Celebrating women’s role in philanthropy

Photo: Junior League Board, 1985-1986. Credit: Courtesy of Lynda Norman.

Women’s organizations have played key roles in the advancement of the nonprofit sector. It can be argued that women’s organizations, whether formal service groups or informal in structure, are an essential building block in expressing philanthropy. The Junior League of Winnipeg is one such organization. It was founded in 1928 to promote voluntarism, actively support the community, and demonstrate the effectiveness of trained volunteers.

Junior League’s support was critical to many Winnipeg and Manitoba organizations, providing essential finances and volunteers for various boards. Organizations assisted by the Junior League included the A&O Centre, Book Bridges, Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, Festival of Trees, Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Dalnavert Museum, Manitoba Arts Council, Manitoba Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, Museum of Man and Nature and Planetarium (now Manitoba Museum), Osborne House (now Willow Place), Volunteer Bureau (now Volunteer Manitoba), and many others.

The Junior League demonstrated creativity and innovation through children’s theatre and puppetry. Members performed plays at schools throughout Winnipeg and taught workshops on puppet making to other organizations.

The Junior League supported its projects through fundraising events and its Thrift Shop (later renamed the Thriftique). The store opened in 1930 on Portage Avenue, upstairs from the Colony Theatre. The store moved numerous times and was located on Sargent Avenue, Ellice Avenue, Portage Avenue, and Corydon Avenue, all in Winnipeg.

The Junior League of Winnipeg was dissolved in 2006. Members created a legacy fund at The Foundation to care for the future of the Winnipeg community, beyond their active voluntarism. In addition, their archive records are managed by Archives of Manitoba.

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