In 1957, the Junior Welfare League of Sarasota (JWL) was organized with more than 75 Active and Sustaining members. The first Membership Handbook was printed and the Sand Script newsletter was initiated. The Library Shut-in Service, storytelling to preschoolers at Newtown Day Nursery and the public library were all community projects. The League participated in starting an Educational Television Council. The Invitational Ball was established, of which the proceeds were the beginning of the Community Trust Fund.
The annual puppet show began trouping to elementary schools throughout the county. The first Barely Blemished rummage sale was held as a fundraising activity (1960-61). The first cookbook, Let’s Cook with Sarasota’s Celebrities, was published. A childcare program for working mothers, the Sarasota Day Nursery (now Children First) was developed by the Junior League. Doors opened in April 1962. Over the years, the League has contributed $73,810 and thousands of volunteer hours to this program. The Volunteer Reading Aide program for Sarasota County Schools was adopted and later turned over to the community with great success. The Selby Library Children’s Room was created in 1968.
The Community Clothes project was initiated in 1970 and turned over to a community board in 1972. In 1971-72, a rejuvenated Barely Blemished Sale became the JWL’s biggest money maker. Preliminary application forms for membership in the Association of Junior Leagues (now AJLI), were submitted in March, 1973. In preparation for admission to AJLI, the Board of Directors was consolidated; admissions’ requirements, policies, and procedures were simplified; regular elections were set for the month of February; and many committees were reorganized. On February 24, 1976, the Junior Welfare League of Sarasota received official notification of acceptance into AJLI, and became the Junior League of Sarasota (JLS). Four delegates from JLS attended our first AJLI annual conference in 1976. The Traveling Suitcase Museum project was created in 1971 to teach school children about local history. In 1977, it was renamed the Pioneer Program, after the Pioneer Jubilee bicentennial celebration was held in 1976. These historical programs laid the groundwork for the future development of Historic Spanish Point in Osprey. The State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) was established in 1976-77. The first evening general membership meeting was held in January, 1977, to accommodate the increasing number of members with full-time employment. The first Holiday Tour of Homes was held in 1977. Leagattos, JLS’s goodwill choir, was established in 1978. In 1979, The Holiday Tour of Homes raised $15,000 and Barely Blemished raised $12,000.
A one-room office with a part-time secretary became league headquarters in 1980. JLS formed a community board for the community coalition of families in 1981. The 25th anniversary of the Junior Welfare League was celebrated in 1982. Also that year, JLS received the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Golden Gavel Award for best overall community project for PALS- Partners and Alliances Linking Schools. PALS is a county-wide program created to recruit, train, and recognize volunteers for public schools. It was turned over as a function of the Sarasota County School Board in 1983. The JLS headquarters moved to an expanded facility in 1983. The Fare by the Sea cookbook debuted in the fall of 1983. Plans for a museum complex at Spanish Point were unveiled in April, 1984. A JLS Training Team was established in 1984. CO-ED (Community Outreach Emotionally Disturbed) received a gavel award for best new project in 1985. Also in 1985, two focus areas with three-year cycles, were identified: Historic Preservation and Children’s Issues. In 1986 a council system structure was implemented. Two Sustainers attended the first Sustainer Conference sponsored by AJLI in 1986. The AJLI Diversity Support Team visited in 1986, addressed our membership, and met with selected committees and the Board. Three new projects were voted in 1987: Safe Homes, Teen Court and Toddler Town. The first Annual Report Edition of the Junior League of Sarasota was printed in the May, 1987, of Sand Script. In 1986, the JLS office was temporarily moved until the League purchased its present condominium office at 3300 South Tamiami Trail and hired a full-time office manager in 1987. JLS members appeared on “Good Morning America” in November, 1987, promoting Fare by the Sea. In 1989-90 the League’s financial and membership information was entered onto a computer to begin recording historical data. Teen Court, a program of peer review for youthful offenders, receives the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Golden Gavel Award for best overall community project, in addition to national and international recognition. In 1989-90, the Holiday Tour raised $57,300 and Barely Blemished raised $26,000.