The Building Blocks of Parent-Child Relationships

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. 

Fall 2019 Legislative Breakfast Honoring Women’s Voices

By Courtney Smith

The New York Junior League held its first Legislative Breakfast in several years on Thursday, November 7, 2019. The event provided a platform to discuss the importance of women’s voices in advocacy and the NYJL’s advocacy priorities this year. The keynote speaker was to be Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has been an active NYJL volunteer for many years.

Mayoral Support

The breakfast opened with NYJL President Lauren Jenkins Chung, who welcomed Rohan Narine, South Asian Indo-Caribbean Community Liaison to the Mayor, who presented the NYJL with a letter from the Mayor, that showed his support.

NYJL has been a tremendous ally in the mission to end injustice, advocating for women from all backgrounds for over 100 years. I applaud the NYJL staff and volunteers for forging a brighter future for New Yorkers.”

Census Participation

Following Mr. Narine and the Mayor’s Office was Kathleen Daniel, Field Director of the NYC Census 2020.

“The census is the largest mobilization in the country in peacetime. This is today’s civil rights movement in America. We have a right to be counted, no matter where we live, no matter our background. No one has the right to count us out.”

Ms. Daniel said there was only 69.1% participation in the 2010 New York Census, there has never been an accurate census, and the only way to prepare for and support our citizens is by first counting them. She encouraged NYJL volunteers to join NOCC (Neighborhood Organizing Census Committee) to help spread the word on the census and ensure everyone in the community is counted.

Women’s Equality

Leading into the Keynote address, Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff took the podium to deliver Rep. Maloney’s apologies for being unable to attend the event due to unexpected congressional proceedings in Washington D.C. that morning. Chief of Staff Sarah Hague shared the excitement of Rep. Maloney to be one step closer to having the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) resolution approved in Virginia, which would ratify the amendment and place it in the Constitution, thereby stating women’s full and complete equality as the law of the land.

Women’s History Museum

Congresswoman Maloney is working to pass a bill to establish a Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C. Junior League supported an earlier bill to establish a congressional commission to study the need for a Women’s History Museum. She hopes to increase representation and attention paid to the contributions of women.

“If we don’t make a better effort to tell our children the full story of the people who shaped our Country, if the stories of the remarkable women who shaped our Country today are simply omitted, women will continue to get caught in historical quicksand, and simply sink out of sight.” 

Currently, the bill has the support of 293 bipartisan members and is on its way to passage in the House of Representatives.

Voting Rights Advocacy, Awareness and Education

In closing remarks, NYJL President Lauren Jenkins Chung thanked the speakers and honored guests for attending the Legislative Breakfast and reflected on the NYJL’s long history of advocating for women and the incredible struggle for women’s voting rights 100 years ago. President Chung announced that the NYJL’s newest issue for the coming years will be Voting Rights Advocacy, Awareness and Education. The New York Junior League will develop and pilot a new learning module for young adults, and create a training curriculum that emphasizes advocacy skills, the importance of civic engagement, and citizens’ rights and responsibilities in voting.

Supporting Survivors of Violence Through Advocacy

When a volunteer commits to NYJL’s Crisis Intervention project, she goes all in. These volunteers are first responders, on call twice a month to support survivors of violence when they arrive at New York Presbyterian Hospital, as part of its Domestic and Other Violence Emergencies (DOVE) program. Certified as rape crisis counselors by the New York State Department of Health, NYJL volunteers listen to clients’ stories, recommend resources, and present options so survivors can make informed decisions. They also clarify medical procedures and help survivors create a safety plan–all while ensuring patients’ rights to information, confidentiality, and privacy are protected. NYJL volunteers are problem solvers, working with law enforcement, medical staff, social workers, and direct service providers to help survivors get the care they need.

Violence appears in many forms: sexual, physical, emotional, economic, and psychological. Not only impacting survivors, violence can have reverberating effects on families and communities as well. Long after the abuse ends, survivors may continue to grapple with trauma, often resulting in learning disabilities, poor health, mental health challenges, substance abuse, and juvenile and adult crime. Violence breaks up families and ultimately costs taxpayers, while offenders, and the institutions that cover for them, escape this burden. 

NYJL has a longstanding history of city and state-level advocacy, working directly with communities to address these social challenges and to advance the health and well-being of women and children in the long term. 

In 2007, the NYJL partnered with the National Organization of Women (NOW) NYC to advocate for New York State’s first comprehensive anti-human trafficking legislation. The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), placing greater accountability on traffickers and purchasers and strengthening the defence for survivors of trafficking from prosecution for sex work. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the TVPJA into law in late 2015.

In 2008, the NYJL successfully advocated for New York State funding to support shelters for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.

In 2010, Alongside the Women in Prison Project, the NYJL began advocating for the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) to grant judges discretion when issuing sentences to survivors of violence who are convicted of crimes related to their abuse. Under this law, judges may order lesser sentences or send survivors to community-based programs instead of prison. Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law in May 2019.

And most recently, in February 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law,  extending the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. 

Join us Thursday evening, December 5, 2019, as we recognized the work of Crisis Intervention and four other community projects at Golden Tree, an annual, three-day holiday shopping and entertainment event. Golden Tree is among NYJL’s signature fundraisers to support our community projects, like Crisis Intervention, and ongoing advocacy for women and children. 


The NYJL’s Open Letter of Support to Protect Unaccompanied Children

Dear Members of the New York State Assembly,

The New York Junior League supports the Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act (A01436B/S00222B), as well as the intentions of the Child Trauma Response Act (A07816/S06225), that have been introduced to the New York State legislature. The New York Junior League is one of the oldest and largest women’s non-profit volunteer organization in the city. We have more than 2,800 volunteers—of all races, religions, and ethnicities—who donate more than 250,000 hours of service every year. We are leaders, philanthropists, and activists. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We are a community of women, bound by a single goal—to improve the health and well-being of women, children, and families in New York.

The Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act, sponsored by New York State Senator Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, promotes transparency of information about the number of unaccompanied immigrant children placed in the care of agencies in New York – a number that may be surprising to some. The New York State Senate just overwhelmingly ratified the bill, and it is in committee within the Assembly. The bill requires consistent reporting of the number of separated children who are placed in the custody of foster care agencies by the federal government, so that the people and government of New York know how many of these vulnerable children are in our state and who is responsible for their care. Reports would be submitted to the state twice a year, or within 30 days upon the governor’s request, with the aim of mitigating the risk of losing track of these children.

The Child Trauma Response Act, sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biagi and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, seeks to provide support and services for unaccompanied minors, including physical and mental health services, legal services, language services, and assistance with educational rights and enrollment in public schools. The legislation seeks to alleviate and remediate the trauma that children endure in being separated from their families and support networks.

With so little time left in the New York State legislative session before the break, the New York Junior League strongly supports moving these bills forward. As an organization with a focus on the well-being of women, children, and families, the New York Junior League believes this legislation is critical to protecting unaccompanied immigrant children–and is calling for substantial support and action from the New York Governor, Senate, Assembly, and underlying legislative committees for its passage.


The New York Junior League


Dancing the Night Away at Bal en Blanc

On February 23rd, The New York Junior League hosted its 67th Annual Winter Ball. This year, the organization’s members and guests came together at a stunning new venue, Pier Sixty overlooking the Hudson River. Bal en Blanc was the theme this year, but that did not stop attendees from wearing showstopper gowns of all colors.

The evening began with cocktails and a silent auction followed by a seated dinner and ceremony honoring the outstanding sustainers and volunteers, followed by a cocktail reception and silent auction. The fabulous dinner served nearly 350 who were in attendance enjoying a fine three course meal while listening to brief speeches given by the President Lauren Chung, and one honoree, Angel Rodriguez from Avenues of Justice who was the President’s Council Award recipient.

From left to right: 2019 Outstanding Volunteers (Allison Davis O’Keefe, Leighanna Morbey Favale, Dayna Barlow Cassidy, Shelby Spears Carroll and Beth Batiuchok-Colon) and 2019 Outstanding Sustainers (Dorothy Echols (“Dee Dee”) Scarborough and Robin Stratton Rivera)

During the dinner and through dessert, a brilliant live auction began which raised $40,000 for the NYJL. Auction items included luxurious travel getaways, including a magical trip to Morocco and an enchanting ski trip to Courchevel for an Alpine Escape! The auction also offered exclusive tours and dinners around Manhattan, and even an opportunity to host a personal event at the historic Astor House, home to the New York Junior League headquarters.

Dessert and Dancing guests arrived and were joined by the VIPs who attended the dinner for several hours of dancing the night away to the lively band who kept the vibe going. A glorious change from the previous Winter Ball events at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side, Chelsea Piers premiering as the new venue was a hit!  Guests appeared to really enjoy the view and also the atmosphere of the open waterfront party.

Each year the New York Junior League works tirelessly to organize their largest fundraising event of the year so that its members and non members can come together and honor the year’s most outstanding sustainers and volunteers for their incredible dedication and accomplished work as women leaders within the organization. The Winter Ball also earns substantial proceeds to directly benefit the NYJL and this year raised over $500,000!  Next year will surely be tasked to top the 67th Annual Winter Ball, but we are sure only something greater will be in store!