Let’s get to know this months #IamJLL feature, Meaghan Marrett Gift. Meaghan opens up about what she loves most about the league and how she continues to serve Louisville through Junior League.
When and why did you join JLL?
I joined in spring 2009. I had been back after college for a few years and felt I was in a bit of a rut. I saw Junior League as a way to expand my horizons. It allowed me to meet new people while making a positive impact on my community.
What’s been your favorite project?
This is a tough question for me. I find the most enjoyable projects to be the ones that have our members working most directly with those we are serving. I’ll never forget helping girls pick out their prom dresses at Bloom Boutique or having a toddler climb in my lap and start playing with my hair when I was reading a book to a group of children at Family Scholar House. This year, I volunteered at the two newer community projects and felt those were great! At the Girl Scout shift where I volunteered, we were teaching second graders about being responsible pet owners with the help of dogs from the Humane Society…does it get any cuter?!
What did you personally learn while being involved in JLL?
I have gained a lot of leadership skills. As a provisional, I remember looking at committee chairs and board members and being so impressed by their ability to get things done. When I got the call asking if I would chair a committee for the first time, I remember feeling nervous about how I would do. I got the same advice that so many of us have, that “this is a training organization,” and “you can’t break the League in a year” – and they were right. When I was asked to serve on the board, I had those nervous feelings again, but they weren’t as bad this time because I knew I had grown in my ability to lead, and I had all kinds of support from those who had served in my role before and those who were serving with me on the board.
How do I feel JLL impacts the community?
My thoughts on this have evolved quite a bit over time. For the first few years in JLL, I would have said our main impact is through the work we do with our community projects. While I still believe that is part of our impact, I also feel that the training we provide to member on topics such as to how plan a project, how lead a committee meeting, how to serve on a board, etc. creates an even greater impact. All of us will choose to become a sustainer at some point, but with those skills, we can continue to create positive impact in our community.
What were the community initiatives during your time?
“Be Fit, Be Fine” was our community focus when I first joined. It created great projects such as a partnership with JCPS to teach kids about healthy eating and exercise and Urban Garden, which was a long-running JLL project. After “Be Fit, Be Fine,” we didn’t have one main community focus. I am looking forward to what is to come with the Issue Based Community Impact topic of education. Adopting this will allow us to better focus our efforts in the community to have a greater impact.
With JLL launching our new Issue Based Community Impact,what are ways you see the League impacting education in our community?
I was so glad when the topic of education was chosen. It goes along with much of what we have always been doing but also allows us to create new programs with a specific focus. I see us working on projects that address topics that one would traditionally think of with education, like literacy, but the topic of education extends well beyond what happens in a classroom. We could go in so many directions and impact people of all ages.
If you know someone interested in JLL, what would you tell them?
I’d tell them that JLL really has something for everyone. Some people join to meet people, some join to volunteer in the community, and some join for the leadership training. Regardless of why you joined, I’d encourage any new member to try variety of activities the league offers. In my six years, I think I have been on committees in almost every council. Having a positive experience means going beyond your comfort zone – volunteering at a shift even if you don’t know someone, choosing to go to a meeting at place you’ve never been, or even putting your name in for a leadership position even though it seems a little scary.