Miss Lorraine Werlein and Miss Elizabeth Eustis work a booth at “Junior League Red Cross Day” on April 13, 1934.
Photos courtesy of the Louisiana State Museum Historical Center; Gift of the Junior League of New Orleans; Junior League of New Orleans Collection; Record Group 531, 2014.011.01 – 2014.016.039,
In August 2016 following a thunderstorm turned natural disaster, those of us in New Orleans looked on in disbelief as we witnessed an all too familiar scene: day-to-day routines disrupted and lives haphazardly unhinged as forces out of one’s control took on a life of their own. News coverage of the event suddenly took the form of what can best be described as that of a familiar scent, only in this case the types of memories that came to mind elicited raw feelings of heartache, loss, despair and entire lives unraveling. It was akin to an unwanted house-guest asking to be let in just once more. Suddenly, for many members of the Junior League of New Orleans, it became clear what must be done, and paying it forward had never resonated so loudly nor so close to home. Through partnerships with other local businesses and foundations, within a week’s time, JLNO Headquarters was filled with state-and-country-wide donations that included everything from pet supplies to baby formula.
Active involvement in humanitarian efforts by League members is hardly a new development. In fact, since the Junior League’s inception, it has consistently assessed the ever-evolving needs of the individual communities served while also keeping attuned to the larger-scale, more global events of the time. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, as war-related efforts were increasingly chaired by Junior League chapters all across the United States in response to World War II, JLNO members were responsible not only for providing basic child-care services to families where the wife was called to work, but also for rallying for increased membership to the American Red Cross through days long membership drives. So, in August of 2016, when more than two feet of rainfall gave way to catastrophic flooding never before seen by many of our neighbors, the Junior League unwaveringly called to service the values passed down from our predecessors, core values so deeply rooted in our heritage that they are innate.
People often promise easier times “once the dust settles,” implying that the road to recovery is both pre-determined and difficult to amend. Yet, the heart of the Junior League’s philosophy that draws like-minded individuals is the mission and promise to come together in an attempt to defy odds for a greater good. In fact, our mission is as unfaltering now as it was in 1923 when a mere 10 women came together vowing to make a difference in the New Orleans community. Their vision is still evident today in all of JLNO’s endeavors, and oh what a difference they’ve made.
Another member is officially added to the New Orleans Chapter of the Red Cross as Mrs. Thomas A. Kirkland bestows a membership button upon Mrs. Henry Robinson.