In 1901, Mary Harriman with 80 of her
friends began the Junior League for the Promotion of
Settlement Movements, later known as the Junior League.
August 6th, 1923, “the original ten” met at the
home of Mrs. John E. Barbey, and the Reading Junior League
was formed. Mary Griggs Barbey was elected the first
president, and 40 candidates and eight associates were
proposed for membership. Her strength and character is
evident in the following quote: “You have made the
right start and
must take its place among the successful Leagues of the
country, you cannot fail!...On you individually rests the
future of the Reading League! Will you continue to grow into
a power for good in your city or will you stand still?”
October 15, 1930, the Junior League of Reading in a joint
venture with city Recreation Department and the Reading
School Board opened the
Recreation Center, the first in the city. In 1935, the
JLR assumed sole responsibility for the Reading Country Club
Horse Show and it continued to be the major fund-raiser
during the 30s and 40s.
In 1940, the JLR celebrated its 17th year of
community service. They moved the League Rooms from
Street to the Abraham Lincoln Hotel. They also began a
Theater Series. Some activities were curtailed because of
the war, but the Provisional Course was expanded with more
education about the community.
Members were moving to the outlying areas of the city and
this spread the volunteer efforts. In an effort to increase
membership education the number of General Membership
meetings was increased to 8 and the active membership
volunteered at 23 agencies and with 127 jobs per week and 29
members served on 17 boards in 1953.
JLR celebrated its 40th Anniversary and donated
over $10,000.00 to the community to celebrate. The Hour
Glass, the Junior League publication, officially changes its
name to Berks Brief and adopted a more sophisticated format.
In 1968, the Town Hall Lecture Series was brought to the
The education theme was Crime: Focus on Youth. After a year
of planning, the JLR sponsored the Who Speaks for Youth
Conference in March 1977. Nearly 200 people attended.
In May 1980 the JLR sponsored the 2nd Community
Board Training Day in collaboration with the
and Penn State Berks Campus. Over 100 people from 35
non-profits attended. In October 1983, JLR sponsored a
conference titled A Day for Women at Alvernia
College, 450 women attended and chose from 24 available
In 1987, the Whale of a Sale became a major
JLR required each committee to have at least one objective
related to “Affordable Low Income Housing”. The result was
to implement BEACON HOUSE, a collaborative project with
YMCA, designed to provide families access to safe and
affordable housing while moving from dependence to
independence. League’s initial commitment was $25,000 and
was founded in 1985 by the United Way of Berks County, the
Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the United
Labor Council, and the Junior League of Reading, PA, Inc.
and became a fully immersed program of Alvernia University
on July 1, 2009.
The Junior League
of Reading began Kids in the Kitchen in 2006 by inviting
Food Network Chef, George Stella to educate Berks County
youth to make healthy lifestyle choices. Kids in the
Kitchen is a nationally recognized program started by the
Association of Junior Leagues International to help reverse
the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health
The first annual
Touch-a-Truck was held in 2006 at the Pennsylvania State
University Berks Campus. More than thirty-five vehicles
rallied to give children a wonderful hands-on experience. In
2009, Touch-a-Truck became a Community Event and a New
Member Project with continued success.
In May 2010, The
Junior League of Reading First Annual Hunter Horse Show was
held at the Berks County 4-H Agricultural Center. Beginning
December 2010, JLR started a new tradition with its Holiday
Kitchen Tour that showcases homes throughout Berks County.
In April 2011, the Junior League of Reading partnered with
the Reading Phillies and the fifth annual Touch-a-Truck was
held at the newly renovated First Energy Stadium. Over 300
people attended this event.
We continue to
celebrate the accomplishments of the JLR past, present and
Today, the Junior
Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women,
developed as civic leaders and creating lasting community
impact. The Association of Junior Leagues International,
Inc. is comprised of more than 160,000 women in 292 Junior
Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the UK and the USA.
Collectively, we constitute one of the largest, most
effective volunteer organizations in the world.