I don't know how many of you have read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, but you definitely should. I picked it up in hardback and I NEVER do that any more - I'm completely addicted to reading books and magazines electronically - then I read straight through with only a few breaks. The movie based on the book is coming out tonight and I can't wait to see it, too, but I worry a little about backlash because of the way the Junior League is portrayed in the book (and, presumably, the movie as well).
The story takes place in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, and chronicles the lives of various characters living at that time in that place. Some of those characters are members of the Junior League of Jackson, a real-life community service organization for women that still exists today. The Junior League doesn't come off looking very good in the story: the women who are members are primarily concerned with playing cards and planning their outfits for League fundraising events. While I know there were members of that organization at that time who surely operated on that level, I am equally certain that there were dedicated women of character, even in those turbulent times, who joined the League primarily to serve others in their community. Certainly that purpose is evident today in the community projects showcased on their website, which include assisting with The Children's Cancer Clinic in The University of Mississippi's Medical Center and building homes as part of their local Habitat for Humanity.
I was inspired to write this today because The Association of Junior Leagues International has written a great article that outlines all of the good done - then and now - by its member organizations. For myself, as a member of the Junior League of San Diego, I am proud of the work we do not only with our community projects but also through the training and encouragement we provide to our members to enable them go out and do great things for themselves, their families, and our community. I hope that message isn't lost in the inevitable (and well-deserved) attention The Help will receive this week and beyond.