90 Years Strong
Junior League of Stamford-Norwalk
As the 400 volunteers who form part of the Junior League of Stamford-Norwalk (JLSN) celebrate a milestone, we look back at the roles this thoroughly modern chapter and its parent organization have played in helping our community.
1923: Eleven women become the JLSN’s charter members (five are shown at top right). By year’s end the group is forty strong. One of its earliest campaigns is the development of Braille courses in collaboration with the Stamford Red Cross.
1930s & ’40s: As Junior League of New York member, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt leads by example during the Great Depression, JLSN is commended for its Unemployed Relief Campaign. Members keep pitching in by founding Stamford Hospital’s Gift Shop and Hostess Desk, the Child Guidance Center of Stamford and a children’s theater program.
1950s: As its service commitments grow, the JLSN hosts its first debutante cotillion in 1958. (Years later the group stopped sponsoring cotillions in favor of more inclusive fundraisers.) Also, JLSN members from Greenwich form their own Junior League chapter, still vibrant to this day.
1960s & ’70s: With its pulse on urban issues that defined the era, JLSN takes a lead supporting inner-city youth initiatives, including a summer- jobs program in Stamford. JLSN also founds a thrift shop and launches the Winterfair Market that continues today.
1980s: Junior League of Phoenix member Sandra Day O’Connor joins the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, while league members Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush serve as consecutive First Ladies. Closer to home, a modern JLSN ends its longstanding practice of requiring new members to be sponsored by existing ones, thereby opening its doors to a broader cross-section of women.
2000: The Junior League inducts Deborah Brittain as its first African-American president and marks its centennial in 2001 with poet Maya Angelou and feminist Gloria Steinem speaking at its national convention.
2008: JLSN begins its five-year Diaper Co-op, distributing more than 300,000 diapers and investing more than $100,000 to ensure parents in need have access to clean nappies. The project continues as a legacy campaign in cooperation with Norwalk’s Malta House and the Diaper Bank of New Haven.
2013: In a sign of the times, JLSN’s 400 active members balance their volunteerism with commitments to work and family. Some 60 percent work full-or part-time at companies including UBS, RBS and Deloitte. Several JLSN presidents have gone on to careers as leaders of local nonprofits.