POWER OF 9: Junior League

The Junior League is responsible for many charitable projects in Baton Rouge (Source: Junior League)
The Junior League is responsible for many charitable projects in Baton Rouge (Source: Junior League)
The Junior League has been printing River Road Recipes since 1959 (Source: WAFB)
The Junior League has been printing River Road Recipes since 1959 (Source: WAFB)
The Junior League provides diapers to many needy families in Baton Rouge (Source: WAFB)
The Junior League provides diapers to many needy families in Baton Rouge (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Zelma Frederick is a busy lawyer with McGlinchey Stafford and a working mom, but as hectic as balancing those roles can be, Frederick has always made time to volunteer with Junior League.

"What I found is that Junior League is unique. You don't just do community service," Frederick said as she sat at her desk by giant windows of the cityscape. "We're an organization that trains women to be better volunteers, better women, so it's about leadership. To me, that's what it's about."

Others in Junior League told Zelma her leadership skills were blooming, and now she's the league's new president. She'll officially be installed June 1. At a recent meeting, past presidents formed a line to pass the president's gavel to Zelma, along with their own advice on how to effectively lead. Many told her to lead by example, not to just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

This massive group is organized in every way thanks to the skills of its leaders. Imagine the flurry of projects! With about 450 active members and more than 1,000 sustaining members, they mount what'll be the 35th year of Hollydays, which will take place four days this year, starting on Thursday. This Shop for a Cause has raised over $6 million for the community.

Frederick says efforts are divided along two arms: fundraising and community service. "We have a diaper bank we started years ago, which is pretty remarkable considering the need out there. In the past year, we've given out 300,000 diapers which are not covered by food stamps or WICC," she said. Junior League says they spread those diapers over 12 local agencies, which included sending 75,000 diapers to the Junior League of Houston for distribution after Hurricane Harvey.

Junior League's focus on children puts volunteers at OLOL's Children's Hospital throughout the year to stage Patient Activity Days. They bring fun activities in art, music, and literature to patients and families stuck for long stints at the hospital.

Their emphasis on kids also includes monthly Storytime in the Garden sessions at Burden Plantation and Gardens. They mix good books with lessons in healthy eating and lifestyles recommended by Dr. Becky White.

Touch-a-Truck lines up fire trucks, police, and sheriff's office vehicles, ambulances, helicopters, and public works road machines for children to climb on. The idea is to show children the community servants who keep them safe.

Kitchen Tours is a fundraiser that takes donors through beautifully appointed kitchens in the Baton Rouge area. Junior League also has a mobile Kids in the Kitchen program for kids and their parents, emphasizing healthy ingredients and obesity-busting snacks.

The Junior League can brag it created the country's all-time number one selling community cookbook, River Road Recipes, also a popular online blog, but treasured in people's homes as well.

The first issue, printed in 1959, is still in publication and selling with other anthology-like compilations. More than 1.9 million River Road cookbooks are in print. That Junior League fundraiser has become a south Louisiana kitchen icon! These are beloved recipes, and in south Louisiana, we love it!

Louisiana Honda Dealers, Capital Area United Way's Volunteer Center, and WAFB are proud to honor the Junior League with the Power of 9 award.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.