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.

Copy of Connecting with Mary Lynn Hallett

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.

Copy of Connecting with beth

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.

Beth Breunsbach League

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