In 1975, the Huntsville, AL, organization known as the Grace Club Auxiliary officially became a Junior League when it joined the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI). The Junior League of Huntsville is the 228th member of the Association, which is currently comprised of 292 Leagues in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Mexico.
The Junior League of Huntsville shares with AJLI a powerful mission: We are an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Our purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The Junior League welcomes all women who value our Mission. We are committed to inclusive environments of diverse individuals, organizations and communities.
Since 1949, our organization has given more than $2 million to various agencies and initiatives in our community. In 2013-2014, members contributed approximately 47,600 hours in volunteer service, and we awarded over $114,940 in grants and assistance in support of community programs. Since its inception, the Junior League of Huntsville has been involved in a wide range of programs which address some of Madison County’s most critical issues, including early childhood education, literacy, childhood nutrition, hunger, healthcare access, and life skills development.
Over the years, the Junior League of Huntsville has launched numerous programs that continue to thrive in our community. In 1982, the Junior League joined The Arts Council to co-sponsor Panoply, Huntsville’s first full-scale arts festival. Panoply has evolved into one of Huntsville’s signature annual events, offering a weekend of visual and performing arts for families throughout our community, and—maintaining a tradition our Junior League started that very first year—inviting thousands of fifth-grade students from area schools to come for a private Panoply experience before the event opens to the public. In the early 1990s, our League committed $100,000 to the North Alabama Science Center and the Science Alliance, an annual event with hands-on science exhibits to educate students and the community at large. Our commitment of funds and volunteers to this program eventually helped build what is now Sci-Quest Museum. Toward the end of that decade, the Junior League of Huntsville answered the call to plan, fund, and build a shelter for runaway teens in Madison County, a multi-year project lasting until 2004. That shelter now houses one of our longtime partners, Harris Home for Children. In the Fall of 2013, we donated $50,000 to Harris Home for Children’s youth activity center. This donation marked the JLH’s first disbursement from the Grace Fund, an Endowment realized from the sale of the JLH’s Teen Shelter property.
One of the hallmarks of our success as a Junior League is the large number of meaningful partnerships we have fostered with other agencies and organizations in this community, including Girls Inc., the YMCA, the Huntsville–Madison County Public Library, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, and many more.
In addition to launching programs now under the umbrella of different organizations, the Junior League of Huntsville continues to develop programs that we still call our own. Our successful Apple Annie fundraiser, now more than 40 years old, has grown into a community-service initiative as well, with a nutrition-education component that reaches over 30,000 students in area schools in Huntsville City, Madison City, and Madison County. In 2006, the Provisional Class of the Junior League of Huntsville created The Butterfly Project, which rewards deserving high school girls across Huntsville and Madison County not only by outfitting them for their prom but, more importantly, by providing thousands of dollars in scholarship money toward their college careers. Since their debut at the first Panoply in 1982, the JLH Rainbow Rhythm Band has kept up its tradition of musical outreach by performing in schools, at retirement homes, and for other groups that need a little sunshine and song. In 2013-2014, we sunset the Huntsville Heritage cookbook, another important signature project of our organization.
With over 700 educated and professional women rising to the needs of our county, our future is unknown, but clear, because we share one mission with over 155,000 women around the globe who are committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. We are thought leaders, visionaries, and community partners!