JLH in the News

JLH in the News Archives

Junior League gala celebrates with patriotic-themed extravaganza over three nights

February 2017

With entertainment by a classic barbershop quartet, Austin-based country band Reckless Kelly, and Houston party band Sunset BLVD, the 69th annual Junior League of Houston gala, dubbed "American Journey," was a blowout affair.

The three-night extravaganza, held in the ballroom at the League's River Oaks-area building, celebrated with red, white and blue décor, and a different patriotic theme — “Bayou City Lights” on Thursday, “Stars Over Texas” on Friday, and “Sea to Shining Sea” on Saturday — and entertainment each night.

Chaired by Jennifer Scheifley Roberts, along with underwriting chair Beth Zdeblick, community partner chair Abby Swalick Katiblou, and auction chair Bethany Buchanan, the gala raised $740,000 for the Junior League of Houston’s mission. Since its inception in 1925, The League has served the city by developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

Silent and live auctions, which added to the total raised, included the opportunity for six girls and their parents to meet Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and spend four hours with her at her gym; a diamond bracelet, necklace and ring donated by Tenenbaum Jewelers; and artwork by Taft McWhorter, who painted his auction piece during Friday’s gala as guests got a birds-eye view of the artist in action.

This year, the Junior League will contribute more than $2 million in volunteer time and financial support to 37 community projects, which address basic needs, abuse of women and children, healthcare, education and cultural enrichment.

Mixing fundraising with fun over the weekend were Jone and Mark Fichter, Brent Howard, Whitney Walsh, Perry Ann and John Reed, Mary Sharman, Mimi and Jared Foerster, Katie Mears, Casey Schrade, Junior League president Shannon Wiesedeppe, and incoming president Sarah Snyder.

Source: Culture Map Houston Junior League gala celebrates with patriotic-themed extravaganza over three nights


All-American Charity Ball celebrates patriotism and the power of volunteerism

February 2017

Cue the red, white, and blue.

The Junior League of Houston's 69th annual Charity Ball was a celebration of all things patriotic, though chairman Jennifer Scheifley Roberts explained that her theme of choice had nothing to do with politics.

"'American Journey' was inspired by my family living in Malaysia for three years," she clarified on Friday evening.

The well-attended soiree has grown into a three-part celebration beginning with an intimate kick-off on Thursday, followed by two back-to-back galas over the weekend. Each night saluted a different motif: "Bayou City Lights" (Thursday), "Stars over Texas" (Friday), and "Sea to Shining Sea" (Saturday).

Tearoom general manager Malcolm Rowland, who dressed up as Uncle Sam for the occasion, described the program as "an absolutely Yankee Doodle Dandy Show." He forgot to add "from start to finish."

A barbershop quartet serenaded black-tie arrivals from the valet stand. Swathed in cobalt and crimson gowns, underwriting chairman Beth Zdeblick, community partner chairman Abby Swalick Katiblou, ad sales chairman Elizabeth Parke Kincaid, auction chairman Bethany Buchanan, and Roberts formed a striking receiving line. The welcome quintet stood under one end of a star-spangled canopy while a live Statue of Liberty manned the other.

Following cocktails and hors d'oeuvres served al fresco in the courtyard, Junior League President Shannon Wiesedepperattled off statistics - from memory - to remind gala-goers of the party's purpose.

According to Wiesedeppe, the chapter's 1,500 active members complete 100 hours of annual community service; on average, 3,400 sustaining members provide ten years of total service. The organization participates in 37 projects throughout the Houston community.

This year, she said, they packed 100,000 sack lunches for Kids' Meals and wrote 800 letters to Houston Independent School District students through a pen pal program.

Next came the entertainment. Abby Sands Barratt, Chelsea Johnson, Emily Crocker, Emily-Frances Wright McAdams, Ginny Young Ledwell, Janie Enloe, Jennifer Wauhob, Leslie Bramlett Keyes, Lindsey Falconer Williford, Melissa Polka, Morgan Gates Daugherty, Selina Victor Sauter, and Buchanan performed a string of sing-along numbers ranging from the "Dreamgirls" title track to Katy Perry's "Firework."

Austin-based country band Reckless Kelly hit the stage on Friday night and Sunset BLVD closed shop the following Saturday. Thanks in part auction items which included Taft McWhorter's popular live-painting and a chance to spend four hours with Olympian Simone Biles, this year's festivities raised $740,000.

Source: Houston Chronicle All-American Charity Ball celebrates patriotism and the power of volunteerism


We All Have The Same 24 Hours

January 2017

As a third-year law student at the University of Houston Law Center, my schedule was already packed with final exams, papers and interning for law firms; but with the flexibility of a student schedule, it felt like the ideal time to make a commitment to community service.

I began my career practicing corporate law at BakerHostetler before moving to Vinson & Elkins and specializing in mergers and acquisitions and private equity, often focused on the energy industry. My weekdays are filled with time-sensitive deals and a fast-paced schedule. I wanted to find an organized way to volunteer, meet new people and get involved in different charitable organizations in the community. I needed a volunteer program that had a certain level of both structure and flexibility to match my schedule.

The Junior League of Houston Inc. has such a large, diverse and flexible menu of volunteer offerings that I knew it would be easy to find a volunteer post that fit into my schedule. With every volunteer opportunity at the League, you know that it will be organized and contribute a valuable service. Like all provisional members at the League, I spent my first year volunteering with Texas Children’s Hospital and working in the kitchen for the League’s Tea Room.

For the past few years, I’ve volunteered in administrative placements — volunteer placements inside the League — starting as a writer for the League’s magazine, working my way up to Assistant Editor and serving as Editor of the publication this year. These placements have contributed to the League’s overall goal of building a better community, but also provided me with training I don’t necessarily receive from work and the opportunity to flex my creativity. Because I can volunteer in these administrative placements in the evenings, on weekends and from home, they also fit well into my work schedule. I have loved getting to volunteer alongside other members of the League and am grateful that I submitted my application for membership during law school. It has been a decision that has added meaning to my daily schedule and great friends to my life.

We can all be easily inundated with work and family responsibilities and to-do lists. As a busy M&A lawyer with a billable hours target to fill each year, I view everything in terms of time. I only spend time on things I enjoy — my job, spending time with my husband, family and friends, and volunteering. We all have the same 24 hours. With a focus on the most important things in life and making the most of every day, we can each make time to make a difference.

Source: Shale Magazine We All Have The Same 24 Hours by Brittany Sakowitz 

2016 Adelaide Lovett Baker Award Winner Florence Wells McGee

January 2017

The Junior League of Houston recently presented the Adelaide Lovett Baker Award to Florence “Flo” Wells McGee with the 2016 Adelaide Lovett Baker Award. This award is the highest honor bestowed on a sustaining member of the League.

A native Texan, McGee is a graduate of The University of Texas and a loyal Longhorn. Shortly following graduation and her marriage to Bill McGee, she became a provisional member of the Junior League. Forty-three years later, she is still a participating member and was most recently appointed to serve on the Junior League of Houston Foundation board of directors.

“Selfless” is the word that best epitomizes McGee’s lifelong dedication to and leadership of the causes she loves. The examples of her leadership are numerous and significant: co-chairman, Imagination Celebration 7Benefit; president, Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors and co-chairman, two capital campaigns; board chairman, DePelchin Children’s Center; president, Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae; senior warden, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and co-chairman, capital campaign among many other positions; co-chairman, The Women’s Fund benefit and co-chairman, Tanglewood Park restoration campaign. In all of these demanding positions, McGee leads efficiently but with a light touch, defusing any tension with a twinkle in her eye and a laugh at her own expense.

Never one to call attention to herself, others have had the privilege of tooting McGee’s horn on her behalf. Bo’s Place honored her with the Robin Bush Award in 2015, noting her exceptional impact upon children’s causes. For very different reasons, the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work named a portion of its Nonprofit Leadership Alliance the “Flo McGee Career Development Institute” in her honor. Despairing of accepting accolades, McGee turned the tables of being recognized for her own work by funding the Texas Children’s Hospital Nursing Award. This award is given annually to two nurses who excel in their field. Only family members and a few close friends know the true extent of her generosity and influence for good.

Good at leading, giving and caring, McGee has touched the lives of thousands of children who will never know her. But there are three children who know her well and call her “Flosie” – her grandchildren Elizabeth Rose, William Wade and Amanda Claire, the children of her own children, Lindy and Tom McGee and April and Wells McGee.

Source: Absolutely! Memorial 2016 Adelaide Lovett Baker Award Winner Florence Wells McGee


An Unexpected Key to a Cutting-Edge Tech Career: Community Service 

November 2016

Company culture is one of the pillars of success at any organization. Yet with thousands of decisions, such as how best to organize departments, fund research and development, and field leads each year, the values that contribute to a strong company culture often don’t make it past an organization’s mission statement. As a longtime member of the Junior League, first in New Orleans and now in Houston, being actively involved in community service has always played a large a role in my life. So when it came time to found a tech company, my business partners and I structured our organization to integrate community service into our weekly routine, which has contributed to the company’s continued success in a number of ways.

When we founded Lucid, a venture-backed software company, we made a conscious decision to make community service a fundamental element of the company, designing a program that would both encourage and allow our employees to get involved on a number of levels. Lucid is based in New Orleans, a city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. When Lucid began in 2010, the city was still heavily rebuilding, a community cause that we adopted as one of our core volunteer programs. Choosing a cause so closely tied to our city immediately engaged our employees and instilled a company mentality of giving back to the community.

At Lucid, we offer more formal community days, where a large portion of our company volunteers for a half day or more at an organized project, such as the local animal shelter. We also open up our offices regularly for various tech-related service initiatives, such as teaching women to code and other specialized skills our tech team can offer our community. Outside of these organized company events and projects, our leadership encourages our employees to get involved with a cause they are passionate about and to take time (away from the office) to volunteer in the community. Finally, multiple employees have been involved in various capacities mentoring other local start-ups through several incubator and accelerator programs.

Structuring a company around community service has provided numerous benefits for our organization, staff and the community. These benefits include increased networking opportunities for employees, attracting and retaining stronger local talent, creating a visible presence that helped brand awareness, and forming a stronger connection to the community, which continues to create a happier company culture.

Source: Shale Magazine An Unexpected Key to a Cutting-Edge Tech Career: Community Service by Christy Luquire 


Junior League toasts building anniversary with big 80s party

September 2016

Three decades is a long time.

In honor of the Junior League of Houston's 30th year in its current Briar Oaks Lane location, the organization celebrated the milestone with not one, but two "Opening Style Show" soirees.

Team Room special events chairmen Shelby Damiani was on hostess duty for both installments. Two packed crowds filed into the black and fuchsia packed ballroom for the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"-themed festivities.

Since 1983, 11 agencies including the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have supported the Junior League of Houston's mission of promoting volunteerism and improving the community. This year alone, the local branch will contribute more than $2 million in service hours and direct financial support to 37 neighborhood projects and initiatives.

Dressed head-to-toe in purple hues, Tootsies' creative director, Fady Armanious, presented fall's biggest fashion trends from center stage. Velvet, Victorian, menswear, ruffled, brocade and of course, 80s, looks are popular projections for the upcoming season.

Above all, Armanious said, chokers will be huge.

Afterwards, Junior League of Houston volunteers hit the catwalk and modeled haute ensembles from the likes of Milly, Nicole Miller, Alice + Olivia, and more.

Beef filets and crème brulee circulated while Damiani returned to the runway to reveal which tables won swag from Tootsies, Beautique, and Beauty Counter.

No one went home went home empty, however; each guest walked away with a goodie bag and (what else?) wayfarer sunnies.

Source: Houston Chronicle Junior League toasts building anniversary with big 80s party

Houston-Area Junior League Cookbooks Bring Savory to Summer

July 2016

The Junior League of Houston produced its original cookbook, Houston Junior League Cookbook, in 1968. Peace Meals, the League’s most recent cookbook, was released in 2008. Publishing chair Katie Hackedorn says more than 800 League members and Tea Room patrons contributed recipes for consideration and 500 members tested the recipes. “As a young League member, I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting parties,” she recalls.

Hackedorn says her own favorite recipes in Peace Meals are the “Out of the Box” macaroni-and-cheese recipe and the maple salmon bites. However, the League offers two other teaser recipes on its website. For a taste of how home cooking has evolved over the years, we recommend trying the avocado-cucumber soup with cilantro (Peace Meals) and the leg of lamb with mint glaze (Houston Junior League Cookbook), with 40 years between them side by side.     

Avocado-Cucumber Soup with Cilantro

From Peace Meals

  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth 
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ to 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped 
  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled and chopped (about 2 ½ cups), plus additional slices for garnish 
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus additional 
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin 
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice 
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)

This recipe requires advance preparation. Purée the ingredients except yogurt in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 1 day. Ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of yogurt and garnish with cilantro and slice of cucumber.
Serve chilled. Serves 6. 

Source: Houstonia Magazine Houston-Area Junior League Cookbooks Bring Savory to Summer


Building a Better Community

July 2016

For nearly a century, the women of the Junior League of Houston have been an integral part of the growth and development of the city of Houston. With the goal of creating change in the city through impactful volunteerism, the organization has been on the forefront of building the city as it is today.

The Junior League of Houston was started in 1925 by 12 civic-minded women who saw a need for a well-baby clinic for the underserved in the community. As mothers themselves, the founders realized the importance of providing quality health care for new mothers and their children who would otherwise not receive it.

“The Junior League Children’s Health Clinic was the first of many community projects started by the Junior League of Houston,” said Junior League Houston President Shannon Wiesedeppe. “At the time, Junior League Provisionals were required to work in the clinic as part of their training.”

By 1927, the Junior League of Houston operated the Junior League Children’s Health Clinic in the First National Bank Building, providing health care services to underprivileged children of all ages. Through this clinic, the League began working with Hermann Hospital (now Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center), which would begin a partnership with the medical community of Houston that still exists today. When the Texas Medical Center opened in 1945, Junior League members were some of its first volunteers.

Through their partnership with Hermann Hospital, the Junior League clinic moved to the medical center Dec. 1, 1944. The clinic was moved to the outpatient department of Hermann Hospital and renamed the Junior League Children’s Health Clinic of Hermann Hospital Outpatient Department and served as a training ground for medical students at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition to assisting in the clinic, in 1945, League volunteers also began a program to assist patients during their stay in the hospital. This type of patient interaction with League volunteers continues to this day as part of the League’s Community Program.

Before the doors of Texas Children’s Hospital opened in 1954, the Junior League had already begun providing services for the hospital. The organization opened the Junior League Diagnostic Clinic in the outpatient department at Texas Children’s Hospital, which included 11 highly specialized clinics.

“Even before we opened our hospital, the Junior League had formed relationships with our founders at Texas Children’s,” said Paige Schulz, director of Volunteer Services at Texas Children’s. “For more than 60 years, the League volunteers have been providing high-quality service to our patients, which has made a huge impact on our hospital and the community as a whole.”

As the landscape of Houston continued to grow and change, the Junior League grew with it. In 1974, the League began working with the Baylor Teen Clinic to help new mothers develop child-rearing skills.

“We have loved working with the women of the Junior League of Houston because they are great role models for our patients,” said Peggy B. Smith, Ph.D., director of the Baylor Teen Clinic. “They have been very successful in raising their children and they can talk to our patients from their hearts.”

Volunteers support new teen mothers by visiting their bedsides and delivering prepared information regarding childcare, parenting, family planning and nutrition. Phone outreach volunteers are paired with newly pregnant teens and teen moms who need additional support and encouragement. These volunteers call the teen mothers weekly throughout the year through a program called “Best Friends” and provide funding for the clinic.

“The women of the Junior League are very foresighted to look at the sorts of things that are demanded of our community today, but are not always easily accessible,” Smith said. “They have been very gracious and generous in providing us funding for things such as car seats for our new moms.”

In an effort to improve immunization rates in the city and to find a permanent medical home for the uninsured and underinsured populations, the Junior League donated the SuperKids Pediatric Mobile Clinic in 2000. For the first two years, the League supported all of the clinic’s operating expenses. The bus travels to patients who are unable to travel to a doctor’s office for regular checkups and is a collaborative effort with Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Independent School District, the City of Houston and Harris County Hospital District.

“The SuperKids Pediatric Mobile Clinic allows us to reach patients in the community who are unable to travel to our hospital or to Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices,” Schulz said. “The mobile clinic helps us provide immunizations and back-to-school checkups, and it has been revolutionary for us in terms of the way we care for patients in the community.”

Junior League of Houston members volunteer at organizations throughout the medical center and provide a variety of different services for the hospitals. At Texas Children’s, volunteers engage in play therapy with patients and their siblings in the Junior League Health Care Clinic, the Abercrombie Playroom, Library, Cancer Center Clinic and the Renal Center. Volunteers also work in Radio Lollipop, present puppet shows, and prepare and make crafts and dolls to educate and comfort young patients. At the Pavilion for Women, volunteers serve as Resource Ambassadors, greeting and assisting patients, visitors and staff in a friendly manner at the information desk. Volunteers also serve as NICU Sibling Playroom Volunteers, providing normalized play experiences for siblings of infants as well as caregivers of patients admitted to the NICU.

“Volunteering through the Junior League is a great way to give back to the community,” said Junior League member Teri Mesquita. “If we can just spend 30 seconds helping these kids forget about why they are here and bring them joy through stickers and coloring books, then we have done our job.”

At Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Junior League volunteers provide emotional and social support for patients and families. They serve in a wide variety of positions, including Play Pals, NICU or Pedi-ER waiting rooms, information desk attendants and patient/visitor escorts. At Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, volunteers entertain patients through arts and crafts, puppet shows, games and puzzles in the play rooms, teen rooms and other children’s areas. At Camp Janus, volunteers serve as counselors providing a traditional summer camp experience for pediatric burn patients ages five to 18.

“I strongly believe that volunteers are necessary because they serve as the non-clinical face in an incredibly clinical environment, and our patients know that they are here out of the goodness and kindness of their hearts,” said Kristen Wilkerson, manager of Volunteer Services at Memorial Hermann-TMC.

In the past year, the Junior League of Houston provided $2 million in volunteer time and support to 38 community projects around the city of Houston. In addition, the League’s community outreach efforts include Community Assistance Grants, Emergency and Resource Contingency Grants, Community Collaborations and Outside Board Representatives. They continue to build the city of Houston through volunteerism and outreach to all areas of the community.

“The League has been a part of the growth and development of Houston, as well as those members who have had the opportunity to be trained and mentored through their association with the League,” Wiesedeppe said. “I am so honored to count myself as one of over 5,300 members who continue to fulfill the League’s mission and do my part to build well-being in our community.”

Source: TMC Pulse Building a Better Community

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