The Junior League of Midland, Inc. (the “League”) began as the Midland Service League in 1949, with charter membership of 29 women. The League has continued its legacy of service to the community through a wide variety of community projects.
Some of the first projects developed by the Midland Service League include Story telling at the Library, the Mobile Magazine Cart at Western Clinic Hospital, and assisting the Children’s Theatre. The League required each member to provide at least 80 hours of volunteer service each year. The first year, the Charter members worked 1370 hours.
During the 1950s, the League established the Children’s Dental Clinic and Family Counseling Services, and the League had a representative on the Citizen’s Traffic Safety Commission and other community boards. The League created the Children’s Isolation Ward at Midland Memorial Hospital and complied and distributed the Directory of Community Services. The League presented children’s concerts in cooperation with the Midland Symphony League.
In addition to volunteer hours, the League also provided financial support to its projects, and gifts to the community. The first gift was an incubator for Midland Memorial Hospital. Fundraising projects consisted of candy and calendar sales the first year. The League established its first fundraising event, Charity Ball, in 1951. In addition to Charity Ball, the Midland Service League operated a Clothing Mart. Members of the League submitted the clothes. The Clothing Mart was the forerunner of the Next-to-New Shop, which the League built in 1957.
In April 1954, the name of the Midland Service League was changed to the Junior Welfare League. In April1957, the Junior Welfare League applied to the Admissions Committee of the Association of Junior Leagues. Their denial, due to the small size of the city population, was received in June.
In the 1960s, the Junior Welfare League offered placement opportunities at the Cerebral Palsy Center, the Opportunity Center, the Outpatient Department of Midland Memorial Hospital, the Children’s Diagnostic Clinic, and the Red Cross. The League offered child protective films in schools. League members served on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the Southwest when it officially opened and as chairman for the Objectives for Midland Program. The members’ service to the Midland Community Theatre earned the League the annual Ham Hocks’ Award for outstanding contributions to the Community Theatre. In February 1964, the Junior Welfare League was elected to membership in The Association of Junior Leagues as the 195th Junior League in the United States.
The 1970s brought the issues of drugs to the community’s attention. The Junior League of Midland, Inc. purchased anti-drug film spots for television. The League participated in “Christmas in October,” a Community Self-Help Project for lower income homes, and initiated the Telephone reassurance Program Volunteers in Midland. Placement opportunities in 1970s included the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Audiometric Screening, CPR training, and the Prenatal Clinic. The Junior League of Midland Inc. provided the History of Midland Exhibit at the Museum of the Southwest and initiated the financed Partners in Reading Program with the Midland Independent School District.
The 1980s saw the continuation of many projects (such as the Museum of the Southwest, the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Audiometric screening, CPR training, and the Children’s Dental Clinic), and involvement in new service projects (Adult Basic Education, Hospice, and the Emergency Shelter Boards). The junior League of Midland, Inc. financed and developed Tumbleweed Playground, a park for children of the community. The League adopted position statements on the issues of child welfare, substance abuse, and the elderly. From these issues, the League developed several important projects, including: Standing Tall, Teen Court, Kids on the Block, Council Against Substance Abuse, Junior League Singers, and Hearthstone. Hearthstone, an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children, was deeded to the Texas Baptist Children’s Home from the League and the First Baptist Church of Midland. The League also erected a permanent headquarters facility. The Charity Ball and the Next-to-New Shop continued to be successful fundraising projects and the League sought and received several generous grants from local foundations. In 1988-89, the League celebrated its 40th birthday as a Service League and its 25th birthday as a member of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI). These birthdays were honored by holding a placement showcase at Midland Park Mall, the making of a video documenting the first 15 years of the Midland Service League, and, most significantly, by giving a total of $100,000 to 13 different community organizations.
In anticipation of a fifth decade of service to Midland, the League participated in Objective 2000, the city’s program to establish goals and objectives for the 1990s and approved a $10,000 contribution for this program to Forward Midland. Perhaps the most conspicuous activity of 1989-90 was that the capital campaign for headquarters expansion. Entitled “Building for a Better Midland,” the campaign began following several years of projecting and then planning for the increasing needs of the League for additional office, meeting, work, and other support space. The expanded Headquarters was officially opened in May of 1992, and the space is shared with other non-profit organizations, neighbors, and friends of the community.
The 1990s began with the celebration of the Charity Ball’s 40th birthday in 1991. The League added a new fundraiser, called the Festival of Trees, in 1992. It was eventually dropped in 1997. By 1993, all general Meetings were held in Mabee Hall of the new Headquarters, while the League continued to strive to maximize usage of the building among itself as well as with other non-profit organizations. Internal streamlining of placements in conjunction with AJLI trends took several years to accomplish in the mid-90s. A $30,000 donation was made for Blitz Building ’97, a project of Habitat for Humanity in 1997. In 1999, the League culminated its fifth decade of service in Midland with a year-long 50yh birthday celebration of the Midland Junior League and an $125,000 gift to four community agencies: $60,000 to the Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum for the Cityscape construction, $20,000 to Midland Memorial Foundation for a Nuclear Medicine Gamma Probe, $20,000 to the Midland Fire Department for the Argus Thermal Imaging Camera, and $25,000 to Young Life for their Activity Building.
Although the League remained committed to promoting voluntarism through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers, the new millennium brought about change. After fifty-three years, Charity Ball was no longer a lucrative fundraiser and members were forced to look at new ways to raise funds to support their community projects. In 2001, Clay Shoot was established and Spring Fling followed in 2004. Due to these efforts, the League added a number of community projects, including: Bynum Schools, Scholarship Clearinghouse, and Suits with Skills. In 2003, AJLI launched several programs, one of which featured universal brand identity. By 2004, more than 80% of Leagues had adopted the “Women Building Better Communities” tagline. AJLI also created its first ever project, Kids in the Kitchen. Gaining international attention, the Midland Provisionals added Kids in the Kitchen to their curriculum in 2006. With the success of the Clay Shoot fundraiser, in 2006 the League began the tradition of Buckshot Bash, a dance and dinner to celebrate the shoot. 2008 saw two new Community Projects added to serve our growing membership: Face the Race and Family First. In 2009, the League celebrated its 60th year of community service and gifted Vision2020, a strategic plan for Midland’s future, to the community.
At the end of 2009, the League formed a new Endowment Committee to help fully fund our Endowment. By 2015, the League met its $1,000,000.00 goal, and with the fully funded Endowment, the League can focus more funding on community projects. In 2010, the League set out combining two fundraisers – Spring Fling and Clayshoot into one fundraising event called Shotguns & Stilettos.
In 2012, the Project Research and Development Committee crated three new projects: Journey Summer Camp, HopeWorks, and Kids First. The League re-partnered with Rays of Hope and Centers for Children and Families to support family education in the community.
In 2013, the League adopted an Issues Based Community Impact Statement of “Keeping Kids in School – Every Age, Every Stage” with the goal of having approximately 70% of all community projects operating under the impact statement, and the other 30% focusing on other needs in the community. The Advisory Planning Committee was also re-instated after a twenty-year hiatus.
The League added two new placements in 2014: Reading Olympics and Volunteers in Midland, and expanded Face the Race to include all four Junior High Schools (Abell, Alamo, Goddard, and San Jacinto).
The 2015-2016 year proved to be a transitional year, full of planning and research. The League created an AdHoc Committee to research the annual fundraiser, Shotguns & Stilettos, to make sure the League met fundraising trends. This Committee made a recommendation for the fundraiser to discontinue the Spring Fling Market starting in 2016-2017. Also in 2015, the Advisory Planning Committee researched two new topics to help the League focus on member retention: transforming the League’s governing structure into two groups and developing a point system to replace the League’s longstanding membership requirements. By November of 2015, the members of the League voted to transform the Leadership into two groups, the Board and Management. These positions were slated and accepted by the members, with the League voting in its first Executive Vice President for the 2016-2017 year. In April of 2016, the members voted to approve the Point System for the following year. This system replaces the League members’ requirements by creating a flexible option for the members to be involved in League and volunteer opportunities. During the 2016 AJLI Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, the League received an Honorable Mention in the Membership Development category for our Second Tuesday Club. There are many exciting transitions on the horizon for the League in the 2016-2017 year.
During the 2016-2017 League year, the new governance structure was implemented. The Board focused on strategic planning, and Management focused on the day to day running of the programs. All of the League’s programs were re-evaluated throughout the year and members voted to add and remove some programs for the following League year. This re-evaluation lead to the development of a new program, IMPACT, partnering with MISD. Throughout the year the curriculum was developed in order for it to be implemented in the 2017-2018 year. Reading Olympics would be expanded to two locations and Kids First was removed from a stand-alone program to be included in the already successful program, Volunteers in Midland. Scholarship Clearinghouse and HopeWorks also completed their final year. The League also began distribution of a digital version of the TUMBLEWEED and created the GEM (Giving, Empowering Member) Award. This award was given at each monthly meeting to a member that had exemplified what it means to be a volunteer. Members donated to Scholarship Clearinghouse in honor of the GEM Award recipients, and that money was then given to a Scholarship Clearinghouse award recipient.
During the 2017-2018 League year, we continued to see great success with the new governance structure and Point System. IMPACT, our partnership with MISD, expanded to Lee Freshman High School for the 2018-2019 school year. Shotguns & Stilettos was three full days of events; a luncheon featuring Former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush, the annual S&S Clay shoot and Buckshot Bash. Karmen Hendrix Bryant served as honorary chairman for our events. The League raised a record-breaking gross profit of $391,000 and net profit of $226,000.
The 2019-2020 Junior League year was a year of extreme highs and lows. The League started the year off with a new placement, Pink Pantry – a collaboration with Communities in Schools of the Permian Basin, which allowed feminine hygiene and basic hygiene available to students in need at several MISD secondary schools. This program was an immediate a success within the community and expanded to more schools within the year.
In the fall of 2019, tragedy struck our community when a mass shooting occurred on our Permian Basin soil. The Junior League responded and partnered with Midland Fire Department and brought training to members and the community in response to this mass shooting. Programs included Stop the Bleed and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training.
A pandemic then disrupted our world and we were forced to cancel our fundraiser, Shotguns & Stilettoes due to mandated COVID-19 quarantines that blanketed our nation. Plans to raise funds with the help of the keynote speaker, Rebecca Minkoff, were called one week before they were supposed to occur. Despite this unprecedented event, our League helped during the pandemic by volunteering with MISD to hand out lunches, Pink Pantry made over 600 to-go hygiene bags for boys and girls that MISD handed out, Reading Olympics donated over 2,000 books to the Boys and Girls Club for to-go activity bags for their participants, Impact created and donated at-home selfcare bags for its participants, hosted multiple blood drives, and our League donated $10,000 to MISD for internet hotspots so that students in need could continue remote learning.
Despite all of these challenges, our League also focused much time into strategic planning efforts, amending bylaws to allow for virtual meetings, updating JLM logos – complete with a new branding guide for streamlined branding efforts, and voting in a new JLM fundraiser – Farm to Table(aux).