The Monterey Peninsula League, Inc. was formed in 1953, and after ten years service to the community, it was accepted by the Association of Junior Leagues of America, Inc. as its 204th member. In 1963, the Junior League of Monterey Peninsula, Inc. became the Junior League of Monterey County, Inc. to reflect more accurately the geographic areas served by our members.
1950’s: The Monterey Peninsula League, Inc. was formed in 1953. The League began its’ charitable work by creating a Children’s Experimental Theatre which brought live theatre to over 5,000 children yearly. In 1955, the League provided administrative assistance in publishing the Monterey County Directory of Health, Welfare and Social Agencies. The Monterey County Community Council, a welfare planning organization, was supported by the League for a period of five years. The League expanded into music in 1958 by creating the first Youth Concert which included the Young Artist Auditions. The League formed a Christmas Bureau as clearing house for Christmas donations the same year.
1960’s: In 1963, after ten years’ service to the community, the Monterey Peninsula League, Inc. was accepted by the Association of Junior Leagues of America, Inc. as its 204th member, becoming the Junior League of Monterey County, Inc. to reflect more accurately the geographic areas served by our members. The Youth Science Center of Monterey County was formed by the League, the Salinas Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Salinas Jaycettes. The Center was designed to create interest in science and to supplement school science programs. Reality House, a group home for juvenile girls on probation, was initiated as a League project in 1968.
1970’s: The 1970’s were filled with new and varying projects for the League. New projects were the Community Schools Resource Center, Funding Information Bureau, the Seaside Infant Day Care Center, a Volunteers in Action, The Women in Action Day Care Center in Salinas, Creative Response, Community Schools Resource Project in Salinas, and the Justice Education Project. A new concept, Enabling Funds, was also approved, which allowed the League to give financial support to Meals on Wheels and Planned Parenthood. The Community Research Committee took a need assessment of the county and the result was the creation of the Family Resource Center. The Ad Hoc Housing Committee began negotiations with the State of California for a concessionaire agreement for the restoration of the Old Whaling Station.
1980’s: The League created 10 programs in the 1980’s; the Salinas Valley Lyceum, Alcohol Awareness, Earthquake Preparedness, the Monterey County Science Fair for student projects, a program for the new Monterey Bay Aquarium, Making Connections, Adult Care Center in Salinas, a Community Calendar for Monterey County and the AIDS Peer Education Program. Enabling Funds were given to the Monterey Victims/Witnesses Assistance Program, the Women’s Task Force Employer Supported Child Care, and Project Worth. In 1983, the first Community Grants were awarded to Children’s Experimental Theater, Museum on Wheels, Family Service Agency, Y.W.C.A., Gateway Center, and Volunteers in Action. The JLMC successfully lobbied and received $208,000 from the State of California for our use in restoring the Old Whaling Station AKA the First Brick House. The Committee made a monumental impact by raising almost $50,000 for the renovation, and restoration began in March.
1990’s: $36,000 in Community Grants and scholarships were awarded to non-profit organizations and young women. The HIV-AIDS, Impact, Monterey County Science Fair Coalition, and the Salinas Adult Day Care Center projects continued. Three new projects were adopted: The Natividad Hospital “Touches”, the Teen Pregnancy Program (A.C.T.), and the Children’s Museum. In June ’94 MY Museum “went public” and held its first Advisory Board open house, which was attended by over forty interested, influential and enthusiastic community leaders. MY Museum officially established itself as an independent, 501(c)(3) organization on January 1, 1995. In 1997, League members sat on 21 non-profit boards of directors and we are members of three county and statewide coalitions. In 1998 the JLMC was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by the VNA.
From 2000-2007, the League worked with local non-profits as we redefined our mission in the new century. The need to develop a Community Impact Project that would engage our membership and bring benefit to our diverse community led to a JLMC-led Community Needs Assessment. The results of this assessment drove our Strategic Planning for many years, leading to our latest projects.
Beginning in 2007, JLMC partnered with Monterey County’s Foster Care Services Fostering Youth Independence (FYI) project. This partnership was aimed at assisting local youth who were aging out of Foster Care, teaching them the skills they would need to live independently. JLMC fundraised for and sponsored Job City and Career City, Helping Foster Youth Succeed Through Life Skills Training.
After a successful three-year partnership with the County, JLMC began to transition all volunteer events to fit with the focus of our Community Impact Project, Nutrition and Obesity. In November 2011, Monterey County’s childhood obesity rate was reported as 44.6 % in a study of obesity in fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders; this is the fourth highest percentage among 58 counties.
During the 2011-2012 League Year, Project Development conceived the program that became “Growing Up Gardens,” our Community Impact Project. The same women then set about developing community partnerships and commenced the Growing Up Gardens project, establishing the first garden at Lincoln Elementary School in Salinas in late 2012.
Subsequent gardens have been installed at Los Arboles Middle School, Ione Olsen Elementary School. and JC Crumpton Elementary School (Marina); Central Coast High School, and the Independent Study Program in Seaside; San Vicente Elementary School (King City); Pacific Grove Middle School (Pacific Grove); Sacred Heart School (Salinas); and Prunedale Elementary School (Prunedale). A sensory and edible Garden was also installed at Tatum’s Garden in Salinas. Community Partnerships with “Just Run,” reinforcing the importance of physical fitness as one of the important components to ensuring a healthy lifestyle, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s “Kids Eat Right,” Driscoll’s, and other local organizations have strengthened our presence in the community. Our State Public Affairs Committee Representatives worked with California State Senator Bill Monning to introduce a bill to name September Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
We have installed and revisited 13 gardens in five years, impacting the lives of an estimated 7,000 students and their families. Our volunteer work and fundraising efforts required an estimated 1900 volunteer hours during June 2016-May 2017.