Started in 1937 by Lorine Jones Spoots and twelve young women known as the Junior Assistance Club, the group researched and established the Central Index Bureau, which was a clearinghouse for relief and social agencies of the city. This index later became the United Way.
The Junior Assistance Club patterned itself from the beginning on the lines of the Junior League and, for this reason, became a Junior League sooner than is customary. The local Junior League was accepted into the Association of Junior Leagues of America in 1944 becoming one of 296 participating leagues in the United States, Canada, Mexico and England.
Since 1944, the Junior League of Corpus Christi, Inc. has continued its commitment to the city over the years by investing countless hours of volunteer service and hundreds of thousands of dollars in numerous community programs.
- In the late 1930’s, Lorine Jones Spoots, who later became Mrs. Frank Lewis, started the Junior Assistance Club in the parlor of her home. After acceptance into the Association of Junior Leagues of America in 1944, meetings moved to the Crystal Room of the Nueces Hotel. The remainder of the decade included projects such as giving milk and graham crackers to undernourished children, sponsoring a Christmas clearinghouse for the needy, sponsoring art exhibits, establishing the Central Index Bureau and paid the salary of a Community Chest Director. Projects were financed by a Cruise Ball, monthly style shows and luncheons, the Gainesville Community Circus, Cabarets, Auctions, Rummage Sales, the Crystal Reflector, a magazine that contained local social and civic community news.
- As the Junior Assistance Club became the Junior League of Corpus Christi, Inc., the world went to war. League projects began to focus on the war with donations being made to the Ambulance Fund of Corpus Christi Disaster and Defense Council and to the Polio Isolation Ward, Hospital Camp, Recreation Council and the Red Cross to purchase Comfort Kits for servicemen. Ways and Means projects included maintaining a booth at Pan-American and a Cabaret.
- The second half of the decade saw the establishment of “Twixteen” Canteen for teenagers and the works of the Cultural Survey that ultimately established and supported the Council of Cultural Arts. The first literacy focused series called “Books Bring Adventure” was presented along with an Edwin Strawbridge dance-play. The 1947-1948 Ways and Means project hosted the first Rummage Sale by the Junior League of Corpus Christi.
In the 1950’s the Junior League of Corpus Christi focused primarily on culture and arts and saw huge success with the Marionette program that started in the 1949-1950 league year that continued until 1959. The marionette program grew throughout the community and even sent delegates to the Puppeteers of America Festival in Baton Rouge. Presentations grew to schools, hospitals, recreation centers and two television shows. The 1950’s also saw a new partnership with the American Cancer Society for a Cancer Dressing program and adopted an out-patient clinic to provide volunteers at Driscoll Foundation Children’s Hospital. League members also voted to start the Parent-Child Guidance Center at Driscoll Foundation Hospital with over $50,000 sponsored between 1955 and 1958 and also underwrote the interior construction of the PAGC Center. Rummage Sale became a consistent ways and means fundraiser throughout the decade in addition to the Gainesville Community Circus, Cruise Ball, monthly style shows and luncheons, Holiday House, Auctions and Cabarets.
Arts appreciation continued in the 1960’s with the addition of docent programs and more funding for Symphony Concerts, Centennial Museum and the Corpus Christi Museum. Continued out-patient clinic partnership with Driscoll Hospital and financed the annual Christmas party for patients. Financed the Parent-Child Guidance Center-produced film on the emotionally disturbed child – “Christina’s Doll” to the center’s study group. Began new partnerships with the Nueces County Council on Alcoholism by contributing to the director’s salary, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center and the Del Mar Student Loan Fund. Rummage Sale was the only ways and means fundraiser held in the 1960’s, although some years included an Open House the night before the sale.
A portion of the 1970 league year saw a hiatus due to Hurricane Celia but resumed on November 1. As times started to change, women started to work more, the league saw the beginning of evening meetings for professionals and provisional meetings. The majority of the decade saw the continuation of the Artmobile project, Art Museum project, Clairlane Center, Del Mar Student Loan, Arts Council and the puppet program. A new trend in the 1970’s was league representation on local boards such as the Arts Council, the Artmobile, Juvenile Court Services, Beautify Corpus Christi Association, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Creative Arts Center, Driscoll Foundation Children’s Hospital, Drug Abuse Council, just to name a few. During the 1975-1976 year, the Junior League received approval to restore the Sidbury and Lichtenstein homes as an official Bi-Centennial project. In 1979, the Junior League moved into its new headquarters: The Sidbury House. The Rummage Sale continued as the League’s ways and means fundraiser, but was joined by the addition of the cookbook Fiesta, Favorite Foods of South Texas, that profited over $10,000. Also, Bayfest ’76 was introduced which would see itself as a major fundraiser until 2009.
The 1980’s saw the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of JLCC’s admission to Association of Junior Leagues, International. Bayfest continued with each year boasting more funds raised. The Junior League of Corpus Christi also pledged to support the building of the Texas State Aquarium and paid the first installment of the pledge of $37,500 in the 1985-1986 League year and began research for more 3 and 5 year plans to impact the community. Also, through the Public Affairs Committee, Junior League became more politically.
The 1990’s celebrated 100 years of the Sidbury House with a community birthday party. JLCC also began the restoration process of the Blucher house after manyof Fundraising. KidsPlace was funded and installed and saw an expansion of the park by the end of the decade. Graffiti Wipeout was created along with Opportunity Knocks, a program that supported non-profits, organizations and schools with short-term immediate assistance. The Puppet Program and Bayfest continued during this time.
The 21st century saw the continuation of the annual Rummage Sale and Bayfest as well as new fundraisers Wild Wild West, Holiday Forest of Lights, Festival of Fairy Tales and Fairy Tale Ball. The much anticipated community SkatePark was installed and celebrated. Community programs continued to support other community organizations and included direct placement with Children’s Advocacy Center, Family Outreach, Habitat for Humanity and The Ark. The 2000’s also saw the creation of Kids in the Kitchen, a program created by the Association of Junior Leagues, International and incorporated by leagues across the country. Also new was Cinderella’s Closet, a program designed to give prom dresses to deserving female High School Seniors who may not otherwise have the means of getting a dress. The program enhanced to incorporate educational components for college readiness and other important life-skills.
Fairy Tale Ball was sunset in 2016 after 10 successful years. Run Amuck was introduced as the first mud run in Corpus Christi. JLCC’s PACT (Partners Assisting Communities Together) Committee revived the Christmas Tree Forest at the Art Museum of South Texas after a fifteen-year hiatus. The program ran as “Christmas Around the World” for years before revamping to “Christmas Tree Forest: A Reading Wonderland” now showcasing children’s literary. The latter half of the decade saw the continuation of Kids in the Kitchen and also the creation of Story Time, a program focused on literacy and creative arts with children in day cares and elementary schools. In a three year initiative from 2015-2018, all community programs take place in a targeted area known as “the triangle,” which is bordered by North Padre Island Drive, Interstate 37 and Crosstown Expressway. All programs encompass nutrition, cognitive skills, physical activity and/or literacy. In 2016, Cinderella’s Closet transitioned to community partner, Dress For Success, to allow High School Seniors the opportunity to be mentored on a year-round basis and into the workforce.
The year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly shook the world, and JLCC was no exception. However, JLCC has found new and innovative way to pull together stronger and still serve our community in unique ways, even if we lack the face-to-face connection temporarily. A change in membership has resulted in a streamlined and condensed event schedule. JLCC events still include some of our long-standing “flagship” programs such as our annual Rummage Sale to provide affordable household goods and clothing to our community and the Christmas Tree Forest, which is still focused on promoting childhood literacy and celebrating the holidays. JLCC also recognizes the benefits of S.T.E.M.-based learning on a the impact of a child’s future, and has developed a program entitled “Raising Our Children’s Knowledge by Educating Through Science”, or R.O.C.K.E.T.S., modeled after an established program hosted by many Junior Leagues across the country. Each year, events are programmed to enhance the cognitive skills of children in areas of science, technology, engineering and math while having fun! Although it was established in 2018, the newest Touch-A-Truck even has really been growing and gaining more momentum as a leading community event. This family-centric event offers children a hands-on opportunity to explore working trucks of all types, as well as meet the people who build, protect and serve the Corpus Christi and surrounding communities. Trucks on display include emergency response vehicles, construction trucks, farming equipment, military vehicles, and much more! Children of all ages are encouraged to explore the trucks with guidance from the respective operators who explain the equipment and discuss the work each performs.