For almost 90 years, the Junior League of Fort Worth has been a steadfast partner to our vibrant community. Ten charter members founded the Junior League of Fort Worth in February of 1929 just months before the Great Depression. Through bad times and good, the Junior League of Fort Worth has forged a strong bond with Fort Worth, a bond that has grown stronger over time.
In 1930, the Junior League helped celebrate the opening of the Blackstone Hotel and raised more than $13,000. Throughout the 1930’s, the Junior League established a variety of community placements that all involved helping children. The Junior League established the Children’s Apparel Shop that changed to Children’s Rental Library and a Food Exchange. The Sunshine Room was a project developed to do follow-up work for the Public Schools Tuberculosis prevention program. The Junior League ended this decade with an educational program “Coffees with Speakers” that was broadcast on the radio. More importantly, the Junior League membership had increased to over 200 members.
When the world went to war, the Junior League of Fort Worth made a home front contribution. The 1940’s began with the Junior League of Fort Worth helping to establish a Civil Defense Volunteer Office that provided leadership to many wartime activities. Additionally, community placements focused on wartime efforts. The Junior League of Fort Worth’s radio program was a continuing success and obtained a commercial sponsor. The new educational good-will radio program, “Amigos del Sur,” was targeted for elementary age students. This program won the Ohio State Institute for Education by Radio Award. The Junior League of Fort Worth continued to excel in radio programs and received an additional award for the program “Adventures of America”. At the end of this decade, the Bargain Box, a thrift shop, was established as a permanent fund raising project and The Corral was adopted as the name for the newsletter.
The Junior League of Fort Worth successfully entered the world of television during the 1950’s by having several televised programs. The Junior League of Fort Worth presented “Youth Court” to deal with juvenile problems and later a program entitled “Family Affair”. Finally, “Twin Fairies”, a live television series was presented in cooperation with Fort Worth Public Library and “Let’s Explore”, a live scientific educational series was co-sponsored by Texas Electric Company. In one of its first collaborative efforts, the Junior League of Fort Worth joined seven other Junior Leagues in Texas to form a state study group on mental health.
The Bargain Box had become an established fund raiser generating nearly $10,000 on a yearly basis. During 1957, the Junior League of Fort Worth initiated another fund raiser, Rodeo Program Sales which raised $1,319.39 its first year. The funds were directed to community programs that focused on children. The funds were primarily used to support the new Tarrant County Youth Center.
The Junior League of Fort Worth celebrated the openings of Six Flags Over Texas, Neiman-Marcus, and later the Convention Center, all of which proved to be successful fund raisers. The Junior League of Fort Worth also sold their cookbook as an additional fund raiser. The community projects supported by these fund raisers included the Van Cliburn International Competition and the creation of the Child Study Center. To further art appreciation, the Junior League began an innovative project. Members gave tours to fifth grade students at the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art.
During this time period, the Community Research Committee of the Junior League provided vital research that assisted in the creation of the Child Welfare Unit through the State Department of Public Welfare and in the development of the Trinity River. The Junior League of Fort Worth gave critical funding to the Halprin landscape design for the Trinity River.
The end of the 60’s was marked by the Fortieth Anniversary of the founding of the Junior League of Fort Worth. The celebration raised more than $50,000 to help meet the community needs.
During the 1970’s, the Junior League of Fort Worth helped to create another landmark event for our city, Mayfest, a festival by the Trinity River. Since the Junior League had been instrumental in researching, developing and funding the Trinity River project, Mayfest was a natural choice for a fund-raiser. The first year, the Junior League raised nearly $10,000. Mayfest has become an annual Junior League tradition.
Other exciting fund raising opportunities came with the dedication of the new Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and the First Junior League-Colonial Professional Tennis Tournament. These funds were used for innovative community projects that have continued to the present. The Parenting Guidance Center was created and received major funding as well as the Poison Education Program. The Junior League of Fort Worth continued to provide funding to Tarrant County Medical, Education, and Research Foundation Youth Center and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
The decade ended with the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Junior League of Fort Worth. This celebration culminated with the purchase of the Eddleman-McFarland house. The Junior League of Fort Worth also hosted the Twentieth World Gymnastics Competition.
During the 1980’s, the Junior League of Fort Worth membership had increased to more than 1,500 members who contributed over 30,000 hours of service to the community on a yearly basis. The Junior League received the Fort Worth Challenge award for identifying the need and providing the necessary funds for a post-treatment facility for women substance abusers and their children. Moreover, the Junior League of Fort Worth established Fort Worth Teen Court, a program that is still a tremendous success.
This decade ended with the celebration of the Sixtieth Anniversary, “The Dazzling Diamond Revue”.
By the 1990’s the Junior League of Fort Worth had established a legacy of volunteerism and leadership in the community. The Junior League received an award for 50 years of supporting the Volunteer Center of Tarrant County. Innovative community programs continued to be established such as the community-wide Immunization Collaboration program that provided vaccinations to more than 2,300 children that year. Ten years later, this collaborative effort continues to be a success. The Junior League of Fort Worth sponsored the first house built only by women for Habitat for Humanity. The opening of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall created an opportunity for the Junior League of Fort Worth to help develop and implement a Children’s Education Program where all children from Fort Worth could experience the grandeur and glory of this Great Hall. This year, more than 60,000 children benefited from the Children’s Education Program. Another innovative project was developed, Leadership Connections, a comprehensive training program for prospective board members for non-profit organizations.
The Junior League of Fort Worth celebrated its Seventieth Anniversary and proudly presented a check for $200,000 to the Y.W.C.A. of Fort Worth’s Childcare Program for Homeless Children. This contribution reflected the Junior League’s long standing commitment to women and children in this community.
This decade will be historical for the Junior League of Fort Worth. The Junior League celebrated both its 70th and 75th Anniversaries of being a steadfast partner to our community. The Junior League hosted Women’s Health Symposium in partnership with UT Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Center and developed and initiated the Betty Lynn Buckley Award at the Bass Performance Hall.
The League donated $113,000 to the Presbyterian Night Shelter for its signature project and the funds provided important building renovations to the Lowden Schutts Building for Women & Children, part of the night shelter. The League also developed innovative projects, Awesome Outings and Camp Character for homeless children. The League joined a national AJLI initiative and kicked off the annual Kids in the Kitchen program.
The League hosted a conference for Presidents of Large Leagues from across the country. The League launched www.juniorleaguefw.org to further meet member’s needs. The League implemented a new Council system that shifted operational decisions to small Councils to further leadership opportunities in the League and allow the Board of Directors to plan strategically for the future. A Leadership Track was implemented to provide additional opportunities for Leadership development and to reconnect our community volunteers to the leadership of our League.
In September of 2007, after 10 years of research, the Junior League moved its headquarters to 255 Bailey Avenue. The Junior League kicked off a major new fundraiser Christmas in Cowtown Holiday Gift Market. In January of 2008 the Double Exposure celebrated 60 years of success and relocated to 1712 8th Avenue. In 2009, the Junior League was proud to host an Organizational Development Institute training seminar in partnership with AJLI.
In 2010, the Junior League of Fort Worth (JLFW) joined together with the five North Texas Leagues to participate in the SLANT 45 initiative. In conjunction with Super Bowl XLV, volunteers helped guide elementary-aged children through problem-based service projects throughout the community. At the time, this was the largest community service project of its kind in Super Bowl history.
In November 2011, JLFW purchased its headquarters building at 255 Bailey Avenue after a successful capital campaign, Room to Work, Room to Grow, Room to Serve that raised over $500,000 in its first six months. Also in 2012, the Junior League implemented a three year Strategic Plan with an overall outcome of fulfilled members, a better community, and financial stability. For the first time, JLFW identified five key community impact areas to address over the next three years: educating children, access to arts programs, access to social services, job training, and health and nutrition.
Perhaps more than any other year, 2013 brought many changes to JLFW. The inaugural Grand Entry Gala was held to kick off the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo (FWSSR), further strengthening the partnership between the two organizations. Also in 2013, JLFW’s oldest fundraiser, the retail shop Double Exposure closed its doors after 65 years. JLFW implemented a new volunteer program for Provisional members. The Junior MINTS (Mentor, Inspire, Nurture, Tutor, and Support the students and staff in Fort Worth Independent School District) program currently operates in four FWISD campuses.
The League continued to balance support of both “old” and new programs around Fort Worth. With what started from a few JLFW members and a desire to beautify the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Mayfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013.
In 2014, JLFW Provisional members launched the inaugural Cook Children’s Pancake Picnic, which continues to serve patients and families of Cook Children’s Medical Center every April. In addition, JLFW started new leadership program, All aBoard, with the goal to prepare dedicated members with additional training and education for JLFW leadership positions and board membership across Fort Worth.
Two JLFW signature projects helped create fully remodeled kitchens and dining halls in two of Fort Worth’s most valued community houses. The Warm Place, dedicated to helping grieving families, received a brand new kitchen facility during the JLFW 85th Anniversary year in 2014-2015. The following year, ACH Child and Family Services, in celebration of its 100th anniversary, received $100,000 from JLFW for a new dining hall in its emergency youth shelter which houses children separated from families during crisis situations.
In 2015, JLFW proudly accepted the prestigious AJLI Community Impact Award for the Nehemiah Building and The House the Junior League Built. To support Opening Doors for Women in Need (ODWIN), JLFW donated an initial $40,000 plus an additional $75,000 and 500 volunteer hours. Along with discounted labor and materials coordinated by JLFW members, ODWIN opened a home in the Como neighborhood to help women navigate successfully through the integration process after returning from incarceration. In celebration of its 85th Anniversary, JLFW established a 100th Anniversary Fund in 2015 with the goal of growing the fund to a $1 million gift to the community during its centennial celebration.
During the 2016-2017 year, JLFW members voted to amend the Bylaws to move from holding nine (9) General Membership Meetings per year to a minimum of four (4) meetings per year. This change allowed JLFW offer a wider variety of Trainings to its growing membership.
For the first time in its 88 year history, JLFW fundraisers raised over $1 million during the 2017-2018 year thanks to the great success of Christmas in Cowtown, Grand Entry Gala, Rodeo Program Sales and Annual Fund.
In 2018-2019, members approved an amendment to the Bylaws to the to eliminate both the upper age limit to join JLFW as well as the mandatory age to sustain. For the first time, JLFW hired a full-time Finance Administrator. Additionally, for the second year in a row, the League raised more than $1 million through its fundraising programs.