunteers and staff.
Volunteers with PALS (Preparing Adolescents for Living Successfully) Mentoring Project provide enrichment and life skills opportunities to the residents of the PALS Transitional Living Group Home throughout the school year to enhance the residents’ chances of transitioning successfully to independent living.
Throughout the year and across Jackson, Junior League volunteers are working to make a sustainable impact for a better community and a brighter future for Mississippi’s children.