The idea for an endowment fund for the league began to formalize in some league members during the 2000-2001 league year. It was early spring of 2001 when meetings with an ad hoc committee actually began. The ad hoc committee began drafting ideas for setting up an endowment. They eventually developed the proposal for the JLM Community Endowment Fund that was presented to the entire league membership for approval. The original ad hoc committee consisted of: Mary Linda Huggins-League Treasurer, Terri Arthur-League President, Martha Ryan-League President-Elect, Mossy Sartor-League Attorney, Dana Taliaferro-League Sustainer and Past President, Debbie Cummins-Assistant Treasurer, Kyle Wooldridge-Fund Development, Virginia Reeves, Myra Tosten, and Robin Fincher. Later, Lynn Duncan, Jeanine Patton, and Anna Lisa Greer were added to the ad hoc committee.
The ad hoc committee selected the investment firm of Morgan Keegan to advise the league with the endowment investments. They also took nominations for the first board of trustees to serve for limited terms. The make-up of the board of trustees, as specified by the endowment by-laws, shall always be 3 non-league members, 3 league members (active or sustainer), and 3 league positions of President, President-Elect, and Treasurer (or Financial VP). The assistant Treasurer (or Assist. Financial VP) shall serve as the secretary and ex-officio member. While the league officer’s terms rotate each year with their position, the league and non-league members shall serve 3-year terms. Thus, using these guidelines, the ad hoc committee presented the 30 nominations to the joint executive committees for the league years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. The joint executive committees votes were tabulated and the following people agreed to serve as the first board of trustees for the JLM Community Endowment Fund:
Martha Ryan, President
Lynn Duncan, President-Elect
Debbie Cummins, Treasurer & Trustee Chair
Betty Jo Harris, Past President
Mary Linda Huggins
Charles Marsala-Marsala Beverage
Pat Moore-recent JLM grant recipient
Mike Neal-Monroe Chamber of Commerce
Dawn Sage, as the Assistant Treasurer, served as the secretary to the trustees.
The Treasurer of JLM, now titled Financial Vice President, serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. She establishes the meeting dates, and it responsible for the agenda. The Assistant Financial Vice President of JLM serves as the Secretary, is responsible for the minutes, and is non-voting member of the board.
With a $250,000.00 beginning balance, the board of trustees has met quarterly (with the exception of 2004-2005 when no meetings were held) since their first meeting on June 18, 2002. Along with reviewing by-laws and guidelines for the committee, the trustees have met with John Clausen, a Morgan Keegan representative, to oversee the distribution and investments of the endowment fund. Grant applications are solicited using the guidelines established in the by-laws. The trustees review the grant applications and recommend 2 or 3 to be presented to the JLM general membership for their vote. The majority vote winner is then presented at the May homecoming meeting. It was determined that a grant would not be given for at least the first two years in order for the funds to grow. The ideal goal was to reach an invested amount that allows the Junior League of Monroe to grant $25,000.00 yearly into the community.
The 2005-2006 league year was the 75th Anniversary year for the Junior League of Monroe. It was decided by the Trustees that this would be a good time to give a grant in honor of this special anniversary. More than 20 applications were accepted from the community. The trustees recommended three applications for general membership to consider. Twin City Ballet, The Center for Children and Families, and Habitat for Humanity of Ouachita. In May 2006, a grant of $15,000.00 was allocated to The Center for Children and Families. This grant allowed The Center to furnish a comfortable room with the necessary equipment to monitor and video tape children telling their tragic story of abuse. This prevents the children from having to retell that incident many times over. The JLM membership is proud of the number of applicants, and the quality of the grant applications. The Endowment Board of Trustees and the Junior League of Monroe is looking forward to that ideal- of giving $25,000.00 yearly to our community.
During the 2006-2007 league year, the Trustees decided to award a grant again this year but decided to not open the grant application process to the public. A JLM committee is eligible for the grant according to the by-laws. The 2006 Spring Market proceeds were lower than usual due to Hurricane Katrina and Rita (struck Louisiana in August and September 2005) and the move of Spring Market to the Monroe Civic Center arena that year. The Education Task Force committee, which uses its budget to directly support our community through mini-grants awarded to area teachers, offering ACT workshops to area high school students and sponsors/assists the local Scholar’s Banquet, applied for the grant. The trustees recommended Education Task Force to the JLM general membership for their vote. In May of 2007, a grant of $15,000 was awarded to JLM’s Education Task Force committee. This grant was awarded to a JLM committee due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the proceeds raised during the 2006 Spring Market. The Trustees and JLM anticipate being able to award a grant annually and to an organization within our community.
During the 2007-2008 league year, the Trustees decided to award a grant again this year. Fourteen applicants applied for the $10,000 grant this year. The trustees recommended three organizations to general membership for their consideration: Life Choices Pregnancy Resource Center, The Children’s Museum and The Dixie Diehards. In May of 2008, the $10,000 grant was awarded to The Dixie Diehards, a subsidiary of Dixie Youth Baseball of West Monroe. The Dixie Diehards’ mission is to provide an inclusive baseball league that specifically targets individuals with disabilities. They provide an opportunity for children with disabilities to pariticipate in “The Great American Pastime” without regard to the type or severity of their health and/or development challenges. This grant will allow The Dixie Diehards to replace their existing field surface at Biedenharn Sports Complex with Pour in Place surfacing. This state-of-the art safety surface will promote safety for the players by cushioning falls and by providing a smooth, seamless, level surface for the players. The JLM membership is proud to partner with and support other organizations within our community through these grant funds.
The Junior League of Monroe awarded the 2009 Community Endowment Fund Grant to Seeker Springs Ministry at the annual Spring Dinner held May 5, 2009. The Endowment Trustees selected three finalists from twelve applicants who applied for this year’s $10,000 grant. Each finalist presented their program or project to the general membership at our April general meeting. Membership then voted on which finalist they would like to award the grant to this year. Seeker Spring’s mission is to provide life changing experiences, which lead to life changing decisions that lead to lives changing direction. They provide Christ centered experiences in natural camp and retreat setting for all who wish to retreat from everyday life. They accomplish this through a variety of programs: after school camps, West Ouachita Youth Basketball, rope challenge courses, retreats & events, summer camps, mission camps, as well as Freedom Ranch Camp. Freedom Ranch Camp is specifically where the grant funds will be utilized. Freedom Ranch Camp is a program that was designed specifically for children who are facing difficult life circumstances. This program targets siblings in the foster care system that are separated into different homes. The camp allows the siblings to come together for the weekend and spend quality time focusing on their relationship with one another and with God. The experience of riding and caring for horses is used to help the siblings understand how to improve relationships, over come fears, learn respect for others, and build self-confidence. Over the course of a year camp serves up to 72 foster children. JLM is known for its work for the wellbeing of children in our community. Seeker Spring’s Freedom Ranch Camp provides an opportunity for foster children to participate in this experience at no expense. The Junior League of Monroe is proud to partner with and support Seeker Springs Ministry in building a better community.
In 2010, the Junior League of Monroe was excited to issue another $10,000 Endowment Grant to one of our community partners. The 2010 grant was awarded to The Extra Mile. This organization helps to meet the needs of clients referred to them by their State Agency partners which includes the Office of Mental Health, Office for Citizens with Development Disabilities, and the Office of Addictive Disorders. The Extra Mile “fills the gap” between the dwindling state and federal appropriations and the need in our communities to help those suffering with mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities. The fund granted by JLM were used to purchase a used van to help transport clients to doctor visits, job skill training, and various other classes/training offered by the organization. They were also able to purchase a year’s worth of insurance on the van, which tremendously helped their operating budget. The Junior League of Monroe is very proud to be a partner with the Extra Mile and look forward to a lasting community relationship for years to come.