History

The Junior League of Northern Westchester has been serving our community with philanthropic contributions for over 65 years. As a non-profit organization, we bring together over 100 active and sustaining members who are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals in our community.

The Junior League of Northern Westchester was first established in 1941 as the Northern Westchester Unit of the Junior League of the City of New York by a group of about 30 displaced New York Junior Leaguers who had settled in Northern Westchester. In October 1953, the Unit became officially incorporated as its own League and was known as the Junior League of Mount Kisco. In 1968, the League changed its name to the Junior League of Northern Westchester, and has remained so ever since. We are currently have over 110 members, hailing from Armonk, Bedford, Bedford Hills, Brewster, Briarcliff Manor, Chappaqua, Katonah, Mahopac, Mount Kisco, Pleasantville, Pound Ridge, Somers, Yorktown Heights, and surrounding areas.

The Junior League of Northern Westchester (JLNW) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. As the needs of the community change, so do our community impact projects. Some of the highlights though the years include:

  • 1940s: In the earliest years:
    • The members on the Unit volunteered their time sewing for the Elizabeth Milbank Convalescent Home in Chappaqua. (Now Wagon Road Camp of the Children Aid’s Society)
    • Purchased a station wagon so volunteers could drive patients to the Grasslands Hospital in White Plains. (Now Westchester Medical Center)
    • Established a Free Lending Library at the Northern Westchester Hospital. In 1957, the League officially handed over management of this service to the NWH Trustees.
  • 1948: The Unit opened a Hospitality Shop at NWH and managed it with a paid manger and a staff of volunteers. In 1952, the League handed over management of the Shop to the NWH Board of Trustees.
  • 1950: Arts in School program was established. Provided art exhibits and movies for schools in the community. A filmstrip and film slides library on cultural subjects was started by the League and is made available to schools free of charge. This service was turned over to BOCES in 1959.
  • 1954: Senior Group was established, which provided recreation and instruction to men and women over sixty years of age.
  • 1957: Supplied volunteers and funds to aid in setting up the Library at The Hillcrest Home for Children in Bedford Hills.
  • 1971: With the help of the JLNW, the Mount Kisco Child Care Center opened.
  • 1974: The Thrift Stop was opened at the Bedford Hills Train Station. The Thrift Stop was open for three decades and generated well over half a million dollars for JLNW program support during its years of operation. It was closed in 2006 due to increased expenses and reduced revenues.
  • 1980: JLNW organized its first Holiday Sharing Drive, which is still in existence today as one of JLNW’s signature projects.
  • 1980: JLNW founded Hope’s Door (formerly the Northern Westchester Shelter)
  • 1983: JLNW provided seed funding to the Chappaqua Children’s Workshop
  • 1986: Muscoot Farm restoration project. Our partnership with Muscoot Farm lasts for several years, as League members created training manuals and were themselves trained as docents for field trips.
  • 1991-1996 JLNW members were trained in the latest screening procedures and tested several thousand children at area schools for amblyopia (lazy eye).
  • 1998: JLNW acted as the state coordinator for the “Silent Witness March to End the Silence” in Washington, DC. More than 3,000 activists from all 50 states carried 1,500 red wooden figures, each representing a victim of domestic violence.
  • 1999-2001: Hosted the “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” Teen Dating Symposium, which involved 13 area high schools, educating students about respectful dating relationships.
  • 2003: Created a Teen Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester and painted the Emergency Room waiting area at Northern Westchester Hospital.
  • 2005: First “Kids in the Kitchen” event is held. This project is in service for 10 years.
  • 2009: JLNW became the first non-religious community service organization to collaborate with the Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry. JLNW members work shifts in the pantry on a monthly basis to aid in the distribution of food to those in need. 2015 saw the end of this project for the JLNW as the needs of our community and our members changed.
  • In 2009 and 2010 the JLNW was part of a coalition of social service providers, community agencies and local law enforcement that held a free training titled “Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery: Tools for an Effective Response.These trainings were sold out and featured Ron Soodalter, Chappaqua resident and author of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today.
  • 2010: Backpack Buddies is launched at the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester and expands to the Mt Kisco Childcare Center in 2013. In 2015, Backpack Buddies is officially “handed over” to our community partners at the BCGNW and MKCCC.
  • 2011: JLNW is one of fourteen leagues addressing the issue of Human Trafficking and is honored alongside AJLI at a luncheon at the United Nations.
  • 2013 – 2019: JLNW collaborates with the Gateways Program in Pleasantville. Gateways is an intensive, specialized residential program for girls ages 12-16 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.
  • 2019: JLNW hosted a community-learning event to educate families in our community about safe internet usage: “Protecting Children in a Hyper Digital Age.”
  • 2020: During the Covid-19 global pandemic, JLNW members came together to donate over 350 pounds of food to the Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry. The Pantry, which normally feeds 300 households a week, saw a surge to over 600 households weekly during this time of crisis.