100 Years, Thousands of Voices
Earlier this month, the voters of Georgia passed a constitutional amendment, establishing the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. A dedicated source of funding will provide restorative services like safe housing, trauma counseling and medical treatment to child victims of sex trafficking without raising or creating any new taxes.
And encouraging family, friends, neighbors and the community to VOTE YES were the almost 3,500 women of the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA) leading grassroots advocacy initiatives.
“League women have never been afraid to roll up their sleeves and take on hard and difficult subjects,” said JLA President, Deanna Anderson, noting that the JLA started working with community partners on sexual exploitation and human trafficking challenges in 2008, almost a decade ago.
The passage of the Safe Harbor Fund during the JLA Centennial year serves as a reminder that advocacy is integral to the past century of service. Informing the membership on state and federal actions affecting women and children has been a part of the JLA mission going back to the founding days. Proceeds of the first JLA fundraiser in 1916 were used to establish a home for working women whose jobs did not pay a living wage – a conversation still relevant today.
As early as 1916 and through the 1940s, members sponsored programs dedicated to education and healthcare of disabled children, which years later resulted in the creation of the Atlanta Speech School and an everlasting partnership with Egleston Hospital – today Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the JLA promoted the arts, supporting the Southeastern Annual Art Exhibition, the Atlanta Youth Symphony and Children’s Theatre and establishing Culture at a Glance, an arts magazine.
During the 1960s, advocacy for underserved populations began with the establishment of Literacy Action. A Political Affairs Committee, to affect long term systemic change and link the JLA with local government was established. The JLA took its first public stand in 1971 on air quality, an environmental issue, and in 1973 helped pass a bill, later signed into law by Governor Jimmy Carter. Throughout the 1970s, the JLA supported criminal reform initiatives and committed to child activism to more fully align with mission, focusing on child abuse, juvenile justice and early education, Issue Based Community Impact (IBCI) areas that remain important today.
During the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s, the JLA continued to advocate to improve the lives of women and children in Atlanta, using the strength of many voices as membership grows in size and becomes more diverse. We look forward to our using our collective voice to continue being change agents as we move into our second century of service.
 Ann Hardie – For the AJC – http://www.ajc.com/news/local/sunday-conversation-with-deanna-anderson/XSxxK1xAGdVuiTKBKokOnO/