The Junior League of Portland (JLP) was formed on September 9, 1922 by 12 charter members.
The first decade of the League’s work benefited Maine General Hospital (Occupational Therapy in Children’s Hospital), the Braille Library in Washington, D.C., and the Baby Hygiene Welfare Association. The JLP stated a Thrift Shop on Free Street, and its profits helped fund JLP community initiatives.
During its second decade, the League transferred responsibility of the Occupational Therapy to the Maine General and Children’s Hospitals and concentrated its energies on the Children’s Theater, helping the Theater become a permanent fixture in the community. The first of many “Follies” was held, where ticket income would benefit JLP communities.
The third decade of work benefited the Children’s Theater and Maine General Hospital. The Children’s Theater was incorporated, with its financial support coming from the Thrift Shop income. The League’s work benefited Maine General Hospital with the purchase of 10,000 book covers for the hospital library, financial support for the treatment of children in the Cardiac Clinic, establishment of facilities for convalescent care of rheumatic fever patients, and a $21,600 donation for the establishment of two four-bed rooms for child cardiac patients in the new Medical Center.
Follies profits soared, helping to fund community projects, and featured stars like Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, and Russell Kyle.
The League supported the Portland Hearing Society with $12,000 over a two-year period, inaugurated a thirteen-week live children’s program entitled The Show Me Show, and benefited the Catherine Morrill Day Nursery through profits from the Thrift Shop.
The Guide to Area Health, Welfare and Recreation Services was published and distributed, the restoration of three rooms in the Sweat Mansion was completed, an Information Center for the Aging was established with United Community Services, and an Arts Council was formed.
League supported the Arts Council by financing its calendar, Portland Goodwill Industries Sheltered Workshop by paying the salary of a new Executive Director, its first legislative bill that created an Office of State Archivist,
In the all of 1964 the Community Arts Committee sponsored an Art Exhibit, entitled “Amusements,” at the Portland Museum of Art.
The Community and Project Research Committee published a booklet, “Greater Portland Scholarships and Loans,” which was distributed in 1965.
The League initiated the “School Volunteer Project” with 14 volunteers working in the Portland Schools, a project that was taken over by the City of Portland School System soon after. With the hiring of the coordinator, this project grew to include 260 volunteers in 1970.
The Preservation Project in conjunction with Greater Portland Landmarks terminated. The project included the restoration of the Daniel Howe House with financial commitment of $19,500 financing the salary of a part-time Executive Director in 1969-70 and the initiation of educational programs and an extensive survey of the Portland Peninsula.
A two-year Environmental Education Project was voted by the membership in May 1970. In May 1972, the Environment Information Service and Speakers Bureau were formally turned over to the Maine Audubon Society to be continued as ongoing services to the community. In March 1972, the League voted to fund the salary of the Advocate for The Gate Coffee House and to initiate Project Discovery for the purpose of educating League members to better fill community needs.
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary year, the Junior League sponsored two free performances by The Children’s Theater.
A project with the Maine Youth Center received national recognition by being chosen by the Institute of Government of the University of Georgia for inclusion in a citizen’s Handbook on the Criminal Justice System. This program included League members to be trained in educational and psychological testing, interviewing, counseling, and remedial reading.
A workshop on “Developing Life and Career Goals” was presented by Project Discovery, a project was initiated with the was initiated.
IMPACT Handbook published an article on the Maine Youth Center. The handbook was distributed nationally, to be used as a tool for starting projects.
The Children’s Theater Project evolved into the Friends of CTM with support derived from grants and fund-raising events. Over 50 performances were given to 20,000 children in the year of this change.
The Children’s Museum became incorporated with thousands visiting its facility at Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth.
A Community Volunteer Fair hosted 46 agencies in coalition with Westbrook College. Volunteer Career Development became more established in the community by offering courses at Canal Bank, Westbrook College, and the YWCA. A Women’s Conference sponsored by the Junior League and Westbrook College was a great success.
The Junior League of Portland celebrated its 60th anniversary. The League funded and designed a brochure for the Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s Amity Center and the RSVP cookbook was published.
“A Resource Book of Volunteer Needs in the Greater Portland Area” was underwritten for the Greater Portland Association of Volunteer Agencies.
The Junior League sponsored the Women’s Center Project, Project K.I.S.S. (Kids in Safety Seats), and the volunteer coordinator’s position at the Children’s Museum of Maine, giving some $22,130 and volunteers to community projects. The Leauge also initiated the Parenting Center Project, sponsored a Youth Recognition Halloween Hayride and Party with Portland’s Youth Opportunities Office,
The League adopted the AJL position on children and received training in pubic affairs activities. An Endowment Fund for the benefit of community projects was established.
The Provisional Volunteer Project worked with the Maine Youth Center.
The League sponsored its first “Junior League Day” with the Bangor Junior League at the State House in Augusta during the Legislative session.
RSVP cookbook was in its third printing for 10,000 cookbooks.
The JLP helped provide capacity to the Parenting Center, Victoria Mansion, Rape Crisis Center, WasteCap Portland, Center for Grieving Children, Maine Audubon Society, and provided extraordinary funding for the Relocation and Expansion Project of the Children’s Museum.
A Mini-Grant Program was implemented. and awarded funds to Southern Coastal Family Planning for an AIDS Education Project, JLP Environmental Task Force for a WasteCap Demonstration Project, Portland Ballet Company / Portland School of Ballet for lecture demonstrations and mini performances, Foster Grandparents/PROP “Grammie Bag” Project, Preble Street Resource Center for a Homeless Video Presentation, Cumberland County Affordable Housing Venture Building Materials Bank, and the Rape Crisis Center for Date Rape Awareness, Lighthouse Shelter, and Project Safestart, a joint effort between Reiche School and Cumberland Count Child Abuse and Neglect Council designed to provide care for children before school starts each morning.
The League positioned itself to make greater impact on the community by studying and committing itself to focused projects over an extended period of time, entitled Signature Projects. The League’s future work would provide financial and volunteer capacity to one area of community need as defined by its Signature Project.
The first Signature Focus Area of the League was the prevention of child abuse and neglect. In collaboration with Portland Ministries at Large, the Beacon Teen Center, a safe place for at-risk youth, opened with strong League support. Serving over175 of Portland’s homeless and at-risk youth in its first year, the Beacon Teen Center received a BMW Merit Award from AJLI at Annual Conference. The Beacon Teen Center was turned over to the community to become part of the Preble Street Resource Center.
The JLP provided volunteerism or funding to many community organizations including Preble Street, WasteCap Portland, Windham Adult Education, Root Cellar Ministries, Community Health Services, The Center for Therapeutic Recreation, PROP and Peaks Island Child Development Center.
Maine Ingredients, the League’s second cookbook, was published, reaching #1 on the Maine bestseller list and winning the New England Regional Award winner of the Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards.
A new Signature Project with Kids First Center was initiated.
The JLP built upon the momentum of the 75th Anniversary by renewing our commitment to the Mission. We created a recognition program to honor one member each month who exemplified the Mission.
The Kids First Center was awarded the prestigious 1998 Cleaves Achievement Award by the Family Law Section of the Maine State Bar Association. Out of 296 Leagues in four countries, the JLP was recognized for its continued success with Kids First Center, earning the prestigious AJLI / BMW Community Impact Merit Award, with a $1000 check earmarked for the Kids First Center. This was the second AJLI/ BMW Community Impact Merit Award to be received by the Junior League of Portland.
The Junior League provided financial or volunteer support to Arts at the Grange, Inc; Community Learning Center in Portland, Cottage 6 at the Maine Youth Center. Community Learning Center,Family Crisis Services, YWCA Teen & Parent Center and Family Crisis Services, and Maine Youth Center. The JLP also joined forces with the Portland Police Department to produce "Give Back the Night" and provided three individual safety forums for local community members.
Celebrating its 80th anniversary, the League participated in meaningful volunteer opportunities with Kids Closet, Long Creek Youth Development Center (formerly Maine Youth Center), Give Back the Night, Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, Opportunity Farm, Kids First Center, Preble Street Resource Center, Children’s Theatre of Maine, Maine Audubon Society, Wayside Soup Kitchen, STRIVE, Sweetser, American Red Cross, A Company of Girls, Dress for Success, Center for Grieving Children, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Mission Possible Teen Center, and Children’s Museum of Maine.
The JLP membership voted to launch its next Signature Project in collaboration with Community Counseling Center to develop Greater Portland Trauma Assistance Network (TIP). TIP provides a layperson volunteer to the scene of a traumatic event or situation within 20 minutes to assist individuals affected, but not injured, by the tragedy.
11 members joined hundreds of other Junior League volunteers from across the nation to travel to New Orleans to rebuild homes damaged by hurricanes. The JLP joined over 200 other Junior Leagues to launch a Kids in the Kitchen program, an initiative to address the problem of childhood obesity.
The JLP provided volunteer or financial support to Good Shepherd Food Bank, Mission Possible Teen Center, Long Creek Youth Development Center, Ronald McDonald House, 21 Reasons, Center for Grieving Children, Children’s Museum of Maine, Kids First Center, Maine Audubon Society, and Preble Street Resource Center.
The Junior League of Portland was chosen by Maine Association for Non-Profits, as one of twelve to exhibit at the State House in Augusta. The JLP spoke to legislators and received feedback on community needs.
The JLP adopted a new focus area: Hunger & Food Insecurity. The Junior League joined forces with Good Shepherd Food Bank to launch a backpack program to serve children who suffer the effects of chronic hunger. This program, which currently serves 400 Maine children from 15 elementary schools each week, provides nutritious, easy-to-prepare food for food-insecure children to eat during weekends and school vacations when those crucial school meals are unavailable.