(West Palm Beach, Fla.) – Look at the roots of so many Palm Beach County organizations that residents now consider a vital part of their quality of life, and you will find many of them found their beginnings at the hands of volunteers of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches (JLPB). Now celebrating its 80th anniversary, JLPB’s impact on the Palm Beach community began in 1941 when 15 community-minded women established what was then called The Junior Welfare League. Today, JLPB remains an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of its 700 trained volunteers who collectively dedicate more than 3,000 hours of service each year. 

Board of Directors. Photo: CAPEHART

“Our members are women who have a passion for creating positive, lasting change in Palm Beach County,” said Julie Rudolph, president of JLPB. “They include community leaders, executives, mothers, professionals and volunteers from diverse backgrounds who dedicate their time, energy and philanthropy to making a difference in our community.”

Nationally, the Association of Junior Leagues International was started in 1901 by Mary Harriman in New York City. Today, there are 291 Junior Leagues in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, all working to make the world a better place.

One of JLPB’s first major initiatives was founding the South Florida Science Museum. Today, the museum is a strong and viable part of the community. JLPB also helped establish and build Quantum House, a supportive home for families of children receiving serious medical treatment in Palm Beach County.

“The Junior League of the Palm Beaches has had more impact on my life than any other organization,” said Rebecca Hilliard Isiminger, Quantum House board member and past JLPB president. “It taught me how to volunteer effectively, afforded me wonderful friendships, and trained me as a leader. It continues to be a part of my life as I serve alongside other leaguers on the board of a league-initiated project, the Quantum House, and watch as my own daughters and daughter-in-law benefit from their involvement in the community through the Junior League.”

Other JLPB community-initiated programs include Eye & Ear testing for toddlers and children, a Kids in the Kitchen program that provides healthy recipes and activities for families of Opportunity Early Education, and a mentoring program for young women who are a part of the foster care system, among others. In addition, JLPB has awarded more than $130,000 to support community organizations through its Mini Grants program, which was established in 1992. And in the last 20 years, JLPB has awarded $30,000 in scholarships to future leaders in high schools throughout Palm Beach County.

“We at the Science Center are pleased to have the Junior League of the Palm Beaches assisting us on their Day of Impact,” said Kristian Zambrana, Director of Visitor Services for the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. “Since our inception in 1961, the Junior League has been pivotal to the success and growth of the Science Center into the cultural and educational staple it is today. 60 years later, the amazing team at the Junior League continues to leave their fingerprints on our institution and help us continue our mission: Open Every Mind to Science.”

In addition to Quantum House and the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, JLPB annually supports dozens of local community organizations – including Boys & Girls Club, Opportunity Early Childhood Education & Family Center, the Palm Beach County Food Bank and many more. To help support the pressing needs of the community, they provide trained volunteers, donated materials, dedicated programing and funding opportunities through community grants.

This year, in coordination with its 80th anniversary, JLPB launched a period supply bank in partnership with the Alliance for Period Supplies. To celebrate the milestone year, the initiative aims to distribute 80,000 supplies by May 31 to help alleviate period poverty in Palm Beach County.

“It’s staggering to hear that one in four women in the United States suffer from period supply poverty,” said Rudolph. “In partnership with the Alliance for Period Supplies, our period supply bank provides feminine hygiene products to those in our community who cannot afford them. Period poverty has become increasingly important, as the need for these essential products has only expanded since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To commemorate and celebrate 80 years of voluntarism, upcoming events for the milestone year include a “Day of Impact,” on February 21st. Activities throughout the day will include volunteering at CROS Ministries, Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, Florence De George Boys & Girls Club, Quantum House, South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, as well as beach cleanups and period supply packing. In addition, JLPB will host its annual Golf Tournament in April. 

JLPB is also in full swing with its “80 Years Now More Than Ever” campaign in which 100 percent of the donations raised go directly toward funding the League’s mission.

“Our history is rich and impactful with deep roots to service in the community,” continued Rudolph. “Now more than ever it’s important to come together and help those in need. Whether it’s collecting period supplies, reading to children and hosting donation drives, volunteering at food banks or hosting fundraising events, our members are leading the way for change and helping to make a difference in our own backyard. We lead, we educate and we train, all while making our community a better place to live, work and play. Help us guarantee 80 more years of service throughout Palm Beach County by donating $80.80 today.”

For more information on the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, to become a member or to donate, please visit jlpb.org or call 561.689.7590.