History

Below is a summary of the history of the Junior League of Charleston. Please see our complete history for details of each League year.

  • In 1901, Mary Harriman, a 19 year-old New York debutante, founded the first Junior League in the United States.
  • The Junior League of Charleston (JLC) was admitted to the Association of Junior Leagues of America in January 1923, with 30 members.
  • 1924-1938, many clinics were established through the work of the JLC including Child Welfare Clinic, Crescent Center Clinic, Kanawha City Well Baby Clinic, JL Orthopedic Clinic, Heart Clinic, a Free Dental Clinic, Sensory Perception Center, Children’s Detention Home.
  • Established the Children’s Theater.
  • In 1950, the JLC established the Children’s Museum, formally known as Sunrise Museum, in Charleston. Currently, the museum is housed as the Avampato Discovery Museum in the Clay Center, Charleston. Through 1983, the League continues strong financial and volunteer support to ensure the Museum’s support. In addition, many programs that exist in the museum were started by the League such as a Discovery Center, Starlight and Nature Center.
  • Initiated the School Volunteer Program in 1967.
  • In 1968-69, the JLC approved three new projects: Co-sponsoring 50-100 units of rent supplement housing, now known as Vandalia Terrace Housing Corporation (groundbreaking in 1972), infant tutoring and public affairs TV.
  • Two additional projects were approved in 1970-71: “Drug Are Like That,” and educational file for 4th and 5th graders and a Volunteer Coordinating Center (in cooperation with Mid-Appalachian Environmental Service).
  • The first “Whale of a Sale,” first named “Bargain Days” is held in 1973, netting over $12,500. This is a huge indoor yard sale designed to benefit the community and raise funds for the League. The League continues to host this fundraiser bi-annually.
  • In 1974-75, the JLC adopted a new project, the Group Home for Runaways, now known as Daymark. Daymark expands in October 1976 with the opening of Patchwork, a residence for runaway youth and in the following year it is chosen as one of 20 outstanding national programs. By 1979, Patchwork is the third largest home serving runaway youth in the nation.
  • In this same League year, the first edition of “Mountain Measures” is published, with 10,000 copies printed. The cookbooks sell out in the first year and an additional order of 10,000 is approved.
  • “Tree Sense” is established as a three year ecology project in 1976-77.
  • Two new projects are adopted in 1977-78 by the League: Art Enrichment and Foster Care Recruitment, recruiting 132 inquiries to the Department of Welfare.
  • In 1979-80, the League established Volunteer Educational Scholarships, given to high school seniors who exemplify the spirit of volunteerism. Those scholarships are still in effect today.
  • In 1979-80, the League designed and printed 5000 coloring books and presented them to the Charleston Area Medical Center.
  • After four reprints of the successful “Mountain Measures” cookbook, the League votes to publish a sequel entitled “Mountain Measures, A Second Serving” in 1981-82.
  • In the same year, the JLC started researching the establishment of a Ronald McDonald House in Charleston in conjunction with CAMC. The Ronald McDonald House opened in November 1985 and provides a “home-away-from-home” for families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.
  • In 1987-88, the League adopted as drug education program using puppets called “Turning On … Turning Off.” For the program, the JLC received $21,000 from the Governor’s Drug-Free Communities Fund.
  • Violence on View project is approved in 1988-89. The Video Violence Bill is introduced by the JLC in the WV Legislature. The bill is signed into law the next year.
  • Begin new project in the Spring of 2002 with the Tiskelwah Center. The center serves and brings together Charleston’s West Side community. Tiskelwah’s mission is to create a community identity for the educational, social and economic enhancement of Charleston’s residents through intergenerational programs.
  • Through the years, the JLC has financially supported many organizations, in addition to the above. These include Memorial Hospital Association, Red Cross Blood Drive, Shoe Fund for Davis Child Shelter, Speech and Hearing Center, Summer Program for hearing impaired children and Family Services Sexual Assault Information Center.
  • Many scholarships have been granted through the JLC to deserving high school seniors who have exhibited excellent grades and service to the community.
  • The JLC volunteers have assisted with many activities in Charleston including Red Cross, Civilian Defense, YMCA Services Center (both war-time agencies), Boys and Girls Club, model UN meeting for Kanawha County Schools, WV Welfare Conference, Battered Wives Task Force community shelter project, Read Aloud West Virginia, WV Harvest, Hope House, Salvation Army, Bob Burdette Center, HOPE Community Development Corporation, Kanawha Valley Senior Services, YWCA Resolve Center and the March of Dimes.