1948 - 1988
During the first forty years, the Junior Welfare League was involved in a wide variety of community services as volunteers within agencies, but also as initiators of programs when needs were identified. One of the earliest projects was the opening of a day nursery in 1949 following the Junior Welfare League's first successful fund-raiser, a follies. The Day Nursery was operated and funded by the League until 1965, and the property has since become the Mumford G. Fuller Center for preschoolers funded by the Mental Retardation Board. Funds for the annual operation of the Day Nursery were secured by The League's canteen at the McLeod Infirmary.
In 1968, the canteen at McLeod was closed but League members were soon in business again, opening a canteen and gift shop at Florence General Hospital in 1972. However, the canteen was only one of the League's many fund-raising projects, with Follies productions in 1951, 1954, 1960, 1968, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1993, and 1998. In addition, the Junior League has published three cookbooks—The Mixing Bowl (published in 1950); One Hundred Years of Cooking (published in 1970); Stir Crazy (published in 1986).
A series of Easter Parades, White Elephant Sales, and Youth Concerts provided additional funds and enabled League members to launch several other long-term projects. In 1954, the League assumed full responsibility for a Speech School (which was begun by members in 1952). This has since become the Pee Dee Speech and Hearing Center, fully operational on its own and serving a large group of patients. Another project which had long-term success was a dental clinic for indigent children that the League sponsored in 1964. League members lobbied for needed support and provided start-up funds. This clinic is now an ongoing service of the Public Health Department.
The Junior League has always supported cultural development and has contributed many hours of volunteer service to the museum, performing arts groups, and the symphony, including the annual Arts Alive Festival. In 1986, the League developed a service for the public schools known as Artist-In-Education. This was totally funded by the League for two years at a cost of $25,000 and also involved a large number of volunteer hours. In addition to this program, members worked very diligently to insure the passage of a millage increase and helped to cut the School District's costs by providing Substitutes Without Pay.
The oldest continuous League's volunteer service is the Marionettes Committee. Since the early 1950s, our volunteers have produced, created and introduced Florence's kindergarten children to an enlightening performance of this classic form of art.
In 1986 the League developed a drug prevention program for 7th graders. League members offered classes to the public schools for several years and then the classes were continued by Circle Park.
Our 1988 project was a shelter for abused women and their families. Florence did not have a shelter and the League donated $50,000 towards the purchase of a suitable structure and provided volunteers in a variety of areas of the shelter's operation.