By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Sara Reeves
As Junior League of Little Rock embarks on nearly a century of community service, the organization continues to transform the lives of women and children – cultivating future leaders and advocating for the health and wellness of all Arkansans. Under the leadership of President Sabrina Lewellen, JLLR celebrates its accomplishments and looks forward to Holiday House – the annual shopping extravaganza that boasts more than 150 merchants from across the country and generates more than $400,000 annually to support the organization’s mission fulfillment work.
Sabrina recognizes the pivotal role Holiday House plays in the organizational capacity of JLLR. “Holiday House fuels our ability to continue as a good steward of community impact through our current community projects. It is our largest fundraiser of the year and a much anticipated signature event. Every component of Holiday House works to ensure our mission is executed on behalf of the various constituencies we serve. Holiday House has an inextricable synergy with everything we do and give.”
There are JLLR beacons throughout the Capital City – from the Arkansas Arts Center to Potluck Food Rescue and Nightingales at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. What began in 1914 as part of United Charities, today’s United Way, provided awareness for the necessity of basic medical services for all Arkansans. Six years later, this group of ambitious women established Junior League of Little Rock and its first community project – the Baby Welfare Station. The program evolved to meet the needs of the entire family as the Visiting Nurses Association – which continues today as CHI St. Vincent Health at Home under the direction of CHI St. Vincent Health System.
Junior League of Little Rock’s commitment to education and the welfare of children spans the decades as well. In an effort to promote organized volunteerism and support public education, Volunteers in Public Schools (ViPS) was established and is 45 years strong. Additionally, JLLR provides backpacks to more than 3,000 students in the Little Rock School District and hosts Boosters & Big Rigs – an annual family-friendly event that provides free dental, vision and wellness screenings to children.
The revenue from Holiday House supports these initiatives, many with an emphasis on school preparedness and wellness. “I cannot look at a backpack for a Stuff the Bus school student, a book for a child attending Little Readers Rock, a meal prepared for a caregiver attending Nightingales or a child attending KOTA camp and not think about or appreciate Holiday House.”
For Sabrina, service is simply in the fabric of her life. “My father and mother, a minister and educator respectively, required each of us to be servant leaders – investing our best selves into our life calling and our community,” she recalls. As deputy director and assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate, she is committed to the state of Arkansas and its citizens. At JLLR, she joins a membership of 1000+ women that continue a legacy of leadership. “We are in our 96th year of service. Everything you see and know about Junior League of Little Rock is due to the vision and incredible work of literally thousands of women who fearlessly say yes to community investment. Our members help create, define and transform Little Rock, Central Arkansas and our state. The contributions of these women have and will continue to make a difference for generations to come.”