If you’ve ever visited the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, eaten a serving of Spinach Madeleine, or shopped at Hollydays, you’ve witnessed the work of the Junior League of Baton Rouge. The nonprofit women’s group, founded in 1932, has helped to shape the course of the Capital City’s growth through its fundraising efforts and large-scale volunteer projects.
“We see issues in our community, and we band together as women making a difference and bettering our community,” JLBR President Leslie Berg told inRegister in September. “We build connections among like-minded women who strive to be catalysts of change.”
With 1,798 members, JLBR is one of the 10 largest groups in the Association of Junior Leagues International. That kind of manpower, along with intensive fundraising efforts that include the annual Hollydays market and sales of the popular River Road Recipes cookbook series, allows the organization to make an immediate impact in any area it touches. Community projects are centered around themes of health, education and cultural development. Some of the league’s current projects involve promoting breast health awareness, hosting events for caregivers of dementia patients, and providing backpacks full of food for children from low-income families to eat during weekends and holiday breaks from school. The organization also offers grants to local nonprofits with specific short-term monetary needs through its Community Assistance Fund; since 1980, total funds distributed through this program exceed $770,000.
Many high-profile institutions were founded either by the Junior League or with its considerable help. The league launched the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation in 1960, LASM in 1964, and Volunteer Baton Rouge in 1967. Volunteers in Public Schools began in 1981 as a collaboration among JLBR and two other entities. And when the Knock Knock Children’s Museum opens in 2016, it will do so with JLBR as a founding member.
“The Junior League of Baton Rouge provides the philanthropic support of hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless volunteer hours to the Baton Rouge community year after year,” one voter commented. “The many projects that this organization has undertaken have made Baton Rouge a better place to live.”