The mission of the Junior League of Flint (JLF) is to promote volunteerism, develop women’s potential and improve the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. “We focus on anything to help women and children in Genesee County,” explains Jillian Norwood, Outgoing President. The longtime international organization has been in Flint since 1928 and currently has 50 active members from all over Genesee County. They also have a large group of 130 sustaining members who provide assistance and donations when needed.
A 12-year JLF member, Norwood grew up in Flint and was a teacher in Flint for 15 years. “I joined the Junior League because I wanted to do volunteer work and meet new people,” she shares. “I’ve met a lot of great women and friends. It’s satisfying work and I absolutely love it!”
The JLF partners with various area organizations including Carriage Town Ministries and the YWCA. The group provides an annual Thanksgiving lunch at the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center and is always on the lookout for opportunities to help local women and children. Each month, the JLF also has a “Done in a Day Activity,” when they choose a nonprofit to which donations are made.
According to Norwood, the 2020 focus of the JLF has been foster care. “We wanted to find a way to help young adults who are aging out of the foster care system,” she explains. The group decided to buy a house that would be made available to someone no longer eligible for a foster home. Their goal was to find a house in Flint, fix it up and find someone to run it.
Everything began to fall into place. JLF connected with REACH/Traverse Place in Flint, a nonprofit that provides housing for homeless youth, and with the R.E.A.C.H. Runaway Program. “We approached them about the idea and it was super exciting!” Norwood explains. “They were really thrilled about getting a house.” The house officially became the property of Traverse Place. They signed the purchase agreement and the JLF paid for it.
In mid-March, the Junior League found the two-bedroom house in Flint. JLF volunteers got busy and began the renovation process. The house was in good shape, but needed a new furnace and hot water heater. The JLF contacted Blessing Plumbing & Heating for an estimate of the replacement cost. “Blessing donated a furnace and a water heater,” says Norwood. “It was so amazing and a huge help to have that donation.” Blessing Co. installed the new furnace and water heater in April.
“It was truly a group effort to get the house ready by May.”
REACH/Traverse Place wanted to move someone into the home by May 1. So, JLF members got busy making it happen. A gift registry was created at Target for people wanting to donate household items needed for the move-in. Neighbors and friends got together to clean the house and do yard work. The sustaining JLF members bought and donated new mattresses and other needed items. “It was truly a group effort to get the house ready by May,” Norwood admits.
A young woman, Tashala, officially became the home’s first resident in May. “She was so excited,” Norwood shares. “She won’t have to worry about having a stable home. Having a house gives her opportunity and the support she needs to stay on the right path.” There are, of course, strict guidelines in order for someone to reside in the home, she adds. The JLF has continued their support by setting up delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables from Flint Fresh.
The home purchase was a huge undertaking for the Junior League. “We wanted to do something big and tangible,” Norwood explains. For the group, the reward is knowing that they are helping young adults who are aging out of foster care.
“We would like to thank everyone who gave their time, money and donations and everyone who helped,” Norwood adds. “This house will be a safe place for years to come.”
Photos provided by Junior League of Flint.