Junior League kicks off year with service and celebration

The Junior League of Eastern Fairfield County (JLEFC) dove into the 2017-2018 League year with a weekend of events highlighting community partnerships and health. The year officially opened with the annual Kick Off Party, after which volunteers hit the ground running to organize and staff the League’s first-ever Healthy Families Extravaganza, held at the Bridgeport YMCA.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, Junior League members gathered at local favorite eatery Brewport in downtown Bridgeport. Over wood-fired pizza and house-made brews, members reflected on the past year’s successes, including Cook and Feed events benefiting Operation Hope of Fairfield’s food pantry; an ongoing partnership with the Thomas Hooker School in Bridgeport, where JLEFC members encourage a lifelong love of reading via Read Aloud events each month; and the 3rd annual Healthy Families 5K Run & Walk, held within the beloved Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport and benefiting JLEFC’s health-based initiatives in the community. Members looked forward to continuing these thriving programs, as well as to new projects and expanded opportunities to serve in the coming year.

JLEFC members carried out one of these new projects almost immediately after the Kick Off Party. The inaugural Healthy Families Extravaganza on Saturday, October 14 provided area families with a fun-filled day celebrating all forms of well-being, including physical, mental, and financial health. With help from partner organizations — the Center for Family Justice, the Bridgeport YMCA, and the United Congregational Church, Bridgeport — JLEFC members planned, set up, and staffed the free harvest festival. Local businesses exhibited at the fair, including the Green Village Initiative, People’s United Bank, Southwest Community Health Center, and Life Bridge Fresh Connections. All four groups imparted their particular expertise about how to stay healthy in body and mind.

Event highlights included autumn-themed craft projects, an outdoor soccer challenge, and a live cooking demonstration with local chef Heidi Vanderwal. Families followed along as Chef Heidi prepared a healthy autumn chili, which was then served with salad, cornbread, and banana squares for dessert. Dozens of families enjoyed the healthy dishes and each other’s company, and left with recipe booklets so they could re-create the flavorful dishes at home.

Said JLEFC President Melissa Clear, “The Junior League of Eastern Fairfield County has long been a driving force behind helping local families stay healthy in body and mind, whether through work emphasizing the importance of healthy eating, literacy, or an active lifestyle. The Healthy Families Extravaganza is a fantastic new addition to the spectrum of our work in these areas, and we could not have been happier with the event’s turnout. The families who joined us had a wonderful time, as did our volunteers. Thanks to our amazing partners at the Center for Family Justice, the Bridgeport YMCA, and the United Congregational Church for helping us turn out an event that was as fun as it was enlightening.”  

To learn more about the JLEFC, visit www.jlefc.org or call the JLEFC office at 203-259-9995.

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