Our Story

1930s In 1938, the Junior Service league of Waterloo, Inc. was organized by Mrs. Philip K. Rausch with 40 charter members.

1940s First Charity Ball held in 1940. Early service projects included purchasing eyeglasses for under-privileged dhildren and opening nursery schools as a service to mothers who were working during the war.

1950s The Junior Service League Receiving Home (now known as the Minnie Crippen Home for Children) was opened as a home for neglected, abandoned and homeless children. Bargain Shop was opened as a used clothing and merchandise shop which, for the following ten years, served as a means to raise money for League projects and to provide inexpensive clothing to the needy. League provided for the community’s first assistance to children with disabilities, in a group setting, which gave incentive to the founding of Exceptional Persons, Inc. Along with Kiwanis, League helped establish Goodwill Industries.

1960s Gave money to the Waterloo Civic Foundation for the building of a new Recreation Center. Restored, maintained and opened the Russell Lamson House (now known as the Rensselaer Russell House Museum). Began work with the Childrens Theatre, providing salary support and presenting plays for area youth. Built the Byron Avenue Day Care Center and helped start the Junior Art Gallery. Became a member of the Association of Junior Leagues in 1968 and changed name to Junior League of Waterloo, Iowa, Inc.

1970s Continued work with the Children’s Theatre. Provided salary money to the Volunteer Bureau (now the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley). Provided anti-drug films to area schools. Granted funding to the Waterloo Recreation Center for a new wing. Worked to see that adult day care was available in the community, opening Newell Post. Helped establish Green Scene. Began a long-term association with Grin and Grow Day Care. Published Buttercups and Brandy, our first cookbook, in 1978. In 1973, changed name to Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa, Inc.

1980s Continued to work with child and adult day care programs. Project Love improved homes of low-income elderly. Transitional Living Center, People’s Community Health Clinic, and Cedar Valley Hospice were some of the major projects funded. Recognized local volunteers through what is now the Mayors’ Volunteer Awards. Established Enabling Fund to meet immediate pressing needs in the community. ISPAC (Iowa State Public Affairs Committee), composed of the 5 Iowa Junior leagues, was the first state committee to hire a lobbyist. In 1986, Pig Out cookbook premiered. In 1987, we celebrated our 50-year anniversary with a $50,000 grant to the Hartman Reserve Nature Center’s Expansion Project. Began Done-in-a-Day projects and established the Endowment Fund. Received the 1989 Governor’s Volunteer Award.

1990s Provided funding for Black Hawk County’s first Habitat for Humanity home. Gift Box fundraiser provided revenue for several years. Voted to focus on child welfare and education issues. Provided money to renovate Franklin Street Grin and Grow and continued with funding and volunteers until 1996. Celebrated our 60th anniversary, funded a computer lab at the Boys and Girls Club and purchased a van and materials to start the Traveling Tales preschool literacy program. Helped start the Mayors’ Top Teen Awards to recognize young area volunteers. Provided funding for three educational structures to help start the Children’s Garden at the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens and assisted with EPI’s Respite Program.

2000s Our third cookbook, First Impressions, premiered in 2000. Our League continued to focus on child welfare and education during the beginning of the decade, with projects including Jamie and Jim’s Kids, Cedar Valley Hospice’s Eucalyptus Program, Hartman Reserve, and the Northeast Iowa Food Bank’s Kids Café Program. Our project for 2005-2007 was providing funding and volunteers for the new Youth Pavilion at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. In 2007, identified a focus on childhood obesity and establishing safe places to play for the city’s youth, creating a $70,000 Safe Places to Play fund to commemorate Junior League of Waterloo- Cedar Falls’ 70th anniversary. In 2008, Junior League contributed $50,000 to Lafayette Park for play equipment designed for children under the age of 5. Junior League continued to serve the Cedar Valley by training volunteers with Done-in-a-Day projects and Enabling Fund grants and by providing volunteer assistance to many organizations through our placement questionnaires. The community supported our efforts through donations and by attending fundraising events such as Charity Ball and Style Show.

2010s Wrapped up emphasis on Safe Places to Play with a donation to Pfeiffer Park for new play equipment. Wiped out a waiting list for car seats at Operation Threshold and offered car seat checks at fall fundraiser as part of a focus on Safe Rides for Kids in 2010-11. Started annual Touch-A-Truck fundraiser in 2010 as a replacement for the Style Show. Celebrated our 75th anniversary with a focus on “75 Ways Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls HAS and WILL CONTINUE to Impact the Community” and record-setting fundraising at Charity Ball. Following an initiative from AJLI, our League began the transition process to Issue-Based Community Impact rather than Project-Based Community Impact in 2012. In 2014, we voted to make “Teen Issues” our focus for the foreseeable future, and we launched the YOLO Youth Empowerment Series at Bunger Middle School in spring 2015.