It was one of those dreary Saturday mornings, lightly misting and cold, that screamed – Just stay home, put on some sweats and curl up under a warm blanket watching Sex In The City reruns.  Instead, I was grumpily driving to one of my first Done In A Day (DIAD) projects.  We were working with a non-profit organization that helps mentally disabled adults socialize and work in the community, cleaning and decorating for one of their prom-type social events being held that night.  I got to know the staff, a group of dedicated employees who provide care for adults with Down Syndrome and Autism.  They went out of their way to welcome us and the entire morning they kept thanking us for our help.  I vividly remember someone saying, without you guys, referring to me and the 19 other Junior League members, the night wouldn’t have happened because they just don’t have the time or manpower to do more.  The pictures of that magical night were heartwarming and every time a DIAD was scheduled with the group I cleared my Saturday and signed up.

Here’s where I admit – I have a problem.  That one DIAD had me hooked and needing more, waiting on-line for the moment a good project opened up so I could be the first to sign-up.  Hooked on projects like some people are hooked on those Pumpkin Spice lattes (PSL for short).

Think about it.  Every time you try to sign up for a DIAD there’s a wait; not because the Community Council is late to find these projects, but because they’re in such hot demand!  Much like a PSL.  When you’re at the project working hard and getting your hands dirty, your blood gets pumping, your heart gets full and you have this sense of euphoria when you start to see things coming to fruition.  Again, like the caffeine high you might get from your PSL.  And once you’re done, you want more DIADs; not because they’re a requirement to finish out the year (although that is a motivating factor), but more because they’re so rewarding.  Just like the constant craving you have for that dang PSL.

Well, get ready to get your fix.  This year’s JLLA DIAD committee already has 18, yes I said 18, projects lined up.  [Note – Please don’t go out and drink 18 lattes right now, that could be detrimental to your health.]

JLLA’s first DIAD of the season was at CoachArt, and it was a huge success!  The group serves a community of children who have chronic illnesses through sports and art.  Our volunteers worked with the kids on under-the-sea themed art projects that they planned to display at an upcoming art installation.

“The kids love the special attention from the Junior League volunteers because they often miss out on school or fun activities.  To be the center of attention is great for their self-esteem,” Cathleen Cull, DIAD committee chair, said.  “CoachArt was happy to partner with us again this year and has been thrilled that some of our JLLA members have gone on to volunteer with their organization separate from their League requirements.”

This year the DIAD committee is focused on giving League members the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of community partners that focus on areas of education and foster youth.

“Our committee works hard on finding the right partners and programming events that will be serve League members,” Cull added.  “Our committee members take ownership and pride in the events being planned and appreciate the enthusiasm our volunteers bring to the events.”

There are plans to bring some of our fan favorites back this year, like Aviva, Children’s Institute and Covenant House; along with adding some new partners like 9Dots and Hype.

Keep in mind, the wait list function for DIAD projects is on a first come, first served basis.  If you’re the first person on the list you will automatically be registered for the event and will receive an email.  Make sure if you can’t make it to remove yourself, so someone else can enjoy their Pumpkin Spice latte!

If you haven’t realized it yet, the Junior League had special powers.  We are a group of hard-working, smart, passionate women that can make a huge difference in one day.

What we did on that one dreary Saturday morning has motivated me for seven years.  Yes, I said seven!  That day I learned great non-profits that do incredible work in the community often do it on a shoestring budget.  Hundreds and hundreds of these groups compete for donation dollars every year and only the strong survive.

So, as you sit there reading this and drinking your PSL – remember to set your phone alarm for the next open project.  This year’s DIAD projects will be around from now until next spring.  But remember, just like those addicting lattes, once they’re gone they’re gone.  So, admit you have a problem and feed your addiction with volunteering! If you’re not yet a member, you can find more information about joining the Junior League of Los Angeles here:

Post by Mireya Gideon