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  • Writer's pictureCandace Gulotta-Haggart

Spark committee helps shape the next generation of women leaders

When Junior League of Lafayette launched the Spark program this year, the goal was to cultivate action and leadership as well as meaningful training opportunities for young women in Lafayette.

Both Spark Jr. and Spark Teen Board have gone above and beyond the program's goals as evidenced by two successful community events over the past month.

“The Spark programs are designed to encourage the next generation of leadership and civic engagement in young women in Acadiana,” said Grace Gallaspy, Spark Chair. “We have been so fortunate that a variety of leaders in Lafayette have dedicated their time and talents to share with the participants in the Spark programs.”

In November, Spark Jr. sat down with 10-15 young girls to learn the importance of holiday table manners with Thanksgiving and Christmas a few weeks away.

The program is a girls’ leadership and development partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana and provides training on a wide variety of topics that encourage learning new skills, developing new interests, and socializing with peers.

At the event, Gallaspy started with a small ice breaker that the girls loved. After the ice breaker, Cecile Mouton, a Junior League of Lafayette Sustainer, worked with the young girls on the proper way to introduce yourself at a party or dinner as well as the correct etiquette from table settings to requesting a certain dish. Not only was it educational, but the girls also had a blast learning this new skill that surely left a lasting impression as the holidays quickly approach.

The Spark Teen Board program provides a foundation of voluntarism and an understanding of the impact Junior League of Lafayette has on the Lafayette community to a group of 12 high school juniors and seniors who, over the course of their one-year term, develop leadership skills, professionalism, self-esteem, and many other valuable skills needed to become a community leader.

The teens were active in the community last month, visiting St. Bernadette’s Clinic and getting a glimpse of how this amazing organization provides medical services to our homeless population and those in need. Established in 1995, the St. Bernadette’s Clinic provides non-emergency medical care at no charge.

Jeigh Stipe, Lourdes Foundation Director and Junior League of Lafayette Sustainer, gave the Spark Teen Board participants and Spark Committee Members a tour of the facility as well as the history of how the clinic was started. This visit showed the teens what voluntarism can really impact our community and brought a different perspective to helping the less fortunate.

“The program participants have shared how meaningful these experiences are with Members of our committee,” said Gallaspy. “We’re so grateful we get a chance to facilitate this new program!”

Applications for the 2023-2024 Spark Teen Board open in the Spring of 2023. For more information on the Spark Teen Board and Spark Jr., please visit

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