Inspiring Visit from Four NYJL Community Partners

VTL 115 Years of Community Activism Then and Now (1)

The New York Junior League was host to an extraordinary panel of speakers from some of our longest-standing community partners on January 20.  We welcomed Lew Zuchman, Executive Director and Bill Fink, Associate Executive Director for Development and External Affairs of the Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network (SCAN), Gregory Morris, President and Executive Director and Esther Grant-Walker, Director of School Age Programs of the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, Christine C. Quinn, President and CEO and Katie Tynes, Director of Volunteer Services at Women in Need (WIN), and Georgia Lerner, Executive Director of the Women’s Prison Association (WPA).

Introduced by NYJL President Stacey Lawrence Lee and moderated by NYJL Director-at-Large Anne Bahr Thompson, the panel discussed the impact the NYJL has had on the communities we serve and how we can continue to make a difference moving forward.

All the speakers highlighted the value of working with NYJL volunteer teams, not only in terms of allowing them to stretch their budgets and extend the reach of their respective organizations, but as importantly the personal connections created and fostered by NYJL volunteers remind those in need that they matter.

VTL 115 Years of Community Activism Then and Now (2)

“We create a sense of possibility, that they can live the life they are supposed to live: lives of promise.” —Gregory Morris, Stanley Isaacs Center

The NYJL has worked with the Stanley Isaacs Center since its inception, and Mr. Morris complimented our volunteers on their help in empowering the young people that are part of their programs. WPA’s Georgia Lerner, whose organization has existed since 1845, spoke about how the focus has changed from working solely with women in the prisons to now helping them in a real-life setting where our efforts contribute to reinforcing a positive sense of self. WIN’s Christine Quinn noted that “having volunteers to help at their center made all the difference: it gave their clients a feeling that others were rooting for them to succeed.” Lew Zuchman of SCAN, an original 1961 Freedom Rider, spoke about the importance of making a young person feel that they have value, and that one of the greatest gifts we can offer is relating to these underserved communities as if they are same as anyone else we care about.

VTL 115 Years of Community Activism Then and Now (3)

“It’s the power of what we can do when we meet one to one that makes a young person feel they have value.”—Lew Zuchman, SCAN

The audience asked panelists to offer advice on volunteering with at-risk populations and answer questions about how to handle feeling overwhelmed by the negative circumstances many of these communities experience. Speakers agreed that early intervention with parents and their young children makes a difference, and that the continuity of our programs—knowing that the NYJL volunteers will always show up—gave people a sense of importance and hope. Particular importance was placed on the definition of “succeed”: that a Hollywood ending is unrealistic and that it’s the small, daily victories that should be embraced and celebrated.

All photos: Brook Christopher, co-chair of Archives & Photography

Strengthening the families of the greater New York area.

The New York Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

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