1980s – Today
Greater awareness and action characterized our members in our community. Our comprehensive community needs assessment in the early 80’s motivated our membership to address the community’s most urgent needs, health and education. In 1987, the membership refined these areas and acutely addressed “Youth-at-Risk” and “Women-in-Crisis.” JLW volunteers studied the problem of homelessness and determined that children were homeless too. JLW collaborated with the National Child Day Care Association (a local Head Start grantee), the D.C Department of Human Services, the Community of Hope, and Consortium for Services to Homeless Families, Inc. to provide intensive on-site developmental day care services for up to 40 homeless children aged one to pre-kindergarten. The Department of Housing and Urban Development granted JLW $200,000 for a developmental day care for homeless children and their families. With that grant, we jointly founded Bright Beginnings, Inc. Bright Beginnings, Inc. a Head Start program continues as a vibrant placement today with over 30 volunteers and nearly 100 children enrolled in its programs. JLW also volunteered to reduce the teen pregnancy in the city and serve women and children with HIV and AIDS.
JLW stressed leadership, advocacy, training, coalition building and the diversification of the membership to ensure we continued to meet the changing needs of our community. In 1991, Bright Beginnings, Inc. opened its doors. JLW also founded the Community Training Committee. Its members provided life skills training to clients of various community organizations, and board and staff facilitation and training. Community Training continues to provide over 40 trainings or facilitations each year for various community partners. We continued to address the needs of all women in crisis and youth at risk through funding an organization dedicated to getting young prostitutes off the street, various battered women’s shelters and assistance to women transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing.
Also during the 1990s, JLW adopted its Vision Statement, Outreach Statement, and Special Needs Statement. Then, in April 1999, the membership approved a new, focus for JLW resources – Literacy– to begin in fiscal year 1999/2000.
To launch our focus on literacy JLW introduced Reading Central. Reading Central officially pulled out of the station on August 10, 2000, hosting JLW’s “Harry Potter Party” at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library. The event, done in partnership with the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) and the DCPL Foundation, was designated for youth between the ages of 8 and 12 and celebrated the joy of reading through the magic of the best-selling Harry Potter series of books. JLW continues to partner with the DCPL on SummerQuest and Letters about Literature.
Our members annually provide over 900 hours of tutoring through a variety of placements including College Bound and the Higher Achievement Program. Our focus on literacy is not limited to children. For instance our members lead book groups at Community Family Life Services and provide essential life skills training at Calvary Women’s Shelter.
And through our Books for Bright Futures program (now Resolution Read), a partnership JLW formed with First Book, as well as through other placements, JLW donated over 1000 books annually to the community.
Beginning in 2001, JLW provided volunteers to the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival. In 2005, JLW provided over 380 volunteers for this event.