Raleigh women promote engagement, giving

Ret Boney

RALEIGH, N.C. – In December, a group of young Raleigh women will hold a party for dual purposes: to raise money for medical care for Wake County teenagers, and to raise excitement for its annual spring fundraiser.

On Dec. 7, the Junior Woman’s Club of Raleigh is inviting the public to the Red Room in downtown Raleigh for food, drink and games at its first annual “Jingle Mingle.”

Twenty percent of the proceeds from food and drink sales that evening will benefit Wake Teen Medical Services, a clinic that provides affordable medical services for Wake County youth, and other programs of the Junior Woman’s Club.

And the club hopes to create a buzz about its primary fundraising event, the Capital City Gala, which will be held in April and which raised about $25,000 last year.

Founded in 1928, Junior Woman’s Club has about 60 members, all between the ages of 18 and 45.

“We are committed to promoting volunteerism and improving the community by helping organizations either hands-on or by fundraising for them,” says Shelly West, the group’s treasurer and chair of the Capital City Gala.

Members commit to spend 20 hours a year volunteering, but most “go way beyond that,” says West, who surpassed that minimum during the first two months of the program year.

The club is divided into six departments: arts, conservation, education, home life, international and public affairs, and fund development.

Each of those departments organizes volunteer programs and chooses groups that will receive funds from the club.

For example, the arts department holds an art festival every year, the conservation program teaches school children about recycling and energy conservation, and the home life department visits the elderly in rest homes “to bring them a little bit of sunshine,” says West.

And during this election year, members of the international and public affairs department worked on kids-voting efforts in local elementary schools.

The fund development department raises money, through events like the Jingle Mingle and Capital City Gala, to support the grantees of the other five areas.

Last year, the organization raised about $35,000 and awarded another $3,500 from an endowment it maintains for scholarships for high-school students, says West.

While grantees can change from year to year, perennial recipients include the Raleigh Rescue Mission, Hospice of Wake County and Ronald McDonald House.

And while the benefits to the community are clear, membership has benefits too, says West, a lab manager at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“It has given me self-confidence to get up in front of groups and speak, voice my opinion and take on leadership roles,” she says. “It’s strengthened me as a woman.”

Additional information about the Jingle Mingle and the Capital City Gala is available on the Junior Woman’s Club website.

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