The Fort Bend Junior Service League has been busy this year, said Colleen Fox, president of the volunteer organization. From last month’s Sugar Plum Market held at the Stafford Center to events …
The Fort Bend Junior Service League has been busy this year, said Colleen Fox, president of the volunteer organization. From last month’s Sugar Plum Market usually held at the Stafford Center but held virtually this year to events with the Fort Bend Teen Service League to help its sister nonprofit contribute to the community, the women of the all-female nonprofit have had their hands full this year.
“We’re doing basically an organization of the month every month where we try to focus on an organization or a need in our community,” Fox said. “So, we just finished November and November was for the East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry, so we did a food drive for them.”
Doing projects for other area nonprofits is a concept the founders of the FBJSL adopted when it was founded in 2000, Fox said. The women’s group works together to identify nonprofits or needs in the community that they can then try to assist or meet, respectively, she said. Each year, the group reviews their position statements – similar to the values statements of a corporation – then identifies organizations that are working to meet those values. The group then volunteers with the organizations identified or raises funds for those organizations throughout the year. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the Fort Bend community hard this year, many of the 501(C)(3) or similar organizations have seen a seriously increased need from their client base while simultaneously not being able to raise as much funding as they normally would, Fox said.
“Whatever those positioning statements are every year is what we hold in the forefront of our minds,” Fox said. “We have a committee called the Beneficiary Review Committee. They are the ones who received the applications for our community assistance funds – grants. … That is a grant (area nonprofits) can get one time a year up to $5,000.”
The grant funding and other donations are set up through fundraising activities FBJSL conducts throughout the year, Fox said. Since its founding, she said, the organization has raised more than $4.5 million for local causes and even a few special causes outside of Fort Bend County.
“After Hurricane Laura, we did something a little different,” Fox said. “Normally, we focus on Fort Bend County, but (so many of us were helped by Louisianans after Hurricane Harvey) and we received so much help from the Cajun Navy and the folks over in the Lake Charles Area.”
As a show of appreciation, FBJSL gathered donations for victims of Hurricane Laura and sent them to the Lake Charles area to help out as a way of thanking them for their Harvey-related assistance.
Volunteering is important as well, Fox said. The ladies of FBJSL volunteer with Gigi’s Playhouse, Texana or other nonprofits in the area. Being in the community providing service hours is important to the organization, she said.
“We make it pretty easy to volunteer,” Fox said. “It’s user friendly. There’s a calendar of different places and different times that we have where you can just go ahead and access it and figure out what works into your schedule.”
Fox said FBJSL vets each group and makes sure that the volunteering is structured so members know what’s expected when they show up.
One of the things Fox likes most is how much the members of FBJSL get back from their contributions.
“Along the way, one of the benefits is I’ve made some lifelong friends,” Fox said. “That’s not really why I joined, I joined because I was new to the area and wanted to know more about the community and meet some people that do some good.”
Correction: FBJSL members volunteer with Gigi's Playhouse.