In 1940, a group of local women identified a need in our community and organized the Junior Charity League of Spartanburg with 35 charter members. After serving the community for 8 years, the League applied for admission to the Association of Junior Leagues of America (AJLA) in 1948.
After a 3-year admissions process including the completion of the Community Orientation Courseand site visits by AJLI Board and staff, the Junior Charity League was accepted as the 176th member of AJLA in the fall of 1951 and became known as the Junior League of Spartanburg (JLS).
For over 70 years, the League has provided vital services in the areas of health, education, the arts, youth services, historic preservation and community service.
The first major project of the League was the establishment of the Visiting Nurse Service in 1942. Since then, the JLS has contributed more than 1.6 million volunteer hours and provided more than $1.5 million in funding to support community programs and projects:
- 1942 – Visiting Nurse Service and other hospital service programs is established.
- 1946 – First Venture magazine is produced to communicate news to members of the Junior League of Spartanburg and our community today.
- 1946 – JLS votes to finance and operate the Spartanburg County Library’s Bookmobile.
- 1962 – The JLS collaborates with the Spartanburg County Library to create the Puppetry Program (later named the “Library Puppets”), that educated and entertained children of Spartanburg County for over 40 years before they were retired in the 2000s.
- 1966 – JLS embarks on a 3 year collaboration in Historic Preservation when we worked on the restoration of Walnut Grove Plantation. Walnut Grove was the home of the Revolutionary War hero, Kate Barry, who is an ancestor of a JLS sustainer, Susan Murphy.
- 1972 – 1977 – The JLS is involved in developing a cookbook for the mentally handicapped, later called The Cooking Kit, that became a regular source of education in over 300 learning intuitions, colleges, and school home economic departments.
- 1973 – The JLS submits for a grant, and along with a fundraising campaign in collaboration with the Family Court launches a fundraising campaign, was able to purchase what is now known as the Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home.
- 1986 – The JLS creates the Mini Grants for Teachers program. Since then, the JLS has enabled teachers to obtain funding to enrich the educational opportunities for countless children in Spartanburg County, and provided over $300,000 in grants.
- 1987 – The JLS collaborates with Safe Homes / Rape Crisis to create and fund the Battered Women’s Shelter to provide women in abusive relations with a safe place to live.
- 1989 – Santa’s Shoppe event is created as a signature fundraiser in which all proceeds are used to benefit the community projects of the JLS.
- 1991 – The JLS leads the way in the initial fund raising efforts to secure and purchase the Hope Center for Children, which we still support today.
- 1995 – JLS is instrumental in establishing the Children’s Advocacy Center, an organization which provides for services for child victims of sexual abuse.
- 2001: The JLS copyrighted and printed the first cookbook, Meet Me at the Garden Gate.
- 2002 – JLS becomes the official sponsor of the Spartanburg Humane Society’s Mobile Pet Therapy Unit, one of only three in the United States.
- 2006 – The JLS adopts Family Connections as a signature project, which was instrumental in the impending expansion of this growing program.
- 2010: JLS held their first Kids In the Kitchen event to educate kids about healthy eating.
- 2015: JLS hosted their first of three Storybook Breakfast fundraising events.
- 2016: The JLS donated funds to Partners for Active Living to create picnic pavilion and Little Free Library on the Mary Black Rail Trail Extension.
- 2016: The JLS shifted their community focus to children’s literacy and school readiness.
- 2018: The JLS unveiled farmers’ market new “Mobile Market Unit” sponsored by JLS.
Other Past Community Projects:
- St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic pharmacy
- Welcome Baby Project
- Ruth Smith Lending Closet