Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Guest Blog: 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.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Annual Review

By: Ellen Wheeler, Community Vice President     


            The theme for the 2015-2016 league year was “Education is the Key to the Future.” The women of The Junior League of Midland, Inc. were innovative, motivated and dedicated to making our League better and to building a better Midland.  They educated themselves and were willing and eager to educate others through their service! Our nine community projects were fulfilled with great passion and success.

Face The Race:  Face the Race is an incredible program that educates and motivates young girls. This program gives participants a group to belong to, allows them to discover their potential, encourages a positive sense of empowerment, and creates healthy habits that last a lifetime.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 1,227.5
       The 27 member Face the Race committee partnered with all four of Midland Independent School District’s junior highs.
       Members mentored 137  7th and 8th grade girls.
       Participants were educated on the following topics: healthy eating, relationships, our bodies, etiquette, career options, personality differences, cyber safety, self acceptance. The last 30 minutes of each session was spent training for the 5 K race using the Couch to 5K program.
       Each participant who completed the program was rewarded with a new pair of running shoes, athletic shorts, athletic tights, socks, gloves, a Face the Race running shirt, ear warmers, long sleeved Face the Race shirt, ear buds, sunglasses, drawstring bag, and water bottle.
       The race took place on November 7th at 9 a.m. at the Scharbauer Sports Complex.
       The theme was “Be-YOU-tiful 5K” where glitter, bold colors, and tutus were encouraged!
       426 runners participated in the race
       The overall male and female finishers were awarded with JayBird Bluebuds while the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place male and female finishers in each age category received medals.
       All of the Face the Race participants were also awarded a medal for completing the 5K

HopeWorks:  This was the third year to partner with Rays of Hope, a local children’s grief counseling center, to facilitate two separate, a fall and spring, ten week creative arts, hope inspired, peer support group for children ages four to18 that have experienced death. The JLM volunteers for HopeWorks completed training and worked alongside Rays of Hope Volunteers to successfully create a supportive and compassionate environment for grieving children and their families.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 460
       9 active members participated as facilitators
       41 children went through the HopeWorks program
       30 completed the program (73%)
       Each semester’s program ends the night of the tenth HopeWorks session with everyone receiving a HopeWorks t-shirt and participating in a big Celebration of Hope!
       The involvement of The Junior League of Midland in the HopeWorks program has been very impactful on our children and families and on the program in general. We are very grateful!” Kelsee Jones, Rays of Hope Director.
Journey Summer Camp: Another partnership with Rays of Hope and the JLM that began in 2013 had a great summer planning, operating and helping to facilitate a one-week summer camp for children ages four to 18 who have experienced death, divorce, separation, or any other painful transitions. This program utilizes and teaches per-support to allow children to grieve in their own way.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 637
       10 active members participated as facilitators
       49 children participated in the summer camp
       “We have gained many amazing volunteers and advocates and have been able to serve more children through Journey Camp than years past due to this partnership.”
KidsFirst: Committee members supervise visitations between non-custodial parents and children enrolled in the Centers for Children and Family Kids First program.  Members provided supervision to ensure that the children are safe and happy during their visits.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 336
       Over 150+ visitations completed
       7 active members participated and acted as supervisors
       4 provisional members participated in the Spring semester.
       Supervised visits occurred twice a month from late August 2015 through May 2016.
       Visits were two hours each and occurred every Thursday and the first, third and fifth Saturdays of the month.
      The committee also planned Christmas and Easter parties for the non-custodial parents and children that took place during the schedule visitation time.
       The committee also planned and executed the Spring Carnival and Non-Profit Fair at Sam Houston Elementary School in early March.
     10 non-profit organizations participated to offer their services to attendees; over 100 people and 31 families were in attendance at the Carnival.
       “Our kids find a familiar face when their volunteer comes and some of the kids even ask for a volunteer by name.  We are so happy to collaborate with JLM to reach the goals in our program.”— Kelly Dirden, Kids First Director

Project Research & Development: The Project Research and Development Committee (PR&D) is responsible for creating community placements and partnerships that work toward fulfilling our mission: “Keeping Kids in School; Every age, every stage.”  PR&D measures the effectiveness of our placements by evaluations submitted from our partners and placement chairman. The Junior League of Midland, Inc. approved twelve community partnerships for PR&D to collect evaluations on. The following were evaluated by PR&D:
       Journey Summer Camp and HopeWorks programs are held at Rays of Hope.
       Face the Race at all four junior high school locations: Abell, Alamo, Goddard, and San Jacinto.
       Suits with Skills programs held at Buckner and Safe Place.
       Reading Olympics partnering with The Boys and Girls Club of Midland.
       KidsFirst is in partnership with The Centers for Children & Families.
       Scholarship Clearinghouse Committee.
       Volunteers in Midland.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 370
Reading Olympics: Partnering with The Boys and Girls Club of Midland, Members participate in an amazing program that helps to create a love of reading one book at a time for children Kindergarten through 6th grade. Participants not only strengthen their reading comprehension skills but also tackle every day issues through discussion. The program shows the participants that reading is fun and always an adventure!
       Total Volunteer Hours: 891.5
       13 active members volunteered
       Each session, two to four provisional members assisted in the kindergarten- third grade group, fourth- sixth grade group, and snacks.
       113 students participated
       Picture books were read with the kindergartners- third grade group, and a chapter book with fourth- sixth grade group.
      Kindergarten through third grade groups were divided into five teams, each representing one of the colors of the Olympic rings. The teams were comprised of students in kindergarten-first grades and second-third grades to better tailor journal entries and craft activities to their skills and abilities.
       The young groups learned how special their names are with Chrysanthemum, learned to be brave and fight like Ninjas, to use every crayon in their box in The Day the Crayons Quit, and that for Halloween, you could go trick or treating for books instead of candy.
     Fourth through sixth grade group averaged about 18 children at each session, 29 attended the Halloween session.  They did not engage in the stereotypical disagreements, rather they “fought” over who was going to read aloud to the group first!  Many would share how they would leave Thursday night group and find themselves continuing to read the book throughout the weekend. 
       The older groups read chapter books such as Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and How to Eat Fried Worms.
Scholarship Clearinghouse: Members assisted college-bound students in finding and applying for college scholarships. JLM maintains a comprehensive and easy to use database of scholarships to assist students living in West Texas. Committee members simplify the overwhelming application process by allowing each student to search for scholarships based on their specific needs, achievements and future plans.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 574
       7 active members worked as mentors.
       3 Provisionals also helped in the Spring.
       Applicants access workshops focusing on writing skills, college preparedness, and FAFSA/Scholarship/Grant procedures.
       Scholarship Clearinghouse mentors attended Rebel Muster, Dawg Days, LHS open house, College Forum Night at Midland College.
       A total of $1,900 in scholarships were awarded to 4 students; one student received $700, two received $500 and one received $200.
Suits With Skills, Buckner: Partnering with Buckner Children and Family Services, committee members lead this amazing 12 week program that provides women with the skills necessary to enter the work force.  With the help of the Junior League, the graduates have the ability to create a better life for their families. Members were passionate about helping survivors of domestic abuse break free from repression to lead self-sufficient and healthy lives.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 303
       12 active members helped facilitate the program.
       8 ladies from Buckner participated, all successfully completed the program.
       Topics discussed included:  Resume Building, Interviewing Skills, Balancing it All, Fitness & Nutrition, Self Defense, What Not to Wear, Makeup Tutorial, and Financial Peace.
       Guest speaker the community came in and taught each topic.
       All food was provided to the Buckner ladies, children and committee members, and was donated by local restaurants and JLM Members. 
       Childcare was provided by other members including Provisionals and Volunteers in Midland participants.
       Each graduate was rewarded with a $300 Shopping Night at Kohl’s on February 22nd.
      Graduation took place in Mabee Hall at Junior League Headquarters February 29th
       The graduates were recognized and given gift bags full of items that pertained to the session topics throughout the program and applauded for their hard work and success.
Suits With Skills, Safe Place: In the fall of 2015, Suits with Skills, a partnership between the Junior League of Midland, Inc. and Safe Place of the Permian Basin, successfully took place over a 10 week span.  Throughout this time, our clients renewed their goals and faith by finding their confidence in understanding the value of dedicating time and hard work in the effort to accomplish their goals.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 459
       10 active members mentored.
       18 participants began the program and 16 completed and graduated
       Sessions were on Monday nights for eight weeks at Safe Place
       Dinner was provided and the women heard from a variety of speakers who are experts in their respective fields.
        In reference to the League’s theme of education, we continued several sessions this year that were newly implemented last year, including online profile building and social media etiquette, as well as updating some of the successful staple sessions to help the women learn more of what will help them in the present workforce
       Each client received a gift certificate and Kohl’s generously gave a discount for all items, including sale items.
      On November 16th, the program concluded with a graduation ceremony held at JLM headquarters.
       Every participant was given an Anita Goudeau Guardian Angel necklace and gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure. 
       Graduates were able to take their purse centerpieces home – each purse represented a different season, highlighting this years’ theme “Preparing for the Changing Seasons of our Lives”.
Volunteers In Midland: This was the second year for Volunteers in Midland.  The purpose of this committee was to provide Junior League volunteers to nonprofits in Midland needing assistance.  Each Junior League member was required to perform four hours of volunteer work through Volunteers in Midland before April 1, 2016.
       Total Volunteer Hours: 733.5
       5 active members on committee
       Committee members had one “committee” project called Teacher’s Pet.  We located 9 teachers that were new to Midland and the committee took them on a shopping spree at Mardel’s for school supplies as well as offering member support – through Volunteers in Midland sign ups – to give them hands on help getting their classrooms ready for the first week of school.  During the middle of the year, our committee sent these same teachers a bundt cake as a “pick me up” to remind them how thankful we are for all that they do.
       We collaborated with many other nonprofits and community organizations in Midland over the course of the year including: The Recording Library, Jubilee Center, Teen Court, Meals on Wheels, Buckner Family Place, Scharbauer Elementary, Midland Fire Department, HEB, Midland Children's Rehabilitation Center, Petroleum Museum, Museum of the Southwest, High Sky Children's Ranch, and Midland Chamber of Commerce.
      Many members have stayed in contact with their favorite nonprofits and have continued volunteering with them even after finished their required four hours.
      Every active member, except one, completed their four required hours.


Saturday, July 16, 2016


Basin PBS Indie Lens Pop-Up Screening: T-Rex

By: Basin PBS

On Tuesday, July 19, Basin PBS and The Boys and Girls Club of Midland will present a free film preview screening of T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold, about the 17-year-old female boxer who won Gold in the 2012 London Olympics. Please join Elizabeth Hartman, President of The Junior League of Midland, Inc., serving alongside other community leaders as they discuss tough issues of gender and racial discrimination in sports and the importance of mentors for all young athletes. Elizabeth will be discussing several of the programs that The Junior League of Midland, Inc. is leading. Learn more here: http://basinpbs-trex-midland.eventbrite.com/

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Betty Whitmire Sumner Award: Monica Tucker

The Betty Whitmire Sumner award recognizes exceptional cumulative work during a member’s League career. Specifically, the award recognizes a member that embodies The Junior League of Midland, Inc.’s mission statement of developing the potential of women, promoting voluntarism, and improving the Midland community. Monica Tucker is most deserving of this award.

From Monica’s earliest days, she was a rockstar. She started competing in swimming and used this sport on the collegiate level. (She was recently inducted into the Midland ISD Hall of Legends, I’m telling you ROCKSTAR!) I’m not sure if you know any collegiate student athletes, but they work HARD! Up early, away often, very competitive and grueling schedules, but Monica continued to be a rockstar. After graduating from Texas A&M (whoop!), Monica moved to Dallas to teach. Monica met her husband Jay, on a blind-date and they married two years later (best blind date ever!). They transitioned back to Midland in 2007. Monica taught elementary school for 10 years and directly impacted at least 200 students. God then led Jay and Monica to start a family through adoption and now have two beautiful children Tess and Titus.

Monica did not just settle for impacting our future by teaching or being a competitive athlete, she joined the Junior League and quickly became a rockstar. Monica’s placements include Advisory Planning Committee Member (Governance Team Leader), Nominating Chairman, Shotguns and Stilletos Co-Chairman, Face the Race – Abell Chairman, Membership Placement Advisor, Tumbleweed Reporter, and Face the Race Mentor – Goddard. In each of these positions Monica excelled. Mary Nava her co-chair and nominating committee member said,

“No matter what the circumstances, Monica always has a cheerful, can-do disposition. Her
positive attitude and work ethic are enviable. She strives for doing the best job possible at all
times and always accomplishes her goals. Her influence and effectiveness as a mentor, leader,
and volunteer are qualities of someone who genuinely cares about a greater good and exhibits a
true servant’s heart. She makes people feel valuable and important and unknowingly motivates
them to be the very best right along with her.”

On one of the award nomination forms, the nominator stated,

“Monica has invested many hours in promoting the League and making sure it is the very best
organization it can be. She has put forth effort to ensure our League members are being looked
after. Her confidentiality and morale are a true treasure. Monica is an avid promoter of the
League and a stand-up community member. Her League career is extensive.”

This year, Monica served on the Advisory Planning Committee and had planned to keep a low profile. Monica was the perfect committee member! Even though she has previously held leadership positions, she never once “lorded” it over me or anyone else. She was the consummate professional. But, she did step up and continued being a rockstar. She took the lead on our Governance Team. Saying she “stepped up” seems like such an understatement. When my third baby decided to come an entire month early, she seamlessly addressed the membership and kept the proverbial ball rolling so that we could accomplish a HUGE change without missing key deadlines.

Always humble, when I asked Monica what were her takeaways from the League, here are her thoughts.

I can do SO much more than I ever thought I could. Certain people believed in me and asked me
to chair various committees or be a certain position…I would have never thought I could
have…but I did! And I’m so thankful for being pushed out of my comfort zone.

To see that my way isn’t the only way. Open your mind to see what else or how else you can get
the end result.

To REALLY read the information. It sounds silly but over the years I’ve become a “skim
reader”…quickly glancing over letters, emails, etc… But after chairing certain events or having to
learn / teach on a certain topics, I’ve retaught myself to slow down and read it, thoroughly.

Monica stated she was so very thankful for her time as an active member. Specifically, she was thankful
for the following.

I’ve learned so much about being a leader, finding who I am, and how to combine the two. I’ve
been able to use this training in my current job as Group Fitness Manager at Heroes-Fitness
(organizing people, being strong yet fair).

The AMAZING women that I’ve met throughout my 8 years!!! SO many fun and laughable
moments and a few tearful moments too. It’s what made the journey worthwhile.

I’m excited to take the training I’ve received and apply it to the adventures ahead of me.

As you can see, Monica accomplished rockstar status in high school, but didn’t rest on her laurels.
Monica continued building her skills through college and used this drive to accomplish great things for the League. I’m so proud to know Monica and to have worked with her. There is not a more deserving recipient of the Betty Whitmire Sumner Award. I’m sure someday (you know when we are really old!) there will be the Monica Stroman Tucker Award.

-Charity Rohlfs, Active