By Virginia Hartmere and Anneliese Turck
The Junior League of Pelham celebrates 70 years of service to the community. On January 26, 1941, the Pelham Service League (originally founded in 1932) was chartered as the Junior League of Pelham, Inc, the first League established in Westchester County. Now it is one of 292 Leagues in the Association of Junior Leagues International sharing the common purpose to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The Junior League of Pelham (JLP) is a charitable, non-profit organization that serves Pelham and the surrounding communities. Membership in the JLP provides a unique opportunity to get to know and work with other women who share a conviction that it is important to give time and effort to the solution of community problems. Nearly 300 women in Pelham are members of the JLP today.Through a wide variety of projects focusing on areas such as cultural arts, social services, and community beautification, the Junior League has raised and invested thousands of dollars into the community and its members have given countless hours in community service.The JLP has brought numerous cultural events to Westchester. Some of the events include member produced marionette puppet shows in the late 30s, a musical therapy performance group called the League Larks (now known as the Pelham Larks) in the 50s and theatrical productions by groups such as the Cardboard Company in the 70s. The JLP also brought art to Pelham with the first Pelham Art Happening event in 1970 which spurred the creation of the Pelham Art Center.The JLP has identified numerous social services needed in our community and responded by initiating projects and providing the necessary financial and volunteer support to get these new programs up and running. In the 50s and 60s, the award winning Youth mployment Services project helped teenagers acquire skills and responsibility by placing them in summer and casual employment. In the 70s, the Pelham Children’s Center began providing quality day care service in Pelham and Tot Drop, a non-profit babysitting service for Pelham preschoolers, started registering children. In the late 80s and continuing through today, the JLP has provided financial and volunteer support to the Pelham Public Library to ensure its opening and to continue providing quality story time for preschool aged children.The League’s commitment to Pelham’s beauty is demonstrated in its numerous clean-up and revitalization projects. From Perk Up Pelham in the 60s, Pride in Pelham in the 70s and 80s, Green and Clean in the 90s to Clean Up Pelham in 00s, the women of the League have picked up countless bags of trash and planted numerous bulbs and flowers. Three big projects in the last twenty years include the Lantern project, Julianne’s playground and Weihman Park, where the League raised the funds and coordinated the work to beautify our town.The Junior League of Pelham has served those in need throughout our seventy years. Today, the JLP continues to tackle a broad range of issues in areas ranging from literacy, healthy families and domestic violence. One new initiative this year is our Backpack program that provides food to families at New Rochelle’s Boys and Girls club.