Cooking for a Crowd

Cooking for 20 can be tricky, but every month Junior League of Omaha Board of Directors take on the challenge of providing dinner for a monthly Board meeting. When it came time for New Member Chair Bethany Banister and Communications Chair Melissa Carlberg to take their turn, they were confident the Junior League’s Toast to Omaha cookbook would be the perfect resource – and would build excitement for the upcoming release of the League’s new cookbook, to be released in conjunction with our 100th anniversary in 2019.

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“We thought soup would be a crowd-pleaser, and also figured it’d be fairly easy to transport and keep warm,” says Melissa. “Bethany and I got together, picked out some recipes that looked delicious and started planning a couple weeks before the meeting.”

Melissa made the following soup recipes:

  • Curried Pumpkin Soup, page 49
  • Upsteam Brewing Company’s Smoked Gouda Beer Soup, page 59
  • Italian Vegetable soup, page 55

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For a side, Bethany chose Ron’s Wheatfield Cornbread, page 182, and for dessert, gave Very Rich Everything Bars, page 214, a try.

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“The cornbread was super easy,” says Bethany. “I do have a suggestion for the dessert, though. Use creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy for both the base and the fudge topping. I also used salted nuts, even though the recipe called for unsalted. It seemed to cut down the richness a little!”

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Final consensus? Everything was a hit! The sausage soup was nearly gone and the beer cheese soup reheated wonderfully.  

“The Italian vegetable soup was a fairly quick, easy recipe and you can even save some time by eliminating the chopping and buying frozen spinach and carrots,” says Melissa. “I’d definitely make it again. In fact, I’d make them all again. I especially liked the Upstream beer cheese soup. I used a cheddar to supplement the Gouda, simply because it was a bit more economical for a double batch.”

Both Bethany and Melissa agree that the dinner was a success; board members all tasted several Toast to Omaha recipes for the first time and everyone seemed excited to make them again! Hopefully, it got members thinking about what they can submit for the next Junior League of Omaha cookbook!

The Cookbook Committee is currently planning for the upcoming edition, A Century of Serving, and looks forward to hosting tasting parties beginning this summer to choose the entries for the anniversary cookbook. Be on the lookout for recipes you’d be interested in submitting – and if you’d like one of the special edition Junior League of Omaha aprons, orders will be available soon at jlomaha.org.

Tip the Fundraising Scale with TAGG by Guest Blogger Katy Spratte

The Junior League of Omaha supports this vibrant community through countless volunteer hours, amazing fundraisers, and women and child-focused projects and scholarships. As a first year active in the League, I am thrilled to be able to present a great new fundraising option for our membership. That opportunity is through a local start up, called Together A Greater Good (TAGG). TAGG is an app that empowers users to support local nonprofits just by visiting participating businesses. That’s right, visit a participating business, TAGG a purchase, and the business will donate 5 percent of your purchase to the cause of your choice.

During the first month of being live on TAGG, the Junior League of Omaha has already raised $16.79. Six active league members have TAGGed so far, and I’m really excited to see what our whole group can accomplish. Those who have TAGGed have done so at Blue Sushi, Plank Seafood & Provisions, Beansmith Coffee Roasters, Railcar Modern American Kitchen, Bliss Boutique, Newman’s Pasta Cafe, Everbloom Floral & Gift, and Smoothie King. There are about 130 local businesses that are participating partners in TAGG, and will donate to causes of your choice. Additionally, the first $1,000 raised each month through the app is automatically matched by the 88 Restaurant Group, so that 5 percent donation is actually 10 percent at the beginning go the month.

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 It’s easy to see how simply frequenting TAGG businesses, that many of us already visit, can really add up to major funds for a worthwhile organization. Please consider downloading “Together A Greater Good” app today, and choosing to support the Junior League of Omaha without spending an extra dime. TAGGing a purchase takes about 30 seconds, watch this video tutorial. Start TAGGing today!
–Katy Spratte

Ladies Who bRUNch

The Junior League of Omaha is hosting a new fundraiser this year and planning committee members are passionate. This April, the League will host a 5K fun run that combines two events that League members just love: running and brunching. The concept is pretty simple, really: run 3.1 miles, eat brunch, support the League’s child-minded community projects. And everyone’s invited. We asked the committee members what keeps them running.

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Lisa Tronchetti will tell you she is an indoor runner. She remembers doing a 5K before, but lately she hasn’t made it past the one mile mark. Even though her distance has shortened, she keeps plugging away, because she has motivation. “I run to stay healthy and prevent Type II Diabetes,” she says. “Type II Diabetes is common for women in my family as they grow older and my hope is that by living a healthy lifestyle NOW with a healthy diet and a regular exercise schedule that includes a little running, I will greatly delay or prevent any onset of Type II Diabetes in my own health,” Lisa says. When the Junior League of Omaha announced a 5K run this spring, Lisa saw an opportunity to volunteer and get back on a training regimen. “I’m in my favorite Athleta pants and listening to the second season of Serial while I train,” she says. 

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It took Stacey Sellers a little time to warm up to the idea of loving a run. “I started running in middle school when I started cheer and dance, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started to enjoy it,” she says. “Living in Charleston, SC at the time, the scenery and weather were perfect; and running outside was a must!” Stacey runs for enjoyment, opting out of a music playlist, no formal training program and no set distances. There is one thing she does commit to, a lacrosse ball she uses to massage her muscles after good run. 

Colby Jensen prefers to run with a crew. “When I run with friends, we talk about our days, what’s new in our lives, etc. so no music is needed,” she says. Her friends and the training program she found with a quick Google search keep her focused when training for half marathons. “I train with friends to hold myself accountable and make the longer runs seem easier,” she says. But when no one is around, she’ll crank up a good Pandora station Jock Jams, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, 2000s Hip Hop – to name a few. Her Nike+ training app keeps her motivated when she runs on her own.

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Pictured League Members: Lauren Hellman, bRUNch 5k committee, Allie Bruening, and Colby Jensen, bRUNch 5k committee.

 

Lauren Hellman might just go crazy if she doesn’t hit the pavement. She takes all her frustrations and stress of the day out on the wide open road. Often she will bring her dog along for company. She uses this time to catch up on her favorite podcasts. When weather forces Lauren to run on a treadmill, she might deviate slightly from the podcasts and opt for some Taylor Swift. “My favorite item to have on a run with me is a great pair for shoes,” she says. Typically she gets her shoes from Altra Running. But she recently picked up a pair from Skora Running. “They may become my new favorite,” Lauren says. 

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Pictured League Members: Lauren Hellman, bRUNch 5k committee, Allie Bruening, and Colby Jensen, bRUNch 5k committee.

No matter what your running style- or even if you’re not a runner- Lauren, Colby, Stacy and Lisa agree that there’s a place for you at the April 16 bRUNch 5K. Families are welcome to bring their kids for a 1K fun walk around Turner Park and if you’re not up for racing, you can purchase a ticket to the after-run brunch. Registration information is now available on jlomaha.org. We can’t wait to see you there!

 

Growing Up American Girl – Piper’s Story

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Piper Zatechka (daughter of League Sustaining Member Jennifer Zatechka) has fond memories of being in the Junior League of Omaha American Girl Fashion Show. For five years, Piper’s family has watched her walk the runway in genuine American Girl clothing while carrying a matching doll from the American Girl collection. In her own words, Piper talks about how much fun she has and how the show helped her build confidence.

 

“American Girl celebrates a girl’s inner star, encouraging her to stand tall, reach high and dream big,” says committee co-chair Alysia Radicia. “During each of eight shows, attendees enjoy learning how clothing for young women has changed over the years to reflect history, culture and girls’ individual styles.”

The show, now in its 24th year, supports the Junior League of Omaha’s child-minded community projects and celebrates the experience of being a girl, yesterday and today, through a colorful presentation of historical and contemporary fashions. Model registration for the 2016 shows is available now through February 1.
Registering online is easy.

Available Shows
Friday, March 4:  7 p.m.
Saturday, March 5:  10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 6:  10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Each show runs two hours.

Venue
Field Club of Omaha
3615 Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska

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Give Gifts That Give Back

Last month, guest blogger Megan Nelson challenged us to evaluate our holiday priorities and look for opportunities to make a difference. This month we asked our membership to share their ideas on how they make a difference during the holiday season. The response was nothing short of impressive and inspirational. When holiday shopping, consider these gifts that give back.

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Hero-Animals-FY16Gift a Goat
“My family has a neat tradition that my mom started several years ago. She would gift us a donation to World Vision. It started with the gift of a goat. This goat was given to a family in a third world country so they could provide food for their family and sell their goats milk for income. Once I entered the business world, my mom gifted me the donation of a micro loan. This micro loan was given to a women for the purpose of starting her own business and the opportunity she needed to rise above her circumstances. Each year, I look forward to this gift and it makes me happy to know that someone else will get a gift as well. This unique gift idea is something that keeps on giving to others and can be customized to fit your loved one’s personality. With over 100 ways to donate, you can give goats and other animals, clean water, education, clothing, medical care, micro loans and more! Visit the World Vision Gift Catalog to find a gift for all of the special people in your life.”
-Submitted by Lakelyn Hogan

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“All Across Africa currently works with more than 3,000 artisans in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, paying them for their creations at local market price. The sustainable income helps them send their children to school, feed their families and even set up savings accounts. Among their holiday collection (which also includes jewelry, baskets and kitchen items) are these eye-catching makeup bags.”
-Submitted by Meredith Duling

 

ONEHOPE
This winery donates a portion of their wine and coffee sales to a number of causes, i.e. helping children with autism, donating products to premature babies, and providing clean water.”
-Submitted by Alexandra Stone

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Stone and Cloth
“Each purchase from Stone and Cloth provides 25 hours of classroom learning through the Knock Foundation. Great for career women, mamas, travelers – they sell cool totes, back-packs, cross-body bags. You can place pre-orders for Christmas right now – some items sold out, but others still available. Recently, they did a great collection at Target, which goes to the same cause!”
-Submitted by Alexandra Stone

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Little Market
“Started by Lauren Conrad, Little Market, empowers women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families. They practice fair trade principles and the proceeds help fund the artisans communities through literacy workshops, business training and health programs. Plus the products are fun and functional and some would make great stocking stuffers. So far I’ve only seen and heard great things.”
-Submitted by Megan Thomsen

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MAC Viva Glam Lipstick
“Mac was just rated as one of the best lipsticks on the market today by consumers. One hundred percent of their Viva Glam Lipsticks proceeds goes to the MAC AIDS fund. Great idea for girlfriends or sisters.”
-Submitted by Megan Thomsen

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Amazon Smile
“I love using AmazonSmile, it has the same products/prices as Amazon, but a portion of every purchase will be donated by the AmazonSmile Foundation to a charity of your choosing that has registered with the program. It’s an easy way to support the Junior League.”
-Submitted by Lindsey Bray

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TAGG – Together A Greater Good
“When you download the TAGG app, you can help schools and other non-profits of choice. Download the free smartphone app, use the app when holiday shopping at local participating businesses, and they’ll make a 5% donation back to your organization of choice!”
-Submitted by Veronica Wortman

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#JLOGivesThanks with Guest Blogger Megan Nelson

Networking, professional development, socializing, empowering connections. These are just a few of the takeaways from the Junior League of Omaha’s New Member Program I have experienced thus far. And I have a feeling there are so many more exciting memories, unforgettable volunteer shifts and professional development opportunities yet to come.

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I am Megan Nelson, and am excited to share my insight with you through JLO’s very own Connections Blog! Although I am only a few months in to my stent as a JLO New Member, I can already see the powerful network that makes up this amazing organization of intelligent, impressive and distinguished women of Omaha, and maybe most importantly, charitable women – there is much to be thankful for.

Just last week our November New Meeting was held at Project Harmony, a child protection center that strives to end child abuse and neglect in Nebraska. Wow, was I shocked to learn of the many resources Project Harmony provides the state, and the meaningful presence JLO brings through Project Hope Pack. As we toured the facility last week, I was nearly brought to tears to learn of the impact our efforts make on so many children and families, and at such a vulnerable time in their lives. Through this fascinating behind-the-scenes look of Project Harmony, I am inspired to devote my time and energy to making a difference for those children and families through my involvement with JLO, and I encourage you to do the same.

As we all embrace (and maybe brace for) the upcoming holiday season, let’s strive to look past the piles of gifts, endless shopping sprees, glitz and glamour (for those who know me, you know how much I love glitz!), and let’s make it a priority to lend a helping hand to those who need it most. Whether that means sponsoring a family for Christmas, donating warm clothing, or simply smiling at a stranger passing by, we all have so much to be grateful for, and so many opportunities to bring joy to someone’s day.

As the #JLOGivesThanks campaign comes to a close, I challenge each of you to search for the real reason for the season. Share why you are grateful for a loved one, hold the door open for someone and strive to improve someone’s day – you might be surprised by the joy it brings you, as well.

I am so honored to be a member of the Junior League of Omaha, and the positive impact our organization has throughout the community. We are truly making a difference in Omaha and beyond. Let’s continue to count our blessings and be inspired to give thanks, now and always! #JLOGivesThanks

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Establishing My Own Identity – A Guest Blog by Mary Lynn Hallett

I transferred to the Junior League of Omaha at the beginning of my second active year from the Junior League of St Paul, Minnesota. I can honestly say transferring my membership here was the best decision I made in our move. Omaha is my husband’s hometown and joining the Junior League of Omaha allowed me the chance to establish my own identity and network here. Now I never want to leave.

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My first placement in the Omaha League was with the My Closet committee, the League’s thrift store. I was lucky enough to have very friendly chairwomen who made me feel welcomed and valued. By the end of that year, the committee was without leadership and the League president asked for a volunteer for the position. It took me a few days to think about it, but I decided to accept the position.

Leading the My Closet committee was completely out of my comfort zone. It was a crazy decision, but looking back, it is the best crazy decision I ever made. Even though a co-chair was named, she was a total stranger to me. Imagine being new in the League and chairing one of the largest and least popular committees with a stranger.  It all worked out and we turned out to be friends. We made a great team as our talents complimented each other. The women who served on the committee were wonderful. Although we didn’t know what we were doing, we learned together and had lots of fun. I have never worked so hard for a volunteer project and I learned so much. I was part of a team essentially running a small business for one year.

Another position I held in the League was transfer placement coordinator. It was a newly-created position, so I started with a clean slate. My goal was to be welcoming and remember what it was like when I was new in the Omaha League. A lot of people don’t realize how different leagues are across the country. The concept is the same but many have different terminology, requirements and traditions. So like any new member, transfers need help with some of the Omaha League basics – particularly our placement process. I also tried to make them feel welcome–make the transfers themselves a close-knit group so they would hopefully connect and feel less alone. I always tried to get the transfers to sit together at the General Meeting because that is the number one place a new transfer can get lost. It is really hard to walk into a room full of women who already know each other and then sit through a meeting about topics that are totally foreign. It’s much easier if you are sitting next to another transfer feeling just as bewildered and then a League member like myself leans over and explains what is going on.

When I look back over the years, I can say without a doubt many of my closest friends in Omaha have either served with me on a committee or I have met them through other League duties. Omaha will always be my husband’s hometown where most people know his family and are familiar with the work he does in the community. However, as I am more active in the League, through different committees, my husband now occasionally meets someone and they ask if he is married to me! That is a funny switch for both of us.

–Mary Lynn Hallett

A Cross Country League Experience – Guest Blogger Beth Breunsbach

I joined the Junior League in 2007 when I lived in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The closest League was in Savannah, Georgia but Hilton Head had a ‘Lowcountry’ group that met on a regular basis and helped the local community with events. We then went to Savannah for occasional general meetings and the annual thrift sale fundraiser.

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I was approached at a business lunch by a woman asking if I would be interested in joining the Junior League, so I went to a social. You had to be sponsored there, which is something many Leagues have moved away from, but was customary when my mom and aunt joined in Lincoln, Nebraska many, many years ago. The girls I met through the League became some of my closest friends in Hilton Head and it was such a great experience.

My husband and I then moved to Chicago, Illinois when he was admitted to business school and I transferred my membership. I didn’t think twice about doing so, as it was a great way to meet people and get involved in a new city. Chicago was a much bigger League and accepted anyone and everyone – it was more corporate-focused. While I met many new people, I also recruited some friends to join, which was fun. They had a historic house in the Gold Coast where smaller meetings and functions were held, which was neat as you could literally see the history of the Chicago League. It was very easy to get lost in that League due to its size, but you were as involved as you motivated yourself to be. I continued my involvement in the League through internal positions and enjoyed learning about the League from that perspective.

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After about five years in Chicago, family and a job for my husband moved us to Omaha, Nebraska. Again, I didn’t think twice about transferring my membership. I knew Omaha had a League so I asked Chicago to initiate the transfer and was then contacted by Omaha League. I did consider becoming a Sustaining Member, but decided I wanted to be involved and support the local community before making that transition. I had a great transfer year and was on the American Girl committee, which was a neat event that I had not seen in Hilton Head or Chicago. I’m active again this year and find the Omaha League to be a happy medium between Hilton Head and Chicago. It’s a great way to meet people and impact the community in a new city!

–Beth Breunsbach

 

Junior League of Omaha Members Out and About Enjoying Autumn Events

Vivid colored leaves still hang from trees in Omaha. The ones that have made their way to the ground, crunch and crackle under step. It is autumn, or fall, in the heartland and there is one thing on which we can all agree…

Autumn leaves are most beautiful when being raked by someone else.

There was a steady cool breeze in the air this weekend and many Junior League of Omaha members reached for their tall boots and vests officially marking the start of Han Solo Season.

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The cool air inspires many League members to fire up the oven or the slow cooker and whip up something delicious. Tracy Cartwright baked a batch of Mini Pumpkin Poppers.

Tracy Weis made a batch of yummy taco soup and cornbread. (Make something similar with this recipe.) And now that the slow cooker is working overtime, make sure it stays squeaky clean.

Melissa Carlberg and her husband Zach hosted a fall-theme dinner party for friends featuring recipes that gave a nod to the season including: roasted walnuts, apple parsnip soup and baked apple roses.

Other League members ventured out and about this weekend.

Many members attended the Women’s Center for Advancement TGIF event. Angela Cutler was one of three co-chairs for the western-themed event and Veronica Wortman served on the silent auction committee. Many league members put together silent auction items and attended the event that raised money to help women in the Omaha area out of domestic crisis.

Junior League of Omaha members attended the 2015 Women's Center for Advancement's TGIF event include: Angela Kros Cutler, Veronica Wortman, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, Kate Hansen, Jen Olson Alloway (sustainer), Meghan Hope, Shelly Marsh, Tina Nelson, Chaley Smith Chandler, Mary Jane Tritsch, Lindsey Snyder, Alysia Radica and Liz Akert (not pictured)
Junior League of Omaha members attended the 2015 Women’s Center for Advancement’s TGIF event include: Angela Cutler, Veronica Wortman, Melissa Carlberg, Kate Hansen,  Jen Alloway (sustainer), Lindsey Buchanan, Meghan Hope, Shelly Marsh, Tina Nelson, Chaley Chandler, Mary Jane Tritsch, Lindsey Snyder, Alysia Radica and Liz Akert (not pictured)

League sustainer Catherine McAllister and her friend served as co-chairs for Omaha’s Great Pumpkin event this weekend. The event supports Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska‘s adoption and foster care awareness. Catherine has been involved in supporting the organization for five years.

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Done in a Day project organized volunteers to assist with the Omaha Symphony Spooktacular. League members helped decorate the lobby of the Holland Performing Arts Center, set up trick-or-treat stations, run pre-concert activities including instrument petting zoo, costume contest, and a Halloween-themed craft. Thank you to Kristen Bladt, Kelly Brooks, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, Beverly Gorman, Kimberly Johnston, Racheal McMahon, Meghan Bothe, Caroline Drumm, Erin Fairchild, Megan Gerwick, Katie Lange Allebone, Terri Sharpe, Leigh Shea, Sarah Smith, and Ashlee Young for participating.

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Other League members were in the Halloween spirit. Megan Riebe and friends went to the Ranch of Terror at the Bellevue Berry Farm.

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Heather Vanourney ran the Bones 5K this weekend. The Omaha Running Club sponsored the run through the moonlit trails of Standing Bear Lake. Runners’ hearts raced in fear of all things that go bump in the night, according to the event page.

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Katie Triplett and Veronica Wortman spent an afternoon decorating Halloween and fall cookies to share with friends and colleagues.

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Before heading out to Trick-or-Treat with the kiddos, the Omaha Fire Department suggests several safety tips, such as adding a strip of reflective tape to trick-or-treat bags or clothing and costumes for greater visibility.

Going to a costume party? Revisit recent pop culture phenomenon for inspiration in creating a costume. Kelly Giese and her husband Matt, created this Double Rainbow costume.
(It was soo beautiful.)

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The party doesn’t stop when we put Halloween 2015 in the books. Tickets to the 3rd annual Barn Bash are available now through the Junior League of Omaha website. The event features a chili cook-off, BINGO, cash bar, pumpkin pie martinis, bonfire and s’mores. Members, significant others and friends welcome at the event.

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New Member Successfully Applies League Experience to Profession

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My name is Andrea Padilla-Rosas and I am a New Member this year to the Junior League of Omaha. I am excited to be a guest blogger for Connections. Although I have only been a member for a few weeks I can already tell that joining the League has been a great decision for me, both personally and professionally. I first heard of Junior League in early 2014 through my friend Jamie Ryder. I even volunteered with her at the Color Run, the first year the League staffed the event. I enjoyed speaking with the ladies I met that day and left with a good impression of the League.

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At the first general meeting on Sept. 14, the guest speaker was Sustainer Gail Graeve. I really enjoyed her humor and her thoughts on being a member of the League.  She spoke about work-life balance, family, her experience in the League, her career and the importance of women supporting women. As I sat there listening to her, I could not help but realize how satisfied I am with my experience, thus far, in the League.  As the weeks go on, and I volunteer at events to fulfill my member requirements, I am reminded of how my career and participation in the League are closely aligned. I can say, without a doubt, that I am the most fulfilled I have ever felt in my professional life. I know that may sound strange coming from a New Member but it is how I feel right now.

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Have you heard of AIM Careerlink? I work for AIM in the Youth Department as a College and Career Coordinator at Bryan High School.  Specifically, I am the TRiO Upward Bound Coordinator at Bryan. Upward Bound is a program designed to help first-generation and/or low-income students go to college.  I work with 60 students in grades nine through 12 and I love my job.  We offer an after-school program, college tours, ACT test prep and help with college applications and scholarships, just to name a few of the benefits.

Despite the fact that I have a self-imposed PhD in procrastination, I am working to complete my project shifts early this year as work will only get busier as the school year continues. A few weeks ago, I volunteered at the Open Door Mission with fellow League members. The opportunity was part of the Done-in-a-Day community volunteer project offerings that the League offers to members. I had such a positive experience there that I decided to set up a volunteer shift for my high school students. This shift would help them to complete the volunteer shifts they are required to have as members of the Upward Bound program. In addition to that, I proposed an idea to my Youth team for a week-long volunteer academy as part of the summer academies we offer our students. My idea was well-received .

Being a part of the League opened up that idea and opportunity to me. It inspired me to pass on the gift of service to my students. I am looking forward to meeting more New Members and actives and learning more about the League this year.

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