While the year 2020 has been rife with challenges, it has also been a year of positive reflection for many. Current events have caused many of us to reflect on the “little things” that we often take for granted. 

Supporting our families, witnessing our children interact virtually with teachers and schoolmates, collaborating with colleagues from home, spending quality time with significant others and our pets, and life itself have taken priority over office meetings and getting the kids to school on time. As the dust of competition and racing against deadlines has cleared, we can all find a reason to pause and say, “Thank you.” The women of the Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) are finding their own reasons to be grateful by reflecting on the altruism and experiences of fellow members.

As she reflects on her contributions to JLNO and the wider community, Diaper Bank Committee member Eileen Chao says that she is grateful for the women of JLNO because of “their amazing ability to hold thousands of women accountable, in many different ways — committees, volunteer, training, money towards mission, etc.” Eileen is also grateful for JLNO’s organization and collaborative skills, which have allowed her and a multitude of other women to volunteer and give back to the citizens of New Orleans. While Eileen has expressed an appreciation for the abundance of volunteer opportunities made possible by JLNO, her most memorable experience was working with Educares. “To be able to give toys and clothes for kids in need during the holidays just brings a huge smile to my face,” Eileen says.

Eileen developed an interest in the League while participating in the annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Fellowship selection process. As a blossoming entrepreneur, Eileen expresses sincere gratitude for the opportunity that allowed her to perfect her sales pitch before an audience of more than 200 people. Last year, Eileen served as a Lagniappe writer and looks forward to sharing her time and talents within other JLNO committees. 

Provisional member Shelina Davis expresses gratitude for Junior League of New Orleans’ assistance with connecting her with the community. Having recently returned to her native New Orleans after 6 years, Shelina longed for a sense of fulfillment and camaraderie, which she was able to attain through her volunteer efforts with JLNO. “During a time when people with different views and opinions often never interact with each other, I think JLNO offers an environment for being able to have open conversations.” Shelina says the League has taught her that while members might not always agree, they are still able to hold respectful dialogues. “How else will we grow and learn? I’m glad that I joined and am looking forward to connecting more with my fellow JLNO-ers and supporting and uplifting our community, especially our women and girls.” 

With a deep expression of appreciativeness, Shelina dotes on her provisional advisors, Eileen and Lindsey, and the duo’s awesome job at making her “feel connected even during times of physical distancing.” This is Shelina’s first year with JLNO, but she has already enjoyed a wealth of experiences, including helping out at the Diaper Bank, Rolling River Rescue and with Greater New Orleans STEM, where she was able to meet an amazing group of women from all walks of life. 

Reflecting on her own JLNO experience, sustainer April Fournier Scott feels a sense of profound gratitude for the opportunity to serve the New Orleans community as a JLNO Board member. April proudly shares that she was the first African American to serve as a member of Junior League New Orleans’ Board  of Directors. “Being on the Board allowed me to understand the impact that is not only made directly, but indirectly through the infectious nature of voluntarism and the training that JLNO gives to its members to be their very best in all efforts,” April says. When asked of her most memorable volunteer experiences, April says she cherishes both her experience as a member of the JLNO Board of Directors and her placement activities, including  JLNO’s thrift store and Bloomin’ Deals.

Like many other women in the League, April shares that some of her best friendships have been formed through her association with JLNO. 

Junior League of New Orleans is certainly grateful for women such as April, Eileen and Shelina, who exemplify the attributes of altruism and sisterhood as articulated in the founding mission of this great organization.

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JLNO members sort diapers received from diaper drives across the community on October 14, 2020. Photos by Ann Conger

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