The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI), one of the oldest, largest and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world, has matured and evolved since it was founded by social activism pioneer Mary Harriman in 1901. The organization’s mandate, however, has remained unwavering: to develop exceptionally qualified civic leaders who collaborate with community partners to identify a community’s most urgent and pressing needs and address them with meaningful and relevant programs and initiatives.
The Junior League of Tacoma (JLT) has been an active volunteer organization in greater Tacoma-Pierce County since 1921. As a part of AJLI, it was one of the first forty Junior Leagues out of the nearly 300 Leagues in the world to be founded.
JLT has sent hundreds of volunteers into the community nearly every year since its founding to work on important community projects. The League has always built partnerships and coalitions with community organizations and has had several focus areas throughout the years based on community needs and member interests. With its goal to improve the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers, Junior League has largely focused its efforts on the social issues of women, children and families – many of them underprivileged or underserved. From suffrage for women to foster homes for children, League volunteers have worked tirelessly in Tacoma since 1921.
The wide range of programs includes:
And most recently…youth experiencing homelessness and a renewed emphasis on developing the potential of women and training them to be effective civic and community leaders.
Junior League has always raised money to support its projects. Annual auctions, dinners, special events, the Second Closet thrift shop, a Decorator’s Showhouse with Martha Stewart, and many Follies (musical variety show) fundraisers have earned critical funds for Junior League.
The League held 10 Follies – the first one in 1926. Through the Follies and its other fundraisers, the Junior League of Tacoma made a net profit of over half a million dollars — which supported operations and was returned to the community in the form of the League’s community projects.
The Junior League path has been walked by many outstanding women in our community. Its ideals of community service by trained volunteers has remained constant.
From its very first project in the 1920s when the League built an endowment for maternity beds in local hospitals to providing those less fortunate with clothing from the Second Closet for 85 years — Junior League women have made a significant difference in improving the lives of women, children and families in greater Pierce County.