Building Up Pelham’s Resources, One Painting, Book and Child at a Time

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Throughout the past forty years, the Junior League of Pelham has collaborated with the Town and community organizations to improve Pelham in a number of areas that continue to enrich today’s community. The establishment of the Pelham Art Center, the Pelham Children’s Center and the Town of Pelham Public Library are all due in part to the Junior League of Pelham recognizing a need for services and working with the community to fill them.   The JLP helped to plant the seeds for the Pelham Art Center. In 1969, the Metropolitan Museum of Art encouraged area chapters of the Junior League to plan community arts events to celebrate the cultural, performing and visual arts. Several artists, community volunteers and the JLP developed a plan for a town-wide art and music festival: The Pelham Art Happening. The first event was held in spring 1970 and the Junior League of Pelham supplied the financial backing and the committee to run the Art Happening for its initial two years until The Pelham Art Happening incorporated as a New York State charity in 1972. Fondly known as “AH”, the popular weekend event was open to all community members and held at Pelham Memorial High School. By 1975, with a storefront location on Fifth Avenue, AH had morphed into a community art center providing art and dance classes, exhibitions, performances, and a retail store. Forty years later, the JLP and the Art Center continue to work together by providing outreach services to underserved communities, securing grants to bring free and affordable art programs to the public and coordinating efforts to entice the community into the downtown area to meander, shop and dine. The Pelham Children’s Center grew out of the JLP’s effort to provide quality day care services to Town residents. The JLP organized the Pelham Day Care Steering Committee in 1969 and provided administrative, volunteer and financial help (the JLP donated approximately $10,000 between 1969-1972). The doors of the original Pelham Day Care Center opened at Church of the Redeemer on July 7, 1970. Today, the Pelham Children’s Center is its own non-profit, located in the Richard J. Daronco Town House on Fifth Avenue. Its top-notch preschool and after school programs serve more than 75 children. The JLP was also instrumental in establishing the Pelham Public Library. For eight years leading up to the library’s 1996 opening, the JLP joined the Friends of the Town of Pelham Public Library not only financially, but also through dedicated manpower and leadership. In 1989, the JLP helped to plan the first fundraising event to benefit the proposed new library, the “Once Upon a Time” gala, and until 1996, the JLP donated more than $35,000. The JLP also provided another element critical to its success: staffing.  Since the Library’s opening, the JLP has recruited and trained volunteers for the Children’s Story Time program that runs every Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as other programs. Through the years, trustees and members of the Friends board have also been members of the JLP, joining hands to ensure our Library, a true product of an amazing community effort, continues to thrive. And since 2005, the JLP has donated nearly $20,000 to the Library through their “Pelham Loves to Read” project.   The JLP continues to tackle a range of issues, including education, cultural arts, healthy families and domestic violence. To help support the group’s contributions to the community, the JLP is asking the Pelham community to  “Light Up Pelham” on December 10 by making a tax deductible donation to the JLP.  All donations directly support JLP programs that improve Pelham and neighboring communities. In recognition of each donation of $20 or more, the JLP will deliver one or more luminary kits to your home or business.  On Thursday, December 10that 8 pm, join the JLP and other local organizations to fill the night with the light of Pelham’s community spirit by lining your walkway with the luminaries and setting them aglow. (In an effort to be environmentally-friendly, donors may return their luminary kits the week following the event to locations in Pelham so the materials can be reused or recycled.) It’s not too late to participate! Please visitwww.jlpelham.orgto find out more details about the JLP’s Light Up Pelham event and to make a donation. You can also contact Theresa Breskin at with any questions.  Donations will be accepted until December 1. Checks payable to the Junior League of Pelham may be sent to the Junior League of Pelham, 901 Pelhamdale Ave., Pelham, NY 10803.