Our History


JLD was founded in 1934 as the Junior Service League of Decatur. The ladies in the League got busy right away working with the schools in Decatur and volunteering at Scottish Rite Hospital. In 1937, they established a "milk fund" for needy children. By 1940, League members were involved with seven community boards. The League undertook several "war projects during WWII. At the end of the war, in 1946, the League organized the DeKalb County Dental Clinic. In 1948, at the request of the Juvenile Court, the League financed summer camp for five children. In 1954, the Hearing Conservation Clinic was established with the DeKalb County Health Department.  


In 1958, the League began volunteering with the Cerebral Palsy School.  In 1960, the League changed its name to the Junior Service League of DeKalb.  1961 saw the opening of the gift shop at DeKalb General Hospital. In 1963, 13,000 items of clothing were distributed to more than 2,100 people through the Clothing Room.

The DeKalb General Hospital Auxiliary was established in 1970, and the DeKalb Council for the Arts, Inc. was established in 1972.


In 1975, Volunteer DeKalb and the Callanwolde Guild, Inc. were established. In 1976, Friends of Fernbank, Girl's Holding Home, and Callanwolde Arts Media Center were all established.

In 1978, JLD accepted ownership of the Mary Gay House, a historic home which was renovated and moved to Adair Park in 1980. Also in 1980, JLD received a grant to establish the DeKalb-Metro Atlanta Emergency Shelter. In 1982, JLD sponsored a Child-Advocacy-Legislative Forum, a Legislative Forum on the new State Constitution, and a Rape Prevention Seminar.

In 1985, five members were appointed to the Council on Battered Women, and First Steps, a primary prevention program for new families, was created. In 1986, JLD awarded its first Mini-Grants to elementary school teachers and successfully obtained $25,000 from the General Assembly for a girl's outdoor therapeutic camp. In 1987, JLD helped establish the Women's Resource Center for Battered Women in DeKalb County.

In 1988, JLD participated in the DeKalb County Rape Crisis Center Task Force, co-sponsored an AIDS forum with B'nai B'rith, co-sponsored Project US ‘88, a voter education project, and voted to accept the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center ("DRCC") as its signature project. In 1990, JLD hired a project coordinator, opened a 24 hour crisis hotline, trained 80 volunteers, and obtained $30,000 in funding for DRCC. In 1991, JLD proceeded with its commitment to DRCC by establishing a companion program for rape victims in collaboration with DeKalb Medical Center. In 1992, JLD sponsored a community health fair, organized the first "Take Back the Night" run for DRCC, and hosted a literacy event whereby books were donated to eight resource rooms run by Save the Children. In 1993, DRCC was incorporated and a Board of Directors was established.


In 1994, JLD chose to adopt the International Women's House ("IWH") as its next signature project. IWH is a shelter for battered women not from the U.S. Because of the high numbers of immigrants in DeKalb County, this shelter was of utmost importance.

In 1997, after receiving thousands of dollars in grant, IWH opened its doors with its first resident. In 2000, IWH was incorporated and an independent Board of Directors was elected. Later that year, JLD identified its next project as a collaboration with Children's Restoration Network ("CRN"). This collaboration involved many projects including tutoring of children in DFACS group homes. JLD also established "My Space" which is a place where children entering group homes can select items for "their space" at the home, such as comforters, clocks, lamps, etc. In 2002, Midway Presbyterian Church generously donated space for "My Space." 

In 2003, "Ready, Set, Read" was established whereby volunteers read to children waiting for their wellness visits with doctors at the DeKalb County Health Department. The 2003-2004 year saw JLD adopt the Turning Point group homes as its focus for the year. 

During the 2004-05 League Year, the website www.jldekalb.org was fully developed and launched. We participated in the DeKalb History Park Community Task Force with community leaders to evaluate project feasibility, options and long range plans. Because 2004 was an election year, JLD hosted a barbecue with the candidates and a political forum with the candidates for District Attorney.

JLD chaired the State Public Affairs Committee for the Junior Leagues of Georgia (GA SPAC) for the 2006-07 League year. JLD changed the name of "My Space" to "A Space of My Own" and adopted it as its focus project in the 2006-07 League year. The 2007-08 League year saw a new fundraiser, Magnolia Market Days, replace Bargain Bazaar and the Silent Auction change formats and become the Giving Gala. JLD also changed its logo and began a rebranding initiative.


In 2015, the League chose to focus on Early Reading and Language Skills.  Since then, the JLD has participated in the DeKalb Summer Reading Partnership; read to classrooms during Georgia Pre-K Week; supplied books through the Ferst Foundation; assisted with the DeKalb County Library System's PRIMETIME Preschool program; and started the DeKalb Saturday Scholar Initiative at DeKalb County Elementary Schools.  

From 2012-2017, JLD raised funds to support its mission by selling Poinsettias for a Purpose and hosting the DeKalb County Tour of Kitchens.  In 2018, the League hosted its first Bourbon & BBQ event which consisted of an amateur bbq competition and bourbon tasting.  

The League continues its non-partisan advocacy activities with GA SPAC on initiatives that support women and children such as the Safe Harbor Act to provide resources to assist human trafficking survivors; hosted a Courageous Conversations forum in 2018 regarding mental health and Unchained - a human trafficking awareness event in 2019.  Since 2017, JLD has partnered with the League of Women Voters to provide voter registration, voter registration training, and voter engagement opportunities.  And in 2018, the League partnered with the Boys & Girls Club on a mentoring program for middle school girls.

Over its 80 plus year history , JLD members have participated in Leadership DeKalb and Leadership Atlanta; received multiple awards for community service; served on several boards of directors for other community organizations such as the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center, International Women's House, DeKalb History Center, Leadership DeKalb, DeKalb Library Foundation, and many others; and obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money for community projects.  The JLD looks forward to remaining the premier organization in DeKalb County for developing female leaders and effecting positive change in our community.