The Junior League of Pueblo first started serving our community as the Service League of Pueblo in 1937, with the Pueblo Day Nursery as its signature project. The objective was to care for children whose mothers, of necessity, were employed and could not remain at home with their children. Even then the Junior League placed a priority on the children of Pueblo.
Some of the other major projects of the Service League included the Service League Community Blood Bank (1949), the Own Your Own Art Show (1961) in which proceeds established scholarship funds for students of Pueblo Junior College, and providing docents for the El Pueblo Museum, aiding children in their study of the history of our city and state and accented the importance of the museum in the community. It was also during the Service League’s era that the first cookbook was published: From an Adobe Oven to a Microwave Range (1972).
In February 1977, the Service League joined the membership of the Association of Junior Leagues and became the 233rd League in the Association. An expansion of a previous program, Art in Action, became Pueblo Art Works (PAWS) for children and the arts. This later became the distinctive PAWS Children’s Museum and is now the state renowned Buell Children’s Museum. In 1980, the Pueblo Junior League helped establish the Pueblo Infant-Toddler Center, and opened a second facility in 1983. By 1982, the League was selected as one of sixteen to be represented at a national conference on child care. “Teen Outreach”, addressing the needs of high-risk teenagers to develop better self-esteem, “Kaleidoscope”, a traveling hands-on art project, and “Kids on the Block”, helping elementary age children understand the needs of handicapped persons, were the main projects of the League during the 80’s and early 90’s.
In 1992, the League decided on a focus area of children ages 7-12. The first project of this focus was the Fine Arts Program in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Pueblo, and another, Exploring New Horizons, was a career awareness and mentoring program. 1994 saw the League adopting the CASA project. This program placed volunteers as advocates for children who are going through the court system. By the late 1990’s, projects included Adopt-A-Family, cooking at the Good Shepherd Inn, and Sweet Dreams, where volunteers read and gave books to children in the pediatric unit of Parkview Medical Center.
Since 2001, the Junior League of Pueblo has merged the focus areas of education, literacy and school age children into the Book Swap community project. Children bring in an old book and ‘swap’ it for a new one. Educational games and activities are also provided. Other literacy programs have included Newspapers in Education and Sweet Dreams. Leadership training has been accomplished with many of our members attending AJLI Annual Meetings and ODI (Organizational Development Institute) Training.
In 2005 and 2006, Girl’s Day Out, a day of information, shopping, pampering and fun was a huge success and will be continued and expanded in future years. A new, updated cookbook is also in the works! Three guest chef tasting dinners at Rio Bistro including approximately 100 community members.
We added twenty one new members this year, and have supported over 6,600 children last year through our literacy and wellness events.