History of the League
In October of 1926, a bridge club of twelve women formed the Roanoke Junior League. They were "civic-minded girls" who wanted a systematic way of "doing their bit" in the community. The original twelve soon grew to twenty, and Mary Terry Goodwin Kuyk was elected to lead the group. During her tenure as president, the Association of Junior Leagues International accepted the Junior League of Roanoke.
Since its inception, the League has been committed to improving the lives of children. In 1928, the League started a health school and hired a dietician to teach underprivileged children the value of a healthy diet. The new chapter also had the daunting task of raising money to fund their charitable efforts. Early programs were funded by proceeds raised at bridge parties, plays and fashion shows.
After the Roanoke Junior League incorporated as the Junior League of Roanoke, Inc. in the 1930s it opened a Thrift Shop to raise money. Then the League founded the Hospital Library at the Memorial and Crippled Children's Hospital and committed to building a new clinic. The League then organized the Children's Theatre and helped establish the New Community Chest.
Despite the tough times brought about by World War II during the 1940s the League still managed to work on improving the children's wing of Community Hospital, continuing the success of the Children's Theatre and supporting the Greenvale Nursery. In the early 1950s the League initiated construction of the Teenage Girls' Center.
League members in the 1960s significantly furthered the mission of the Junior League. They provided a hearing test for school children in Roanoke and sponsored a supplement in the Roanoke Times that warned parents about the dangers of drugs. In addition they volunteered in the Toy Room at the hospital and helped to renovate a house on Patterson Avenue that served as a foster home for teen girls. The 1960s also brought about the publication of the first cookbook created by the League, Of Pots and Pipkins. It was a nationally renowned compilation of southern recipes, and it even earned a review in the Ladies Home Journal.
During the 1970s, the League celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary and worked to change its "white glove" image. Several projects instigated in this decade include the founding of the Ronald McDonald House, the Reading is Fundamental tutoring placement program and the Great Books program. Others include Festival in the Park, the Arts Council, Bargain Bazaar, the Roanoke Valley Horse Show, Designer House, Child Abuse Neglect Project, historical bus tours for children, and the Teen Outreach Program.
The 1980s witnessed the League's departure from its Cherry Hill headquarters. The proceeds from the sale of this property were instrumental in establishing the League's current status as one of the most heavily endowed chapters. In 1987, the League established the Mary Terry Goodwin Kuyk Scholarship to honor our first president. This scholarship fund rewarded two high school seniors who demonstrated outstanding volunteer service to their community. Kids on the Block, TOPS and POPS were instrumental projects of the 1980s and the Stocked Market Holiday Bazaar began its long tradition.
The League entered the 1990s with a president who was the first to simultaneously maintain a full-time job. Care that Counts, Project H.O.P.E., and an after-school program at Clearbrook Elementary School provided much of the focus of this time. The end of the decade witnessed the League's creation of its second cookbook, Oh My Stars! Recipes That Shine.
In 2001, the Junior League of the Roanoke Valley celebrated 75 years of excellence and has sustained its excellence in the new millennium. More than 600 members, continued to contribute to the community through the Pediatric Blood Drive, Aspire 2016, Bethany Hall, Carilion Medical Center for Children's Volunteer Program, Kids in the Kitchen, and Young Women's Leadership.
"Connect the Dots - Women, Leadership, Community," was the theme for the 2008-2009 League year. The purpose was to help our members understand the big picture of what the League accomplishes and the impact our volunteer service makes in the Roanoke Valley. In October, the League adopted a new community vision for the next five years, focusing our monetary support and time to "Child Health and Welfare."
Over the past five years we have awarded grants to numerous non-profits including Second Harvest Food Bank/Boys and Girls Club, Rebuilding Together, Junior Achievement, Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital, Hollins Batten Leadership Institution, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, The Achievement Center, CHIP, the Children's Home Society, American Red Cross, Blue Ridge Autism Center, Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline, Healing Strides, Young Audiences of Virginia, Greenvale School, Roanoke Area Ministries (RAM), Apple Ridge Farm, Presbyterian Community Center, Salvation Army, and the YMCA Magic Place. During the 2012-2013 League Year, we also provided funding to Family Service of Roanoke Valley to help establish its grief loss center.