|Pam Schanel, president of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, holds a gift item from last year’s Deck the Palms Holiday Market.|
In 1901, while studying sociology at Barnard College, 21-year-old Mary Harriman formed the Junior League, an 80-member volunteer group of affluent young women who wanted to help disadvantaged people in New York City. Today, the Junior League consists of nearly 300 chapters worldwide, with more than 155,000 young women volunteering their time and effort in their local communities.
More than 700 of those women are active in Palm Beach County as members of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches and the Junior League of Boca Raton. In the Palm Beach chapter, efforts include mentoring girls at the Children’s Home Society’s Nelle Smith Residence for Girls, distributing Thanksgiving food baskets to needy families and working with teens in the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Members also organize community events to raise funds for the nonprofits at which they volunteer. Two of the Palm Beach league’s biggest fundraisers are Deck the Palms Holiday Market—a November shopping extravaganza—and Worth Tasting on Worth Avenue, a food and wine event held at Palm Beach’s Via Amore courtyard in February. All profits raised at these events go directly to the programs the chapter supports, keeping local children’s well-being in mind at all times.
“Receiving a thank you or a hug from the girls we work with in the foster care system or juvenile justice system … makes all of our volunteer work worth it,” says Pam Schanel, president of the Palm Beach chapter.
The League’s Worth Tasting on Worth Avenue, its other major annual fundraiser, presents dozens of food and wine tastings in the Via Amore courtyard.