On Thursday February 9, I, together with around twenty league members (pictured right), went to the Menlo Park neighborhood meeting at the home of Board Member-at-Large, Anne Vitullo. Anne was the consummate hostess: she set up a Valentine's Day themed spread. The favorite item was the miniature brownies that she had made herself. After a long day at work, everyone appreciated being able to kick back with some wine and snacks and hang out in a relaxed atmosphere of Anne's living room.
We went around the room and introduced ourselves. Many of the members hadn't met before, but the small group setting allowed us to make connections quickly. We discussed our highlights and challenges of our past League year. One thing struck me: we are some busy women. One of the most common concerns was finding time to participate in League activities. One women talked about having to travel for work frequently, another about having to entertain a key client at the Home Tour and then turn around and do a volunteer shift the same day, another about building their own start-up company, several about new jobs and new marriages. Everyone agreed that you get more out of the League when you put more in, but sometimes life happens, and that isn't possible for awhile.
We were all humbled and inspired when Anne shared her own story of being diagnosed with breast cancer, and having to put her League presidency on hold. She is cancer-free and looks radiantly healthy but she said that volunteering helped take her mind off of things during some of her year of treatments. In closing the meeting, League Administrative VP Marfrisa Gipner told us that it was ok if we weren't going above and beyond, because the Junior League is a volunteer organization, so anything we do is above and beyond. I liked that a lot. We need different things from the League at different times: a social outlet after a long day at work, a distraction during tough times, a place to meet friends in a new town, a chance to develop new skills and leadership experience. You give what you can, and take what you need.