“Promote volunteerism, develop the potential of women, improve the community” it’s the mantra of Junior Leagues internationally and that’s exactly what the Ogden chapter is doing. With work ranging from a full-time clinic offering services to under- and un-insured women and children, a dental “adoption” program, a community garden with learning pavilion and demonstration kitchen, the Junior League of Ogden (JLO) puts in thousands of volunteer hours each year. Additionally, JLO creates volunteer opportunities for business/corporate groups, partnering with them to provide hours and requirements management.
The Junior League of Ogden was founded in 1953, having grown from the Martha Society which was originally launched in 1906. Their community projects address some of Northern Utah’s most critical issues, primarily those affecting women and children.
Past projects include the Bertha Eccles Art Center, Union Station Restoration Project, Ogden Nature Center and many more. While that legacy is certainly one to be proud of, current members are not willing to reside on legacy alone. Each year, a new board of directors is elected and trains up the next generation of women leaders for the Greater Ogden community. New projects are adopted and undertaken and new partnerships are formed.
This year alone, the JLO has launched a new program called Jr. Junior League, for girls ages 10-16. They hosted their third annual raw-food non-cook-off event Get Fresh at the Oasis Community Garden, a fundraiser for the group. They’ve also expanded their Dental Days program in conjunction with McKay Dee, Weber State University, and Midtown Community Health Center to increase coverage under a new program, “Adopt a Smile.”
The Junior League of Ogden is currently preparing to send a group to Guatemala on the first international service trip of any Junior League in the country. Additionally, JLO is serving on a national-level committee to better understand diversity in communities, a huge need for Ogden at-large and Junior League’s across the US. Their largest project currently is the Oasis Community Garden, which has been in progress over the last decade. According to Ogden City Mayor, Mike Caldwell, the League’s land acquisition and cleanup efforts at the garden site allowed the city to close up a neighboring police substation which is now considered unnecessary; a tremendous signal of success in improving the community.
The annual Kids in the Kitchen program put on by JLO aims to teach healthy eating and living to children of low-income families. New members, called “Provisionals” are responsible for creating a curriculum and building community partnerships to put on the Kids in the Kitchen event, with support and training from older members considered “Actives.”
For the past two years, the League has hosted a summer market and music festival at the community garden in hopes to attract awareness to the community resources available there as well as the larger scope of work the Junior League is undertaking. The community garden is also home to 35 garden plots used by more than 50 families and two elementary schools. Over the summer, the League hosted garden yoga with Live Natural Girl and more than a dozen free gardening workshops through a grant provided by Select Health.
Projects and volunteer work isn’t just about resolving immediate needs. Time and resources spent helping build and improve the community also provides the perfect training ground for leaders. Additionally, JLO sponsors training for active members and board members. This past year, six girls have been sent on league-paid training retreats and one board member is currently attending Leadership Northern Utah on a partial scholarship provided by the League.
Unlike Leagues of the past or elsewhere around the country, the JLO does not have an age cap and does not require a “sponsor” to join. There are annual dues and required hours of service. The Junior League of Ogden is a member of the Association of Junior Leagues International, a group made up of 293 Junior Leagues in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Together, they are one of the largest international volunteer organizations for women interested in making a positive impact in their communities.
People interested in joining the Junior League of Ogden, or donating to help support their mission, should visit their website at juniorleagueogden.org. The Junior League of Ogden is a 501(c)(3) charitable, nonprofit organization.