In 2013, RED Capital Group Director Alison Lemle was on the hunt for a way to get involved in the community while also getting to know other women in the area. Enter the Junior League, an organization Alison had heard about before, but one she had a misconception about: It actually wasn’t as competitive to get involved as she once thought.
Though there are nearly 300 leagues spread across four countries, the mission of each is the same: an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and developing the potential of women from all walks of life. Just think of it as a volunteer powerhouse, a nickname the organization has earned after its members—including notables like Eleanor Roosevelt and Sandra Day O’Connor—have been at the forefront of social reform since its founding in 1901.
Over the years, the Junior League of Columbus has been involved in a host of community projects throughout central Ohio. For starters, there’s the Kelton House Museum and Garden, a documented stop on the Underground Railroad. The Junior League of Columbus runs the historic site and holds educational programs and Underground Railroad tours, telling the story of the tumultuous time period from a local perspective.
Come October, families will be flocking to another one of the Junior League of Columbus’ longest running projects: Bargain Box, the city’s oldest rummage sale where everything except televisions, computers, mattresses and bathing suits can be found.
While Alison has been involved in a variety of these volunteer programs, one in particular stands out—the Adopt a Backpack for Children (ABC) program. Each year, the organization raises money for backpacks that will be given to children before the school year begins. In May, the backpacks are stuffed with school supplies, and at the end of the summer, Junior League members drop them off at the school where they’ll usually see the children who are receiving the bags.
“It’s one of those things you get to see from start to finish,” Alison says. “It’s nice to be able to see the impact of something you’ve worked on throughout the entire year.”
Though helping others is a driving force for Junior League members, the personal development women gain from being involved can’t be overlooked. Take Alison’s experience with the organization’s Holiday Tour of Homes, a fundraising tour which takes community members to homes elaborately decorated for the holidays. When she first began in the Junior League, Alison was part of the fund development group for the project. Her first year on the job was the fundraiser’s lowest performing year. “That was just something that didn’t sit well with me,” Alison says.
After that, Alison stuck with the project for the next three years in an effort to improve the fundraiser’s results. “I liked it because it was something very outside of what I do professionally,” Alison says. “I don’t do fundraising, so it was a nice opportunity for me to learn a different skill set that I hadn’t had the opportunity to use before.”
If you ask the president of the Junior League of Columbus, Amy Deverson Roberts, about Alison, she’ll immediately relay her hard work and dedication. “Alison is a go-getter,” Amy says. “She helps develop the full potential of our opportunities.”
That determined attitude has been evident throughout Alison’s 10 years with RED, and she stays busy outside of work and Junior League too: With two sons—Andy, age 5, and Colin, age 3—Alison and her husband, Nathan, are also expecting their third son in April. When they’re not keeping up with their brood, you might find the two rooting for the Cleveland Browns or Ohio State.
For anyone interested in the Junior League, Alison is open to introducing her fellow employees to the organization. The Junior League is always looking for help: Volunteers can participate in activities like stuffing backpacks, guiding tours of the Kelton House or unloading donations for Bargain Box.
“If I have the opportunity to positively impact somebody else or make the community better, it’s almost a necessity that I do it,” Alison says.