JACKSON, Mich. — After 92 years, the Jackson Junior Welfare League will be no more. The organization, which has helped women in Jackson discover their voices as leaders, has decided to dissolve and transfer their assets to a donor advised fund held by the Jackson Community Foundation.
Immediate past President Kelly Kofflin said this was a tough decision.
“What we’ve found is that really, just the community has grown and changed so much,” she said. “Also, the needs of our local women have changed over that time. Many are involved in other non-profits and other volunteer opportunities.”
On April 15, 1930, 24 women held a luncheon at the Jackson City Club to discuss the possibility of starting a new organization whose primary purpose would be to help those less fortunate.
Kofflin says it is hard to pinpoint key impacts the welfare league has done for the community with a long history of projects that have helped Jackson.
Some of their early projects included a milk fund distributed to the Children’s Clinic at the former Foote Hospital (now known as Henry Ford Allegiance), bond drives and sewing for the Red Cross during World War II, to other things.
“Also, just really contributed to many of the most beloved resources in Jackson. Everything from Ella Sharp Museum, the trails at the Dahlem Center, Community Music School with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, just so many things that the Junior Welfare League has supported through their fundraising efforts and to their leadership,” she said.
But the spirit of the Jackson Junior Welfare League will remain.
Officials established the Jackson Junior Welfare League Women’s Empowerment Fund to continue philanthropic goals through grant-making. They say it will also serve as a means for the greater community to contribute to and honor the women in their life.
Jackson Community Foundation President and CEO Monica Moser said this fund will allow the Welfare League to be memorialized in history and it will empower women in the community in the future.
“In this way they’ll be using their dollars that will hopefully grow and then be able to do something year after year and in perpetuity," Moser said. “I think the thing the story we would want to tell is that they found a way to keep their mission alive but by doing it a little bit differently.”
Groups who are interested in accessing those grants should contact the Community Foundation directly but it is still in the process of being completely ironed out.
Kofflin says even though it is dissolving, the Jackson Community Foundation will continue its legacy.
“We’ll be able to continue supporting the community and it gives a place for the community to invest in our local women,” she said.
Now as the organization ends its final chapter Kofflin says she understands.
“It’s such a bittersweet thing because I’m so proud of all of the work that was done,” she said. “I’m proud of the time that I was fortunate to spend in the organization and the friends I’ve made but also, I see it as a reflection of things changing. Nonprofits are not built to exist forever. They’re meant to serve a mission and then once that mission is met, move forward. In so many ways the mission has been met of the Jackson Junior Welfare League and this is really the right next step for the organization.”
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