We recognize the heartbreaking and devastating effects of racism and inequity that are playing out in our City and country. For the past 120 years, New York Junior League (NYJL) volunteers have been community builders. At no other time in our history has this been more critical. We stand together with our NYC community, and in particular with the Black community, against exclusion, bias, structural and systemic racism and prejudice in all forms. Together, we find power and joy in working collaboratively to ensure that the Junior League of the City of New York is a place of ethical stance and substance, a place in which all members cultivate personal integrity in service to the collective values of respect and trust. The brutal events of the last several days have reinforced the importance of this, now more than ever. We will remember the names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others who have lost their lives to violence or who have been threatened as a result of structural and systemic racism.
Community Action and Advocacy Around Homelessness and Food Insecurity in the Current Environment
Monday, April 20, 2020 • 7:00 p.m.
- Manhattan Borough President – Gale Brewer
- New York City Councilman – Ben Kallos
- New York State Senator – Liz Krueger
- Win Vice President of Policy and Planning – Jessica Yager
Panel discussion moderated by NYJL President Lauren Chung
More than 22,000 children in New York City are homeless this holiday season.
Every year, NYC’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the Coalition for the Homeless, and other organizations mobilize a massive drive to collect and deliver gifts to every single child living in a shelter or hotel over the holidays.
To make sure every child receives a gift, the NYJL is partnering with the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to help collect 50 urgently needed toys by close of business on Monday, December 23. New toys should be delivered directly to Astor House (130 E 80th St, New York, NY 10075) between now and Monday. The DHS administrator will personally pick up gifts and deliver them to children on Christmas Eve.
- We need new toys for children under the age of 10, such as toddler toys, dolls, cars, trucks, and board games.
- Please wrap the toy (if possible) and label it with a description of the toy, the age, and whether it’s for a boy or girl.
- Toys may be delivered to Astor House today (Thursday) until 10:00 p.m., tomorrow (Friday) until 6:00 p.m., and Monday, December 23, until 5:00 p.m.
- The DHS administrator will pick up the gifts in the morning on December 24.
If you are unable to hand deliver wrapped gifts to Astor House by December 23, Mary Arnold Toy Store near headquarters is happy to take toy orders and deliver them to Astor House for free. You may contact the store directly at 212-744-8510. You can view their inventory on their website.
Thank you for your generosity this holiday season!
The young artists who take NYJL’s Tuesday morning art classes are explorers. They get lost in the details while carefully sketching a Ming-dynasty-inspired vase. They discover combinations of color and light by creating stained glass mosaics out of tissue paper. And they contemplate the wilderness of Chihuly’s twisted glass sculptures by recreating their own out of other materials. These students are exercising their critical thinking and experiencing the pride artists feel when creating an artwork with theirs own hands.
Research supporting art education’s positive impact on children’s academic success and social-emotional wellbeing is abundant. A 2019 Brookings Institute report found that, among elementary school students,“[…] increases in arts learning positively and significantly affect students’ school engagement, college aspirations, and their inclinations to draw upon works of art as a means for empathizing with others.” And according to studies by the National Endowment for the Arts, students from low-income communities demonstrated higher test scores in science and writing if they were highly engaged in the arts from kindergarten to eighth grade, compared to students who were less involved in arts during those formative years.
Affirming the importance of arts programming in education, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio committed $23 million in 2014 to upgrade arts facilities and equipment, strengthen partnerships with cultural institutions, expand specialized programming for English language learners and students with disabilities, and support staff development.
“Arts instruction must be continuous, rigorous, inclusive, and reflective of the diversity of the communities and students the DOE serves,” said Chancellor Richard A. Carranza in the NYC Department of Education’s Arts in Schools (2017-2018) report.
The NYJL is strongly committed to arts education too. In fact, we have six committees dedicated to engaging students in rich, cultural and artistic activities and experiences. One example of our arts education programming is Project Muse.
Every week, Project Muse volunteers provide interactive art education classes to third grade students at a Title 1 school in the Lower East Side. Volunteers cultivate an environment where students feel comfortable, supported, and inspired to learn and develop their creativity and artistic skills through explorations of diverse artistic styles, championed by artists such as Frida Kahlo and Monet.
Project Muse organizes several field trips to arts and cultural institutions each year, so students can engage with artworks in real life and create their own inspired projects. Recently, NYJL volunteers and students visited the Children’s Museum of Art to see E.V. Day’s Breaking the Glass Ceiling exhibit, encouraging guests to question invisible boundaries and aspire to greatness beyond society’s expectations and limits.
Project Muse artists have also visited the Botanical Gardens, where they documented natural works of art through photography. Afterwards, the students walked through the neighborhood to identify and admire street art.
To foster students’ aspirations, Project Muse hosts a career panel each year so students can learn more about art-related careers.
If you would like to celebrate Project Muse, please join us Thursday evening, December 5, at Golden Tree, where we will celebrate the important contributions of five community projects. A three-day shopping event and celebration, Golden Tree is one of NYJL’s signature events to raise funds for our mission–and continued exploration in the arts.
One of the foundational “building blocks” of early child development is a secure attachment between child and parent. In partnership with the Single Parent Resource Center (SPRC), NYJL’s Building Blocks program aims to strengthen these bonds through interactive play. Volunteers organize activities where parents and their children (ages 6 months to 4 years) can tap into fun, imagination, movement, and health. At the end of each session, children and parents take home their projects, which serve as reminders of their time together at Building Blocks.
Unlike other NYJL projects, volunteers’ children are part of the program. And as many NYJL volunteers are new parents themselves, Building Blocks fosters teaching and learning together and integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. Some activities have included adorning planters for growing basil at home; decorating holiday cookies; playing soccer; and making lava lamps out of household items. Building Blocks has also partnered with another NYJL community committee, Cooking and Health Education for Families (CHEF), to focus on nutrition and making good food choices.
At the 68th Annual Winter Ball, the NYJL will honor two key leaders of the Building Blocks program: Outstanding Sustainer Rosemarie Dackerman and Outstanding Volunteer Olivia Leon. Rosemarie heads community partner SPRC, and Olivia helped launch, and now co-leads, the program.
“Being part of the Building Blocks committee and being able to have my son join our sessions and help volunteer has been a truly rewarding and unique volunteer experience,” says Olivia. “[…]Building Blocks is a great example of how the NYJL grows and evolves volunteer options to meet the needs and schedules of our membership. But the best part has been working with the Single Parent Resource Center and their clients over the span of three years. It has been great to watch all our children grow together, learn from each other and form friendships.”
Celebrate Building Blocks with us at Golden Tree’s Spirit of the Season: A Spotlight on Community on Thursday evening, December 5. Building Blocks will be among five committees recognized for their important contributions to our community.