Junior League of Omaha Celebrates 100 Years

The 100th anniversary of the Junior League of Omaha is upon us, and the League has planned two events to mark this special occasion. The 100th Anniversary Celebratory Luncheon was held on March 15, at the Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District, and the 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception will be on May 3, at the Joslyn Art Museum. These two events are truly “A Celebration of the Junior League of Omaha’s Past, Present and Future.”

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Bethany Banister and Patricia Stillmock are the co-chairs of the 100th Anniversary committee, and they have been creating and executing the plans that surround the festivities for nearly three years. When asked how the history of the League influenced their preparations, they responded, “The team of historians and our committee did an amazing job looking into the history of the League, and it inspired all aspects of our planning.” The Joslyn Art Museum, for example, not only has historical connections to the Junior League, but the architecture of the building dates back to around the same time as the Junior League of Omaha’s establishment.

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A great deal of time has been spent on making the 100th anniversary celebrations special, and this includes research into the past, as well as interviews with Sustainers and past members of the League. In addition to studying the records at Junior League of Omaha headquarters, the committee has worked with the Omaha World-Herald, the Durham Museum, and the Douglas County Historical Society to locate anecdotes, photos, and stories from the past. Sustainers have been generous with sharing their archives, and Banister and Stillmock agreed that these interactions have been “the most fun and rewarding part of this journey.”

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Highlights from the luncheon include guest speaker, Yesterday’s Lady, Sue McLain, who shared the history of the little black dress. A ten thousand dollar gift was made to The Rose Theater, an organization with whom the Junior League of Omaha has a strong history. And lastly, the anniversary video debuted an interview with the oldest living Junior League of Omaha Past President, who also attended the event!

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As we enjoy these special events, we remember the theme: A Celebration of the Junior League of Omaha’s Past, Present and Future. Bethany and Patricia hope that the “League continues to be a strong organization that teaches women how to be great volunteers while making great friendships.”  

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New Learning and Networking through Junior League Training Opportunities

The Junior League Training Committee is halfway through their 2018/2019 event calendar, but far from finished with offering exciting trainings. I recently sat down with Training Chair, Mary Burnett, to recap the events held in the fall and see what exciting events they have coming this spring.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the Training Committee and the committee’s role in the Junior League?

A: I always go back to the fact that the Junior League is first and foremost a training organization. We like to offer a combination of events that are focused on training women to be leaders in professional and volunteering roles, as well as trainings that offer a chance for League members to learn a fun new skill and network with other League women. This year we’ve already held trainings on financial acumen, parliamentary procedure, Google Drive, CPR/First Aid, cooking classes, mending clothes, and decorating ornaments with kids!

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Parliamentary Procedure training prepared these leaders for future meetings.

Q: How do you and your committee members come up with the types of training events offered? How many do you try to schedule in a year?

A: We use recommendations from multiple sources. We look at annual survey results, talk with League membership, and at the January General Membership Meeting we actually did live polling to help pick some events to plan for the spring. Since our committee has grown, we try to have each coordinator plan one or two events. This year we will have completed twelve trainings by May!

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League members sharpen skills.

Q: What events do you have coming up this spring that you’d like our membership to be aware of?

A: We are super excited about the events this spring. Our big finale is going to be our “Margaritas and Mulligans” event on May 19. This will include a mini golf training and then a sign-up for a Nine-Hole Scramble. We are opening up this training to Sustainers as well. Also based on the live polling from the January General Membership Meeting, we are going to do a training on wine (that was by far the most popular choice) and meditation. “Meditation and Mimosas” will be held on March 8 and March 23. Mark your calendars! We also have one more event that we will plan for April that is TBD! So keep your eyes posted on the Hot Sheet and Facebook for updates.

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Growing financially savvy through Women’s Finance Training.

Recruitment for next year’s New Member group begins in February. For more information about joining the Junior League of Omaha, visit https://www.jlomaha.org/join-us/.  

Big Red Block Party Celebrates Husker Spirit

This year, the Junior League of Omaha’s Big Red Block Party fundraiser hosted 108 people at the Scott Conference Center. The silent auction was a favorite among attendees with 62 fun, unique packages with a wide range of starting bids, appropriate for all spend levels! Attendees also enjoyed a delicious buffet with rotating, heavy appetizers, two bars, and yard games.

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This was the final year for this special event, and Lauren Anderson, the Big Red Block Party Co-Chair, stated, “The most meaningful moment during the event was honoring the previous Chairs and talking about the fundraiser. This event has raised $176,000 for the League over the last nine years, and that deserves to be celebrated.”

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Collaboration and communication were two key elements that contributed to Big Red Block Party’s success. As Lauren Anderson, Big Red Block Party Co-Chair, described, “Our committee worked really well together…between our (almost) weekly committee hot sheets and our committee meetings, we were able to efficiently plan our event.” Anderson also credited working with Jen Bartlet, their JLO Sustainer Advisor, and a past Big Red Block Party Chair, as a vital resource who gave both Co-Chair Hunter Taylor and herself additional insight into making the event a success.

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When asked if she had any advice for future Junior League of Omaha fundraisers, Anderson responded, “Yes! Create a timeline and stick with it. Check in with your committee, but don’t bombard them with emails. Say thank you. And most importantly, seriously evaluate your event every year to make sure it’s still relevant.”

For more information about upcoming Junior League of Omaha events or to become a member, visit our website at http://www.jlomaha.org.

 

JLO Past Presidents & Sustainers Luncheon

The Junior League of Omaha Foundation hosted the annual Past Presidents and Sustainer Luncheon on a beautiful October day at Champions Run. Kathy Martin, Junior League of Omaha Foundation Board President, welcomed a large group to the luncheon, introducing past Junior League of Omaha Presidents and past Foundation Presidents. Current Junior League of Omaha President Lindsey Tonniges updated the Sustainers on the exciting projects with which the League is currently involved.

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The 100th Anniversary Co-Chairs, Patricia Stillmock and Bethany Bannister, spoke on the upcoming events for the centennial celebration of the Junior League of Omaha in 2019.  Foundation President Kathy Martin shared, “All the Sustainers are looking forward to attending the March 15th luncheon celebrating our 100th anniversary!” In addition, the Junior League of Omaha Cookbook Co-Chairs, Ashley Rich and Jamie Schneider, were there to promote A Century of Serving: A Centennial Celebration Cookbook.

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For more information regarding the Junior League of Omaha, visit the website at www.jlomaha.org. Learn more about the Junior League of Omaha Foundation at https://www.jlomaha.org/foundation/. To order a personal copy of A Century of Serving: A Centennial Celebration Cookbook, visit https://www.jlomaha.org/cookbook.

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Town Hall Forums: Conversation & Collaboration

This fall Junior League of Omaha members had the exciting opportunity to participate in town hall forums that sought to both educate members on the new community impact focus areas and gather feedback regarding membership engagement. Approximately 130 Junior League of Omaha members attended, and almost 50 shared feedback through surveys!

The Community Research and Development Committee and President-Elect-Elect Katie Triplett, on behalf of the Membership Engagement Ad Hoc Committee, organized these meetings for Junior League of Omaha members as a way to engage in powerful conversations about League experiences and shared visions for the future. According to President-Elect-Elect Katie Triplett, “members really are excited about building a more diverse and inclusive League experience. JLO leadership is committed to participating in AJLI’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives, so we are excited our membership is already supportive of these efforts.”

In January, League members will be voting on one of three areas in which to focus future Junior League of Omaha programs: Disenfranchised Youth; Hunger and Access to Healthy Foods; or Abuse in Women and Children. Additionally, the Membership Engagement Ad Hoc Committee’s focus is to ensure that the Junior League of Omaha continues to attract and retain members by providing enriching opportunities. With such significant topics of interest, it was the perfect time to coordinate conversations and seek feedback from the many perspectives shared by the membership.

As a result of the conversations, questions, and suggestions garnered by the town hall forums, the Membership Engagement Ad Hoc Committee will present a report to the Board, which will feature current information on where the League stands, as well as recommendations from other Leagues and from AJLI. Specific ideas and concepts to bear in mind while planning for the 2019-2020 year will also be included.

The town hall forums have provided a wonderful way for League members to meet and engage with other League members in a smaller setting. President-Elect-Elect Katie Triplett stated, “I’m so appreciative so many of our members joined us for these forums and shared so candidly! In addition to receiving great details about how to make League membership even more amazing, we also had an opportunity to meet and visit with members we hadn’t met before. Members also shared with me how much they liked the forums – we are going to try to work these town hall forums into future years! We want to ensure the Junior League of Omaha stays transparent, relevant, and influential for years to come!”

Recruitment for next year’s New Member group begins in February. For more information about joining the Junior League of Omaha, visit https://www.jlomaha.org/join-us/.  

Project Hope Pack Transitions into Leadership of CASA

Over the years, Project Hope Pack has positively impacted the lives of thousands by distributing necessities and comfort items to children ages 3-18 who are taken out of crisis situations. These backpacks are donated to several agencies around the Omaha metro. In addition to hygiene products, these backpacks also include items such as stuffed animals, blankets and activities, which help to boost children’s spirits during challenging times.  

The Junior League of Omaha is proud that this program has come full circle and that so many members have seen Project Hope Pack from its inception to the community launch to the Service Board of CASA of Douglas County, which will take place in May 2019.

The 2018-2019 League year has been filled with launch milestones, such as a complete move of products from our inventory to CASA. All of our project shifts now take place at CASA, located at 2412 St. Mary’s Avenue in Omaha.

The CASA Service Board members have been paired with Project Hope Pack committee members to ensure a smooth transition. So far, we have distributed 620 backpacks to organizations such as Project Harmony, Youth Emergency Services, Partnership 4 Kids, Lutheran Family Services, Completely Kids, Heart Ministry, Boys Town, and more!

The committee looks forward to  the continued success of Project Hope Pack through the hard work and volunteerism of CASA Douglas County Service Members!

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Project Hope Pack Committee Members

“JLO Class of the Century” Welcomes 86 New Members

The New Members kicked off their League year with their first meeting on Aug. 28 at Security National Bank, where the women got to know their core groups and learned about their upcoming year.

September’s New Member Meeting focused on Community Impact. The women enjoyed a football and fall theme with beer and pizza.

The Communications Council presented at the October New Member Meeting with a Halloween theme.

November activities included a social at the Makery and meeting at The Mattress Factory. New Members learned more about the 100th Year Anniversary Celebration and guest Marian Andersen shared her volunteerism background with the New Member Class.

Additionally so far this League year, New Members celebrated and acknowledged the significance of their membership class, complete with a hashtag they chose (#JLOClassOfTheCentury) and a special class logo.

New Member Committee Chair Megan Horn focused on creating a theme and tone of building League relationships and sharing the experiences and community impact opportunities available. The committee has revised the format of the meetings and focused more on providing experiences and helping build connections.

Recruitment for next year’s New Member group begins in February. For more information about joining the Junior League of Omaha, visit https://www.jlomaha.org/join-us/.

Bargain Shoppers Triumph at Bargain Bash 2018!

Omaha’s 2nd Annual blowout rummage sale, Bargain Bash, kicked off on August 24, 2018. This year’s event was a huge success, not only regarding League participation but also community engagement and returning shoppers from last year’s event. Over the three days the sale was running, including sorting and setup on Wednesday and Thursday, 50 volunteers helped set the stage for record crowds on Saturday, August 25, when the sale opened to the public.

“At the start of the bash on the first day, there was a line of people waiting that led out the door,” said Macey Morgan, Bargain Bash Inventory and Pick- Up Coordinator, “Many of the attendees were excited when they received their Borsheim’s bag for shopping, and we believe it encouraged them to purchase more as they shopped!”

The sale couldn’t have been as big of a success without all the donations from new, active, and sustaining members.  The more than 3,500 items donated, included home goods, clothing, kitchen appliances, decor and even a tanning bed.

“Not only were we able to impact the community through our sales, but we partnered with other non-profits who collected our leftover items,” Morgan explained, “This partnership with other non-profit groups helps the league continue to lend a helping hand in our community. Overall the event grossed an amazing profit to help the League continue to impact the community with our projects and league engagement. Nothing could have been possible without the committee and commitment. A huge shout out goes to the entire committee for their hard work and for making it genuinely fun!”

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The Cookbooks Are Here!

The Junior League of Omaha’s fourth cookbook, A Century of Serving: A Centennial Celebration Cookbook, has more than 200 mouthwatering recipes, from cocktails to desserts and every course in-between. This book will help you turn any meal into an occasion. Did you know, if every League member bought seven cookbooks or encouraged seven people to buy, we would hit our 2018-2019 goal? Bring one to work, your kids’ sporting event, or a friend gathering. Let’s work together to rally the Omaha community and celebrate 100 years of The Omaha Junior League!

The cookbooks are on sale now at general membership meetings and the JLO Holiday Social for $35 plus tax. You can also purchase online at https://www.jlomaha.org/cookbook/. You’ll even get a 10% discount if you purchase a case of 10, online only! Online orders should be placed by Dec. 8 to ensure delivery by the holidays.

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Here is one recipe to highlight: 

Junior League of Omaha – A Century of Serving: A Centennial Celebration Cookbook

Turtle Bars

# Servings: 3 dozen Category: Desserts

Serving Size: Pan Size: 9 x 13 baking pan

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • ¾ cups packed brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup plus 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½  cups chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Press over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with the pecans.

Combine ¾ cupbrown sugar and ⅔ cup plus 3 tablespoons butter in a heave saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour evenly over the pecans. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and light brown. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Let stand to cool completely before cutting into bars.

 

Christmas cookies to warm your holiday!

December is the most wonderful time of the year.

The decorations. The parties. And the baked goods.

This year, celebrate the holiday season with ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness from the Junior League of Omaha’s A Century of Serving centennial celebration cookbook, available in Fall 2018. Caramel goodness, you read that right.

The cookies, which are delectable on their own but pair well with coffee, cocktails and cocoa, are the League’s December Recipe of the Month. The “caramel goodness” alone is sure to impress your guests.

After you make the ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness, share a photo on social media using #JLOCookbook. Members who do will be entered into a drawing for a gift card.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 caramel candies, halved
  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar

Instructions 

 

  • Beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla with a heavy-duty stand-up mixer on medium speed until mixture is smooth.
  • Process flour, ginger, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until ginger is very finely chopped and mixture is well-blended, approximately 1-2 minutes. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended after each addition.  Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill 6-24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into approximately 30 (1 ½nch) balls.  Flatten each ball in your palm, and place 1 caramel half in center.  Wrap dough around caramel, and reshape into a ball by rolling in hand, completely covering the caramel.  Place balls approximately 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle each cookie lightly with Demerara sugar.
  • Bake in preheated oven until flattened and lightly browned on the bottom, approximately 10-12 minutest, switching pans halfway through baking (i.e. top cookie sheet is switched with the bottom cooking sheet). Cool on pans for 8 minutes.
  • Serve warm either straight out of oven or reheated in the microwave.

 

The ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness were just one of the cookies on the table at the Cookbook Committee’s November meeting, which doubled as a holiday social for the members. Members also made ooey gooey butter cake cookies, dark chocolate and sea salt sables, rum buttercrunch toffee and other recipes exclusive to the cookbook.

Need some more inspiration for your upcoming parties?

Happy holidays! And happy hosting.