The Junior Service League of Hendersonville Serves Local Charities.

by | Feb 2024

THE JUNIOR Service League (JSL) is proud to be one of many organizations that serve the Hendersonville community. While the league is only eight years old, its contribution to charities in Sumner County tallies up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In 2015, a group of ladies formed a service organization for women in the Hendersonville community. They wanted to “fill a hole in philanthropy,” said founding member and three-time president Katie Venable. For her, the league offered a way to give back.

“Hendersonville raised me and gave me such a wonderful and meaningful childhood and into adulthood, and it’s the least I could do to give back. I’m able to do that through JSL,” Venable explained.

The Junior Service League of Hendersonville puts on one annual main event: the Mr. Sumner County Pageant, which is supported by fundraisers. Each year, members of JSL choose a local charity to benefit from the proceeds. 

In their first year, the pageant raised $30,000, while its latest raised $82,000 for the American Legion Robert Kreider’s Veterans Residence. The charities are carefully selected as JSL looks at how donations would improve the charity’s work and affect the community.

“We go out into the community, and we hunt for needs. Members bring nominations for beneficiaries, and then the membership votes on which beneficiary they would like to sponsor for the year.”

A lot goes into hosting a pageant. Planning usually starts in February. The event itself won’t take place until late summer or early fall.

“We enjoy putting it on, but it makes it worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears knowing that it’s going toward a beneficiary we all have loved and believe in.”

Other beneficiaries of the Mr. Sumner County Pageant include the Edison School, the Humane Society of Sumner County, Mary’s Magical Place, Homebound Meals of Hendersonville, Grace Place Ministry, Community Child Care Services Inc., The Salvus Center, and Parker Strong for Suicide Prevention.

During the rest of the year, JSL members participate in smaller events. The organization may purchase tables at nonprofit events, collect items for charities, or pay for girls to go to prom. 

JSL’s mission statement is “to provide help, whenever possible, to those in need within our community; to promote friendships both within and outside of our circle; and to sustain a positive and healthy environment in which we grow together through serving others.”

“We are making waves along the way,” Venable said.

The founders of the Junior Service League wanted to give women an outlet to contribute to the community. Since there wasn’t a local option, they made their own.

“We [didn’t] want to be tied to a national organization. We just really wanted to find something that worked for us and allowed us to socialize and have fun but at the same time better our community.”

The organization’s membership has grown steadily, and the league is always looking to recruit more. Members can join at any time. Every year, in January, the group puts on a showcase for potential recruits. Women of all backgrounds are welcome to become part of the JSL, and the league is working to become more visible in the community.

“If you have a heart for our community as we do, and if you have the itch to give back in any capacity, we would love to have you join us as a member. We have just such a good variety of women of all ages that get together once a month to plan and strategize how to make Hendersonville a better place — even though it’s already pretty awesome,” gushed Venable. GN

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