“I love seeing the smiles on the faces of the children we nurture, and I hope that the children we come in contact with grow into productive citizens and always remember to love and support we provided to them,” Garrett said.
“I love that we are helping local children,” said current JA member, Shirley Hamilton. “So often we think mission work is something you have to travel to do when we can also do it in our own community. I don’t say that to diminish mission trips in any way though. Those are often what opens our eyes to the needs people have so that when returning home we can help people in our own communities.”
“There are aspects of all of the projects I love,” Hamilton said. “One project I particularly enjoy is Parent’s Night Out because we help get to work with young children while also helping their parents out by giving them a small break. I love teaching children.”
Veronica Helms was in Winona JA a number of years ago and she is now a lifetime member.
“The Junior Auxiliary is a wonderful organization because it concentrates its efforts on the issues of local children,” Helms said. “It has for many years helped the needy at Christmas, provided for children in need of school supplies, uniforms etc. In my experience, it allowed me to make lifetime friends with a number of people that I would not normally come into contact with and broaden my contacts within the community. It is truly a wonderful organization that is allowed for the most part to locally govern itself while also being provided the strength of a multi-state organization.”
Garrett is the current president of the Junior Auxiliary of Winona. She said the local organization was chartered in 1966, and last year, celebrated 50 years of service to children in both Montgomery and Carroll Counties. Current members recommend potential new members and then a committee votes on who is asked to join. There is a limited number of spots available for membership each year. And while members rotate off of active service, their passion for the work of the organization continues for years to come.
1. Angel Tree where the organization provides Christmas gifts to children in families that do not have much.
2. They hosted two movie nights this year to give children in the community a safe place to watch a movie and spend family time together. The second movie night was in partnership with the Butterflies to Bookworms literacy project where JA members asked people to donate children’s books which are donated to children in the area.
3. A new project is “Parent’s Night Out,” hosted four times a year where children ages 5- 8 come and learn about character building and healthy choices, while parents are allowed a few hours of much needed “free time.”
4. The Linda B. Austin $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a high school senior who has spent time in service to the community and also excelled academically.
5. JA Winona also hosts reading programs at the Library in which members read a book, provide a snack and create a craft for children in local communities.
One of the longest standing projects of JA Winona is Crown Club. The Crown Club consists of no more than 40 freshman and sophomore girls from local high schools. Potential members are referred to the Crown Club committee, and girls are invited to join based on the number of available spots. Academic and conduct records are considered in choosing Crown Club members. The purpose of Crown Club is to help these girls develop leadership and character and to prepare them for good citizenship. The Crown Club does various service projects around the community such as helping at Mission Hope, playing bingo at the nursing home, and hosting a community Easter Egg Hunt.
Crown Club members were “presented” at the 2017 Charity Ball, held last weekend.
For more information about the Junior Auxiliary of Winona or Crown Club, contact any current or lifetime member.
This story ran in the April 6, 2017 edition of The Winona Times.