Historic Projects

The Junior League of Summit has had tremendous impact in the community over its eight decades of service. We have a long history of identifying needs in the community and finding ways to fulfill them.

Founded in 1929, some of our first initiatives involved projects supporting the local Red Cross and Overlook Hospital. Many of those same volunteer efforts continue today.

In 1934, the JLS opened The Junior League of Summit Thrift Shop, which is still a thriving business and is our main revenue source. (It is the oldest retail establishment in Summit.) The Shop provides affordable goods to shoppers on a budget. And at the same time, it offers community members a place to donate used household items and clothing.

In 1962, the JLS determined the need for a Summit First Aid squad and helped found the Summit Squad, which involved funding a new ambulance. By the mid-1960s, the JLS recognized the need for a school for the deaf to teach speech and helped found the Summit Speech School. This was the first school of its kind in New Jersey, and it continues to operate as a leader in its field.

By the turn of the century and millennium, the JLS began to raise awareness and education about domestic violence in the community. Members learned that due to state regulations, victims of domestic violence were given only 60 days of temporary housing, and then many women (and their children) were faced with the choice of either going back home to their abusers or becoming homeless. The JLS set into action, purchasing property in Summit and establishing Safe Home, transitional housing for women to have an opportunity to live in a safe place. The Safe Homes were furnished, an alarm system was installed, and women were given access to counseling, both emotional and career related. With the success of the program and the real estate market, the JLS was able to sell the first property and use the funds to invest in two separate properties, doubling the impact of the program.

Now as we look forward, the JLS is committed to healthy eating initiatives for families. In 2013, the JLS planned, created and planted a community garden at Jefferson Primary Center. We are thrilled it's not only yielding produce for families but also being used to educate children on plant cycles and healthy eating choices. The JLS will continue to partner with the school to bring science and nutrition to new levels over the coming year.

Perhaps most impressive about all of these projects, is that they were imagined, designed, and implemented by JLS members. “Be the change you want to see” – join the JLS and make a true difference in the community with like-minded women!