TRAINING VOLUNTEER LEADERS
by Mary Baker
In my seven years as an Active, I’ve been asked several times, by those not in-the-know, “What exactly does the Junior League do?” I usually laugh, and I tell them, “We train volunteer leaders.” Sometimes I’m accused of lawyer-ese with this response, but it’s true.
Stop and think about it: what is the work product of The Junior League of Midland, Inc.? It’s not a race, a spreadsheet, a glitzy fundraiser, or a social connection, though those are all integral component parts. Rather, the end product of our organization is each and every single one of us. We each enter the organization as blank slates, and we leave with a wealth of information about our community and its needs. We are then called to use that information to better those around us. Most importantly, along the way, we learn the unwritten patterns and professional (and sometimes social) polish that can make us more effective in our roles of service.
Many of us will be asked to serve on community boards and other committees around Midland as time passes. With “The Junior League of Midland, Inc.” on our resume, we are very privileged to have certain positive assumptions about our training and volunteerism pedigree associated with our names. Another nonprofit director recently told me, “I enjoy having Junior League ladies on my board; they help the rest of the members learn how to run the meeting.”
That point should fill us all with pride, but along with that pride comes responsibility. Because each of us, Active, Sustainer, or Provisional, is the “work product” of our League, we embody the brand image of our organization. The polish and professionalism exhibited by our Members when we interact with the broader community is the highest compliment we can give this organization.
So, the next time you’re sitting in a committee meeting wondering, “Why do we do things this way?” or “Why does my chair care if I have good spelling or grammar usage?” take a moment and reflect on this. Each woman in this organization is giving of her time to train you, and she’s simultaneously being trained by others, too. We are none of us perfect. We polish each other, and sometimes that process of polishing is time-consuming or personally frustrating. We help each other grow. We are constantly teaching each other how to mind the details, hopefully in a friendly and understanding manner. Everything from correct spelling to the proper address on an envelope reflects on our organization and its training when a Member goes out into the public forum. But, by the end of the process, boy do we shine, both individually and collectively, as volunteer leaders!
Mary Baker is in her seventh year as an Active member of The Junior League of Midland, Inc. She is currently assisting with the Shotguns and Stilettos Silent Auction, as well as serving on the Nominating Committee. She is absolutely smitten with her husband, Joe, and her two kids, Alex (7) and Amelia (3 going on 13). Mary is a partner at the Kelly Hart law firm, as well as 2017 President-Elect of the United Way of Midland.