History of the Junior League of Kingston
The Junior League of Kingston was founded by ten young women in April 1922. The Junior League was an opportunity for them to become active and constructive participants in their community, to be informed citizens, and to assume responsible leadership in meeting the problems of the community. The purpose of the League is exclusively educational and charitable; namely, to promote voluntarism and improve the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Although, the nature and scope of the Kingston league has changed over the years, the purpose has remained steadfast.
The Junior League of Kingston is part of the Association of Junior Leagues International, an international organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities. The first Junior League was founded in 1901 by Mary Harriman in New York City, where Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the early members.
During the beginning years, the Junior League of Kingston’s projects focused on health and welfare issues. Some projects included a well-baby clinic; sewing for the Children’s Home; children’s entertainment, a prenatal clinic; a little mother’s club; and the distribution of books and magazines in hospitals.
In the 1940’s, the League continued to keep in step with the needs of the community. A loan closet, which later became the Happy Apple Thrift Shop, was established to supply the community with crutches, wheel chairs, and hospital beds. Children’s plays continued to be an important activity of the League. The League supported Kingston’s tercentenary by dancing in the pageant and serving as guides at the art exhibition.
The decade of the 1950’s saw the League take a more active role in the community. The League began a fund-raising project called the Junior League Exchange. The Senate House Committee was formed and the Well-House on the Senate House grounds was restored with League funds. The Children’s Room in the Kingston Library was planned and implemented and the children’s theater activities were reactivated. The Junior League of Kingston adopted it own seal in commemoration of its 35th anniversary.
The 1960’s saw the League take a different direction. Members initiated the survey phase of its Historic Preservation Program by canvassing and recording all buildings, residential and commercial, constructed prior to 1850 in Ulster County. After four years of research, the results of this project were cataloged and forwarded to the Library of Congress. The League continued their community voluntarism and also launched a local Trick-or-Treat program.
The League, in the 1970’s, began to emerge as an organization working in concert with other area agencies cooperating together to meet larger community needs. This decade brought about the beginning of the Homemaker’s Service now known as Always There, which was formed to meet the temporary needs of area residents. In 1974, the League used the findings of their previous historical survey to publish the book Early Architecture in Ulster County. They created educational slide programs including “Kingston, From Stockade to Statehood,” and “In Pursuit of Liberty, the American Revolution in the Hudson Valley.” The League started a library at the Ulster County Jail. The League donated books, supplies and furnishings for the project, and League members staffed the library. Also, the League launched the Children’s Enrichment Program designed for preschool children and their mothers to help them understand child development. It was for this program that the Junior League of Kingston was recognized by the New York State Division For Youth with the “Creative Committee Award.” As a provisional project in 1976, the Junior League published a cookbook as a fundraiser. The cookbook was available for purchase by members, their families, and other community members.
The 1980’s was a decade of reorganization and redirection for the League. Changes took place in committee structures and bylaws while the League continued to be involved in community projects and volunteer work. The League oversaw the progress of the Children’s Annex playground completing it in 1987. The “At Home Alone” Program was launched by the League with help from community organizations and was later combined with the “Supper-Sitters” project under the title of “Safe Kids Program.” The League continued to work on community programs such as the Vial of Life, and CASA and also participated in a new program, the After-Prom Party, co-sponsored by various community agencies. In order to fund these community projects, the Junior League held auctions throughout the county at places like the Wiltwyck Golf Club. League members would secure donations from area businesses and hold auctions as a means to interact with the community they served as well as raise funds for their numerous projects, including CASA, which was funded from these auctions.
The 1990’s continued to see the League living up to the purpose set seventy years earlier. The League began a huge fund-raising effort with the hopes of purchasing and building a Robert Leathers playground. With a site selected, members organized, planned and finally built the playground in 1991, which was named Kingston Kinderland. The League also continued funding and work on the Family Shelter, as well as co-sponsorship of the After-Prom Party. The League embarked on more projects at the Kingston Area Library. The members renovated the Children’s Room, re-carpeting and painting, and started “Super Saturdays,” a monthly program for kids that continues to this day. The League also began a children’s museum called the Children’s Explorium. The membership became involved in the Fare Share Soup Kitchen and the Boys and Girls Club Community Garden project. In 1995 the League took part in “Make a Difference Day” by baking and delivering pies to Angel Food East, a non-profit organization that provides meals for HIV and AIDS patients and their efforts were recognized by USA Today/Weekend. Throughout the 1990’s the membership raised public awareness about the Junior League’s purpose and commitment by participating in various community events like the Children’s Day Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Volunteer /Placement Fair and Volunteer of the Year Awards. As the decade came to a close, the Junior League hosted Home for the Holidays as its major fundraising effort. The event was hosted at the Wiltwyck Golf Club and included a silent auction, holiday boutiques, live music and hors d’oeuvres. The event was used to fund a portion of the Habitat for Humanity Home for the Millennium and was a precursor of the Holly Berry Trail.
A new century brought a new focus to the League centered on the health and wellness of children and their families. In the 2000’s the League began Kids Run Wild, a free day of activities along with health and fitness education, and the Summer Fitness Challenge, a program that encourages children to be physically active at least five days a week during the Summer months. The League also partnered with the Ulster County Habitat for Humanity, and over a period of two years the League worked to raise nearly $45,000 in funds and services to build a local family a Home for the Millennium. The League launched the Holly Berry Trail, a holiday tour of homes, which is now its main fundraiser and set its sights on improving the buildings and grounds at the Forsyth Nature Center. Recognizing the Center as an invaluable community resource, the League took it on as its Signature Project. League members have planned and completed numerous projects at Forsyth Nature Center including a greenhouse, a gazebo, a tortoise house, demonstration pens and compost bins. Other projects included the YWCA parenting room, Blizzard Boxes, the Kingston Lighthouse Project, the renovation of the library and media center at the Children’s Home of Kingston and volunteer support at annual events such as the Bike for Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Walk.
Presidents of the Junior League of Kingston, New York, Inc.
1922-24 Mrs. Charles A. Warren
1924-25 Mrs. Robert E. Rodie
1925-26 Mrs. Robert E. Rodie, Mrs. Jay LeFevre
1926-27 Mrs. Jay LeFevre
1927-28 Mrs. W. Anderson Carl
1928-30 Mrs. Henry F. Dunbar
1930-31 Mrs. Newton Fassenden
1931-32 Miss Florence Cordts*
1932-33 Mrs. G.V.D. Hutton
1933-34 Mrs. William H. Merrill
1934-36 Mrs. Leon E. Chambers
1936-37 Mrs. Charles Arnold
1937-39 Mrs. Sanger Carleton
1939-40 Mrs. Robert Herzog
1940-42 Mrs. John G.M. Hilton
1942-43 Mrs. John B. Krom, Mrs. N. LeVan Haver*
1943-44 Mrs. George S. Robinson, Mrs. Edward Shea
1944-45 Mrs. Edward Shea
1945-47 Mrs. Kenneth Davenport
1947-49 Mrs. Mortimer B. Downer
1949-50 Mrs. William H. Hilton
1950-52 Mrs. Edward V. deGroff, Jr.
1952-54 Mrs. Sherwood E. Davis*
1954-56 Mrs. Raymond W. Garraghan*
1956-57 Mrs. Herbert L. Schultz, Mrs. James Norton
1957-58 Mrs. James Norton
1958-60 Mrs. Peter D. Corsones
1960-62 Mrs. Robert A. MacKinnon
1962-63 Mrs. Clifford Beal, Mrs. Frank B. Mathews*
1963-64 Mrs. Frank B. Mathews*
1964-66 Mrs. G. Robert Numrich, Jr.
1966-68 Mrs. Margaret Beck
1968-69 Mrs. James C. Embree
1969-70 Mrs. Robert C. Rolfe
1970-71 Mrs. Frank H. Reis (Kay)*, Mrs. Avery L. Smith (Sandra)
1971-72 Mrs. Bernard A. Feeney, Jr.
1972-73 Mrs. Robert S. Diamond
1973-74 Mrs. Othman Abu-Gheida
1974-75 Mrs. Neil Whitehurst
1975-76 Mrs. John F. Crews
1976-77 Mrs. Anita W. Peck
1977-78 Mrs. William Davenport
1978-79 Mrs. Paul H. Johnson
1979-80 Mrs. John F. Hoey*
1980-81 Mrs. Joseph J. Traficanti, Jr.
1981-82 Mrs. Richard L. Huber, Jr.
1982-84 Mrs. David Dittman
1984-85 Mrs. Frank Finnegan
1985-87 Mrs. Joseph Mannello
1987-88 Mrs. Abel Garraghan
1988-89 Mrs. Sanford O. Whitman
1989-90 Mrs. Dennis Robinson
1990-91 Mrs. Kenneth Brett
1991-92 Mrs. Clark (Anne Larkin) Ede, Jr.
1992-93 Mrs. Vincent J. Andretta, III
1993-94 Mrs. Christopher Cahill
1994-95 Mrs. William (Deb) Null
1995-96 Mrs. William (Beth) Weishaupt
1996-98 Mrs. William (Barbara) Ryan, Jr.
1998-99 Mrs. James (Joan) Quigley, III
1999-00 Mrs. Michael (Kathy) Germain
2000-02 Mrs. Carl (Kathie) Janasiewicz
2002-04 Mrs. Stephen (Hope) Corts
2004-05 Mrs. Bryan (Kim) Bradley
2005-07 Mrs. Deborah Crump
2007-09 Dr. Beth Alden
2009-11 Mrs. Christine Hein
2011-13 Ms. Judith (Jude) McGrath
2014-15 Mrs. Anna Brett
2015-2016 Ms. Beth Hanigan
2016-2017- Ms. Kristy Nissen
2017-2018- Ms. Kristy Nissen