Each year, the Junior League of Cedar Rapids Provisional class, the women who are in the process of joining JLCR, work together on a community service project. The time provides them a chance to get together, to learn more about each other and JLCR’s mission, and to have an immediate impact in the community. In 2010-11, the Provisional class’ project provided the inspiration for what is now JLCR’s project: Bridging the G.A.P. (Guide. Advocate. Provide.).
The 2013-14 class was full of energetic and future JLCR leaders! In order to align with our current project and initiatives, we asked the ladies to create a fundraising event that all proceeds would go to helping foster youth. The group of 23 women came together and successfully hosted our first Junior League of Cedar Rapids’ Holiday Bazaar. This event was about being part of a solution and supporting families in the Cedar Rapids area. All proceeds from this holiday shopping event benefited Partnership for Safe Families. Partnership for Safe Families, based in Cedar Rapids, is a community-wide effort to support families and prevent child abuse, neglect and domestic violence. The 1st annual Bazaar raised over $2,100 and the proceeds were put to good use. The new member organized a Guide Night where they showed foster care families how they can cook together using a crockpot. Each family was able to take home a brand new crockpot and recipe book the members had made. They also hosted an Advocate Night. The new member class invited active members in to hear more about Partnership for Safe Families and their mission. This night was very inspirational and touched many hearts as we learned the real struggles that one of their own staff faced. The last event they were a part of was Provide Night where the new members used the remaining funds and purchased items for Partnership for Safe Families to refill their incentive closet for families. These items help families with everyday things like laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper, etc. and can be earned by families when need some extra help.
The 2012-13 Provisional class focused its efforts on renovating the family room at the Foundation 2 Youth Shelter, a 17-bed facility providing basic necessities, structured supervision, counseling, and educational programming to youth ages 11-17. The shelter has a family room that serves a variety of purposes, including watching TV, reading, playing games, as well as for staff and family meetings. All of the furniture in the room was out-dated and damaged. The project’s goal was to update the room, and make it a place where the youth would want to spend time after being gone all day.
In two months, the Provisional class raised $2,500 for the room makeovers, and purchased two couches, chairs, games, DVDs, curtains, and decorations. The class also received a donation of another sofa.
Members spent two days painting and decorating the room, including painting on the wall, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” Foundation 2 said they were pleased with the results, and thankful to Junior League for its efforts to help community youth.
When JLCR’s 2011-12 Provisional class learned that children in foster care leave their homes with their belongings in trash bags, a Provisional class project was born. Provisional class members collected donations to provide suitcases and basic toiletries to these children, helping to restore dignity to children during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. In the end more than 100 children in foster care in Linn County received suitcases to carry their belongings.
The 2010-11 Provisional class’ project was small, but mighty, as it provided the inspiration for what has grown into JLCR’s Bridging the G.A.P. project. Provisional members raised money and purchased suitcases for Linn County teens aging out of foster care, either on their 18th birthday or when they graduate from high school.
These suitcases were filled with bedding, pots and pans, towels, utensils, toiletries, cleaning supplies – the basics that we all need for independent living. Additionally, the class developed baby suitcases for newborns and infants in the system. These suitcases included everything foster parents (or parents who are in the foster system themselves) need to take a baby into their homes on a moment’s notice.