Ten with Megan Isenhower, 2014-2015 President

15 Aug

The Junior League of Seattle’s membership includes 1,200 women who are passionate about becoming leaders and skilled volunteers while creating a powerful impact in our Seattle community.

Through numerous trainings and significant volunteer work, members form close connections with one another.  However, with an organization this large, there is always another JLS member to meet. This year on the JLS Blog, the “Ten with … ” series will highlight Provisionals, Actives and Sustainers.

The women of the Junior League of Seattle have diverse backgrounds, careers and interests. Through this series, we hope to provide a glimpse into the women of the Junior League of Seattle. We kick of the series with our 2014-2015 President, Megan Isenhower.

Megan Isenhower, 2014-2015 President1. When did you join the League?
My provisional year was 2003-2004.

2. What was your provisional project?
My provisional project was planning a pre-camp celebration for Camp Goodtimes, a camp run by the American Cancer Society for kids battling cancer and their siblings.

3. What was one of your personal highlights from the 2013-2014 League year?
2013-2014 was a big year for me. Personally, I got married and had a baby, and personally within the League, the highlight of my year was the passing of the gavel at the Past Presidents’ Luncheon. There was a long line of phenomenal women next to me; there are some mighty impressive shoes to fill!

4. What most excites you about the 2014-2015 League year?
One of the most important aspects of my job, from my perspective, is offering support to committees or groups so that they can achieve their goals. I am excited – and hopeful – that I can lend support so that each group within the League feels that they can achieve what they set out to do. Sometimes a little guidance is needed; sometimes just a “check-in” to say, “hello” or “how can I help?” I also am excited about working on some long-term projects that I hope will benefit the League in the next decade.

5. What advice do you have for members hoping to form new connections or strengthen emerging friendships within the League?
I have several thoughts on this one:
– Introduce yourself to someone new at every League event and don’t sit with your friends only;
– Send thank you notes – I carry some in my purse along with stamps, and I have Junior League ones and personal ones at my office, too; and,
– Pick up the phone (I’m reminding myself!); emails are impersonal, someone can misread it, and the impact isn’t as great as that personal touch achieved by your voice saying “hello.”

6. Junior League of Seattle offers a multitude of diverse service shifts! What advice do you have for members trying to decide where to start?
Think about your year ahead and when you will have the most to do, whether it’s work, personal or League-related. If you know you have a really busy spring, I would try to get my service shifts done early. Think about what you like to do and check the JLS calendar on the website to see if anything is posted. Check back often as service shifts will be posted at various times. Sign up as soon as you can! Be sure that you cancel your RSVP if you cannot be at a shift – as far out as possible – so others can sign up.

7. What is your favorite recipe from the Junior League cookbook?
The Dijon Marinated Shrimp.

8. Which items tempt you most every year at the Premier Event?
Sports-related items and jewelry tempt me the most.

9. What is one passion or hobby you enjoy outside of the League?
GONZAGA BASKETBALL! Go ZAGS

10. Would you rather have the power to fly or be invisible?
With the traffic in Seattle, I would like to be able to fly so I can get places more quickly. However, taking traffic out of the picture, being invisible would be a lot of fun because I could be very mischievous. :)

Tips to Keep Kids Safe and Healthy This Summer

7 Aug

By Shanna Lisberg

Children’s health and wellness has always been a key issue for the Junior League. Programs such as Kids in the Kitchen seek to help reverse childhood obesity and its associated health issues. While living a healthy life involves healthy eating and staying physically fit, a healthy lifestyle should also involve being safe and making healthy lifestyle choices for yourself and your family.

This summer, children will be playing outside and basking in the sunshine, as the warm weather and longer days bring plenty of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Help keep your kids safe and healthy this summer with the following tips:

    1. Keep kids hydrated. Remind children to drink often throughout the day, especially if they are playing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends drinking about every 20 minutes if kids are active in sports. About five ounces is fine for a kid weighing 88 pounds.
    2. Protect children’s skin from the sun. Everyone should apply a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays every day of the year. Sunscreen should be at least SPF 30 and should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outside
    3. Sunglasses are a must. Overexposure to UV rays can be especially harmful for the very young. The lens in a child’s eye cannot filter out as much sun as an adult lens. Some studies suggest that 80 percent of sun damage occurs before age 10.
    4. Inspect playground equipment before letting kids play on it. Before your kids play on the playground, be sure to check it out first. It’s important to make sure that nothing is broken or rusted. Also, keep an eye out for metal equipment and surfaces that can become hot in the sun and can cause burns.
    5. Make sure your children have proper footwear. While flip-flops can keep feet cool, they are not the most appropriate footwear when children are playing. Make sure your children’s feet are covered to protect them from injury.
    6. Follow pool safety. Never leave kids alone near the pool and always swim only in designated swimming areas when a lifeguard is on duty. Teach your children to swim. Air filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles, or inner tubes, should never be used in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
    7. Bike Safely. Make sure your children know the rules of the road and appropriate hand signals for turning and stopping. Make sure your child always wears a helmet and that it fits properly. Check your child’s bike to make sure the brakes, tires, and reflectors are all working correctly.
    8. Travel with care. Teach your children to buckle up every time they get in the car, no matter how long the drive. If your children are young, make sure they are adequately secured in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats.
    9. Beware of insects. Protect your kinds from insect and mosquito bites by using insect repellent. Choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET. Be watchful when it comes to ticks and check your kids every day.

 

Remember, just because you are being safe, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun this summer!

*Material for this article from How Stuff Works, United Healthcare, the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate, and the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration.

Spotlight on Emerging Leader Brea Burkholz

26 Jun

By Minda Brusse, Community Programs Manager

Brea Burkholz

Brea Burkholz

As a member of the Northwest Art League & Community Outreach committee, Brea Burkholz ended the 2013-14 League year with a substantial project in the works. When her committee discussed the idea of using the League’s artpiece Yellow No Same with a Bellevue middle school, Brea jumped in and took the lead.

The art piece, by Roger Shimomura, focuses on the Japanese-American internment experience and is new to our 80+ piece Northwest Art Collection. Middle school students in Bellevue study this history topic in the eighth grade, and we thought this particular piece would be a new lens through which to learn about the experience. League member and middle school teacher Susie Challancin connected us with teachers at Chinook Middle School where she teaches.

Students did small group breakout activities focusing on the 12 panels of the piece

Students did small group breakout activities focusing on the 12 panels of the piece

Historically, Northwest Art committees work with kids ages 6-12, but increasingly we are testing the waters with teens. Small project events in the past few years at the Ryther Center (with the League’s Done in a Day committee) and at Treehouse (with the League’s Life Skills:Teens committee) have been successful.

Even though it was already April and the docenting would not occur until June (the next League year), Brea forged ahead gathering other volunteers from around the NW Art committees, as well as provisionals and sustainers.  Her enthusiasm, organization, and determination were catching.

NW Art Member, Domenica Lovaglia, docents for the first time

NW Art Member, Domenica Lovaglia, docents for the first time

Brea used the resources of the League to grow as a community leader and demonstrated League President Megan Isenhower’s theme for the year, What We Are. The attributes she demonstrated were:

Ambition

- Facilitating, docenting, and supporting new docents during seven class periods.

- We covered art and cultural stereotypes on a Friday in June, the day before the eighth graders were graduating. Brea kept them participating and in line with a great presence. No small feat!

Organization

- Developing the draft of a new curriculum with our Art & Education Curator.

- Meeting with middle school teachers to review the curriculum and plan events for the day to fully pilot the curriculum.

- Training the docents and assigning clear roles.

- Evaluating teacher feedback and working with the Art & Education Curator to finalize a draft curriculum to be leveraged in the years ahead.

Inclusiveness

- Recruiting four weekday volunteer docents from within the League.  Some were (barely) first year actives. One first-year active had her first docenting experience that Friday.

- Training and communicating with the docents, teachers and our Art & Education Curator about facilitating seven class periods with 271 eighth grade students.

 

Brea showed the best attributes of What We Are.  She’s the 2014-2015 Chair of Northwest Art League and Community Outreach and the League is lucky to have such a phenomenal leader guiding Northwest Art’s outreach!

10 Ways You Can Fight Human Trafficking Today

20 May

by Carlee Nesse

The Junior League of Seattle is committed to supporting our community partner Seattle Against Slavery (SAS) in fighting human trafficking. Seattle is a port city and port cities are especially attractive to human trafficking organizations.

Human trafficking happens on a scale that can be overwhelming but there are simple, effective, ways to start making a difference.

I Want To Get Educated

  1. Take the Human Trafficking Awareness Training course offered by the Department of Homeland Security.

  2. Set up a Google Alert for “Seattle human trafficking” to receive breaking local news.

  3. Follow SAS on Facebook and Twitter for alerts and updates.

  4. Read and share SAS’s community resources to raise awareness.

I Can Commit 1 Hour

  1. SAS can help you search for local grassroots coalitions to support.

  2. Write letters to your local, state, and federal government representatives and let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community, and ask what they are doing to address human trafficking in your area. The SAS Advocacy Guide can help.

  3. Be a conscientious consumer and discover your Slavery Footprint; check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

I Can Commit 1 Day

  1. Host or attend an awareness event with friends and watch a video covering Human Trafficking.

  2. Read a book about human trafficking such as those on SAS’s suggested reading list.

I Want To Make a Long-Term Commitment

  1. Make a commitment to Seattle Against Slavery to stop Human Trafficking.

Have a tip?

Here’s how to report it and make sure it gets to the right organization:

  • Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 (24/7) to get help for victims and coordinate with local agencies and enforcement.

  • Call the Department of Homeland Security directly at 1-866-347-2423 (24/7) to report suspicious activity. Tips may also be submitted online at www.ice.gov/tips.

  • Victims, including undocumented individuals, can also contact the U.S. Department of Justice directly at 1-888-428-7581 from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST) to receive services and immigration assistance.

Give BIG on May 6, 2014

5 May

By Shanna Lisberg

On May 6, The Seattle Foundation holds its fourth annual charitable giving event, GiveBIG. GiveBIG is a day of online giving to inspire people to donate generously to nonprofit organizations who make our region a healthier and more vital place to live.

For a 24-hour period, from midnight to midnight, you can go to The Seattle Foundation’s website to make a donation. More than 1,600 nonprofit organizations – including The Junior League – are profiled on The Seattle Foundation’s website and are participating in GiveBIG.

Donations made to nonprofits through The Seattle Foundation’s website will be stretched further thanks to The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors, who will match a share of every contribution. Many of the nonprofit organizations that The Junior League of Seattle works with are also available to receive donations.

If you have been thinking about giving, this is a great time to make a gift, large or small. Visit The Seattle Foundation website to learn more about BigGIVE and to see a complete list of nonprofits.

Let’s Get Ready to Build!

22 Apr

by Shanna Lisberg

Dust off your hard hats and pick up your paint brushes.  Done-In-A-Day needs your participation in two upcoming events. No construction knowledge required, just your can-do attitude.

  • REBUILDING TOGETHER SEATTLE on April 26

On Saturday, April 26th, the Junior League of Seattle will once again be participating in Rebuilding Together Seattle (formally Christmas in April). Each year JLS works side by side with Rebuilding Together Seattle to renovate homes for low income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly or disabled and would not otherwise be able to afford the needed renovations to their home.

Our event is part of the National Rebuilding Together Day, where volunteers from around the nation come together to rehabilitate the homes of more than 2,000 low-income homeowners. Held on the last Saturday in April, National Rebuilding Together Day is the day when partners plan projects to celebrate the organization’s mission and to bring national attention to the plight of America’s low-income homeowners.This year, nearly 1000 volunteers will repair 25 homes around Seattle. As a volunteer on National Rebuilding Together Day, your efforts will have a national impact by providing a safer, healthier, and happier environment for these homeowners.

JLS will be working in the Shoreline area on a group home for four adults with disabilities. Morning and afternoon shifts are available on Digital Cheetah. If you cannot join us and would like to contribute to our efforts, gift cards to Home Depot are much appreciated.

For more information, please contact Erin Danner at erin_danner@hotmail.com.

  • HABITAT FOR HUMANITY on May 10

On Saturday, May 10th, the Junior League of Seattle will participate in the Women’s Only Build, sponsored by Habit for Humanity. At the January General Meeting, many ladies were interested in Habitat for Humanity.  We are fortunate in that they have granted us 14 spots on their Women’s Only Build.

The Women’s Only Build seeks to empower women to take action against poverty housing conditions. The program brings together women from all walks of life to address the housing crisis facing millions of women and children worldwide.

Our project is in Rainier Vista, from 8:30-4:30 pm. A full 8 hours earns you two shift credits! This is a great opportunity to learn new skills and catch up on those service shifts. Sign-ups are available on Digital Cheetah. Please note: the shift is for the entire day and we are unable to break the shift into two separate shifts.

For more information, please contact Amy Bingell at abingell@aol.com

  • Don’t forget to keep an eye out on the calendar. This fall, JLS will have its own Habitat for Humanity Build!

We look forward to seeing all the JLS volunteers out in the community, showing off their carpentry skills and swinging their hammers! Remember, no experience is necessary!

Art For The Soul: Bringing Art To Those In Need

21 Apr

by Raminta Hanzelka

Earlier this month, the NW Art League and Community Outreach (LCO) committee had our 2nd annual collaboration with the Life Skills: Teen committee. We held an art docenting and art-making session at Treehouse, sharing the joy of discovering a piece of art for the first time with about a dozen girls in foster care– and giving them the chance to make their own as well. It was inspiring to watch them engage with the art and come out of their shells!

We brought two contrasting pieces of art: a whimsical paint splatter piece by Dale Chihuly, and a meticulously put together patterned piece by Mark Toby to set the stage for the girls to create their own concepts and turn them into works of art. Our Art Curriculum Director, Halinka Wodzinski, created a versatile curriculum to guide us through the process of teaching the girls how to do printmaking on journals.

Our inspiration for this project was to bring in the theme of Empowerment for the girls through the artistic process. During the art-docenting, we connected the girls to the history of Dale Chihuly, sharing the story of how he was in a serious car-accident at age 20, losing his sight in one eye, yet he continue his passion for art and was maybe even emboldened, despite the hardship.

The art-making process involved having the girls come up with their “mark,” “doodle,” or “signature,” and to translate that concept into an image, carving into a soft piece of rubber, then carefully transferring the image to paper using colorful paints. All of the girls got busy, really had fun being creative, and each took home their own unique pieces of art, as well as I think a new appreciation for what art is and can mean to each and every one of us.

Impact Day 2014: Northwest Harvest Service Shift Recap

15 Apr

by Shanna Lisberg

On Saturday, April 5, seven Junior League of Seattle volunteers gathered at Northwest Harvest’s main warehouse in Kent, Wash. to help sort and re-package bulk food for distribution to food banks throughout the state. Northwest Harvest is a nonprofit food bank distributor that has been fighting hunger since 1967. Northwest Harvest has a network of more than 360 food banks, meal programs, and high-need schools and provides more than 1.7 million meals every month.

Northwest-Harvest

Joining us on Saturday morning were a wide variety of volunteers including the Girl Scouts, families, other organizations and high school students. After hearing more about Northwest Harvest and general safety instructions, we learned that our task for the day was to sort and package rice into family-sized portions. Wearing our health-code required and oh-so-fashionable hairnets and plastic gloves, we got to work on this important task.

To make the work more efficient, Northwest Harvest has implemented quite the assembly line process. First, 50 pound bags of rice were brought in on pallets and the bags were emptied into a large bin. Volunteers then filled smaller bags with 1 large cup of rice each. These bags were then transferred to other volunteers who were tasked with taping the bags closed. The bags were then packed into boxes, which were sealed, labeled, and ready to be shipped to the food bank.

When we were finished, we had sorted and packaged 9,950 pounds of rice into 420 boxes. This amounted to 7,653 meals for hungry people.

Rice is not the only food distributed by Northwest Harvest. Volunteers might find themselves sorting fresh fruit, vegetables, beans or grains. Bulk items are repackaged into family sized portions to make distribution at the food banks quicker and easier. Each bag of rice that we packed on Saturday contained enough food to feed a family of four.

It was very inspiring to see all the other individuals who had chosen to spend their Saturday morning volunteering at Northwest Harvest. It was especially inspiring to see the families and younger children. It was clear that the kids were having a lot of fun while becoming aware of meaningful social issues. This service shift was a fantastic way to give back to the community and make a difference, all the while promoting the Junior League mission on Impact Day.

To find out more about Northwest Harvest visit http://www.northwestharvest.org/

League & Community Outreach: Northwest Art’s Spring Kids’ Art Studio

14 Apr

by Liz Nixon

It was another rainy Saturday in Seattle, however 15 kids and their parents were having a blast at the Junior League office in Madison Park at the Kids’ Spring Art Studio on March 29, 2014.  The Northwest Art League & Community Outreach committee hosted the event.

The kids, ranging in ages from 3 to 10-years-old, were introduced to several fun pieces from the League’s extensive art collection, including a painting by Dale Chihuly and a lithograph by Mark Tobey. Trained League members acted as docents and discussed the art with the children using an inquiry-based approach. Next, the older children headed downstairs to experiment with print-making using linoleum tiles.  Younger children walked through several activities upstairs, including printing using etched Styrofoam, and monoprints with everyday objects.  Kids left with mounted art in hand, although a few left their pieces in the office for our future kids’ art “gallery!”

KidsStudio_Mar29_10am_Alexis_Grace_Lauren

The bi-yearly Kids’ Art Studio is just one way that the Northwest Art committee reaches League members and our surrounding community. More than 20,000 kids in King County are exposed to the original Northwest art in the League’s collection via curriculum workshops in Seattle Public Schools and docent training for the Bellevue School District.  Northwest Art partnerships allow the committee to host exciting events at the Bellevue Art Museum, Seattle Affordable Art Fair, Mirabella, and the Henry Art Gallery.

 

KidsStudio_Mar29_10am_Alexis_Neu

Whether targeted toward kids or adults, the Northwest Art League & Outreach committee encourages members to check out our next event!

 

 

 

 

Learn more @ http://www.jrleagueseattle.org/?nd=community_nwa

 

From Place to Place

10 Apr

by Shanna Lisberg

The Advocacy Committee hosted a screening of the documentary “From Place to Place” followed by a panel discussion on March 18th. Every year, 30,000 youths age out of foster care, having spent an average of 5 years in the system. “From Place to Place” follows 3 of these teens – Micah, Mandy, and Raif – who have recently aged out of foster care and who are forced to face life with little support. Eventually, Mandy and Raif set out to change the system that raised them and travel to Washington D.C. to tell their stories on Capitol Hill and try to better the system for the generations to come.

“From Place to Place” was an incredibly moving film that highlights the struggles faced by foster youth in general, as well as when they age out of the system. Kids who age out of the foster system are at an extreme disadvantage to the rest of society. By age 21, of those who age out of foster care, 1 in 7 will experience homelessness, 50% will be unemployed, 71% of women become pregnant, and 77% of men will have been arrested.

Mandy wants to go to college but first she has to obtain her GED. Foster children have significantly higher rates of absenteeism at school than their peers, and a foster child loses four to six months of academic progress with each school change. It is estimated that only 3% of foster children who have aged out of the system will obtain a college degree.

Raif lives on the street where he beatboxes for money. He frequently travels the rails when he feels the need for adventure. Many foster children do not have access to important socialization opportunities such as sports and clubs, and access to money for basic needs such as clothing, shoes, and school supplies is limited.  

Micah is focused on trying to stay out of jail so he can help his girlfriend, who is pregnant. 20% of males who age out of the system will become career criminals as opposed to 5% of the general population. Research shows that many children in foster care struggle with mental health challenges arising from the trauma they’ve suffered, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Currently, the United States spends 8 billion dollars a year on foster care and there are 420,000 kids in America’s foster care system. Children enter foster care through no fault of their own and for different factors such as neglect, poverty, and abuse. Foster care is designed to be a temporary living situation however, as we saw in the film, many kids do not leave the system until they are required to, at age 18.

After the film, Fredrick Kingston and Mandy Urwiler from The Mockingbird Society led a panel discussion regarding foster care and how we can help. Some of the topics discussed included an emphasis on kin-care and the Extended Foster Care program.

Kinship care is an alternative to foster care, whereby children who have been removed from homes are placed with relatives. The number of children living with a grandparent or other relation has increased considerably in the past years. Kinship care can benefit foster children as it provides increased stability and safety, as well as the ability to maintain family connections and cultural traditions.

The Extended Foster Care program provides an opportunity for teens in foster care to continue to receive support after they turn 18. In order to receive the services, teens must complete a secondary academic or vocational program, or participate in a program or activity designed to promote employment. Studies show that youth that are enrolled in an extended foster care program have higher college attendance, fewer arrests, and are less reliant on public assistance.

Children in foster care has been a long time advocacy focus for the Junior League of Seattle. Here’s how you can help make a difference:

  • Become a foster parent. There are currently over 10,000 children in Washington in need of foster homes
  • Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate and be a voice for young children in court
  • Become a mentor to any young person, including children in foster care
  • Donate time or services for kids in foster care
  • Donate clothing or other essentials to foster organizations
  • Volunteer at a foster organization
  • Write letters to or call your elected officials

You can find out more about “From Place to Place” at  http://fromplacetoplacemovie.com/

For more information about The Mockingbird Society, visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org

 

 

 

 

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