Little Black Dress Initiative

JLM Aims to "Make Poverty Unfashionable"

During the week of November 16 – 20, 2020, the Junior League of Morristown (JLM) enters its fifth year participating in the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI); a social awareness campaign, which seeks to increase knowledge of the poverty in NJ by asking our members to wear one black dress or outfit for five days to: (1) Highlight the effects of a lack of access to resources and to provide the JLM a platform to share about the work we do to help in these issue areas; (2) Understand how limited resources can affect daily life; and (3) Fundraise to support JLM’s community partners. This year’s LBDI will underscore the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our community. Funds raised will provide direct assistance to our community through the JLM Helps Campaign. As our community is spending more time at home and practicing social distancing, participants will be wearing a JLM-branded mask in lieu of or in addition to our usual black dresses.  

To donate to this year’s Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI), click HERE!  

What is the Little Black Dress Initiative?

LBDI is a poverty awareness and fundraising campaign that sheds light on the “invisible poverty” that surrounds us, with the goal of raising awareness and funds to help lift the burden carried by the most vulnerable in our community. JLM is aiming to raise $10,000 in five days. This goal is to further our mission and community impact focus area: to address the unmet needs of teens in Morris County and surrounding areas to ensure ample food, resources and education needed to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Why is LBDI necessary?

  • In 2018, more than 26,000 people in Morris County were food insecure, meaning they did not have consistent access to adequate food. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide more than 54 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020, including a potential 18 million children.

  • In New Jersey, 1.2 million households were already struggling to afford the basics even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

  • According to 2016 data, 52,490 Morris County households are too income constrained to afford the basic costs of housing, food, childcare, health care and transportation.

Impact

Over the last four years, more than 80 members have participated to help "Make Poverty Unfashionable!", raising over $70,000. This year, funds raised through LBDI allow the JLM to provide direct assistance to our community partners through the JLM Helps Campaign.

JLM Helps Campaign

The Covid-19 pandemic turned our lives upside down and quickly changed the world we live in. With higher unemployment rates due to the global pandemic, our community partners have struggled with increased clientele needing shelter, food, and support. JLM knew our community needed our help now more than ever. In response, we launched the JLM Helps Campaign designed to help bridge the gaps where funding, supplies, and volunteer presence may have been lost to COVID-19 and where individuals need a hand up to get through these tough times. As of October 2020, JLM has donated more than $10,000 to our community partners including Roots & Wings, Interfaith Food Pantry, nourish.NJ, Homeless Solutions, Visions & Pathways, and Jersey Battered Women’s Service. With funds raised through LBDI, we hope to double what we have donated to date. 

The JLM Helps Campaign has supported the following community partners and initiatives:

Roots & Wings

Roots & Wings mission is to provide young adults who age out of the New Jersey foster care system with safe housing, educational support, case management, counseling, and life skills in order to empower motivated individuals toward self-sufficiency. 600 to 800 of NJ’s foster youth population age out of the system each year. Commonly lacking adequate health care, basic life skills and necessary supportive human relationships to sustain them, the risks of homelessness, food insecurity, early pregnancy, poverty, addiction, incarceration, prostitution, interpersonal violence, and government dependency are much greater for aged out foster youth than for their peers.  

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to Roots & Wings

  • The JLM provided Shop-Rite gift cards to Roots & Wings for its clients to buy much-needed basic necessities.  

  • JLM also partnered with Girls Helping Girls Period to provide Roots & Wings’ female clients with feminine products and with the Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Mask Makers to provide masks to ensure they can safely work and do their food shopping.

  • JLM Helps provided gift cards to Roots & Wings to help ensure young people in their RISE Residential Program can safely travel to work, shopping, and other locations and purchase essential grocery items.

From Roots & Wings: "thanks so much for all of the coordinat[ion] with so many wonderful women who are coming together to support the young people of Roots & Wings. This is great News! It really warms our hearts, especially in such difficult times, to know that you all are reaching out to those in need and helping in such significant ways. We are so very grateful."  

To learn more about Roots & Wings, click here.  

Interfaith Food Pantry

The Interfaith Food Pantry and Resource Center is a community of “neighbors helping neighbors” committed to ending hunger and supporting self-sufficiency. Through their community partners we provide nutritious food, education and resources to inspire confidence and hope to Morris County families in need.

The Mission of the Interfaith Food Pantry is to:

  • Improve the health and well being of Morris County residents in need by providing access to food, nutrition education and related resources;

  • Provide hands on opportunities for neighbors to help neighbors;

  • Educate the public about the issues of hunger in our area.

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to Interfaith Food Pantry

  • The JLM donated funds to buy kid-friendly food items for their littlest clientele, as well as masks made by the Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Association.  

  • Michelle Stone, Chair of Making Healthy Choices, created an awesome healthy eating cookbook, along with games, for the kids who shop at IFFP.  Click here to check out the cookbook! 

  • JLM donated funds in the month of July to support ongoing food security needs

  • JLM supported Interfaith Food Pantry by participating in their monthly “Help from Home” challenge.  The challenge asked for participants to donate Ziploc bags filled with tea bags for their clients, an item that was not in great supply but definitely needed.  Thanks to a generous donation of tea bags from a JLM member’s employer, the JLM was able to donate 1,800 Ziploc bags filled with 18,000 tea bags! 

To learn more about the Interfaith Food Pantry and Resource Center, please click here. 

Jersey Battered Women's Service

JBWS is a private, confidential service welcoming ALL survivors of dating, domestic, or partner abuse (and their family members) regardless of severity of the abuse, marital status, income, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity.

Center for Healthy Relationships is JWBS’ a safe place to explore difficult relationships. Our specialized counseling programs are designed to support adults, adolescents and children impacted by partner abuse.

The Morris Family Justice Center led by JBWS, provides support and legal resources through a collaboration of partner agencies who will work together to answer questions and coordinate

Their Jersey Center For Non-Violence offers counseling services to help people examine their use of control, force and/or abuse within intimate relationships and to learn alternatives.

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to Jersey Battered Women's Service

  • JLM Helps provided 10 families with Walmart gift cards to help them purchase food and other essentials, like cleaning supplies. 

  • Target gift cards. 

  • Funds to to help support the transition from in-person client services to virtual services (i.e. purchasing new technology and training clients on how to use the technology) as well as to help purchase emergency items such as toilet paper, paper towels, canned foods, and hygiene items

From JBWS: “Thank you so much. We really appreciate the support. You don’t know how much this helps."

To learn more about JBWS, click here.  

Neighborhood House

Cornerstone Family Programs and Morristown Neighborhood House provide resources to people from age 2 to 102 in the Greater Morris County area. Their work impacts the lives of over 6,000 people. They believe that everyone deserves a chance for a happy, healthy and productive life.

In 2013, Cornerstone Family Programs and Morristown Neighborhood House joined forces with the shared mission of serving the community. Together, the two organizations have impacted the lives of over 30,000 residents.

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to the Neighborhood House

  • JLM Helps provided funds to feed 25 families!  

  • Teaching Room/Learning Express toys, puzzles, games, workbooks

From Neighborhood House: "Wow, thank you so much, we so appreciate it.  We have been distributing over 300 meals each week and can’t do it without the help of all of our partners." 

To learn more about Neighborhood House, click here. 

Visions & Pathways

Their mission is to provide abused, neglected and homeless youth with housing, a stable environment, and supportive services that guide them in becoming self-sufficient.  The organization helps by providing food, housing, counseling, education assistance, arts and recreation activities, career and employment counseling, scholarships and financial literacy instruction.  The Street Smart street outreach program in Morristown targets adolescents to young adults between the ages of 13 and 21 who are living on the street or in other unsafe environments and are at risk of sexual abuse and/or exploitation/human trafficking

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to Visions & Pathways

  • JLM donated ShopRite Gift cards and provided 40 masks from the Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Mask Makers.  

  • JLM donated funds to cover the cost of emergency items for clients: diapers, hygiene items, non-perishable food

From Visions & Pathways: "THANK YOU so much for thinking of us again. The ShopRite gift cards have been so helpful to our clients and they are so appreciative.They have been using their masks and they look great!!!"

To learn more about Visions & Pathways, click here.

Homeless Solutions  

Homeless Solutions, Inc. provides shelter for 25 homeless men, 10 homeless women, 10 families and 20 Safe Haven guests. Their guests receive services including case management, transportation to work and necessary appointments, money management and employment assistance, housing search assistance and daily living skills training. Referral services for counseling, substance abuse intervention and prevention are also provided. HSI’s goal, through Housing Development, a separate division of HSI, is to increase the supply of housing people can afford through construction, renovation and advocacy for low- and moderate-income people.

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to Homeless Solutions

  • JLM donated dinner for 85 people from Minutemen Smokehouse.

  • JLM provided 10 mothers at HSI with Shop-Rite gift cards, lotion, and soap. 

To learn more about Homeless Solutions, click here.  

Table of Hope

After Hurricane Irene hit Bethel Church of Morristown was devastated with over 4 feet of water destroying the basement which included the kitchen and fellowship hall. Many members of our community responded with a lot of hard work as well as financial contributions. Through a very generous donor (over $1M) the fellowship hall was renovated and the kitchen was expanded and transformed into a commercial kitchen. Due to the significant generosity, Bethel wanted to do more for the community. Table of Hope was established in September 2013 to serve meals five nights a week to anyone in need of a “warm meal and a smile”. It has become a place where “Hope Starts and the Community Gathers to Share”.

JLM Helps Campaign Donations to Table of Hope

  • JLM donated $500 to help the organization provide hot meals to people in need.  

To learn more about Table of Hope, click here. 

Care-Full 

Mission Statement: We founded Care-Full to create and distribute care packages to underserved populations throughout the Central and Northern NJ areas. Our care packages consist of a 30 mL bottle of hand sanitizer, three face masks, and a pair of disposable gloves, as well as an originally-designed pamphlet on how to stay safe during the pandemic. These resources are critical for those who are unable to acquire them, in order to ensure their health and safety during these times. To continue these vital efforts and sustain our ability to provide PPE, Care-Full needs the help of everyone in the community.)

  • JLM has donated funds to support the efforts of this organization created by Morris County teenagers to assemble COVID PPE kits.

    • Donation supported the purchase of COVID safety kits

Below are some impacts our individual JLM members are making in the community!  

FLAG of Morristown/Morris Township

FLAG, the First Line Appreciation Group, has been accepting donations, which funds meals for health care workers at Morristown Medical Center and other facilities.  JLM Sustainers, Melissa Spiotta and Megan Schubiger have been instrumental in this initiative.  

Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Association Mask Makers

While practicing social distancing, JLM President, Siegi Pylypchuk, along with the Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Association have made and delivered over 1,000 masks!  

Backpack Donations

Morris County kids are heading back to school equipped with all of the essentials thanks to the efforts of the JLM TEEN Committee and generous donors!  Thanks to funds donated by JLM Helps and the generosity of individual donors, nearly all of the items listed on our Amazon Wish List were purchased and donated to this drive.  Additional donations from The Alexander Hamilton Neighborhood Mask Makers and Atlas Copco North America helped to complete the backpacks with nutritious snacks and more face masks.  Within a few weeks, the JLM was able to donate 80 backpacks to four community partners: The Colonial Closet, the Neighborhood House, Visions and Pathways, and Jersey Battered Women's Services.