FRONT: Jan Hughes, Patricia Graddy, Jane Stipe  BACK: Georgia Girardan, Ann Smoot, Beverly McNew, Mary Robinson, Gloria Fassett

FRONT: Jan Hughes, Patricia Graddy, Jane Stipe
BACK: Georgia Girardan, Ann Smoot, Beverly McNew, Mary Robinson, Gloria Fassett

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 13, 2016) – The Junior League of Fort Myers recently hosted a number of its founding members during a luncheon at Cypress Lake Country Club, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the organization.

“Our focus was to encourage volunteerism,” said founding member Patricia Graddy about starting the organization in 1966. “We were all young mothers at the time and didn’t really have a lot of extra time, but we felt we wanted to be meaningful in what we did. Today, I think the League has come a long way.”

Since 1966, the Junior League of Fort Myers has contributed more than one million volunteer hours to community projects and programs. Through the decades, it has made major contributions to Southwest Florida to support a wide variety of community needs including founding the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium (1973), the Volunteer Service Bureau – Volunteer Action Center – now known as Volunteer Center (1992), Teen Court (1992) and the Women’s Resource Center (1996). It has also been active in feeding the hungry in the five-county area through the food drive at its annual Taste of the Town, mentoring teenage girls in foster care, supporting self defense for women, preparing women to re-enter the workforce, creating a listening library for cancer patients, preserving historic architecture, supporting the Ronald McDonald House, distributing holiday food baskets, organizing holiday gift drives, providing gender-specific programming to teenage girls in juvenile justice, supplying backpacks to children in Harlem Heights Community and more.

Since its founding in 1901 by social activist Mary Harriman, the Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world, encompassing 150,000 women in 292 Leagues in four countries. Its mandate has remained the same: to develop exceptionally qualified civic leaders who collaborate with community partners to identify a community’s most urgent needs and address them with meaningful and relevant programs and initiatives that not only improve lives but also change the way people think.

A member of the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., the Junior League of Fort Myers, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization made up of women committed to promoting voluntarism, 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 JLFM is also a granting organization, providing mini-grants to organizations through out Southwest Florida’s five-county area to programs that create better life outcomes for our area’s youth. JLFM memberships are open to all women aged 21 and older of all races, religions and national origin who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism. For more information about the Junior League, call 239-277-1197 or visit