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.
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