The Junior League of Northern Westchester community impact programs have been developed based on our member’s research with our partners to address our community’s needs. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), Food Insecurity, and our annual Holiday Sharing Drive (HSD).
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
The Junior League of Northern Westchester is currently working to combat the multi-faceted issue of Human Trafficking by focusing our efforts specifically on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). CSEC is sexual activity involving a child in exchange for something of value, or promise thereof, to the child or another person or persons. The child is treated as a commercial and sexual object. CSEC is a form of violence against children. (GEMS Research & Resources; www.gems-girls.org)
In the 2015-2016 service year, the League is expanding our efforts to address this dimension of human trafficking. This year we will:
- Continue to engage with the girls at Gateways (an intensive specialized residential treatment program for girls aged 12-17 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking) through monthly lunches and projects such as helping at an animal shelter project, attending a cooking class, or participate in a gardening project. All of these efforts are being designed to help advance the therapeutic goals of the Gateways program.
- Continue to serve as a member of the Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force brings together multidisciplinary partners including federal, state and local law enforcement, government agencies, and social service providers committed to identifying and assisting victims and coordinating cases of human trafficking throughout Westchester County.
- Begin researching curriculum for prevention efforts that we might be able to bring to Westchester County.
- Continue advocacy, education and awareness efforts.
As we work to address this complex issue, we are committed to providing continued and ongoing education for League members and the community at large.
The Junior League of Northern Westchester has been a key player in the battle against food insecurity in our community over the last decade. Some of our past initiatives have included, Kids in the Kitchen helping kids learn about healthy foods and lifestyles. Backpack Buddies has been an ongoing project with the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester where volunteers from the League do food packs once a month for those families that need assistance.
The Westchester Coalition for Hunger and Homelessness (WCHH) has seen a 30% increase in the number of people seeking food and shelter since 2010. More than 5.5 million meals were served last year in our region. In 2013, 1 in 6 people faced economic insecurity here in the US and 1 and 5 people face food insecurity here in Westchester County.
Our newest program that is completing its second year is The Food Bank for Westchester’s Kraft Mobile Food Pantry. For the price of a regular grocery shopping trip for your family ($175), the JLNW provides a comparable grocery basket comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and breads for over 300 individuals once a month.
In the 2015 – 2016 service year, the League will continue to focus our efforts on the issue of food insecurity by developing a program around the issue and direct service by working on the following:
- Continue to distribute food through The Food Bank for Westchester’s Kraft Mobile Food Pantry. This specialized 36-foot beverage-style truck brings a “market on wheels” to underserved communities and has refrigeration and freezer units so that fresh, nutritious foods can be delivered directly to those who need it.
- Explore ways in which we can engage in partnerships with organizations sharing a vision of healthy eating for all community members, and working on this issue to help craft, and support ongoing public awareness.
- Research ways in which we can educate school districts or community members around the theme of food insecurity in their own back yards.
- Research and understand current federal and national legislation and proposals addressing the root cause of hunger. Become an advocate for food insecurity issues.
The Junior League continues to explore ways in which we can help decrease burden on those in our community who are experiencing Food Insecurity.
Holiday Sharing Drive
The Holiday Sharing Drive is one of the Junior League’s signature events and in 2015 the League is working to provide food and gifts for 200 families. For 35 years, the Junior League of Northern Westchester has worked with local agencies to help make the holiday season brighter for struggling families in our area. Recipients include single-parent families, senior citizens, homeless families, physically challenged individuals, families suffering deep financial duress, and families struggling with terminal illness.
With the aid of community service organizations that partner with the JLNW, recipient families are identified and matched anonymously with donors. HSD raises public awareness of local poverty and hunger; promotes voluntarism by offering a volunteer opportunity for individuals, families, schools and scout troops, amount others in our community; and improves the lives of those most in need in our community.
New York State Public Affairs Committee Of The Junior Leagues Of New York (NYSPAC) ~ As a member of NYSPAC, JLNW is part of a public affairs coalition of 17 Junior Leagues, representing over 7,000 women voters in New York State. NYSPAC acts on state and national public policy issues in support of league initiatives, educates league members on issues selected for action by NYSPAC, facilitates communication among Junior Leagues of New York State, and acts as a representative of the member leagues at the state and national level. JLNW and the Westchester leagues host an annual Legislative Breakfast in the Spring to educate state and county lawmakers on NYSPAC positions.
JLNW Mary Hughes Sakraida Award for Community Service ~ This annual award was created in 2001 to recognize area high school seniors who have demonstrated exemplary community involvement and service in Northern Westchester. The award promotes and honors the value of voluntarism in the next generation of community volunteers. Since its inception, JLNW has bestowed 33 awards totaling $33,000.
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