Junior Membership and the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund

Written by: Cecile Wimberley, National Chair, Junior Membership Committee
February 3, 2015

Junior Membership has come a long way since our beginning in 1937, when the primary goal was to establish a well-informed Junior Membership that remained active throughout all phases of their DAR affiliation. While this remains important, the way in which it is accomplished has evolved with the times.  For many young women, the only connection they have to the DAR is through the references they see in pop culture, from the TV show "Gilmore Girls" to the very popular book and movie "The Help.” Unfortunately these women have not been exposed to the women of Today's DAR.  As Today's Juniors we must educate our peers about the amazing opportunities that await us within DAR, and we need the help of all of our members to encourage new Junior membership growth in our communities.   We must provide opportunities for our Juniors to serve and allow them to select projects that are meaningful to them in order for us to continue to grow our membership under the age of 36.  

Those early Juniors were committed to providing just a few small scholarships from the fund they named in honor of their first chair's daughter, Miss Helen Pouch.   This fund allowed the Juniors to have a special project that they would creatively work toward and use to help promote DAR and Junior Membership in their communities.  Since its inception, the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund (HPMF) projects have evolved to reflect the changing times.   In the last few years our fundraising for the HPMF has grown by leaps and bounds with the proceeds from our Junior Sales Shoppes and from generous donations from daughters.  Owing to the outstanding success that Juniors have achieved to date, we are ready for the next evolution of our wonderful HPMF.   Starting this year, in addition to raising money for the six DAR approved schools, we will also be able to raise money for a select project with national scope that falls under our DAR mission of Education, Historic Preservation or Patriotism.   This project will be selected annually by the national Junior Membership Committee and approved by the National Executive Committee.  Once we raise enough funds to benefit our schools at the historic giving levels, we can support the national project.  For example if this ruling had been in effect when the library lay lights were being restored, the National Junior Membership Committee could have selected that as our national project and raised money via the HPMF to restore a panel.   Examples of possible proposals for the future could include projects at our two DAR Indian Schools, funding for Susan G. Komen, Wreaths Across America, First Book, etc. or a project at our national headquarters.  Juniors are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to provide funding for our DAR schools as well as fund a project selected by the Junior Membership Committee that all Juniors and DAR members can be passionate about. 

The 2015 Project was selected based on project proposals submitted by state Junior Chairs and vetted by our outstanding team of National Division Vice Chairs.    The project that we have selected is Kids in Support of Soldiers (K.I.S.S.).   A Florida based non-profit, K.I.S.S. was started by children to honor military in every branch of service and from all across the country.  Anyone can add a soldier to the mailing list by contacting the organization via the website.  Once a solider has been added to the list, the children contact the solider to see what items they would like to receive and then the packages are personalized monthly for that service member for the duration of their deployment.  Even though the packages are addressed to one individual soldier, often packages are shared among the fellow unit members.   The National Junior Membership Committee believes that this is a worthy project for us to select this first year and hope that all daughters will embrace the ideas and goals of this endeavor.  We want every state to contribute to the process each year, so we are asking every state to propose projects that Juniors in your area feel passionate about.  This fall we will be accepting proposals for the 2016 National Project, so please contact your state chair if you have a project that would have national appeal and fall under our mission of Education, Historic Preservation or Patriotism.   

Juniors can only support K.I.S.S. if we meet our historic fundraising goals for the six DAR approved schools, and we need your help.  At your next state event, shop at your state Junior Sales Shoppe. I promise you will find something there you will want.   While we continue to provide patriotic jewelry that often can't be found anywhere else, we also have expanded our national product lines.  We have added the Patience Junior Membership Logo Tervis Tumbler to the National sales form so that even more daughters can have access to this great product, and we have added a line of aluminum water bottles.   Liberty Bottleworks produces our Patience logo water bottle and our 1776 gunmetal grey water bottle.  This company is based in Washington State and is the largest producer of recycled aluminum water bottles made in the United States.  When you purchase a bottle from us, not only are you contributing to the HPMF, you are conserving natural resources and supporting a company that activity seeks to hire veterans.  This last year we expanded our National Committee to help us address our needs as we grow and are committed to providing states and chapters with updated brochures that show our ever changing merchandise.  The current version can be found on the Junior Membership Committee Sales page along with order forms.  

We are committed to encouraging communication within all levels of the committee and providing as many resources as possible to the chapters and states.  In September 2014 we released our first National Junior Membership Newsletter for the states.  This new endeavor is our way of increasing communication between the national committee and Juniors nationwide.   Our last two editions have featured stories on projects from the states as well as information on our Congress activities and the work we are doing for the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund.  Our next edition will place emphasis on the work we are doing at our six DAR schools and have examples of ways Juniors can be more involved.   This is an all electronic publication and chapters can request copies from their state chairs. We also have created a new template Junior brochure that chapters or state societies can modify to help increase Junior Membership awareness.  It would be a great recruitment tool to place in Junior friendly locations like the children's section of a local library.  

Remember, Junior members are the future of the NSDAR and your chapter and state societies.  We must cultivate and retain these women in order for the DAR to be a successful organization for the next 125 years.  The national committee is here to help you do just that.

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Historic Preservation,
Education, Patriotism

Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.