Junior League of Raleigh Names 2014-2015 Member Award Winners

Raleigh | May 14, 2015 – The Junior League of Raleigh is proud to announce this year’s Member Awards winners to an impressive collection of deserving women.

This year’s Sustainer of the Year Award winner, recognizing a Sustainer’s dedication not only to the Junior League of Raleigh but also community wide, is Anita Pinther. Anita’s volunteer resume is incredibly robust with involvement in organizations like Heritage Park, Avent West Childrens Mentorship, SAFEchild, Community Workforce Solutions, Leadership Raleigh, High Climbers Career & Leadership Summit and Hospice of Wake County Foundation. She also gives tirelessly to Bike MS, Raleigh City Farm and Oakwood Garden Club. Her passion extends to almost every aspect of community life, including child abuse prevention, health, literacy, success of youth, local business, leadership and education. Anita has an unwavering commitment to our community and truly exemplifies what it means to be a Sustainer – remaining connected with the active membership of the Junior League while utilizing her training and leadership skills to lead other community agencies in making the Raleigh community a better place.

The Darlene Shelton Outstanding Provisional Award recognizes a provisional (first year) member for dedicated service to our League. We are honored to recognize Bernette Stivers. Bernette has a very contagious spirit and fire within; throughout the year, she has been consistent in her energy, can-do approach, and leadership skills. In addition to the impactful contributions that she’s made to the League, this provisional member is equally active in the larger community. A born leader, she currently chairs two PTA committees (Family Spirit Nights and Book Fairs) at Brooks Elementary and was recently recognized for her outstanding customer orientation as a realtor in two local publications (Midtown Magazine and the News and Observer)! All this while raising three precocious little boys with her husband. Bernette’s leadership, service orientation and commitment is the epitome of what a Junior League of Raleigh woman should be, and we are delighted to celebrate her with this award.

The Outstanding First-Year Member Award recognizes a new member for dedicated service to our League. As a First-year Active and member of the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club Team, Whitney Underwood has gone above and beyond the expectations of her placement. She has devoted countless hours as a Youth of the Year mentor for the Brentwood Youth of the Year, a regional competition. In addition to cultivating relationships, she single-handedly organized a toy drive during the holidays as a surprise for the club. She has also taken to social media to raise $1,600 towards the “2015 Positive Place for Kids Campaign,” which raises money to pay for annual memberships and supplies for the children and teens at Brentwood Boys and Girls Club. Whitney seizes every opportunity to participate in activities with her placement, and is always at the club to offer a hand with tutoring or projects. Next year she will continue her legacy by serving as the Boys and Girls Club Co-Captain. There is no doubt she will do amazing things in our League in the years to come.

The Foundation Award recognizes Jen Reel for her dedicated work within an in-League placement. Jen truly “gets it,” is responsive, manages a large workload with grace, and is very conscious of the needs of others. As this year’s Website Coordinator, she has gone above and beyond her job description to modernize our website. This member has spent countless hours over the course of the year with Digital Cheetah working through our web issues and all with a smile on her face and a passion to make our League better. In addition, she fields the many website update requests and questions from the Board and Council leadership, and she’s known for being thorough and responsive. Not only does she understand her placement, she is a remarkable leader who empowers her team well. She is very aware of the needs of the entire Communications and Strategies council, and often works to facilitate PR on their behalf. This member’s impressive leadership skills, attention to detail and strategic thinking have made a significant impact on the League.

The Guardian Award recognizes Emy Hanson for her dedicated work within a community placement. For the past several years, this award recipient has served as Captain of Kids on the Block. Her passion, dedication and perseverance within this placement make her a true leader and committed League volunteer. She led the team during trying times as placement requirements changed resulting in lost team members and difficulties meeting requests from our community partners. She focused on solving the problems in front of her, working with sustainers and recruiting from their ranks to ensure the placement could be sustained. She has been described as the driving force behind the Kids on the Block placement. Her focus has resulted in better communication with our partners in schools and other groups. She has also researched and ensured that grant money has been accurately accounted for and used appropriately. These are just a few illustrations of the time, energy and dedication this member has put into her leadership role at Kids on the Park. Emy could not be a more fitting candidate for the Guardian Award.

The Legacy Award recognizes Katie Lennon and Karmia Lewis with the Legacy Award for their dedicated service to the League in a fundraising placement. Together, they solicited more than $97,000 in in-kind donations from media outlets including radio, TV print media, and social media. They added 7 new outlets to get the word out and negotiated contracts that provided for more media coverage at the same cost to the League. In addition, they increased coverage on social media and reduced costs on logo items and signs. They successfully increased SPREE!’s social media presence through popular contests such as #spotaspreebag on Instagram as well as featuring exhibitors on Facebook by positing daily updates in the weeks leading up to SPREE! The results were apparent, as our attendance increased, including a record number on the Saturday of SPREE! In all, their hard work and creativity will have a lasting impact on SPREE! and the League. For their dedication to and passion for this fundraising placement, we are proud to honor them both.

The Lifelong Membership Award recognizes Whitney von Haam. For more than 10 years, this member has been an exceptional member of the Junior League of Raleigh. Throughout her League career, she has served in various community and in-League placements including Helping Horse, MDC Co-captain, TCOM Captain and Nominating. She is no stranger to the JLR Board of Directors, having served as the VP of Communications and Strategies, Nominating Captain, Training VP not to mention a recent President of the JLR! She is one of the biggest cheerleaders for the League and its members. She and her family have dedicated countless hours to the programs, members and agencies that the JLR serves. And she hasn’t stopped with being President of the League. As the Immediate Past President she also volunteered at Helping Horse this year and has accepted the opportunity to be one of the next Inaugural Ball chairs! Her continued enthusiasm, laughter and dedication to the members and the League is what makes this award winner so deserving of this award and we couldn’t be more proud to honor her.

The Team of the Year Award recognizes a JLR team, in-League or community, for exceptional results. Team Backpack Buddies has dedicated more than 325 hours towards its efforts in helping feed hungry children at Lacy Elementary and Hunter Elementary, filling 76 backpacks weekly. Under the leadership of Co-captains Samantha Hatem and Astra Ball, this team has produced four food drives and has brought in donations for the “Back a Buddy” program from community citizens, as well as large donors including Edenton Street Methodist Church, Womble Carlyle, Mastec Network Solutions, and Root Elementary. This team has shown their passion through their forward thinking to find funding opportunities, notably their Lacy Elementary Parents Campaign, Leadership Raleigh event, Cuegrass Festival, and press appearances on WRAL and the News and Observer.

Raising over $1,850 in donations, the team was the first in our region to begin including fresh produce in its backpacks through its “Apple a Day” initiative. This year, the team also introduced the “Bring a Child to Pack” program, which allows children ages 4 and up to attend packing sessions to learn the importance of nutrition and to see the impact that volunteering in the community can make. This Backpack Buddies team has paved the way for the future success of this placement. We honor the members of the 2014-15 team and their dedication to the children they feed. Thank you to Samantha Hatem and Astra Ball for YOUR leadership and commitment to the Junior League of Raleigh.

The Member of the Year Award recognizes Kelly Brown for her dedicated service to the League, having gone above and beyond the typical parameters of her JLR “job,” serving as a role model and inspiration for other members. For the past nine years this award recipient has served on the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club team. Her passion, dedication and positive presence within this placement makes her a true leader and role model for the children and volunteers served by this team.

In hearing that the Spring Carnival may not happen last spring, she took it upon herself to plan, organize and mobilize volunteers to pull off an incredible carnival for children at all of the Wake County Boys and Girls Clubs. Volunteering for the club is not just about fulfilling a placement- She consistently goes above and beyond in service to the Boys and Girls Club from organizing events to coaching to tutoring to fundraising. Her commitment to this organization is so great that she was recognized as their Volunteer of the Year. Kelly is a shining example of what a trained League volunteer can do for a community organization. We can all be proud of the work she is doing and the example that she sets for our community.

About the Junior League of Raleigh

The Junior League of Raleigh is the local chapter of the Association of Junior Leagues International, an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The Junior League reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins who demonstrate an interest in, and commitment to, volunteerism. Now in its 85th year, the Junior League of Raleigh boasts nearly 1,700 women supporting community organizations around Wake County.