The Junior Service League of Gastonia, N.C. was organized and char­tered in 1959 by eleven young women for the purpose of training its mem­bers to become responsible citizens and effective community participants. The charter members gave themselves a provisional course in the form of a community orientation program. They visited the school board, the welfare department, a court session, and a city council meeting. That same year each member of the League was assigned to specific and continuing volun­teer service in the community at the Gastonia Public Library, the North Carolina Orthopedic Hospital, the Gaston County Cancer Society, and in the Pioneer Council Girl Scout program. This was the beginning of the place­ment program. The group’s first fund‑raising effort was a serviceable used clothing sale. The clothes were donated to the League at “Mrs. Vandybelt’s Cast‑Off Tea.” The League also sponsored the appearance of the Suzari Marionettes, a professional puppet theater group, and money was made on the sale of tickets.


 1960s  In 1960 the League provided volunteers to test the hearing of children in the Gastonia City Schools with equipment available in the community but not in use. This has continued to be a part of the League’s volunteer service program. A story hour for pre‑school children was initiated at the Gastonia Public Library.

The League again presented the Suzari Marionettes and sold Charleston Cookbooks. The League held two used clothing sales in 1961. The sale of serviceable

used clothing, donated by members, has grown to be the League's permanent thrift shop, The Bargain Box. A total of $1,000.00 was given by the League in 1961 to the Gastonia City Schools to encourage the development of a remedial reading program in the schools. The League's monthly publication, News and Notes, began in 1961 as one mimeographed news sheet.

League members assisted a professional staff in a summer program of remedial reading for school children in 1962. A Public Relations Committee came into being this year and the first Antiques Fair was held in April. A study was begun of the need for an agency in Gaston County to offer pro­fessional counseling to families with problems.

In 1963 League members participated in a second summer program of remedial reading and voted to give the Gastonia City Schools $10,000.00 over a three year period to assure continuance of this program. Although this is no longer a League project, the growth and development of the endeavor proved the effectiveness of the League's ability to meet a com­munity need.

By 1964 community support of the Bargain Box sales and the Antiques Fair was assured, and the League committed itself to establish a family counseling agency in the community. A League yearbook was printed and distributed to all members. The League organized its own puppet theater group and presented shows in the county's elementary schools. A new pro­duction was trooped each year until 1970.

The Family Counseling Service was opened in 1965. The League gave $4,000.00 to the agency in its beginning years. League members continue to serve on the Board of Directors, though this project is no longer under League auspices. Also in 1965 League members prepared and presented art and music appreciation lectures in the school. The Bargain Box held a Bundles Coffee, which offered an opportunity for friends of the League to contribute clothes to the shop.

In 1966 News and Notes was enlarged to be a more effective means of in‑League communication. Beginning that year, the provisional course included, in addition to the in‑League portion, a thorough study of the com­munity's history,

and a study of community services in the areas of health, welfare, education, and the arts.

In I967 the League accepted the proposal of the Project Finding Committee for a third demonstration project, the establishment of a facili­ty to provide quality day care for pre‑school children. A story hour for pre-school children was initiated at the Belmont Public Library. The Bargain Box and Antiques Fair contributed over $5,000.00 to the Community Trust Fund.

The Daisy Day Nursery, Inc. opened in 1968. The League provided financial, administrative, and volunteer support to this project. A total of $9,350.00 was given over a period of three years to assure the successful operation of this facility.

On the occasion of our tenth birthday, we totaled 122 members. Support of the eighth Antiques Fair and the fifth Bundles Coffee gave fur­ther evidence of continued community interest in the League program.


1970s In 1970 the Bargain Box moved to Main Street. Visual screening machines were purchased by the League and a program was initiated to test the vision of first graders in all the county schools. This continued as a placement until 1974 when the three Titmus eye machines were donated to the Gaston County Health Department. Placements offered during the year included volunteer work at the Schiele Nature Museum and at Gaston Children's Center.

The Bylaws were revised and a legal advisor was secured in 1971. League members decorated a holiday house and sold gift items made by the members. The provisional course began to include visits to the various placements.

In 1972 an Arts Committee was created to inform the membership of community opportunities in the arts. It presented the Woodwind Quintet of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in four concerts in Gaston County Schools. The Advisory Planning Committee was also formed to study and give recommendations on subjects referred to them by the Board of Directors. Community Research initiated a study of the need of our com­munity and services available in our county.

The membership accepted the proposal of the Project Finding Committee to establish a speech therapy clinic for Gaston County which opened its doors in September, 1973, as the Gaston County Speech Clinic. The League provided financial, administrative, and volunteer support with a total commitment of $43,000.00.

Within the placement program, the advisor system was begun and the program was enlarged. Several members were trained to participate as teachers in the adult literacy program in the community. Two films entitled "Drugs Are Like That" were purchased and used by League volunteers as they conducted a drug abuse education program in the junior high schools. Volunteers served as Girl Scout leaders in underprivileged areas, provided craft instruction for the aged, assisted at the Juvenile Detention Home, and offered a story hour for children in a low‑income housing project. The Administrative year was changed to June I ‑ May 31, and the statement of purpose was rewritten, as the organization was re‑chartered.

In 1973 the Arts Committee presented four chamber music concerts in the public schools and co‑sponsored the ballet "Cinderella" for school chil­dren. During this year, the League presented its first Follies, "Turn It On", which returned a profit of $27,900.00 while the Bargain Box realized a prof­it of over $7,000.00.

Three audiometers were purchased in 1974 Gaston County Speech Clinic. Greenbriar Rest Home, Orthopedic Story Hour, and Holy Angels Nursery were additions to the placement picture. The Arts Committee sponsored two Shakespearean performances and co‑sponsored ballet, string, and woodwind quintet concerts thus reaching over 21,500 students. A Public Affairs Committee informed the membership on local issues and also began a "Great Decisions" discussion group. A Yearbook Committee was created, and the yearbook was enlarged to include all officers' and com­mittee chairmen's annual reports.

In 1975 the Arts Committee co‑sponsored a free concert by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. They also presented a twelve-day art exhib­it from the Mint

Museum, and were responsible for donating four music appreciation kits to the public schools. The Public Affairs Committee made a study of law enforcement agencies in Gaston County. A Bylaws Committee was set up, and an ad hoc committee was appointed to research affiliation with the Association of Junior Leagues. "Drugs Are Like That" was super­seded by a values clarification course which is offered to various fourth grade classes in the county.

The Project Finding Committee proposed the establishment of an Information and Referral Service for Gaston County. The membership accepted their proposal with a financial commitment of $15,000.00 over a two-year period. The pledge was increased to $25,000.00 during 1975.

In September 1975 the Service League was recognized by the North Carolina Association of Retarded Citizens for its volunteer work at the Children's Center and Holy Angels Nursery. The award was a prestigious first place award from the state of North Carolina. League volunteers con­tinued to serve at the Speech Clinic, began serving at the Information and Referral Service, and assisted with the Meals on Wheels program. A special placement was granted to one League member to assist with the estab­lishment of the Gaston County Art and History Museum. New placements included a summer Meals on Wheels, library services for the homebound, emergency room assistance at Gaston Memorial Hospital, assistance with the juvenile Group Home, and as docents for the Gaston County Art and History Museum. Sustaining members were increasingly involved in the League program. They staffed a nursery during monthly League meetings for Active members’ children, staffed the Bargain Box on the monthly meet­ing day, and served as advisors to many League Committees.

During 1976 the Arts Committee presented sixty‑seven school con­certs, and assisted in securing an artist‑in‑residence for Gaston County for a six-month period. When Active membership numbered 105 Actives, the ad hoc committee, which researched our readiness to make application to the Association of Junior Leagues, recommended that we vote to apply to affiliate.

In 1977 an eighty‑five page informational questionnaire was compiled and submitted to the Association of Junior Leagues to begin the affiliation process. The first official visit by an AJL representative took place in January. Membership surveys were conducted by mail. The structure of the Board of Directors was studied before a board manual and placement brochures were introduced for use. Full-page newspaper coverage was secured to announce our new members. The League participated in Gastonia's Centennial Celebration by rendering assistance with the pro­duction of the outdoor drama.  A massive publicity campaign was executed to assist the Information and Referral Service. The Arts Committee laid the groundwork for a Hands‑On‑Gallery for the Gaston County Art and History Museum. The Bargain Box profit for the year was $11,500.00.

In 1977-78 all classes of membership in the League participated in a year‑long Orientation Program designed as part of the procedure to gain membership in the Association of Junior Leagues, Inc. A booklet evaluating this program and giving committee reports, along with revised Bylaws and Policies, was compiled and submitted to AJL. Training in the Association Management Process was given the Board of Directors and incoming com­mittee chairmen, along with some committee members. Objectives for 1978-79 were set by the Board. Plans were begun to dedicate a statue in the new Gaston County Library. Estimated profit at the Bargain Box was $13,000.

The third and final visit by the Association of Junior Leagues was made in September 1978, and we officially became The Junior League of Gaston County, N.C., Inc. on November 1, 1978. Our Bylaws were revised according to AJL legal counsel, new admissions procedures were approved and included in our Policies, and Charter was amended to show our new Junior League status. In celebration of our affiliation the League gave "The Storyteller," a sculpture by Frank Creech, to the citizens of Gaston County as a tangible expression of appreciation for the county's support of our League programs and projects. For the first time we were able to send our members (116 of them) to Annual Conference, council meetings, and semi­nars. We also became a member of the North Carolina State Public Affairs Committee, conducted our first Public Relations poll, sent Leadership Development

Questionnaires, copyrighted our Gaston County Coloring Book, opposed the pro ERA position statement of the Association, and voted to contribute an additional $3,000.00 for fourth quarter operating expenses to our project, The Gaston County Information & Referral Service. The Bargain Box profit for the year was $12,000.00.


1980s  The high point of the 1979‑80 League year was the vote of the mem­bership to purchase the Merit Shoe Building at 169 West Main Avenue to renovate for a permanent home for the Bargain Box and eventually, a League office. We also began our first child advocacy project in the area of child abuse and neglect. The Public Affairs Committee formulated and the membership approved the mechanism for the League to take public stands on issues related to the League's purpose. We hosted a three‑day follow-­up visit by the Association, we came through our first Internal Revenue audit beautifully, and training in AMP and VCD was offered to the commu­nity for the first time. We sent members to Atlanta, Toronto, Kansas City and Jacksonville for conferences and seminars. A new executive officer, the Community Coordinator, was written into the Bylaws to be elected in 1980-­81. The Bargain Box contributed $17,500.00 to the Community Trust Account; nine members were appointed to Community Boards as League representatives; and we continued our service to the community through 22 placements and 5 special placements.

The first task of the 1980‑81 year was to renovate the newly purchased League building. During the summer months Actives, Provisionals, and Sustainers participated in redecoration and improvement of the main floor; the Bargain Box opened in its new home on September 9. A 10-year balloon mortgage was signed for the $45,000 purchase price with the designated monthly payment covering only the interest on the loan. The Bargain Box returned a profit of over $18,000 for the year. In September the League voted to present our second Follies. ''Just For Kicks!" was held in the Ashbrook Auditorium on May 11 and 12, and produced a profit of over $27,000. The Public Affairs Committee led us through the passage of our first Position Statement in the areas of Child Abuse and Neglect, Foster Care and Permanency Planning, and Victims of Physical and Emotional Abuse; and we took our first public stand on classroom size in the public schools. Our fiscal year was changed to June 1 ‑ May 31 in order to corre­spond with the administrative year. We approved a project proposal to refurbish the family room at the Department of Social Services. Our League sent delegates to a conference on projects, training, and League presidents in Charleston, S.C.; to a Public Affairs seminar in Washington, D.C.; to Presidents Elect training in Atlanta; and to AJLI Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. Our members served 24 community placements and 3 special placements; and 7 members enjoyed our first sabbatical year. The Public Relations Committee published an informational brochure on the League for community distribution. All League meetings were held at night, and the year concluded with our first Annual Dinner Meeting.

During the 1981-1982 year, the League received the first county‑wide award for "Outstanding Community Volunteer Organization." In its nomina­tion for this award, the Gaston County Chamber of Commerce described our organization ... “In terms of size, quality, history of voluntarism and meaningful activity, the Junior League is one of the most important agen­cies in Gaston County.” This recognition reflects just a few of the many accomplishments of the past year. Through the Community Research and Project Finding Committee, League members initiated not one but three long‑range projects in coalition with other agencies: the Foster Family Media Campaign, the Guardian ad Litem Coordinator, and the Voluntary Action Center. We

completely revised our bylaws and changed the titles of the Vice President to President Elect, the Community Coordinator to Vice President/Community, and the terms of the Corresponding and Recording Secretaries to one year each. We approved 2 new position statements on Aging and Public Education and hosted the State Public Affairs Committee meeting. Our members served 21 community and 9 special placements, and we welcomed 48 candidates for membership. In October, we

present­ed "Dessie," a play about child abuse, to the community, and in May orga­nized the highly successful performance of the North Carolina Dance Theatre. We completed one full year in our newly renovated Bargain Box; instituted a new marking and consignment system; and researched and gained membership approval to hire a manager for 1982‑83. The Bargain Box had pledged $20,000 to the Community Trust Account but at year's end had surpassed that pledge and transferred profit of $32,500.

Several internal changes occurred during the 1982‑83 League year including combining the Admissions and Provisional Committees into a Membership Development Committee, instituting the Optional Non‑Secret Admissions systems, merging the Administrative and Community Trust accounts, and forming a Community Council. To improve in‑League rela­tions, we held a Fun Family Outing, issued our second in‑League poll, and compiled our first pictorial directory. The Board was trained at a Community Board Orientation Workshop. Our Bargain Box, operating for the first time with a paid manager, grossed $30,864.46, and a restructured Bargain Box Committee developed a procedure handbook. We adopted a position statement on Voluntarism, sent our first letters of endorsement, and hosted another successful performance of the N.C. Dance Theatre. We donated $2,000 to "In‑School" concerts, $500 for library equipment at the Hoffman Hotel and $500 to Gaston Alternatives, Inc. We paid $5,000 toward the mortgage at 169 W. Main Street, and secured property tax exemption for the building. We completed a community survey, with help from the provi­sional class, and published a fact sheet. We voted on three projects: an Adult Day Care Center to which we pledged $15,000 and a Child Day Care Map/Information Brochure and fly sheet for $4,426, both in coalition with community agencies; and a new fund raiser, the sale of stationery, gift and party items. The Foster Family Media Campaign was successfully complet­ed and Volunteer Gaston, our voluntary action center, began operations in September 1982 and merged with Information & Referral Service in January 1983.

During this twenty‑fifth anniversary year 1983‑1984, our League chose to commemorate the occasion by celebrating with the "Super Silver Supper", by presenting a silver tray to the Schiele Museum in honor of our Sustainers, and by the gift to the community of a painting by Arthur Turnbull Hill to be hung in the Period Room of the Hoffman Hotel. In addi­tion to emphasizing our anniversary, we conducted our first Membership Development Committee, and operated two con­secutive Provisional training courses. Through our Arts Committee, we con­tributed $2,000 to the Gaston County "In-School" concerts and sponsored a trip to Charleston and the Spoleto Festival for the Membership. In November, we had the pleasure of hosting the Secretary of the Association, Marty Begalla, for our membership meeting. News and Notes was expand­ed to 10 editions by adding a summer news sheet, and our anniversary "Silver Service" edition was a memorable one. We researched and devel­oped a Council for Children project to be presented to next year's mem­bership and realized the printing of the Child Day Care Fly Sheet in July and the opening of the Adult Day Care Center in April. Our Public Relations slide presentation was completed for us by our Vice‑President/Community. The Bargain Box grossed over $21,400; we paid $10,000 on the Bargain Box mortgage, League Letters proved profitable in its first year, and we sup­ported our Mid‑year Actives in their bar‑b‑que fundraiser. We revised our dues schedule, developed a 3-year financial forecast, and set up a discre­tionary fund and guidelines for its use. We also adopted a nondiscrimina­tory policy and purpose‑related criteria for admission to membership. For training, we sent delegates to President's Conference in Memphis, President Elect's Conference in Atlanta, 2 Area Seminars in Washington, D.C., a Teenage Pregnancy Workshop in St. Louis, and Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

The year of 1984‑85 was a remarkable year of study and goal setting in the League. A new awareness and openness became evident, first, at the September meeting where the Nominating/Placement proposal was open­ly discussed and eventually defeated. To borrow a phrase from our visiting Area III liaison, Harriet Goldsmith, "The Junior League of Gaston County is alive and well."

We again supported the In‑School Concert Program with a $2,500 dona­tion. The Arrangements/Education accommodated the membership request by having two small group meetings during the year so mem­bers could meet each other on a more personal level. Our January meeting was cancelled due to snow! Our Bargain Box again came through for us and averaged $3,800 per month in gross sales, which was a $500 a month increase over the past year. There were a number of major repairs done to the Bargain Box, including new roof and supports, tile replacement and the replacement of the back gate. Our year of study was supported by the Community Research Committee, which continued the study on the Children's Council and the possibilities of local funding. The League mem­bers overwhelmingly approved the Children's Council Project with an annu­al budget of $55,000. The League committed $30,000 over a three-year peri­od to the project. A greater number of members were able to attend Area III seminars due to those being held in surrounding areas this year. The Placement Committee saw a dream come true; and after researching the "Kids on the Block" puppet show placement, were able to order it due to matching funds offered by the Gaston County Association of Retarded Citizens. Our Public Affairs Committee presented the first SPAC Position Statement on children, which passed unanimously. Our League passed its own position statement on children, youth and families. This fall we will sponsor a State of the Child Conference here in Gaston County.

The Ways and Means Committee researched and studied varied fund­raisers and surveyed the membership as to preferred projects. The League approved a package plan of fundraisers for the coming two years. A "Super Sale" will be held in November of 1985. A holiday idea and cookbook is to be marked for sale by December 1986 and a Christmas Home Tour will be held in December 1986.

During the 1985‑86 League year we held "The Greatest Sale on Earth" that Gaston County has ever seen netting our organization $16,000. With the N.C. Child Advocacy Institute we sponsored the "State of the Child in Gaston County" conference. We adopted an Economic Development state­ment and co‑sponsored a "Healthy Teen" Seminar with Gaston Medical Society Auxiliary and Gaston Families in Action.

We learned how to lobby more effectively from Senator Helen Rhyne Marvin, how to deal with stress from Dr. Kevin Soden, and enjoyed the music of Lynn and Liz Shaw. Average gross sales at the Bargain Box were $4,155 per month.  We served in 20 community placements, 3 special place­ments and 14 in‑League placements. We selected a new slogan and logo. We adopted the recommendation that implementation of the Cookbook and Home Tour is rescheduled for December 1987.

In 1986‑87, the Junior League of Gaston County, Inc. laid the ground­work for the 1987-88 Home Tour and Cookbook projects. We formed coali­tions with the Gaston County Medical Society Auxiliary and the Art Council through Fish Camp Jam. We entered into a co‑sponsorship with Belmont Abbey College and the Gaston County Chamber of Commerce to create "Leadership Gaston." We were active in the State Public Affairs Committee, the N.C. Junior League Presidents and President Elect Organization, we attended AJL conferences, and training for Presidents‑Elect, finance, public relations, and membership diversity.

We served in 18 community placements, one special placement, two fund‑raising placements, and 14 in‑League placements. We financially sup­ported the Gaston County Children's Council, Cornerstone Christian Ministry through the Clean‑Sweep Project, Leadership Gaston, and the arts in our community.

We had membership meetings in lobbying for legislation, group meet­ings, placement opportunities, adolescent pregnancy, and a "town meet­ing" entitled "Start, Stop, and Continue", in which League members voiced their loves and hates of League work, and their ideas for our future as an organization. We also scheduled an appearance by Mrs. Lydia Thompson, our AJLI Board representative, which had to be called due to icy weather.

We began work on our new brochure, developed stationery with our new logo and slogan, and looked to the future of the Gaston County Junior League. We computerized our financial records, and are currently working on the concept of membership diversity, and a central League office. We obtained directors and officers insurance for our members and installed new carpet in the Bargain Box. It's been a year of planning, building on future projects, and looking at ourselves as individuals and as an organiza­tion. With Ann Ward's leadership in the coming year, the Junior League will continue to prosper and change as our members do the same.

The year of 1987‑88 will be remembered as the Year of the "Fundraisers." We completed the package of fundraisers voted on in 1984-­85 to support the Children's Council by implementing the Holiday Home Tour. In December 1987 that netted almost $9,000 and publishing in November 1987, Southern Elegance, our premiere cookbook that is the pride of the League and will be our second on‑going fundraiser. Bargain Box "burned" its mortgage and broke the $50,000 mark in gross sales for the first time and turned over $26,000 to the League.

During 1987‑88 we continued our commitment to our co‑sponsorships. Kids Count/Fish Camp Jam, a co‑sponsorship with Gaston County Medical Auxiliary and the United Arts & Science Council enjoyed its second year of providing a Health Fair for the county's children as well as fun activities, including our own Kids on the Block. Leadership Gaston graduated 28 members of its first class as a new collaboration involving Belmont Abbey, the Chamber of Commerce, and the League. Although there were not enough registrants for our new co‑sponsorship offering "Living With 10‑15 Year‑Olds" workshop with the Piedmont Chapter of the Links, Inc., the accomplishment of working with a diverse group was a very positive step for the League.

We hosted two Area workshops on Finance and Fundraising and we welcomed SPAC to our county for their spring meeting in May. Our own Sindy Waggoner served as Chairman of SPAC this year. We also served in 17 community placements, 2 special placements, 3 fund‑raising placements, and 24 in-League placements.

Our membership meetings focused on the League internally, Leadership Gaston, teen pregnancy, membership diversity, and place­ment. Along with the Gaston County Art & History Museum, we hosted a public lecture, "Robes of Elegance ‑ The Japanese Kimono 16th‑20th Centuries" by Susan Barnes, Curator of the N. C. Art & History Museum at our April membership meeting.

We also sent delegates to AJL Regional Seminar and AJL Teen Outreach Program workshop. We all owe ourselves a restful and fun‑filled sum­mer! We definitely volunteered for a better Gaston County!

1988‑89 saw the continued success of our on‑going fundraisers: the Bargain Box and Southern Elegance. The Bargain Box grossed over $50,000 and turned over $30,000 to the League. Southern Elegance went into its sec­ond printing. The membership voted to co‑sponsor the Southern Living Cooking School in 1989 and have a Home Tour in 1990.

The League was visible in the community through placement (20 com­munity, 2 fundraisers, 4 special), service on community boards, and coali­tions to produce Kids Count (with Gaston County Medical Auxiliary), Leadership Gaston (with Belmont Abbey College and Chamber of Commerce), and the Candidate's Forum (with several concerned groups). A brochure explaining who we are and what we do was published.

Membership meetings included a program by Ida Stewart of Estee Lauder on "How to Dress for Success", group meetings, mini courses, a pre­mier showing of the placement video at the Press Box, music from the 50's and Dr. David Welton, and visitors from Charlotte Teen Outreach Program.

Ten Provisionals became Active, eleven members sustained, and three transferred in. The residency requirement was lowered to one year.

Publications' format was changed to provide a quarterly magazine and a monthly Update. Members represented our League at AJL Annual Conference and regional seminars. Office space was acquired at the United Community Services complex.

1989‑90 will go down as the "Year of Hurricane Hugo" in this area, but it will also be remembered as an action‑packed year for our League!  We revised our Placement requirements and are implementing a Quarterly System for working in Community Placements. We also hired another part-­time staff member at the Bargain Box, and raised our quotas to $100.00 untagged. Our Bargain Box turned over to the League $30,000.00, and our Southern Elegance Cookbook Committee sold over 56,000 cookbooks. Our League voted to reprint the book this summer for a third time. Our Bargain Box building received a renovation this spring, and now sports a new facade that looks very attractive. We also signed a lease for office space in the United Way Building on Franklin Boulevard, and the new Office Committee furnished it. It is now as attractive as it is functional!

Our membership really grew this year, with 23 provisional and 4 trans­fer members joining our League, and only 3 resignations and 11 members progressing to sustainer status at the end of the year. Our members worked on a variety of projects in addition to their placements. One such activity, was the sponsoring of the "Southern Living Cooking School" by our Arts Committee who formed a coalition with the Gaston Gazette to bring this culinary art program to our area. We also continued our support to Leadership Gaston, gave $2,000 to the Arts Council to help sponsor a chil­dren's art series, entitled "Kaleidoscope" which was very well attended by children in the county. Under the direction of the Public Affairs Committee, we co‑sponsored a "Candidates Forum" with the Children's Council and others, and we manned a children's booth at Fish Camp Jam. Our largest project was finalized this year, as we hammered out the details of our Teen Outreach Program with the Gaston County Schools and helped hire its facil­itator.


1990s  The 1990-91 year will be remembered for F.A.C.E. After much discus­sion, the League voted to commit $60,000 over a three year period in addi­tion to placement support and Advisory Board positions. This doubles our most recent project commitment. F.A.C.E. is a preschool program for at risk children at Woodhill Elementary School. The parents are also involved in educational and parenting skills training. Along with this project, Teen Outreach began its first year with 38 students at York‑Chester Junior High School. We participated both financially and physically to the "Mystery of the Cast‑Off Capers" project. This was a coalition with the Clean City Committee and Gaston County Agricultural Service. The League provided supplies for and assembled the teacher work kits. Members also served as trainers for the teacher workshop. A new coalition was begun with the Gaston County Children's Council, We are now partners in Kids Count, the children's section of Fish Camp Jam. We continued support of Kaleidoscope and Leadership Gaston.

The Pictorial Directory was updated. A Sponsor Book was introduced to help members locate co‑sponsors. The computer arrived at our office. A library was established in the office including all Area III yearbooks and resource materials. The upstairs of the Bargain Box was organized by com­mittees, etc. so that past records can be easily located. Twelve members served on community boards representing

our organization. Our travel policies were updated. Our first year of quarter system placement went very smoothly with some members electing to stick with their placements after the obligations were complete. Lunch Bunch continued for a second successful year.

The Arrangements/Education Committee provided a “Citizens Against Crime” seminar and Dr. Bruce Baldwin's program "How To Survive The Modern Marriage."

The Bargain Box grossed $56,699.25 and contributed $28,000 to the League. Maleta Leophard joined Jean Barnes to assist in marking, etc. The BB Committee hosted a Wine and Cheese reception to celebrate the new facade.

The Cookbook Committee completed the third printing of 10,348 books at a cost of $46,071.20. The printing costs have been paid and the committee gave the League $15,000 this year

The Public Affairs Committee presented an Environmental Position Statement

and Background Paper for the League's approval. Along with the Public Relations Committee, they led our League's participation in AJLI’s first Association‑Wide Event. This year's theme was "Don't Wait To Vaccinate."

This year we gave approximately $35,000 to the community through Kaleidoscope, F.A.C.E., Children’s Council, Kids Count, Leadership Gaston, "Mystery of the Cast‑off Capers," and Teen Outreach. We were nominated for Volunteer Group of the Year in Gaston County. We were also nominated for the Governor's Business Council on the Arts and Humanities award. We did not win, but were selected to  receive one of twenty certificates of appreciation.  This has been a very challenging year. Our membership is made up of 117 Actives and 178 Sustainers plus our new class of membership Over-­active. This is for members 40 and older who still wish to do placement. They are also required to pay Active dues, but any other involvement is optional. Out of six eligible to sustain, two chose Over‑active and one is remaining Active. These women have worked hard, faced new challenges, but most of all have furthered the League's name and efforts throughout Gaston County.

The 1991-92 League year was one full of accomplishments ranging from exceptional committee work to effective community collaborations.

Committee highlights were numerous. The Publications Committee enhanced the News & Notes magazine with theme issues and a new layout design while streamlining the Update making it much more cost efficient. A Commemorative Fund for gifts and memorials was established. We approved a new position statement on Women's issues. Our Public Affairs Committee also successfully hosted the Spring SPAC meeting in Gaston County. The Public Relations Committee updated our League brochure and supported National Volunteer Week with a billboard display, newspaper articles and AJLI lapel buttons celebrating "Give Children Their Chance." Guidelines were drafted for reviewing future funding/project requests. Election of a Reuse It ("Bake Sale"), our fundraiser for the spring of 1993, was the culmination of many hours of research on the part of the Ways and Means Committee. The Arts Committee took us to the new addition of the Schiele Museum and coordinated with the Education/Arrangements and Cookbook Committees to give us a most memorable September Membership Meeting. The Education/ Arrangements Committee also treat­ed our membership to guest speaker, Martha Caddell, in October; and in November, a field trip to Raleigh and mini‑workshops. Our AMP Trainer conducted a Future Planning Meeting in April with our Community Advisors featuring a special presentation by the Gaston Chamber of Commerce President, Tim Helms.

The Bargain Box and Cookbook were both very profitable this year. The Bargain Box began carrying consignment items from the Cone‑Miyazawa Foundation of Virginia Beach. These profits along with great membership donations enabled our shop to contribute an extra $5,000 to the General Income of the League. Gross sales were over $64,000 and $33,000 was turned over to the League.

The Cookbook Committee secured a unanimous vote from the mem­bership to establish Southern Elegance as a permanent League fundraiser. In its fourth printing, sales this year were over $60,000 and $20,000 was turned over to the League.

We participated in five community collaborations. We continued with Kid's Count and Kaleidoscope. A League booth was added at the Kaleidoscope Hands‑On‑Art Fair. We completed our first year of placement work with the Woodhill Preschool Program (F.A.C.E.) our newest major pro­ject. Once again we won a $5,000 grant from Target Stores to support this project. Forty‑three students completed our Teen Outreach Program. Both Teen Outreach and the Woodhill Preschool Project will be expanding to new schools next Fall. We continued our support with Leadership Gaston also helping to restructure both the Advisory Board and the new Executive Committee.

In this busy League year, our membership consisted of 111 Actives, 2 Over‑Actives, and 190 Sustainers. Twenty-three ladies completed our Provisional course, and 16 members became Sustainers. We provided representatives to 15

community boards. Seventy-six members served in community placements. Other League activities included a donation and "walking team" in the March of Dimes Walk America. Pictures were taken for a new pictorial direc­tory. A new super copier was purchased for our office. Data was loaded onto our new computer.  Our first part‑time office staff was hired. Members attended Fall and Spring AJLI workshops in Charlotte and Orlando, respec­tively. Lunch bunch groups continued to provide a light social activity. Extra work by members in League and/or Community work was recognized with a "Hat's Off" award.  A $15.00 late fee was added onto late dues payments. Board Orientation was held on August 23rd and 24th. Husbands joined us for a celebration bar‑b‑que Saturday evening. Sustainer Officers put together a questionnaire to research the needs and interest of our Sustainers. Membership networking was enhanced with a new thirty-minute social time prior to each membership meeting. We received two awards this year for outstanding community service; one from the Association for Retarded Citizens and one from the Children's Council. This year has truly been an outstanding one for the Junior League of Gaston County as we con­tinued to make a difference in our community.

The "Whale of a Sale" was definitely the highlight of the 1992‑93 League year. With only 98 Actives and loads of help from Sustainers we net­ted over $13,000 from the sale. At the same time we sold over 11,000 copies of Southern Elegance, requiring another reprint for 10,000 books, and the Bargain Box committee turned in $3,000 more than its $30,000 commitment!

We moved into our new office in the NationsBank building on Union Road in December. For the first time ever, our League office and cookbook office are housed together and it’s a great success!

Our community collaborations continued to be successful. We com­pleted our commitment to the Teen Outreach Program and are hopeful that it will continue to expand. School officials have assured us that it fits in with their plan for the transition to middle schools. Leadership Gaston was again administered by Gaston College under the direction of Jane Johnson. The Woodhill Preschool Project received national recognition from Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander and again received a grant from Target Stores.

The most significant bylaw changes passed this year gave members the opportunity to sustain after 10 years of Active service and raised the Provisional age limit to 40. Members may still sustain at the age of 40 with at least 4 years of Active service.

AJLI continues to be seen as a state‑of‑the‑art nonprofit organization. Our new relationship as partners with all other Leagues and with AJLI began this year. A tremendous boost to our work in that area is the electronic bul­letin board system that links our computer to AJLI in New York and to other Leagues which have chosen to purchase the system.

The year concluded with a casual B‑B‑Q dinner at the Schiele Museum. Actives and Sustainers were encouraged to bring guests to celebrate the conclusion of one successful year and the onset of another.

The 1993-94 League year will be remembered primarily for three major events: our Fifteenth Anniversary with AJLI, our Spring Project, Habitat for Humanity, and the death of our president‑elect, Karen McCarter. We com­memorated the anniversary with a sundial placed at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden; we created the Karen McCarter Memorial Fund and donated a little over $5,000 to the creation of a new Dental Clinic; we cele­brated our Habitat project with tee shirts and a great slide show. We had one of the largest (and best!) Provisional classes of 29 women, and we wel­comed them to our League. Seven women joined the ranks of Sustainers. Cookbook and Bargain Box continue to serve the League financially. We continue to be a partner in Leadership Gaston, and we completed our Woodhill obligation. We continue to serve the community in placement activities, and on Community Boards. We are grateful for the commitment of our members in supporting both financially and in volunteer time in our first Habitat for Humanity House. The event was first‑rate with

almost no problems... the biggest being a holdup on "wet drywall!" We are grateful also for Jennie Stultz who returns to Active status to serve as President of the Junior League of Gaston County a second time, and wish her and her Board all the success, friendship and commitment that was shared by the members this year. The year ended with a B‑B‑Q with guests of members attending our Annual Meeting held at the Schiele Museum.

The 1994‑95 year was a deja-vu, with Jennie Stultz returning from sus­tainerhood to fill Karen McCarter's term as President. This year was basi­cally a year of regrouping and healing. Karen's loss and her ties with the Gaston County Dental Clinic deepened our commitment to seeing the Clin­ic succeed. Community Research and Project Finding recommended our League's major funding of $20,000 for the year be designated to the Dental Clinic. In addition, League members prioritized critical needs in Gaston County and recommitted future focus on the health and well‑being of chil­dren. Twenty‑one Provisional members completed their training and joined the Active ranks in January. Cookbooks were reprinted for the sev­enth time and Bargain Box continues to thrive. Programs at meetings included: Pottery lecture at the Gaston County Art and History Museum, mini holiday workshops, a League "Fun Night", Bargain Box fashion show, a literacy update and an interview with Ruth Everhart, a local city council­woman and League Sustainer. As the year drew to a close, AJLI made it clear that a vote on the gender issue at Annual Conference was almost a sure thing. After many mailings, phone calls, a meeting of statewide presidents and long meetings at annual conference in San Francisco, the Leagues voted overwhelmingly to remain an organization of women and to face whatever consequences may come. The vote was more bold and emotional than we had imagined. Our traditional barbecue dinner and annual meeting were held at the Schiele Museum.

The year of 1995-96 was a quiet but productive year. This was the first year members were required to purchase only one cookbook, but despite this change, the Southern Elegance cookbook committee present­ed us a check for $12,000. The Bargain Box had another high sales year and added $30,000 to our League's account. We had twenty‑five provisionals to complete their training and seven actives to join the ranks of sustainers. Seven new in‑League placements were added, allowing the Arts, Bargain Box, Community Research/Project Finding, Education/Arrangement and Public Affairs committees to strengthen. Programs for general membership meetings included a performance by members of Gastonia Little Theatre, mini workshops in November and guest speakers Loretta Dodgen, Sharon Decker and Ruth Kimmel. Our annual meeting was held at Gaston Country Club where seven new sustainers were honored for the 40 plus years of col­lective service. Our year ended with the membership voting to support a September fundraiser, with proceeds going to the Gaston County Literacy Council's building fund.

The 1996‑97 year proved to be quite exciting. We won the First Annual Literacy Council Corporate Spelling Bee. Our first social fundraiser, "The Literacy Luau", raised $8,000.00 and was such a success that we voted to have one again in 1997. The Public Affairs Committee presented the Silent Witness Initiative, a moving insight into the severity of Domestic Violence in our community. The Cookbook Committee began work on a new cook­book and donated $9,000.00 to the JLGC. The Bargain Box had a "facelift" and turned over $30,000.00 to JLGC. We gave $500.00 and volunteer hours to Camp Sunshine. We sent $150.00 to the JL of Wilmington N.C. for Hurricane relief and $400.00 to the JL of Fargo‑Moorhead N.D. for flood relief. We added 20 new active members, who were quite an enthusiastic class. We presented a check for $40,000.00 to the Literacy Council when Barbara Bush spoke at their Annual Meeting. Once again we co‑sponsored Kaleidoscope and voted to be the sole sponsor for 1998. Meetings includ­ed: Lucy Penegar speaking on Historic Preservation, held a forum for the County Commissioner and School Board Candidates, Charlotte Wise, M.D., spoke on Breast Cancer.     Mary Cooke and Cathy Barrett spoke on child and domestic violence, and Mike Bush gave us an update and presentation on Stowe

Botanical Gardens. Our Annual Dinner was held at Gaston Country Club where 8 active members became sustainers.

The 1997‑1998 year was extraordinary. We had many accomplishments, too  numerous to list. We had a successful social fundraiser that allowed us to present

$6,200 to Crisis Assistance Ministry. We sent a representa­tive to the Domestic Violence March. The Bargain Box earned $74,983 and they turned $30,500 over to JLGC. Southern Elegance sales income reached $20,163 and they gave $7,500 to JLGC. We added 13 new Actives and secured one of our largest Provisional classes ever, with over 35 participants. We gave $5,000 to the United Arts Council as the sole sponsor of Kaleidoscope. We held a strategic plan that gave us a plan and direction for the future and it fits well with our focus area of "children". Our annual dinner was held at Gaston Country Club, where six Actives became Sustainers and our League awarded the Betsy Garland Service Award to Lindsay Meakin. The new cookbook, "Southern Elegance: A Second Course", has gone to press and is due out in late fall. The Anniversary Celebration Committee is hard at work planning year-long activities to honor and celebrate 40 years of service!

1998-1999 was a year of accomplishments and celebration. Training our members is part of our mission. In our League office, a training library was developed with materials from AJLI and other conferences. In January, we were proud to host the State Public Affairs Committee meeting, where U.S. Congresswoman Sue Myrick spoke on public policy issues. A community boardsmanship seminar, held in February, was co-sponsored with Leadership Gaston. Mini-workshops were offered at our April meeting, with members presenting information from recently attended meetings. Fundraisers for the year included a successful Whale of a Sale ($13,511), and contributions to the League from our ongoing fundraisers, Bargain Box ($22,000) and cookbook ($15,000). Our new cookbook, Southern Elegance: A Second Course, was unveiled at the Southern Christmas Show in November. In May, our original cookbook, Southern Elegance, went to a 7th printing, for a total of 67,000 copies. We received several grants: Matthews Belk/ Edward Lent’s Table, Uptown Revitalization façade grant, and the J. E. and Mildred Waggoner Family Foundation. We granted $5,000 for the Kaleidoscope children’s art series, $295 each to Gaston Hospice Butterflies program and The Little Red Schoolhouse Fund, and $ 850 to Leadership Gaston. Internally, we made several changes, which resulted in some amendments to the bylaws. We streamlined the membership requirement process and introduced an Active Silver and Active Gold membership status. Personnel Policies and Practices for League employees were adopted and implemented.

In 1998-1999, we celebrated 40 years of “Volunteering for a Better Gaston County”. In our League office, we paid tribute to our Past Presidents by creating a “Wall of Presidents” with their pictures. Our history was told in a section of Southern Elegance: A Second Course, where Past Presidents provided recipes and a quote reflective of their time. Our general membership meetings were anniversary-themed. We kicked off 1999 with an “Over the Hill Celebration”.  “Let the Tradition Continue” was the theme of the February meeting; we invited “little ladies” to the meeting, and the Bargain Box committee entertained us with a wonderful “historical” fashion show, reflecting the different ages of the “Box”. The Sustainers helped us celebrate our 40 years, with a birthday theme for the spring Bundles Brunch, complete with Bargain Box bundles as well as “birthday gifts” from our office wish list. Sustainer President Price Thrower shared a 40th anniversary poem, B.K. Williamson gave the League glasses given to her as the outgoing President gift in 1961, and all present reminisced about their League days. At the May Annual Dinner Meeting, the Sweet Adelines sang and recapped history through the decades. We recognized 29 members who became new Actives this year, several transfers from other Leagues, and 9 new Sustainers. From the roll call of members present (by Provisional class), to the memorabilia of   News and Notes and scrapbooks, to visiting with old friends, the May meeting was a

 huge success.  It was an honor to have over 40 sustainers there to celebrate 40 years.

In 1999-2000, we continued to celebrate our 40 years of community service, from a family night at Jiggers’ Drive-In, to a trip to New York (birthplace of the Junior League movement), to a Mrs. Vandybelt’s Tea for the Past Presidents, to a casual “birthday party” at Little Big Horn, to a videotape capturing 40 years of memories. Turning 40 was great fun!! The League’s work was again supported by our ongoing fundraisers (and their net contributions), Bargain Box ($20,000) and cookbook ($17,500). This year we were even able to complete payments on the Southern Elegance reprint and Southern Elegance: A Second Course – investments which hold a great return for us as fundraisers. The year’s special fundraiser was the Southern Living Cooking School, held in April and co-sponsored with the Gaston Gazette, which netted over $14,000. All our hard work and fundraising paid off, as we participated in the construction of Operation Playground at Martha Rivers Park.  Through three placements (all project leaders), numerous volunteers during the week of the “build”, and a contribution of $10,000 (over 5 years), the League was a major participant in one of the largest collaborative efforts our community has seen. In addition, we granted $5,000 for the Kaleidoscope children’s performing arts series, $900 to Leadership Gaston, and $400 to Newspapers in Education. We collected and distributed needed items for two organizations, The Shelter of Gaston County and Family Service.  For the second year, we co-sponsored with Leadership Gaston a community boardsmanship seminar. To further develop our focus area, children, we streamlined our placement opportunities from over 30 to 12 community organizations. Internally, we revised our committee and board structure, resulting in a consolidation of some committees and a reduction of the Board size from 23 to 17.  Twenty-six provisionals completed their training and became Actives in January, and three Actives sustained at the May annual dinner, held at Cramer Mountain Country Club.


2000s  2000-2001 proved to be an exciting year for the Junior League. We started out with a fall social that netted us over $10,000 seed money for our new Woodhill Project. The Board of Directors voted to support Woodhill Elementary School with volunteers and monetary contributions for at least the next two years. Our spring fundraiser, a successful Home Tour, also netted us over $9,000 to contribute to this endeavor. We contributed $5,000 to the United Arts council, $500 to the Junior Achievement program, $250 to the Children’s Theater for tickets for the students at Woodhill and $900 to Leadership Gaston. The hard work of our members led us to the success of our cookbook and Bargain Box that gave us $20,000 and $12,500 respectively. In addition to the work that was done we also had fun, from meeting at the movie theater for a meeting and a movie to having cluster meetings at different locations.

2001-2002, what a year of CHANGE. We kicked off the year with our first meeting at The City Club. Our guest speaker was Bobbie Holland, Principal at Woodhill Elementary, which is our special project for the next couple of years. At Woodhill, we were very fortunate to have sponsored two Brownie Troops, one of which was also led by League members; supported the Fall Festival, teacher hospitality, mentoring, class parties and the list keeps going. The League also purchased a school sign. With the help of our Sustainers, we contributed over $6,000 to this project. Shelly and I attended the AJLI Centennial Annual Conference in New York. The Provisional course became a year long training process; we created a grant writing placement. We kicked off the first annual Christmas Tree Ball at Cramer Mountain Country Club, which profited over $13,000. For our spring fundraiser, we began the annual Whale of A Sale, which was held at the Farmer’s Market, with a profit of over $17,000. We partnered with the Gastonia East Rotary Club in our Woodhill Playground project. They contributed $6,500. We also had a softball game against the City of Gastonia to raise money for Woodhill. (We won, just for the record.) Our most difficult, but necessary decision was to close our Bargain Box. After several years of declining sales and customers, our Board of Directors, with the guidance of Sustainers, made this historical decision. The Bargain Box did however contribute $10,000 to the League. Our Cookbook Committee also came

through with a succesful year, contributing $15,000. Our annual dinner was held at The

Gaston Country Club with a special tribute to the Bargain Box as our focus. We presented The Betsy Matthews Garland award to Leslie Wallace; The Lou Fuller Award to Laura Newman and I began the annual President’s Award which was presented to Karen Brown.

                2002-2003 was a very busy year for the League! We started the year with a great meeting at the City Club where the Board of Directors unveiled the newly adopted Junior League logo and red and white colors with the new tag line of – “Women building better communities”. As we began our second year of our signature project with Woodhill, we collected school supplies, sponsored two Girl Scout troops and began the “Celebration Club” which identified each child on their birthday with a small treat. We also organized and funded three class parties for the entire school (Halloween, Christmas and End of the Year), complete with goody bags, doughnuts and juice. Through a partnership with Woodhill, the League helped to write and win a $10,000 grant for the building of a new playground. Along with our donation of $14,000, and a nearly $7,000 donation from the East Gastonia Rotary Club, the green light was given to build the school a new $30,000 playground. We held our second Christmas Tree Ball at the Gaston Country Club, which proved to be very successful earning the League approximately $15,000. The decision was made to sell the Bargain Box building located on Main Street and the Board went about finding a purchaser. The building was sold and closed in January for a price of $70,000.00. Our two cookbooks, Southern Elegance and Southern Elegance, A Second Course found new life this year and sales began to take off. The cookbook committee was able to donate $12,000 to the League, in addition to another $2,000 they gave towards Woodhill Teacher Appreciation. Once again we held a membership meeting at the movies and fun was definitely had by all! We held our second Annual Whale of a Sale at the Farmer’s Market and more than 1,000 people attended the event. It was a huge success, with the committee donating $20,000 back to the League. Throughout the year, at each membership meeting, we collected items for various groups around the community. They ranged from books for the “Success by Six” program, to toiletries for the Gaston County Women’s Shelter. Our members continued to “step up to the plate” in order to make Gaston County a better place. Gaston Together honored the Junior League with its distinguished “Community Leader of the Year Award” in March at the Gaston Country Club for the years of service we have provided the community and especially for our work at Woodhill Elementary School. The    provisional

class was renamed to the “New Members Class” and they helped to coordinate our participation in the Community Foundation’s first “Run for the Money”. The event netted the League more than $2,000. Annual Dinner was held at Cramer Mountain Country Club where we recognized our New Members, our new Sustainers and each fundraiser in a celebration of their successes. The Betsy Matthews Garland Award was presented to Lindsay Lockett, the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Becky Eggers, the “New Member of the Year” award was presented to Heather Adcock and the second President’s Award was presented to Tracy Roberts.

                2003-2004 was a year of celebration with the completion of many of our projects. The year started with a celebration at the City Club and City Councilman Walter Reid. Councilman Reid thanked us for our commitment and hard work at Woodhill Elementary. During this year we finished paying our 5-year commitment of $10,000 to Martha Rivers Park. We also finished our 3-year commitment to Woodhill Elementary. During our time period at Woodhill, the League provided a school carnival, the school with its first sign, mounds of school supplies, parties and treats of appreciation to the Teachers of Woodhill. The Celebration Club provided school parties at holidays and birthday treats for each child on his or her birthday. We also had mentors, sponsors for Brownies and troop leaders, and new playground equipment which included some handiap accessible equipment. In October, we approved our next 3-year commitment to Loray Girl’s Home. In addition, we provided placement hours to Camp Sunshine, Holy Angels, The Women’s Shelter and the Schiele Museum. We had 3 very successful major

fundraisers this year – Christmas Tree Ball, Cookbook and Whale of a Sale. In addition,

we participated in the following smaller fundraising opportunities: Belk Foundation’s Charity Day, Rodi Fashion Show and the second annual Community Foundation’s “Run for the Money 2”. We also started an endowment with the Community Foundation. We put $60,000 from the proceeds of the Bargain Box property sale in the endowment along with $40,000 from Southern Elegance savings. We hope to have the endowment grow through gifts and memorials and become a legacy for our League. This year we redecorated the office. We painted over the orange and gold colors and replaced the more than gently used gold carpet. We now have a beautiful butter yellow office space complimented with dark green carpeting! We were also fortunate to receive office furniture donated from Wachovia. We received a conference table, conference chairs, club chairs, tables, bookshelves and other furniture for a small moving cost. Annual Dinner was held at Rodi in the Gem of Ashley. We celebrated our successes, our New Members class and our new Sustainers. The Betsy Matthews Garland Award was presented to Debbie Mauney, the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Sonya Holmes. Penelope Stroupe was the recipient of the New Member of the Year award.

                2004-2005 was a year to “Circle Our Wagons”. Membership was challenged to take pride in and be committed to this League. Additionally they were asked to pay special attention to membership recruitment and retention and to help crush rumors and misinformation. This commitment was apparent in that there were eighteen ladies in our New Members Class, one transfer in, and several reinstatements to Active or Sustainer status. We began our new commitment to the Loray Girls Home as our signature project and even made a community partnerhip with the Medical Alliance for financial assistance towards achieving our goal. Our thanks also to Wythe Pharmaceuticals who supplied over the counter medications and vitamins to Loray as well as Dr. Johnston’s office for their help with dental supplies. In League placements were cut to a minimum in order to reach the community with much needed hands on assistance. Loray had the largest number of volunteers with a total of nine doing restoration, mentoring, and special events. Members also volunteered at Holy Angels, With Friends, Camp Sunshine, and Woodhill. Our Cookbook Committee was very busy this year with events at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Charlotte Shout, State Street, Kaleidoscope, Belmont Holiday Open House, York Chester Holiday Tour, and Dr. Ann Holscheit’s Holiday Open House. Christmas Tree Ball was very successful and had the largest sponsorship in its history. Our New Member Class raised money through their participation in the third annual Community Foundation’s Run For The Money – Buck Goes To The Movies.Whale of a Sale was able to meet its goal and serve the community with an exciting sale which included many interesting outside vendors. The funds we placed with the Community Foundation continued to grow and add up for future League projects. Through an idea suggested by LeeAnn Harris the Community Foundation’s first Purse Luncheon was a great success with the help of League volunteers who worked the event and bought many unique purses. Our League year ended with a dinner at Rodi. Congratulations to Ginger Rowe who was the recipient of this year’s Betsy Matthews Garland Award. Karen Brown, who was one of our Sustainers for the year, won the Lou Warren Fuller Award. LeeAnn Harris received the President’s Award, and Jaime Hawkins was awarded the New Member of the Year Award.

                The 2005-2006 League year was quite busy. We began in June by partnering with the United Way of Gaston County. The League’s Board of Directors voted to sponsor a reception for “Two Women and a Glass of Wine” – a performance held at Gaston College, with the proceeds going to the Gaston Shelter for Women. The League also helped provide drinks for Camp Sunshine in July. Our first general membership meeting in August was held at the City Club. Angie Flake, Executive Director of the Loray Girls Home, updated us on our signature project. School supplies for Rhyne Elementary and Loray Girls Home were collected and household cleaning items were collected for With Friends Youth Shelter. In September, the JLGC also partnered with the Gaston County Health Department and other Junior Leagues in North Carolina for

our very first “Big Shot Saturday”, where immunizations were provided to both children and adults. Also in September, what an honor it was to accept the “Tuga Adams Youth Development Award” for outstanding organization from the With Frirends Youth Shelter. Other general membership meeting speakers included Brenda Hanagan from With Friends and Mary Tyler Vaughn from the United Way of Gaston County. Our November general membership meeting this year began at the City Club and ended at Talbot’s with shopping at both Talbot’s and Julie’s. We continued our general membership meeting “traditions” with the February movie night and April cluster meetings. Our annual meeting was held at the Gaston Country Club, where we honored eight new Sustainers and welcomed nine New Members. This year’s fifth annual Christmas Tree Ball was held at Cramer Mountain Country Club and raised over $20,000 for the League and our fifth annual Whale of a Sale contributed over $7,000. Our cookbooks provided us with $6,000 and the New Member class fundraiser provided over $2,200. We also received a secondary purpose Governance Grant from AJLI for $1,000 to cover conference expenses to the 2006 Annual Conference. Our community placements provided volunteers this year to Camp Sunshine, With Friends, Loray Girls Home, Holy Angels and Rhyne Elementary. We also sent $300 to the AJLI Disaster Fund in response to Hurricane Katrina. This year’s Betsy Matthews Garland Award was presented to LeeAnn Harris and the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Annie Anthony. The President’s Award was presented to Stacey Thompson, and Teresa Dowell won the New Member of the Year Award.

                2006-2007 was a league year to celebrate “One Team, One Dream”. This was the theme at the May 2007 AJLI Conference we attended in Salt Lake City, UT and one that I wanted to guide this year. With the board retreat in early June, hosted by sustainer board advisor, Julie Heath, the board began planning for the year ahead. Also over the summer, members of our executive committee enjoyed training and networking with other North Carolina League leaders at the annual North Carolina Executive Exchange hosted in Raleigh by the Junior Leagues of Raleigh and Durham & Orange Counties. Taking away some ideas from the many training opportunities provided, regular email blasts were implemented over the summer to help members stay connected to upcoming activities and events. For the first time, monthly newsletters were delivered electronically to active members and to a test group of sustaining members. In the spirit of the new year, we implemented a new service project, a clothing drive for SOCKS, a community need that was brought to the League’s attention over the summer. The first general membership meeting (GMM) of the year was held at the City Club and featured music from The Troupers, the band that would perform at the Christmas Tree Ball later in the league year. We were pleased to be joined by many sustainers, as well as community advisors. The speaker for the evening was Reverend Raymond White, former Pastor of Loray Baptist Church and founder of the Loray Girls’ Home. He shared with us his inspiration for founding the home over 25 years ago and membership was motivated as we moved to our third year in that Signature Project. Monthly general membership meetings this year featured “Done in a Meeting” projects to benefit our placements in various capacities and included speakers from throughout in the community. With our September meeting, we learned of a new project funded by grants from the Community Foundation of Gaston County, Girls’ on the Run. This program is promising as a new placement opportunity and benefits young girls in elementary and middle schools. October celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness with speakers from The Cancer Society and Dr. Gina Quaid from Gaston Surgical Associates. This topic is one that has touched our league directly in recent years, with several members being diagnosed. We gathered for social time playing Bunco For Breast Cancer Awareness and later in the month supported community efforts to organize a tennis tournament and BBQ benefit for the family of breast cancer patient and league member Mindy Mitchell. President elect, Penelope Stroupe and myself attended the AJLI Fall Leadership Conference in Memphis, TN during October as well. With the holidays came opportunities for Thanksgiving and gifting. We provided turkeys and desserts for the Thanksgiving dinner for the Loray Girls’ Home and later provided stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts for the residents. We celebrated the Christmas Tree Ball, which proved to be a beautiful event, as always and would be the last in a series of six annual celebrations. In January, we enjoyed a speaker from AJLI, Stephanie McDonald, a member of the Junior League of Charleston, SC. We gathered for desserts for our February GMM and membership learned about the SOCKS program, a new placement for the upcoming league year, from long time SOCKS supporter, Dr. Robert Barringer. That meeting was closed out with a spirited discussion of the fundraising slate for the upcoming league year. Membership voted to forgo both the Christmas Tree Ball and Whale of a Sale, instead deciding to do a Fall BBQ Event combining a BBQ Sale and a social event at the Jarman Barn and to host a Spring Home Tour. With the March GMM, we turned our attentions to the upcoming league year with placement meetings and we focused our efforts on what would be the final Whale of a Sale for some time. We were pleased with tremendous support from sustainer donations and community attendance at the Sale. With the month of April, our New Member class hosted their first Tea Party fundraising event, which was a delightful afternoon of fun for all. Later in the month, we wrapped up the Community Foundation Run for the Money activities by hosting a Garden Party booth at the run to compliment our “Garden Party” karaoke troop. The JLGC benefitted from winning top honors in karaoke and the overall run and we experienced the highest level of contributions to date. In efforts to continue the mission of training volunteers, we applied for and were granted a secondary purpose Governance Grant from AJLI of $1,000 to cover conference expenses to the 2007 AJLI Conference. President Elect, Penelope Stroupe and Executive Committee & Board Member, Susan Jordan were then able to attend that conference in Boston, MA. We also took the opportunity to send cookbook committee members, Teresa Dowell and Donna Bolton to the FRP cookbook conference. We concluded the year with our annual dinner which was a time of both celebration and sadness. Just before our Annual Dinner, league member Mindy Mitchell lost her battle with breast cancer, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters. We began our evening with a moment of silence in her memory and moved forward with a celebration of our accomplishments for the year. Each fundraising group presented their checks and we in turn presented a check for $2,500 to the Loray Girls’ Home for new kitchen appliances. Membership awards were granted as follows: President’s Award, Kristy Smith; Betsy Matthews Garland Award, Jaime Hawkins; Lou Warren Fuller Spirit Award, Kristy Bogle; New Member Award, Claire Wilson. This year proved to be one of many firsts and lasts, while continuing the tradition of service to our community with placements served at the Loray Girls’ Home, Camp Sunshine, With Friends, Holy Angels and The Shelter.

                The 2007-2008 League year was quite a success!  We began in the early days of summer with our Board Retreat at the Lake, lots of fun, fellowship and training.  Our Executive Board of Directors attended Conference at the Park Hotel in Charlotte for training.  Our first general membership meeting was held in August at the Gaston Country Club.  Jane Pearson (Past President), our President Advisor, was our speaker and provided us with a wonderful presentation of a past reflection of League years.  School supplies for Rhyne Elementary and Loray Girls Home were collected.  This year the Board of Directors decided to do “Done In A Meeting” Projects where League members brought items and completed a project at each GMM Meeting.  In October, we had our Fall Fundraiser “BBQ at the Barn”, it was a huge success and a fun event for all, our profits were around $5,000.00!  Our November general membership meeting this year began at the Gaston County Museum it was our “Holiday Social” meeting where we socialized and enjoyed wonderful food provided by Sustainer, Nancy Lemke.  We continued our general membership meeting “traditions” each month and the February meeting being held in homes with small groups.  In the Spring, we participated in the Run for the Money sponsored by the Community Foundation.  Our April meeting was held at Talbots where we enjoyed our meeting, shopping and then over to Lotus for dinner.  Our annual meeting was held at the Gaston Country Club, where we honored 4  new Sustainers and welcomed 3 New Members. This year’s Spring Fund Raiser consisted of a Tour of Homes, where we raised a little over $8,000.00 we had several beautiful homes on tour where members worked, as well as Sustainers at the homes.  Our cookbooks provided us with $3,000 and the New Member class fundraiser provided over $900. Our community placements provided volunteers this year to Camp Sunshine, Loray Girls Home, Holy Angels and Battered Womens Shelter. This year’s Betsy Matthews Garland Award was presented to Paula Stewart and the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Susan Jordan. The President’s Award was presented to Christie Witten, and Jena Jenkins won the New Member of the Year Award.

         In 2008-2009 the Junior League of Gaston County celebrated 50 years of service in our community.  The focus was on our rich history and honoring our past so that we may have a solid future.  During the Fall we held a successful Port-a-Pit BBQ fundrainser with much particiaption from our current sustainers, along with active membership. Also during the fall months our Provisional class spend tireless hours working on the Poinsettia sale which was voted as the class fundraiser. Their goal was to raise $1000, and they surpassed their goal by $500.  In March a Gala was held to celebrate the golden anniversary and to honor the women whom built our organization. During this Gala we donated $50,000 into Gaston County.  $10,000 to 5 local organizations that reflect the mission of the Junior League of Gaston County. Those organizations were Loray Girls Home, Camp Sunshine, Operation Playground, SOCKS, and The Shelter of Gaston County. To finialize our wonderful League year a new award was created to recoginze an Outstanding Sustainer who went above and beyond the call of duty in Sustainership. The first receipient of this award was Barbara Voorhees.

         The 2009-2010 Junior League started with the theme “Planting the Seeds”.  Our goal this past year was to be more visible in the community.  At the May annual dinner, I encouraged all members to go out and plant our seeds.  Our board retreat was held at the Gaston County Museum of History in Dallas in early June.  During the summer of 2009, the Junior League of Gaston County was awarded the Pearl Dixon Balthis Grant in honor of the hard work of one of our founding members and Past Presidents, Lila “Sandy” Rankin.  This was a great honor to our organization, and the grant money of $5,700 will be used to carry on training for our future Junior League of Gaston County Presidents and for our community placements.  We held our first general membership meeting at Martha Rivers Park, where we helped to build the playground a few years ago.  Our guest speakers were ladies from Habitat for Humanity.  We continued to hold our GMM at the hospital with a few exceptions:  our November GMM meeting was held at Holy Angels, and our February meeting was held at the Girl Scout office.  We wanted our whole membership to see some of our community placements.  Guest speakers included leaders of those organizations. The focuses for most of our GMM meetings were our community placements and planting the seeds in our community.  This is also where we held our Done in a Meeting projects.  We did hold a few Girls Night Out meetings where we invited prospective members.   The April GMM meeting was held at Art’s Desire, and the GNO meetings were held at Hickory Tavern and Lotus as a way to celebrate the end of the year.  This year we started a new membership requirement called Done in a Day (DIAD).  Our DIAD projects were Greenway Cleanup, Habitat for Humanity, SOCKS, Loray Girls Home Clean-up, and Run for the Money.  Jaime Friday, President-Elect, spearheaded this new requirement.  Our fundraising this year proved to be quite successful for our membership.  Our Fall Fundraiser was the “Opt Out” where membership had some financial choices as to how they wanted to complete it, and in the Spring, we held our fabulous Whale of a Sale, after a two-year absence.  The WOS was held at the Farmer’s Market.  We introduced four new ladies to our provisional class, and they held their Bulb Plant Sale as a fundraiser.  The JLGC was also a proud participant in the Run for the Money and had our very own Dancing Queens participate.  We still continued with the donation of our cookbooks, as well as selling them ourselves.  Anne Tishkoff from the Association of Junior League International visited with us in March of 2010 on her way from ODI training that was held in Charlotte.  We discussed the strategic plan of the Association, as well as our plans for the future.  We also received the secondary purpose Governance Grant in the amount of $1,000 to help offset the cost of the annual conference for Jaime Friday and Mary Catherine Grooms to attend in Orlando, Florida.  Our annual dinner was held at Rodi this year.  It was a very special evening for all of us to come together and celebrate our accomplishments.  Awards were given to the following Ladies:  The Betsy Matthews Garland Award went to Susie Tippett, and the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Joyce Starke.  The President’s Award  was given to Claire Wilson and the Sustainer of the Year Award to Nancy Lemke.  The Provisional of the Year went to Lisa Craig.  At the end of the 2009-2010 League year, the Junior League of Gaston County was presented with the North Carolina Children’s Lifetime Legacy Award.  This award was a collective award given to all of the Junior Leagues of North Carolina presented by Action for Children North Carolina.


2010s  The 2010-11 League year celebrated the “Bright Future” ahead for the JLGC and reminded membership we need to constantly be looking ahead to ensure we have a strong JLGC in the future. Membership was challenged at the 2010 Annual Dinner to dig in and get involved, to take the individual challenge to step outside our personal comfort zones and to fully participate in all the activities of the JLGC.  Mary Catherine Grooms and Jaime Friday attended North Carolina Exec Exchange, hosted by the Junior League of Fayetteville. These ladies were able to dig deeper into the Birkman and learn how to support each other during moments of strength and weakness. During the summer board retreat, it was decided to electronically submit the monthly Updates to membership, as we have been making drastic cost cutting measures. For the members without email, a printed copy was sent via the USPS. As summer passed, August approached with excitement for the upcoming year of events. The Fall Provisional Class attended a lovely retreat at the home of Tim and Candy Grooms. Our first GMM, was held at Loray Baptist Church where we continued the tradition of a Done In A Meeting project, collecting school supplies for Rhyne Elementary. The collection from the meeting yielded an entire SUV load of supplies. Gastonia Mayor and two time past president of the JLGC, Jennie Stultz, was our guest speaker for the evening. She spoke from the heart, reinforcing that we are strong women who take initiative to make a difference in our community. In September membership participated in Taste of Gaston as the JLGC had a booth dedicated to AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen initiative. The first, of many, Girls Nights Out throughout the year was held in September at Cantlupe’s. During the first portion of the year membership continued with our new fundraising option of Fall Opt Out to fulfill our fall fundraising commitments for the year. Chair of Fall Opt Out, Jaime Fulcher, offered different options including car wash tickets, Pansy/Mum Sale, Belk Charity Day tickets and a holiday Poinsettia sale. October brought about one of the JLGC’s favorite Done in a Day projects as we collected gently used items such as blankets, coats and other personal items for the residents of the SOCKS community. The ladies serving Placement hours at Loray Girls Home did an amazing job organizing the Loray Girls Home Thanksgiving feast. Membership provided turkey, dressing and all the fixings’ for a warm holiday event. December offered membership a little down time and opportunity to socialize with a Holiday social hosted by The Bottle Shoppe. Mary Catherine Grooms was fortunate to kick off the New Year by attending Winter Leadership training in New Orleans. Our second Provisional retreat of the year was hosted, in January at the home of Dara Barravechia. January and February offered us the opportunity to share the Kids in the Kitchen program, along with a nutritional snack to the afterschool programs at the West Gastonia Boys & Girls Club and The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Both events were Done in a Day projects. Community Advisor, Janice Booth spoke at our February GMM meeting about her highly anticipated debut book, Only Pack What You Can Carry. March will forever been known as the month of the Whale. Jeanna Marie Tiller, Chair and Emily Scarborough, Co-chair were meticulous with details, pricing guidelines and scheduling to ensure the 2011 Whale of a Sale went off without a hitch! We reached our goal of raising $6,ooo. Thank you to all the Sustainers, husbands/boyfriends, friends and family members who gave of their time to ensure we have a fantastic event! In April, the JLGC participated in a very rainy Run for the Money 9. The third annual Walk the Course Against Domestic Violence was held in early May. The JLGC ladies participated in the event by walking for The Shelter of Gaston County. In mid-May, president elect, Mary Catherine Grooms, president elect-elect, Paula Glover and Angie Bloomfield attended the AJLI Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Our league year ended with a wonderful and well attended Annual Dinner at Cantlupe’s Italian Restaurant. We had five members move from Active to Sustainer Status: Connie Jones, Susan Jordan, Susie Tippett, Claire Wilson and Christie Witten. Combined this group of ladies have served 32 active years of service. The Betsy Matthews Garland award was presented to Jeanna Marie Tiller and the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Angie Bloomfield. The President’s Award was presented to Susie Tippett and our Sustainer of the Year Award was presented to Cheryl Black Loggins. This year was unique as we presented two Provisional Awards. Lauren Henry received the Provisional Award for the Fall Class and Misty Amos received the Provisional Award for the Spring Class.

The 2011-2012 League year was one of transition. During the past few years, the JLGC considered a time of restructure of utmost importance and set out on a journey to secure the organization's future in our community. Following the suggestion of AJLI, League leaders went through much training in order to guide the membership through the process of transforming from a project based organization to the mission based organization of our past. Through collaboration with the Board, AJLI and members, we were able to determine the focus for our future which was to fulfill our mission through a group effort to ensure better lives for women and children in Gaston County.  The journey to finding our areas of impact was one full of reflection, research and conversation.  At each GMM, we heard from community leaders in child abuse prevention, cancer services, foster care, and other important areas of service. The goal was to familiarize the membership with issues in our community from which we could choose our collective focus area.  After a whole year of member involvement in this process, the membership narrowed down their most important community issues to Childhood Obesity/Nutrition as well as Child Abuse and Neglect.  While going through this process towards Issue Based Community Impact, our League still managed to support several non-profit organizations in the community including the Loray Girls Home, S.O.C.K.S. and Holy Angels.  The League had two large provisional classes this year and put on two amazing fundraisers, Whale of a Sale and Fall Opt-Out. Generous donations were made to the JLGC through Run for the Money, which the League is very thankful to be involved in.  Sustainer President, Merryman Cleveland, hosted two wonderful socials for the Sustainers.  Jaime Friday, Immediate Past President, hosted a lovely tea at Covenant Village for the Past Presidents. Kenna Watts served graciously as Sustainer Advisor to the Board and helped us through a challenging year.  This year we began recycling at the League office, sending out the Update by email and put the black book online in a secure member section of the website. The board began using a consent agenda to make their meetings more efficient and productive. The board produced an Annual Plan and held a mid-year review.  JLGC sent three delegates to AJLI’s Annual Conference in San Francisco: Angie Bloomfield (President Elect), Jeanna Marie Tiller (PEE), and Andrea Stephens (VP Fundraising).  Now that there is a focus for the League, we can ensure another significant 52 years in Gaston County.

The 2012-13 league year started with the theme of ‘What is our Story?’ The idea behind this theme was to remind all our members, Active and Sustainer, that the JL has a long written history and continues to write that history.  Our story continues each year with a new chapter, involving many old and new characters that move the League along many plots and twists, all revolving around a common idea to make Gaston County a better community.  Members were encouraged to get involved with the shaping of THEIR league, getting their hands dirty by ‘doing,’ not just saying.  It was an immediate call to action and the League members responded whole heartedly!   At our Summer Board retreat, hosted at the White Water Center, the ladies of the board learned about how to center all our responsibilities to feed our common goal, helping the community.  Following the retreat, the ladies remained to welcome many interested ladies at the WWC for refreshments and entertainment.  From this meeting, we signed up 12 Fall Provisionals! After many years of research through the community with needs based assessments, meetings with key community individuals and finally, a vote by Active members, the JL of Gaston County, Inc. launched its newest impact initiative.  With Lindsey Hageman, VP Community at the helm, we forged an alliance with the Central Y’s, Y-Life group and committed to come up with a curriculum program supporting the at risk middle school/high school kids.  Every Thursday, for 5 months, League members presented various activities and programs surrounding health and fitness, bullying, and financial awareness, in order to introduce these kids to varying degrees of decision making that could shape their world for the better.  As our inaugural year, it was received openly by the Y, and the kids, by the end, had bonded with many of our League ladies.  We hope to continue this initiative so that we can measure the impact it has on the community in the near future.  Plans to expand the program to the other 4 branches of the Gaston Y Association will be realized as the League grows in membership numbers.  As the summer began to fade, the excitement did not for our first couple of Fall meetings.

Our 12 Fall Provisionals were welcomed with a Provisional retreat at the home of Jeanna Marie Tiller.  They were visited by Angie Bloomfield, President, to show them the video covering the history of the League (AJLI) as well as the history of our JL Gaston County league, Andrea Stephens, VP Fundraising and Emily Scarborough, Whale of a Sale Chair, to learn about our many fundraising opportunities.  Our first General Membership meeting was held at our training room at the JL offices and our Done-in-a-Meeting tradition of bringing school supplies for our first Fall meeting were collected and delivered to Woodhill Elementary School.  Our first GMM meeting also welcomed Tammy Barr, a CaroMont Health Nutritionist, to speak to our members about how we can help our Y-life kids eat healthier.  We were also afforded a visit from one of our Sustainer Advisors, Tom Watson.  Tom showed his enthusiasm and great encouragement for where the League was heading with its new impact initiative as he had been a part of the committee working toward our ultimate decision to help at-risk youth. With our Kids in the Kitchen still one of our favorite programs, many members helped to man the KITK booth at the September Taste of Gaston, organized by the KITK co-chairs, Jessica Love and Elizabeth McLean.  Special thanks to Lindsey Hageman’s husband, Joe, for building our Smoothie cycle, a kid powered bike blender that would blend healthy fruit smoothies using kid power!  It was a very popular booth that day that also attracted parents!  Our October GMM welcomed guest speaker Tripp Hord, Executive Director of the West Gastonia Boys and Girls Club, who spoke to us about the best way to help at-risk kids in the community, highlighting the best practices to engage our kids. The Provisionals were treated to a very unique Provisional dinner at the home of long time Active member, Joyce Stark.  The theme was flamingos, with everything having a flamingo flare with many pink boas and various sundries as well.  It was a flying success with a full board attendance to talk to the ladies about why we were members and what we loved about our league.  Our first family night out was hosted at the Belmont bowling alley with a Halloween themed costume contest.  First place went to Lisa Craig and her friends dressed as the Cat in the Hat with Thing 1 and Thing 2!  Special mention to Provisional member Lindsie Chapman and her husband for dressing as Donald and Daisy duck!  Our annual Sustainer social, hosted by Sustainer President, Penelope Stroupe, took place at the Sustainer home of Christie Witten. They had a beautiful spread from Dean and Deluca.  Many Sustainers that had never attended a Sustainer social were in attendance and really enjoyed reminiscing about their years in the League.  We heard about the follies, Christmas tree ball and many other infamous JL events! During the first portion of the year membership continued with our established fundraising option of Fall Opt Out to fulfill the fall fundraising commitments for this league year. Chair of Fall Opt Out, Melinda Michaels, offered different options including Pansy/Mum Sale, News and Notes Ad Sales and a holiday Poinsettia sale. The Provisional ladies project was to arrange and serve Thanksgiving dinner at Loray Girls Home they did an outstanding job gathering needed food and non-perishable items.  Membership provided turkey, dressing and all the fixings’ for a warm holiday event. December offered membership a little down time and opportunity to socialize with a Holiday social hosted at the Grape and Barley and organized by Membership Development Chair, Brandi Apple.  Over 50 coats were collected as entry fee for this event and donated to SOCKS. This event also doubled as a meet and greet.  We had many prospective members attend and were graced with 4 new Provisional sign-ups for the Spring Provisional Class.  Jeanna Marie Tiller, President elect and Andrea Stephens, VP Fundraising, kicked off the New Year by attending the Winter Conference in Las Vegas.  This training event which is hosted each year by AJLI, give our future board leaders the opportunity to learn how to best work together to prepare for the next league year.  Our second Provisional retreat of the year was hosted, in January again at the home of Jeanna Marie Tiller.  Emily Scarborough, Trainer, and Lauren Braxton, yet again, did a fine job planning for each board member to attend a Provisional meeting to explain their position in the league.  Lisa Craig, cookbook Chair continued our cookbook sales throughout the year, which are a consistent source of funds for the League’s operational expenses.

Our February GMM is our big organizational meeting for the much anticipated Whale of a Sale fundraising event!  With all hands on deck, Lauren Braxton, Chair and Katie Gray Connor, co-Chair, lead the ladies to a very successful and fun event for the community!  We went beyond our original fundraising goal and walked away with over $7400 profit to benefit our League’s various programs and impact initiative benefiting Gaston County.  Thank you to all the Sustainers, husbands/boyfriends, friends and family members who gave of their time to ensure that we had a fantastic event!  In April, the JLGC participated in Run for the Money 11 with many of our ladies manning the KITK booth while others ran in the 5k race on behalf of the League.  Olivia Bloomfield, Angie Bloomfield’s 8 yr old daughter, was the youngest runner racing for JL!  Again, many thanks to the active and sustainer members helping with this event.  The JL also received an urgent request from a sister non-profit, benefiting your girls in Gaston County, Girls on the Run, for helpers on their April 5k event.  The call went out and many JL members came out to work the course, help with registration and cheer on the runners!  This year’s JL Gaston County $500 grant recipient was the Woodhill School’s Kindergarten department.  The teachers used the funds to help assist many of the needy kids afford their class trip to the circus in Charlotte. In mid-May, president elect, Jeanna Marie Tiller, and president elect-elect, Andrea Stephens attended the AJLI Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Our league year ended with a wonderful and well attended Annual Dinner at the Gastonia Convention Center.  We were treated to a special surprise by the youth from our Y-life program.  They performed some step moves and presented a recognition award to our League!  We had two members move from Active to Sustainer Status: Jaime Friday and Jaime Fulcher. The Betsy Matthews Garland award was presented to Lindsey Hageman and the Lou Fuller Spirit Award was presented to Jeanna Marie Tiller. The President’s Award was presented to Paula Stewart.  Our Sustainer of the Year Award was presented to Cheryl Black Loggins (her 2nd year to receive this award) and this year we added Volunteer of the year which was awarded to Lisa Craig for her 40+ hours of work on our impact and other program opportunities. We presented two Provisional Awards; Amanda Batson-Lamp received the Provisional Award for the Fall Class and Jona Bauer received the Provisional Award for the Spring Class.

The 2013-2014 League year began with an opening meeting at the Gaston Country Club.  During the meeting President Jeanna Marie Tiller showed a video from Kid President, challenging each member “to make the world more awesome.”  Members accepted the challenge – we planted a community garden, served a Thanksgiving meal, organized a trunk or treat for homeless children and taught a new generation about giving back to Gaston County.  Andrea Stephens, President Elect and Kristen Clanton, VP of Community attended the AJLI Winter Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The 2014 conference gave both members the opportunity to learn, network and build their vision for the Junior League of Gaston County. We also had a dedicated group of Sustainers throughout this year.  Sustainers were extremely supportive – attending meetings and supporting our community events. We continued our annual Whale of a Sale and the fundraiser raised $6,813 dollars.  Whale of Sale Chari, Katie Gray Conner did a good job organizing a successful fundraiser for the League.  In its second year, the Pumpkin Beer Fest raised $2,765 dollars.  The League year concluded with our Annual Dinner in May at the Gaston Country Club.  The following awards were presented: President’s Award to Amanda Batson-Lamb, Sustainer of the Year Award to Annemarie Couture, Betsy Mattews Garland Award to Lisa Craig, Lou Warren Fuller Spirit Award to Dara Hartman, Volunteer of the Year to Nancy Lemke and Provisional of the Year to Margaret Beveridge.

The 2014-2015 League year begin with the theme “Lead, Learn and Live.”  President Andrea Stephens invited members to Lead by example, Learn from each other and Live out the legacy that has been set before us 56 years ago.  We encouraged active, sustainer and provisional members to get involved and share their knowledge to make the Junior League of Gaston County the best organization it can be.  We kindled the year with a summer board retreat at the Riverview Raw Bar and Grill.  Malinda Lowery of Multiple Choice facilitated our board development training.  She challenged board members to think about their roles as volunteers and define what a leader means to them.  Board members later shared expectations for the League year and we ended the retreat committed to lead and learn.  The first general membership meeting was held August 26, 2014 at Discover You! in Mount Holly.  Under the leadership of President Stephens, the League expanded a new partnership with CaroMont Health and Discover You!  We decided to have the August GMM the partner location to highlight the opportunities ahead.  Paul Hubert, Executive Director of Discover You! was our guest speaker.  He shared information regarding the facility’s test kitchen, meeting room opportunities and events for kids.  We share a mutual interest in tackling the issue of childhood obesity in Gaston County.  We also created new partnerships with J. Crew of Charlotte Premium Outlets.  J. Crew management welcomed the opportunity to host a GMM at their Charlotte store.  We meet and we shopped!  As a board we recognized the need to revamp our website.  President Stephens enlisted the support and help of Highland Technology student Shea Hopper.  Ms. Hopper embraced the JLGC website for her senior internship project.  She redesigned the website updating it with a new look that is functional for all members.  First the first time in many years, President Stephens decided to include a mid-year board retreat.  We met at Discover You in January to discuss our progress and finalize details for the second half of the League year. It was a great year!  Patrick Lencioni states in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team the factors that will tear a team apart ... or keep it from forming are: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability.  We did not have to address any of the listed factors throughout the 2014-2015 League year.  We are proud of the impact we made in bringing awareness to childhood obesity and working with underserved youth at the Central YMCA.  We worked together to cross the finish line as a team.  Fundraising: We organized five fundraisers this year.  They include, BeerFest, Poinsettia Sale and News & Notes in the fall and Whale of a Sale and Run for the Money in the spring.  We experienced tremendous success with each fundraiser and met our goals for the year. Fall:  $6,611.45; Cookbook Total: $556.94; Whale of a Sale:  $6,008.69; TOTAL:  $13,177.08. Provisional becoming Active Members: We were fortunate to add four (4) new active members to our roster.  Members of the provisional class had the opportunity to vote for one provisional they feel has gone “above and beyond” this year.  The member showed outstanding leadership and the award was presented to Darcel Walker. Volunteer of the Year Award: Qualities of a volunteer include, dedication, support of the mission and above all, a passion for helping people succeed.  The award was presented to Megan Sulak for her service and leadership of the Kids in the Kitchen program. The following members also received awards at annual dinner, which was held, May 26, 2015 at the Gastonia Conference Center: Lou Warren Fuller Spirit Award- Sandra Rivas-Hall, for her support and enthusiasm for the League; Betsy Matthews Garland Award- Amanda Batson-Lamb, for her energy, dedication and love for the League; President’s Award- Allison Watford;

Sustainer of the Year- Nan Kirlin.  Additional highlights of our successes this year include: Eight (8) General Membership Meetings; Twenty (20) Board Meetings; Thirty-One (31) e-Club Sessions; Girls Night Out which contribute to more member engagement; Over 410 hours in Volunteer Community service; Outstanding eClub Programs & Opportunities; Five (5) successful Kids in the Kitchen Events; Engaged in multiple new partnerships (CaroMont, Discover You!, J. Crew).  We should all be proud……as the league year started we committed to Lead by Example, Learn from Each Other and Live out the Legacy that was established many, many years ago.  We tried to stay true to our mission and the task at hand.

                The 2015-2016 League year reflected on the theme of doing great things for the betterment of our community.  President Kristen Williams invited members to continue to do great things in service together to make our organization and its presence in Gaston County even stronger.  We encouraged active, sustainer and provisional members to share their knowledge to make the Junior League of Gaston County the best organization it can be.  We kicked off the year with a summer board retreat at Discover You!.  Janice Booth, a long time JLGC Community Advisor, facilitated our board development training.  She assessed each board member through her Teambuilding K.I.T. and categorized their various leadership styles as either mentors, warriors, thinkers, or visionaries.  She challenged them to think about their roles within the Junior League and how they can use their individual leadership styles to help the organization to grow and meet the needs of our community.  Board members later shared expectations for the League year and we ended the retreat with a luncheon with board members and committee chairs.  The first general membership meeting was held August 26, 2014 at Discover You! in Mount Holly.  Paul Hubert, Executive Director of Discover You!, was our guest speaker.  He shared information regarding the facility’s test kitchen, meeting room opportunities and events for kids.  We shared our mutual interest in tackling the issue of childhood obesity and nutrition education in Gaston County.  President Williams held a mid-year board retreat in January at the home of board member Lindsey Hageman.  We discussed our progress so far in the year and finalized details for the second half of the League year.  Fundraising: We organized seven (7) fundraisers this year: Pumpkin BeerFest at Sims Park, Mums and Pansies Sale, Poinsettia Sale and News & Notes in the fall; and Whale of a Sale, Community Foundation of Gaston County’s annual 5k run, and spring flowers sale in the spring.  We experienced tremendous success with each fundraiser and met or surpassed many of our goals for the year. Fall Fundraising:  $6,353.87; Cookbook Total: $715.72; Whale of a Sale:  $5,281.53; Spring Flower Sale: $269.50; Community Foundation Run: $1,900.00 (plus matching funds); TOTAL:  $14,520.62.  Provisional becoming Active Members: We were fortunate to add six (6) new active members to our roster.  Members of the provisional class had the opportunity to vote for one provisional they feel has gone “above and beyond” this year.  The Provisional of the Year Award was presented to Celeste Thompson.  Volunteer of the Year Award: The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a member who has shown outstanding support in her volunteer efforts. The award was presented to Elizabeth McLean for her service and leadership of the League’s community impact programs.  The following members also received awards at annual dinner, which was held May 25, 2016 at the Gastonia Conference Center: Lou Warren Fuller Spirit Award - Darcel Walker, for her support, enthusiasm and love for the League; Betsy Matthews Garland Award - Kara Rhyne, for her positive attitude, leadership and love for the League; Lila “Sandy” Spilman Rankin President’s Award - Kali Anderson; Sustainer of the Year - Mary Catherine Walker.  Additional highlights of our successes this year include: Eight (8) General Membership Meetings; Twenty (20) Board Meetings; Thirty-One (31) e-Club Sessions; Five (5) Girls Night Outs, which contributed to increased member engagement: bowling at Textile Lanes, Paint and Sip at Creative Creations by You, Whale of a Sale After Party BBQ, Skeet Shoot and BBQ, and Yoga and Mimosas at Riverview Raw Bar & Chill; 421 hours of Volunteer Community service; Outstanding eClub Programs and volunteer opportunities, which led to 10 blankets for women and children staying at The Shelter of Gaston County, 10 shoes made out of old blue jeans for children in Africa affected by jiggers, and 16 lily pads that will be used for decorative wall art and craft tables for sick children in the Pediatrics wing at CaroMont Health; Eight (8) successful Kids in the Kitchen Events where we provided 30 kids with healthy, hands-on cooking experiences and handed out samples and recipe cards at various community events like The Community Foundation of Gaston County’s annual run, the spring Girls on the Run 5K and the Gastonia Farmers Market; Three (3) Sustainer Socials: Fashion Show at Talbots, Don Caster Spring Clothing Preview, and Whale of a Sale Sustainer Service Night and Girls’ Night Out; Two (2) Community Advisors dinners at The Round Bistro and one (1) new Community Advisor, Mrs. Caroline Letts; Engaged in multiple new partnerships, including The Shelter of Gaston County and Talbots; In-League leadership positions for 8 chairs and 10 Board Members; Two (2) attendees at AJLI winter leadership and annual conferences (President-Elect and President-Elect-Elect).  Overall, it was a fantastic year!  We are proud of the impact we made in educating children and their parents on cooking and eating healthier and working with underserved middle and high schoolers at the Central YMCA for the fourth year in a row.  We also approved a new fundraiser for 2017 to take the place of Whale of Sale, called Touch-a-Truck, and voted to move towards a more project-based community impact during the upcoming year as our membership continues to transform.

                The 2018-2019 League year focused on having a seat at the table while learning to be and living as Servant Leaders.  President Elizabeth Smithers invited active members to engage with each other and our community to utilize our strengths and passion to help support our community while gaining recognition within the community of what we can bring to the table. We worked to engage our Sustainer members to share their knowledge to make the Junior League of Gaston County the best organization it can be.  We kicked off the year with a summer board retreat at the Junior League office and then a team building activity at Xtreme Xscapes, an escape room located in Eastridge Mall. The activity gave the board a great chance not only to get to know each other but to start to learn how to problem solve as a group in a fun setting. The first general membership meeting was held August 27, 2018 in the training room at the Junior League Office.  Dara Hartman, Major Account Manager for Sharp Business Systems and one of our amazing Sustainers, was our guest speaker. She provided members with tips and tricks on how to make the ask when asking for potential donors for support. She was a great inspiration for the upcoming year. In support of that Stephanie Best, the Fund Development co-chair provided with great fund development marketing material. Fund Development: This year we continued to focus on transitioning from fundraising to fund development. In support of this initiative we hosted multiple group fund drives where members could reach out to potential donors (individual and commercial) surrounded by other members to support their efforts. We also focused on applying for grants this year and were awarded two! Both were from the Community Foundation. The first was a grant for $3,000 to help towards continuing to develop our community projects, including TruckFest, and the second was an endowment fund matching grant which will allow us to get a dollar for dollar match for any endowment donations we receive over an eighteen month period. We also participated in a Junior League of Gaston County Gastonia Grizzle’s Night during the summer, hosted our second annual Bingo Bash and had very successful fall and spring flower sells. All in total we were able to raise over $17,000.00!! Community: This year we continue to support Women’s Health and the fight against Substance Abuse, specifically opioids, in our community. Members continued to participate on the Gaston County Substance Abuse Taskforce and associated sub-committees and volunteer at medicine take backs. Members also participated in multiple projects at Catherine’s House, Gaston Freedom School, United Way and Habitat for Humanity. Provisional becoming Active Members: We were fortunate to add four (4) new active members to our roster. They are Leah Hall, Kristin DeLong, Anna Brown and Maggie LeGrand. Members of the provisional class had the opportunity to vote for one provisional they feel has gone “above and beyond” this year.  The Provisional of the Year Award was presented to Maggie LeGrand.   Volunteer of the Year Award: The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a member who has shown outstanding support in her volunteer efforts. The award was presented to Maggie LeGrand for her service in the League’s community impact programs, which was especially outstanding given that Maggie was in her provisional year! The following members also received awards at annual dinner, which was held May 16, 2018 at the new Hilton Garden Inn: Lou Warren Fuller Spirit Award – Rachel Wildstein; Betsy Matthews Garland Award – Darcel Walker;  Lila “Sandy” Spilman Rankin President’s Award – Stephanie Best; Sustainer of the Year – Cheryl Black Loggins.  This year we also said good-bye to four (4) of our active members, including to past presidents, as they move into the next part of their League life as Sustainers! Thank you to Amanda Batson-Lamb, Lindsey Hageman, Elizabeth McLean and Sandra Rivas-Hall for all of your dedication and hard work during your time as active members, we look forward to seeing all that you will do and add as Sustainers! Additional highlights of our successes this year include: a great Coats & Cocktails hosted by our amazing member Abby Newton,  General Membership and Board Members throughout the year, a great Sustainer Social hosted by Cheryl Black Loggins and multiple fun girls’ night outs! Overall, the year was a great success and continued to move the Junior League of Gaston County towards having more and more seats at the table within the community so that we can continue to make a difference in the lives of not only our community members but also our trained servant leaders!