As El Paso has grown and diversified, the programs of the JLEP have expanded and changed to reflect and respond to the broadening needs of the community. As critical issues arose during this decade, the need for and the role of voluntarism became greater than ever before.
In the 90’s, various community projects were researched, with an emphasis on membership desires and interests, focus areas defined by the membership and community needs. The League continued its work in collaboration with local organizations and entities on projects directed at Children and Education, Youth at Risk, and the Quality of Life for the Elderly. The following JLEP-initiated projects remained active in the community: Drug Free Zone, El Papalote, El Paso Zoo Camp, High Q, Houchen Community Center, Infant CPR, Juan de Onate Thanksgiving, Los Murales, Rio Grande Food Bank, Special Needs Scouting, Toxic Trends, UTEP Centennial Museum, Kids ‘N Company, Border Children’s Health Center, Metropolitan Opera, Bridge Center, Focus on First Graders, Welcome Baby, Estrellas de Capea, Learning Trolley, LIFT (Learning is Fun Today), Christmas in April, Music Therapy for the Elderly/Goodtime Singers, Midnight Basketball and Sharing Sam.
Christmas in April, a national home repair program, started in 1991-1992 with a budget of $42,000 and volunteers from local businesses, organizations and individuals to repair low-income homes in El Paso.
In its first year (1993-1994), Midnight Basketball was responsible for an impressive 32% reduction in crime in the neighborhoods served. The JLEP was awarded the AJLI/BMW Merit Award for this project, which was the first time JLEP had won an Association award of such prestige and distinction. This project was also selected by AJLI as a model project presented at two sessions at the Annual Conference.
For the first time, the Community Assistance Committee, during 1992-1993, disbursed $20,000 to non-profit organizations that needed financial assistance on a onetime basis without the placement of volunteers.
In 1991-1992, after 20 years, the JLEP ceased the Metropolitan Opera auditions.
1997-1998 was the first year the JLEP implemented projects focused entirely on combating the problem of domestic violence. They included the Bridge House Task Force, Court Watch Task Force, Domestic Violence Public Awareness Campaign, El Paso Shelter for Battered Women Speakers Bureau, Sheltering our Community, and YWCA Week Without Violence. The Provisional class conducted the Focus 5K as its class project, and for the first time, a provisional class project was adopted by the Active membership and became JLEP’s third Ways and Means project.
The League adopted a new focus statement which provided: “The Junior League of El Paso believes that through programs and projects directed at increasing public awareness and education on the issue of domestic violence and abuse, the El Paso community will begin to the break they cycle of family violence.”
During this decade, Ways and Means projects were more successful than ever before. The Christmas Fair netted a record $205,000 in 1995. New areas for underwriting were created, such as theme trees and late night shopping. The Fair Merchants committee sold a record number of booths, and the Fair was promoted not only in El Paso but also in Las Cruces and Juarez. Seasoned with Sun sold over 12,000 cookbooks in 1991-1992 alone, for a profit of $35,000. A fourth printing of the cookbook was ordered.
The JLEP celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1993-1994. Public Relations applied for and received a $15,000 grant covering the costs associated with the anniversary celebration. The anniversary campaign enhanced the League’s image in the community and included a variety of events and promotions, such as the JLEP’s first media reception, the dedication of the Clock Tower at the Insights Museum, a billboard campaign, a video demonstrating the JLEP’s continued role in community leadership, and a mural at Headquarters. As a result, the JLEP received first place in the “Image Campaign” category in the AJLI International Creative Communications Contest.
The Environmental Research and Recycling Committee made Headquarters more “environmentally friendly” by educating members on what could be done to preserve the environment and instituting recycling within Headquarters. Changes were made to Headquarters, including providing for handicap accessibility, permanent billboards and major landscaping.
In 1995-1996, the Council System was established. It provided a new governance structure, designed to increase efficiency, allow for a larger but less duplicative governance structure, increase communication between committees, and provide greater input by the membership in the decision-making process. As the 1990’s came to a close, the League continued to focus on Domestic Violence Prevention with new projects and an active media campaign. Through Kid’s Connection, the League presented a self esteem curriculum for children living in our area shelters, including the Shelter for Battered Women, Child Crisis Center and Transitional Living Center. Additionally the League was able to spread the word to third graders and middle and high school students about the effects of violence through its Break the Cycle program. Perhaps, the most significant, however, was the League’s commitment to adopt Independence House as its signature project in 1999. In partnership with the YWCA-El Paso Del Norte Region, the League began laying the groundwork to provide supportive or bridge housing for low-income, abused women and their children. The League raised over $1,000,000 for this endeavor through grants, donations and fund-raisers.
The last two years of the 90’s also brought about the development of a new cookbook for the League. The entire membership participated in the involved process of submitting and testing recipes, while the committee worked diligently to research marketing opportunities and develop the theme and master content of the book. Riding on success of its predecessor, Seasoned with Sun, the new cookbook was to be entitled Seasoned with Fun.
As El Paso continued to grow and diversify, the programs of the Junior League also expanded and changed to reflect the needs of the community. Indeed, the Junior League of El Paso had established itself as a prominent group of women who worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life in El Paso. With the new millennium approaching, the league began the process of transitioning into a new focus area which depicted that characterization perfectly: “Quality of Life” was to be the new focus area to guide the Junior League of El Paso into the 21st century.