Juniorettes taking West Hudson by storm

Last week, we brought you the story about how the Arlington Juniorettes were spearheading a project to collect feminine products for young women who are unable to afford them and who are thus often forced to miss many days of school during the year.

Their work is tremendous — but we thought, how much does the public know about what the Juniorettes do during the course of the year? So we decide to highlight what they do, thanks to their fearless leader Brandi-Leigh Miller. And it’s our hope that perhaps there are more civic- and volunteer-minded girls out there who would consider joining the club.

Miller gave us an education about what the Juniorettes are all about.

“The Juniorettes were originally chartered in Kearny in the 1960s under the Woman’s Club of Arlington and have been through several incarnations, being both formally and informally organized over the years since then,” Miller said. “In late 2016, a particularly active group of student volunteers, all daughters of members, approached our club leadership with the idea of starting an affiliate club to encourage their peers to volunteer outside of their schools, sports, scouting, etc. With this idea in mind, in 2017 the Junior Woman’s Club of Arlington voted to sponsor this new service organization for young women ages 12 to 18, and the Arlington Juniorettes and were officially re-chartered by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.”

In that timeframe, Miller has been very active with the girls.

“All GFWC affiliated clubs around the work do work relevant to their own community needs through volunteer service in the arts, education, conservation, international outreach, public issues, home life and so much more,” Miller said. “We all know that many hands make light work, no matter the size of the hands doing the work.”

Miller says that during that charter year, which was her final year as Junior Woman’s Club of Arlington’s president, one of the members volunteered to serve as adviser and got the club organized and on track planning projects and programs.

“Active recruitment began and Juniorettes held a “Read Across America” event which provided free books to take home and a morning of story time and related crafts, a Zumba class, participation in the town and Passaic River river cleanups, two school supply drives, and a ‘S’mac Down’ macaroni and cheese contest for kids among other projects,” Miller said. “Since then, Juniorettes continue to help with JWCA service projects like the turkey drive, toy drive, chili cook-off, ‘Read for the Record’ and Christmas in July, but their independent projects have grown and they have become more aware of the specific needs in our community, such as the FlowInitiative.”

Miller says their schedule for this year includes a demonstration by a seeing-eye dog in training and her sponsor family, workshops on leadership and financial literacy, an LGBTQ Anti-Bullying program from Garden State Equality, basic car maintenance, as well as programs focused on veterans, the elderly, conservation, autism awareness and the arts.

Pretty impressive, innit?

Meanwhile, Juniorettes are residents of Kearny, Harrison, East Newark, North Arlington and the surrounding communities and they attend public, charter, private, parochial and technology schools. Some of the girls are members of other school clubs and service organizations with a wide variety of focus, but they all come together on the issue of the importance of service in their own community where they see the need face to face and can meet it.

Miller says she transitioned into the role of Juniorettes adviser in 2018 with the hope of bringing additional leadership and life skills-focused programs to their attention, seeking out opportunities for the members to draft letters, meet with other community leaders to plan their events and programs, and to practice public speaking.

“I have leaned on those in my professional and personal networks to seek out opportunities for mentorship and informal internship opportunities for some of the girls who have specialized interests such as filmmaking and technical theater arts, with more in the works as ideas are sparked,” Miller said. “With the support of the JWCA and parent volunteers, our goal is to provide an opportunity for every girl to have a leadership opportunity that is appropriate and comfortable for her own individual needs.

“Membership also provides opportunities to meet new friends, develop leadership skills and social awareness, work in groups and address conflict, fulfill community-service requirements for CCD, honor societies, all of which enhances college applications — all while having fun.”

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.