• Candace Gulotta-Haggart

Junior League of Lafayette Focuses on Health, Development of Young Women with New Programs

Updated: Sep 10

Every year, Junior League of Lafayette (JLL) looks for different ways to fill the needs of our community through volunteer action, collaboration, and training. This year, the Community Council created new and exciting community programs focused on the health and development of Acadiana’s young women.

“I hope these new programs will allow not only continued partnerships but also allow for the participants to have a better understanding of impacting their community through voluntarism,” said Ayesha Martin, Community Council Vice President. “I also hope that through these programs additional projects can be created that address the needs of the community.”

Here’s a sneak peek at JLL’s newest community programs.

Health Essentials Resource Committee

The Health Essentials Resource (HER) committee was developed to fill a huge void in our community – providing women and children tangible resources that impact their health and wellbeing. The committee is made up of three subcommittees: Diaper Bank, EmpowHER. (pronounced Empower Her Period), and Happy Wheels – each specializing in a specific area.


Last year alone, Junior League of Lafayette distributed 58,325 diapers in Acadiana

“In a time of raw material supply shortages resulting in higher prices for basic resources, it is important to raise awareness of diaper need and period poverty, as many in our community live below the federal poverty line,” said Shannon Pratt, HER Chair. “We know there is a need in our community and the HER community program volunteers will greatly impact women and children throughout Lafayette Parish with diapers, period supplies, or essential items provided by the hospitality cart.” 


Across the nation, one in three families struggle to provide a sufficient supply of diapers to keep their infant or child clean, dry, and healthy. Through the Diaper Bank committee, JLL provides supplies through approved distribution partner agencies. Last year alone, the League distributed 58,325 diapers in Acadiana.


Period poverty is the inability to access period supplies to manage a period. According to Alliance for Period Supplies, two in nine (22 percent) women in Louisiana live below the federal poverty line. EmpowHER. gathers period supplies from community partners and assembles monthly period supply kits comprised of pads, tampons, and cleansing wipes. The committee then distributes the kits to partner agencies quarterly while coordinating smaller impactful projects throughout the League year to raise awareness of period poverty in our community.

HER Chair and Community VP dropping off uniform clothing bottoms and new underwear donated by JLL members for girls in schools across Acadiana, as part of new subcommittee EmpowHER,

The Happy Wheels hospitality cart offers essential resources to patients and families who cannot leave the patient's bedside during a hospital stay. Stocked with snacks, refreshments, activities, and essential items, Happy Wheels is directly related to Junior League of Lafayette's Mission to positively impact women and children in our community through the League’s collaboration with Our Lady of Lourdes Women's and Children's Hospital. In addition to the hospitality cart, the League’s 65th anniversary project will support the hospital’s Ronald McDonald House Family Suite which will bring a home away from home environment for patients and families.


Spark

Spark Committee was created to help “spark” a culture of voluntarism and leadership in young women within Lafayette Parish. The committee’s two programs will provide the youth of our community a chance to not only gain a love for volunteering but also develop strength, foster confidence, and inspire leadership skills. 

Spark Teen Board had their first meeting of the year on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.

“I'm so excited to see these new programs launch because they arose from a need in our community and JLL identified and responded to the need,” said Grace Gallaspy, Spark Chair. “I'm hopeful that everyone impacted by these programs will learn new skills, develop a strong sense of community, and feel empowered to be engaged and responsive leaders in Acadiana for a lifetime!”


The Spark Teen Board provides leadership training and community engagement opportunities for 12 high school juniors and seniors who live in or attend school in Lafayette Parish.


After much research, Junior League of Lafayette noticed very few leadership training opportunities for young women in Lafayette and saw an opportunity to take what we do so well as a League –leadership training and community engagement – and share it with the next generation of women leaders. Spark Teen Board is also an opportunity to share the League’s core values and mission with teens in our community.

The Spark Jr. program provides training opportunities for girls in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Acadiana.

Junior League of Lafayette also collaborated with the Boys and Girls Club to create meaningful training opportunities that align with the League’s Mission and values for girls in their program. The Spark Jr. program will provide age-appropriate training opportunities by partnering girls with area experts and community leaders to address topics such as self-esteem, safe social media use, leadership, and self-defense.


For more information about these amazing new programs and how to get involved, email communityvp@juniorleagueoflafayette.com.

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