I know many of you drive past The Jumble Store on 110 Walnut Avenue in Cranford. It’s a fabulous resale store, right? But do you know much about the incredible women’s organization running this shop or how the Career Closet, housed in the upper floor, serves hundreds of women ready to re-enter the workforce? I had the pleasure of meeting the current President of the Junior League of Elizabeth-Plainfield, Nydia Diefenbach, and was just awestruck to find out how much the members give back to our own Union County.
By official definition: The Junior League of Elizabeth -Plainfield is “a chapter of the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. and is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.” However, it’s how these women live up to these ideals that will make you want to support them – or join them! Here are just a few “hot” charitable events and programs that they have this year!
The Jumble Store – serving Union County for over 80 years and is such a great resource for the whole community! From Halloween costumes, designer dresses, brand name jeans, purses, accessories, toys, knickknacks for the home – you won’t leave empty-handed at their resale shop! The proceeds all go back to aiding those in the community and to fund League driven projects such as Career Closet and Teen Closet. For information regarding store hours, special tag sales, or when to donate your own items – please visit their website at JLEP Jumble Store
Career Closet – for over 20 years the JLEP has been serving agencies such as the Urban League and other similar social services agencies. Women served are part of a re-entry program back to the workplace and come as clients of the agencies. There are appointment dates throughout the month and usually three set dates. The client may choose eight articles of clothing/accessories to compliment her business wardrobe. For example, a woman may leave with a two-piece suit, blouse, a new bra, purse, scarf, and a pair of shoes. “March Blitz” is a big month for the Career Closet! Every Wednesday of the month, 20-25 clients visit to receive their new professional outfit. Sizes of career wear range from 0-16 plus. If you would like to donate please label “Career Closet” and donate during store hours (listed in website link) or email [email protected]
Career Closet Event: November 18 – In partnership with “Heeling for Hope”, a Union County mentoring program for at-risk young women, JLEP has a day of treating them to a new look and fostering a positive outlook for the road ahead. These girls have the wonderful opportunity to visit the store that Saturday and pick out an outfit and a new pair of shoes. This is to celebrate their success and give them a sense that what they are wearing is appropriate and ready for any community or career event! JLEP is asking the community for donations of NEW shoes as part of this event. Professional shoes such as pumps, dressy flats, and low heels are all welcome! Email Career Closet Committee Chairs, Val Camara and Flo Baker at [email protected] for more information/questions.
Teen Closet – JLEP provides three workshops during the year focusing on the needs of at-risk teen girls. This past year all were held in Elizabeth and presentations were given on three separate career areas: medicine, tech/engineering, and business. The girls were educated about each area of business, given resume building techniques, and worked on presentation/job interview skills. They were also given amazing swag bags full of information and local resources.
Angel Tree Toy & New Clothing Drive – Tuesday, October 18 through Thanksgiving is their coveted Angel Tree project. This is a 30-year tradition at JLEP! They partner with Healthy Families Elizabeth and each year provide holidays for over 200 children! New outfits/pajamas combined with one gift is what is given to each child. JLEP encourages all of Union County to support this enormous holiday drive! An Amazon Wish List will go live soon and you can have the opportunity to help these ladies! Email Angel Tree Committee Chair, Laura Lanigan, at [email protected] for more information/questions.
1st Annual Little Black Dress Initiative – fashioned after a sister London chapter, the ladies of JLEP will start their “Little Black Dress” fundraiser this fall! Members will wear the same black dress for five days straight and a button that will say “Ask Me About My Dress”. The fundraiser will kick off on Giving Tuesday (11/28) and will run for the next five days. By leveraging the iconic “little black dress” and heavily using social media channels – the goal is to put a spotlight on poverty. All funds will directly benefit the Career/Teen Closet.
Ready to Celebrate 95! The women of JLEP are so excited for the chapter to be turning 95 years this Spring 2018! This summer they started the “Drive to 95”. Their goal is to accomplish 95 activities in 2 years! The League will extend an invitation to the entire community to celebrate their big anniversary – a Kentucky Derby Fundraiser! More information to follow but it will definitely be on Derby Day at a local country club. Expect cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and game day contests!
The JLEP consists of about 170 members – both sustainers and active members. They are always seeking new women to join the league and have some exciting socials coming up where you can find out more information about this amazing group! The League membership is open to all women of Union County – particularly members from Cranford, Westfield, and Scotch Plains/Fanwood.
Nydia mentioned that this League is very unique and welcoming. “We are mix of all walks of life: young people, new moms, empty nesters, and all ethnicities. This a diverse group of women – not your typical “ladies who lunch” – although we do lunch and love hanging out with each other! We are a close group of women who like to volunteer – we are very volunteer driven!”
How can you become a member or find out more information about this organization making powerful footprints in Union County?
Sunday, October 22 – JLEP will have a table at the Cranford Street Fair and this will be their kickoff to their membership drive! Meet some of the women and get more information about the League!
Tuesday October 24 – New Member Happy Hour at Stage House Tavern in Scotch Plains from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. Come out and enjoy a night of meeting new friends and finding connections with other women. JLEP New Member Chairs will be hosting and available to answer any questions. New Member Packets will be ready for pick up!
Friday, October 27 – Start your morning at Rockin’ Joe’s Coffee in Westfield at 9:00 am and sip coffee with the ladies of JLEP. Come alone or bring your child! Find out about the JLEP and meet some new friends in the community!