The Junior League of Philadelphia, Inc. (JLP) is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. Our Woman of the Week this week is Belinda McLeod-Quinn who has been volunteering her time and energy to the Junior League for the last 10 years. She is about to take on an even more important role, as you'll see. JLP is committed to addressing the many aspects of literacy in underserved communities in the Greater Philadelphia area and has over 950 volunteers who contribute more than 75,000 hours of service annually. Approximately 85% of volunteers are employed in a wide range of professions and industries and, as such, bring a vast array of talents and skills to their volunteer work. Although Belinda was nominated this week, she is representative all of the extraordinary women who volunteer their time to the Junior League of Philadelphia.
WOTW: How did your relationship with the Junior League begin?
Belinda: As a volunteer for the Junior League of Philadelphia, I extraordinarily proud to be part of this team, a volunteer organization of women who have been effecting change and making a positive impact in the Greater Philadelphia area for 95 years. In 2004, the Junior League of Philadelphia launched new literacy based community projects emphasizing reading, writing, higher education, and arts enrichment for children. Our members devote thousands of volunteer hours to our Community Projects.
WOTW: How did you get started?
Belinda: I am originally from Connecticut and when I moved to Philadelphia for graduate school, one of my goals was to get involved with a community service organization. My mother is a former Junior Leaguer and urged me to get involved. I have now been in the Junior League for over 10 years and find it to be an extremely well run organization with such dedicated women who truly impact others.
WOTW: What is the best thing about your position?
Belinda: Having the ability to help others and to make a difference within the Philadelphia community is what I consider the best thing about being a member of the Junior League.
WOTW: What would you say is the hardest thing for you to accomplish?
Belinda: As with everything in life there's so much you want to do and so little time. I have a 14-month old at home and another baby due in a few weeks so juggling lots of responsibilities can be very challenging.
WOTW: Of what are you most proud?
Belinda: I am most proud of our dedicated group of volunteers who choose to take time out of their busy schedules during the week and on weekends to help better the Philadelphia community. We have so many great projects going on in the community. The clean-up event at Smith Memorial Playground (East Fairmount Park) last month is an example of one way the Junior League effects change. Thirty-five women spent the morning cleaning up the playground to make it a better place for all children to play. Cultural Clinic is another one of our programs that promotes various aspects of the arts through education, projects and other cultural programs to 7th and 8th grade girls attending Charles R. Drew Elementary School. Another Junior League project, Laws of Life, is a character education and literacy program that invites Philadelphia High School students of all backgrounds and abilities to express through writing, music or art what matters most in life. This is just a sampling of some of our many projects.
WOTW: Describe your personal philosophy and how you utilize it with your responsibilities at work
Belinda: Don't over promise and then under deliver. That is truly my philosophy in life. If you say you are going to commit to something then you need to stick to that commitment. Within the Junior League I have never agreed to serve on a committee or work on a project unless I knew that I would be able to give it my all – 100%. I don't like to do anything half way - that is just my personality.
WOTW: If you could change one thing in our world, what would it be?
Belinda: I think everyone wants this, but I just want peace. I want to stop hearing about mass killings and people disrespecting others right to live freely. It's sad that we now live in a world where we wait to hear about the next tragic event, I wish we didn't have to think that way.
WOTW: What is your guilty pleasure?
Belinda: Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
WOTW: What CD or book would you want to have with you on the deserted island?
Belinda: Any Madonna CD.
WOTW: What advice would you share to someone considering joining the Junior League of Philadelphia, or any civic association?
Belinda: I would urge any woman who is interested in becoming involved in the community to consider the Junior League of Philadelphia. The beauty of our organization is that you can choose which projects you would like to become involved with. My advice to any new member would be to have fun and to try different projects over the years. We also have many leadership positions and I would urge women to challenge themselves and to try leadership positions. We have fabulous leadership trainings that provide lifelong skills that can be applied outside of the work we do within the Junior League.
WOTW: What's next for you and the Junior League?
Belinda: Starting this June, I will be on the League's board of directors serving as Secretary. As an organization, we are always evaluating our projects and the effectiveness we have within the community. We will continue to do this and to look at any new projects that we may want to take on in the future.
The Junior League was founded in Philadelphia in 1912 and is a member of the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) which is comprised of 294 member Leagues in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. If you'd like information or have some time to volunteer, please contact the Junior League directly at 610-645-9696. Details can also be found on their website at www.jlphiladelphia.org.