Junior League of Atlanta celebrates its 100-year anniversary by giving away $1 million

By Maria Saporta

The Junior League of Atlanta celebrated its Centennial Monday by giving away three grants worth a total of $1 million to local nonprofits in Atlanta.

Ursula Reynolds, Deanna Anderson Rebekah Henry Murphy

Three key leaders of Junior League of Atlanta – Ursula Reynolds, Deanna Anderson and Rebekah Henry Murphy – at the Centennial Gift Luncheon (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“Today’s event was 100 years in the making and 10 years in planning,” said Deanna Anderson, this year’s JLA president, at the luncheon Monday held at the Piedmont Driving Club. “The million dollars represents 10 years of fundraising. We have finally arrived.”

Without disclosing the winners, Anderson also teased the audience by saying: “Today’s recipients will wow you.”

It was WSB-TV’s Linda Stouffer, the emcee of the luncheon, who did the honors of announcing the winners:

  • The Atlanta Community Food Bank;
  • A collaboration of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Georgia Heirs Property Law Center and Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta; and
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The million dollar in grants were targeted to assist residents struggling through food insecurity, generational poverty and the effects of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The Centennial Grants will enable and encourage growth for the next three years in organizations aimed at helping some of the city’s hardest hit communities.

Anderson said these initiatives “represent the opportunity for transformational change in our city that will lead to a lasting and positive impact on the lives of women and children.”

Kyle Waide Deanna Anderson

The Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Kyle Waide accepts honor from Deanna Anderson as WSB’s Linda Stouffer (left) emcees the luncheon (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The Atlanta Community Food Bank received a $380,000 grant from JLA. It will use the money to expand its Child Nutrition Programs, which focus on elementary, middle and high school students in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

The grant will help the Food Bank implement a new School Breakfast Program, add new Summer Meal sites and expand its current School Mobile Food Pantry program, providing an additional 800,000 meals per year to students through these school focused programs.

“The Food Bank has been a proud partner of the Junior League of Atlanta since 1985 and together, we’ve been able to make an incredible impact on the lives of our neighbors in need,” said Kyle Waide, president and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. “Today, we take an even bigger step in this powerful partnership with an investment from the JLA that will help change the future of local children who face hunger.”

Generational Poverty Law Project

The Generational Poverty Law Project receives $380,000. Left to right: JLA’s Deanna Anderson; Rachel Spears, executive director of the Pro-Bono Partnership of Atlanta; Skipper StipeMaas, executive director of the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center; and Steven Gottlieb, executive director of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The Generational Poverty Law Project is a collaboration of three nonprofits: the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Georgia Heirs Property Law Center and Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta.

The Generational Poverty Law Project, a three-year joint venture of the three nonprofit organizations, received a $380,000 grant from JLA.

With the JLA grant, the partners plan to expand outreach to metro-Atlanta non-profits and collaborate to protect homes and families in the Atlanta area. In establishing the Generational Poverty Law Project, the collective hopes to use its work in Atlanta to create a national model for providing holistic legal services to multi-generational families.

This collaborative approach will help ensure that metro-Atlanta clients of all three organizations receive the legal help and social services support that make a significant difference.

“Legal Aid is excited and honored to renew its relationship with Junior League of Atlanta,” said Steven Gottlieb, executive director of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. “Throughout our 93-year history, Junior League of Atlanta provided great support through volunteers and grants. This grant renews our partnership in an incredible, substantial way, and we hope to grow and strengthen that partnership through this work.”

The third grant – for $240,000 – went to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Institute for Healthcare and Human Trafficking.

Children’s, through the Institute, will follow a public health approach to address the crisis of human trafficking. The grant will be used to provide training and education to healthcare providers and promote evidence-based research on trafficking. The Institute will:

  • Establish a comprehensive online database of evidence-based research on child sex trafficking;
  • Train more healthcare providers how to recognize trafficking victims and effectively intervene on their behalf; and
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for child sex trafficking.
Dr. Jordan Greenbaum

Dr. Jordan Greenbaum, medical director of the Institute for Healthcare and Human Trafficking, accepts award from Deanna Anderson as therapy dog – Bella – steals the show (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“The Institute for Healthcare and Human Trafficking will transform the ability of trafficking victims to access help by providing medical and mental health professionals the means to recognize and respond to suspected exploitation,” said Dr. Jordan Greenbaum, a physician in the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Health Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“Healthcare professionals can be powerful advocates for those who have been trafficked or sexually exploited, but only if they are equipped with appropriate knowledge and skills,” Greenbaum added. “By offering high-quality training, resources, technical assistance and leading-edge research, the Institute will help transform Atlanta’s healthcare facilities into effective gateways to victim identification and intervention.”

The gifts continue JLA’s long tradition of serving the community’s social needs. The organization of women is committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

The luncheon was held at the Piedmont Driving Club, an private club that didn’t even accept women members until the 1990s, for historic reasons.

More than 100 years ago, 45 women met at the Piedmont Driving Club (women could use the club if their husbands or fathers were members) to discuss starting the Junior League of Atlanta.

Alicia Philipp Kyle Waide

The Community Foundation’s Alicia Philipp, who served on JLA’s Centennial Grants to Community Committee, visits with Food Bank’s Kyle Waide before the lunch (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The JLA was then founded on Oct. 2, 1916, according to Ursala Reynolds, the Centennial Committee Chair. “Fast forward 90 years later, and the Centennial Fund was formed,” Reynolds said.

Over the years, JLA has been instrumental in launching a myriad of nonprofits, including the Atlanta Speech School and the Atlanta Children’s Shelter.

But the organization has changed as women’s roles in society have changed. It used to be that most of the members did not have a paying job outside the home, and they were able to devote their time to the Junior League and other organizations.

It wasn’t until 1980 when JLA elected its first president who worked outside the home – Ann Cramer, citizen volunteer extraordinaire who then worked for IBM.

“Today we have 17 members on the board, and only one who doesn’t work,” said Rebekah Henry Murphy, JLA’s president elect who will take office on June 1, who just so happens that one person. “Over 90 percent of our active membership works outside the home.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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