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Junior League Gala to Celebrate 60 Years in Larchmont

The organization's event will recognize local grant award recipients.

The Junior League of Westchester on the Sound will hold a Mambo and Mojitos gala on Friday, June 10 from 7-9 p.m. at the to commemorate the organization’s 60th anniversary.

Every year, it donates around $30,000 in grants to worthy non-profits in the Sound Shore communities of New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester, but being 60 years old, the organization decided this year to give away $60,000.

Based in Larchmont, the  (JLWS) has been operating the , a store located on Larchmont Avenue that sells nearly new donations, since 1950. 

The lion’s share of money that the group donates originates from this location. Walking into it, one may easily overlook the sign announcing the store’s connection with a higher purpose.

“A lot of people who come in here do not know that we are affiliated with the Junior League; it’s an ongoing educational effort,” said past president Ronnie McGovern, who volunteers at the store.

Up until recently—when the store added basement storage—there was too little space for its many donated items.

“A lot of league shops have folded over the years,” she said, noting the spiffy new awning as a symbol of the Larchmont store’s health. “This is a labor-intensive job, and we don’t have a lot of money, but it provides a steady stream of revenue. The merchandise is reasonably priced and recycling is in these days.”

The Junior League dates back to 1901, when 19-year-old junior socialite Mary Harriman founded the organization in New York City. Famous members throughout the years included Eleanor Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. Today, there are almost 300 chapters around the world, mostly run by professional women.

The Larchmont chapter got its start in the late 1930’s as an offshoot of the Manhattan chapter and received its official charter in 1950, said JLWS President Dana Diersen Bueher, who is archiving the organization’s history.

“We have been ahead of the curve with some of the work we’ve done in the past,” said Bueher, including work with the Carver Center after-school program in Port Chester during the 1960’s civil rights movement and in helping children with AIDS in the 1980’s.

This year’s grant recipients include the —which serves as a repository for gently used furniture to be donated to needy families—and My Sister’s Place, an organization that combats domestic violence, which will use to money to fund a county-wide conference called “Love Shouldn’t Hurt.” Both organizations received the largest grants of $7,500.

Other grant recipients include the New Rochelle Youth Bureau ($5,000), the Pajama Program ($5,000) and the Westchester Children’s Museum ($5,076). Smaller donations included $2,000 to the Pregnancy Care Center in New Rochelle and $2,500 to County Harvest.

Founded in 2009 and based in Pelham, County Harvest collects edible food from restaurants, caterers, supermarkets, bagel shops, beverage distributors and private country clubs.

The food is redistributed to soup kitchens, food pantries and homeless shelters in Westchester County. The group plans to purchase containers to help facilitate donations of prepared foods.

 “This very generous grant will help us rescue more food that we can bring to more places who feed the needy all across Westchester,” said president and founder Missy Palmisciano.

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