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Junior League of Parkersburg honors volunteers

PARKERSBURG — April is known across the country as volunteer recognition month and the Junior League of Parkersburg has provided volunteers for nearly 95 years to the community.

The league is celebrating its 95th birthday this year by recognizing volunteers.

Junior League volunteers in the 1920s established a milk fund to assist thousands of needy families as far back as the early 1920s. The first clinic for children with behavior problems evolved into what is now known as Westbrook Health Services.

Other child-related programs created and supported by the Junior League included a children’s theater program in the late 1920s, the Well Baby Clinic, the Girl Scout Troop for homebound girls, foster care programs, a Juvenile Detention Home Advisory Board, a Peer Pressure Reversal educational campaign, the Kids in the Kitchen nutrition project and the Boys and Girls Club weekend nutrition program and programs for the Wood County Child Care Center, said Jane Burdette, Junior League president.

“In an effort to support women who have been displaced, the Junior League developed a women’s halfway house, created the Silent Witness Program, introduced and supported a bill to the West Virginia legislature to amend the state constitution to permit women to serve on juries; advocated for the treatment of alcohol and drug offenders, worked instrumentally in establishing a detoxification center, and developed a project enhancing the lives of the older population of Parkersburg serving over seven hundred senior citizens,” Burdette said.

The Junior League opened the Junior League thrift shop, which later evolved into the ARC Thrift Shop. Changes in lifestyle resulted in the creation of a Whale of a Sale.

Literacy and reading awareness resulted in transcribing manuscripts into Braille, she said. The group also purchased books and helped to develop a new library program.

The Junior League established the first Fine Arts Center. It worked with the capital campaign program which resulted in the building of SW Resources that provides paid employment opportunities to mentally and physically handicapped individuals. They worked with Marie Boette, a local music scholar, to develop a book for the preservation of the musical heritage of West Virginia.

As a result of its work and involvement in foster care programs, the league was designated an Outstanding Organization of West Virginia. Tours of the historic Cook House, the league’s headquarters on Murdoch Avenue, resulted in educational programs for children in grade schools throughout Wood County enabling them to learn about the home and its importance.

Among the current major projects is the boundless playground at City Park in Parkersburg. The half-million-dollar project is expected to be completed this spring.

Another major undertaking by the Junior League is a two-year drug rehabilitation sober living program for women. The project is in the final development stage with approval pending from governmental agencies.

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