In 2017 the Junior League of Orange County NY, Inc. (JLOC) celebrated it’s 95th year of service to the Orange County community. Below is a detailed history of our league, which was prepared and presented during our celebratory banquet in April 2017.
The first ten years of the newly-named Junior League of Newburgh, Inc., were busy and productive. The early program was composed mainly of service projects which were carried out by our members for over twenty years. From the Needlework Guild of America, we took over the INGATHERING and made, collected and distributed new clothing to the Social agencies in Newburgh. CHRISTMAS BASKETS were filled and distributed to needy families. Several members took extra training and did case work for ASSOCIATED CHARITIES (now Family Services). BANDAGES and DRESSINGS were made at St. Luke’s Hospital and a LENDING LIBRARY of both books and magazines was wheeled around to patients. In 1926, a CIRCUS, complete with girl-powered horses and elephants, and later a CABARET BALL with fashions from B. Altman were both held in the Old Amory and the proceeds from both of these successful events were spent in the community. By 1930, the depression was upon us. People were desperate for jobs and at the request of the Chamber of Commerce, the League established and ran an EMPLOYMENT OFFICE. We had “ARRIVED.” We had left the “Lady Bountiful” era and had become an organized group of competent, trained volunteers serving our community.
By giving volunteer assistance to social welfare agencies, by aiding in and contributing to annual fund appeals, by using creative talents for CHILDREN’S THEATRE, CHILDREN’S RADIO PROGRAMS, and the HUDSON HIGHLANDS ART EXHIBITS, by presenting two Follies with which to support these programs, SERVICE to the Newburgh community was continued in our second decade. A major contribution during this period was the initiation and financing by the League of a SURVEY OF SOCIAL WELFARE AGENCIES in Newburgh. Later the MAYOR’S COMMITTEE ON WELFARE PROBLEMS asked for assistance from the League in compiling data on welfare problem such as housing, health and old age assistance. Volunteers in our SANTA CLAUS SHOP collected and repaired toys which were presented to several charitable agencies for distribution to needy children. THE NEWBURGH DEFENSE COUNCIL ENROLLMENT BUREAU founded by the League in 1941 at the request of the Newburgh Defense Council Chairman was our first defense project. League members staffed the bureau and registered hundreds of area volunteers who were willing to meet the challenge of the mounting civilian defense effort.
Our League activities reflected the demands of the war years. Many hundreds of volunteer hours were given to ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL< RED CROSS< USO and CIVILIAN DEFENSE. We shipped 500 pounds of food to three war-stricken families in England. Our Hospitality Committee through the USO secured private homes willing to entertain servicemen for Sunday dinner. We answered an appeal from STEWART AFB to furnish a day room. We inaugurated and manned an AUXILARY RECEPTION DESK at St. Luke’s Hospital. Jointly with the Poughkeepsie League, we embarked on a 12 program radio series of YOUTH NEWS BROADCASTS. We started the BOOKS BRING ADVENTURE project – a series of records which were loaned to schools and organizations. This ten-year period saw the start of our LOLLIPOP THEATRE, the opening of BARGAIN BARN in conjunction with St. George’s Church and a successful Follies to underwrite our founding of CLUB 60.
With the Fifties came steady growth of League services, expansion of projects and continued support to agencies, drives and projects. CLUB 60 became self-supporting and was turned over to its own members. We started the PRICE OF LIBERTY records program with a weekly radio program. Within two years, these educational history records were being loaned to 42 schools in a two county area. The Follies of ’56 netted the League $6400 enabling us to redecorate several rooms at the YWCA. The closing of BARGAIN BARN, our only steady source of income to finance our community projects, resulted in the birth of the NEW TO YOU SALE. Now an annual event, the NEW TO YOU SALE provides us with the income to carry on our present projects needing financial assistance. 1960 saw the League undertake a major cultural project in financing IN-SCHOOL CONCERTS presented by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Society in 18 area schools. A CHILDREN’S FAIR augmented our income for this project. This anniversary year, the League has underwritten the cost of a remedial reading teacher at the MCQUADE FOUNDATION and 14 League members act as reading tutors. Other League members provide transportation to and from clinics for McQuade children.
The first project these women developed was DELIVERING BREAD to needy families upon the request of the City Health Department. All during the Thirties, the Middletown Committee concentrated on projects such as HOSPITAL CLININCS, managing the Red Cross Clothes Center, maintaining a MILK FUND for 10 or more families, investigating families for the welfare besides work in Girl Scouting and Day Nusery. In 1936, the Committee completed a survey for the Orange County Welfare Association which entailed a detailed report of all organizations doing welfare work in Middletown, the Town of Wallkill, and the Town of Mount Hope. In the early Thirties, an annual HORSE SHOW helped provide funds for these projects. This show was recognized in 1933 by the National Horse Show Association.
Our League activities reflected the demands of the war years. Many hours were given in the hospital, Red Cross Nurses Aid, Ration Board and O.P.A price panels. In 1947 work was started on the DENTAL CLINIC. Every child’s record was studied in the entire school system as a result of a house to house survey under taken by League members. By appointment each child was taken to a local dentist under the supervision of the League. Recognizing the need for dental work, each P.T.A. unit established a dental fund. The League was the pilot, correlating further research needed to establish a permanent clinic. This has been carried on by the P.T.A. and last year [~1948-1949] 1,300 children were treated at the cost of $1,692.00.
In 1954, the position of DIRECTOR OF VOLUNTEER SERVICES at Horton Hospital was inaugurated. Previously the volunteers lacked direction in their hospital work. League planning resulted in the coordination of hospital volunteers by hiring a director. The service started on a part time basis but grew into a full time project and a full time worker.It was through the sponsorship of the League that the COMMUNITY CENTER was included in the David Moore Heights project. The first pre-occupancy course in New York State was planned and given to prospective tenants of the housing project by our members. In conjunction with the Hospital Auxilary, the HOSPITALITY SHOP was opened. The League has since turned this project over to the Auxilary. Our first cultural venture was the formation of JUNIOR HISTORICAL GROUP. Comprising seventh and eighth graders, the Yorkers met in room made available by the Historical Society. Monthly exhibits, field trips and arts and interest programs are organized by the League. The MEDICAL LIBRARY was recently reactivated by the League at the request of the Medical Staff of Horton Hospital. As a further service, besides cataloging all the volumes in the Library, the members aasist in research work for the Doctors.
Although Junior League philosophy dictates personal service rather than monetary contributions, some demonstrations needed a starter fund. The League sponsored two Japanese Garden tours in Clemson Park for additional community projects. The PENNYWISE SHOP, in conjunction with the B.P.W.’s, was started. After the Pennywise Shop was turned over to the B.P.W.’s, the League WHALE-OF-A-SALE was born. These funds are being returned to the community through needed services.