Our History

• The Junior Welfare League of Sarasota (JWL) was organized in 1957 with more than 75 members.
• Started Library Shut-in Service, storytelling to preschoolers at Newtown Day Nursery and the public library.
• 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.
• Established Barely Blemished as a League fundraiser.
• 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 in 1962.
• The Volunteer Reading Aide program for Sarasota County Schools established.
• The Selby Library Children’s Room was created in 1968.

• The Junior Welfare League of Sarasota received official notification of acceptance into AJLI, and became the Junior League of Sarasota (JLS).
• The Traveling Suitcase Museum project was created to teach school children about local history. 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 Holiday Tour of Homes was held in 1977.

• 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.
• JLS received the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Golden Gavel Award for best overall community project for PALS- Partners and Alliances Linking Schools.
• 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. CO-ED (Community Outreach Emotionally Disturbed) received a gavel award for best new project in 1985.
• Three new projects were voted in 1987: Safe Homes, Teen Court and Toddler Town.
• JLS moved its headquarters to an office complex at its current location in central Sarasota.
• JLS members appeared on “Good Morning America” promoting Fare by the Sea cookbook.
• Received the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Golden Gavel Award for helping establish Teen Court program, which was recognized as best overall community project, in addition to the program receiving national and international recognition.


• The Discover Program, created to provide support for single mothers seeking financial independence through vocational training, was turned over to the Women’s Resource Center.

• Four continuing projects remained in the early 90s: Teen Court, Resurrection House, Newtown Library and the YMCA Youth Shelter.

• Added the Gulf Coast World of Science (GWIZ) as a League project.

• Established two new projects; the Back to School Fair (providing health screenings, and supplies for students in need) and Park Restoration.

• The 20th anniversary of membership in AJLI was celebrated in February 1996.

• JLS also received a commendation from Florida Governor Lawton Chiles for 40 years of community service.

• JLS established Sarasota County’s first wheelchair-accessible playground at Twin Lakes Park. Named the Dr. Robert E. Perkins Playground, the League received its third Golden Gavel Award in 1998 from the Sarasota-Herald Tribune for best overall community project in a three-county area.

• The League completes its fifth and final park restoration project at Venice By-Pass Park. Overall, this five-year initiative was responsible for over $500,000 in improvements to the Sarasota County Parks.

To learn more about the history of the Junior League of Sarasota: