July 7, 2022

New Junior League gift celebrates 100 years of support

From left, patient ambassador Kael Adams and Meg Rush, MD, join Jenny Barker and Taryn Anderson of the Junior League of Nashville to unveil the new history wall in Children’s Hospital showcasing the Junior League’s extensive support over the past century.
From left, patient ambassador Kael Adams and Meg Rush, MD, join Jenny Barker and Taryn Anderson of the Junior League of Nashville to unveil the new history wall in Children’s Hospital showcasing the Junior League’s extensive support over the past century. (photo by Donn Jones)

For 100 years, the Junior League of Nashville has been a champion of children’s health care, impacting the lives of countless patients and families through its commitment to service and philanthropy.

The group has a rich legacy that features a long-standing partnership with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, carrying out a collective vision to ensure quality, compassionate health care for children. Through volunteerism and transformative gifts, the Junior League has helped shape crucial health care initiatives and established numerous foundational programs at Children’s Hospital.

In a special ceremony in June to mark the milestone anniversary and partnership, the Junior League of Nashville committed another $1.5 million to Children’s Hospital. The centennial anniversary gift, part of the Junior League’s ninth supplemental agreement with Children’s Hospital, will go to support the hospital’s pediatric rehabilitation efforts.

“It was mind-blowing to learn that the state of Tennessee does not have an in-patient rehabilitation facility for our children. This is such a critical part of traumatic injury or major surgery recovery. As the Junior League’s partnership with Vanderbilt has evolved, what has remained steadfast is our dedication to addressing unmet needs in our community. Our centennial gift underscores this commitment,” said Jenny Barker, Junior League of Nashville President (2021-2022).

“In this full-circle moment, we are making a gift that looks to the future, with a focus on family-centered care while paying tribute to the past. With this gift we are helping provide a bridge to healing — a place where children can fully recover.”

Over the years, the Junior League has given nearly $20 million, including the latest gift, and thousands of volunteer hours.

This gift will establish the endowed Junior League of Nashville Directorship in Pediatric Rehabilitation for a physician, yet to be named, to lead pediatric rehabilitation initiatives at Children’s Hospital. It will also be used to create an endowed fund that will help grow the pediatric rehabilitation program and related patient- and family-centered care well into the future.

“The generosity and caring spirit of the Junior League aligns with our mission to heal and support children and their families, and this gift is emblematic of the deep community-minded relationship between the two organizations. A dedicated pediatric rehabilitation program will empower children and families in moments that shake them to their core. The legacy of this gift will ripple throughout communities for generations to come,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

During the ceremony, Children’s Hospital leaders joined with Junior League representatives to sign the supplemental agreement and to commemorate the centennial anniversary.

Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, president of Children’s Hospital, also unveiled the new Junior League of Nashville history wall on the second floor of the hospital. The wall includes multiple panels that open to showcase the extensive partnership between the Junior League and Children’s Hospital over the past century, and features photos and stories of the many patients helped through various programs.

“Starting a century ago and continuing today, the Junior League of Nashville has had a vision of what children’s health care could and should be. Time and time again, the Junior League has come together through special programs, volunteerism and philanthropy to support the children and families in our community and at Children’s Hospital,” said Rush.

“It is fitting that for the centennial anniversary, the Junior League’s latest generosity connects back to its roots in rehabilitative medical care for children by supporting pediatric rehabilitation efforts at Children’s Hospital. We are tremendously grateful to the Junior League for its enduring partnership, now and for many more years to come.”

The Junior League of Nashville’s partnership with Vanderbilt dates back to 1923, when the Junior League Home for the Crippled Children opened. The home provided free convalescent and rehabilitative medical care for children with polio and other diseases.

In 1971, the home moved to what was then called Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Through the years, the Junior League’s gifts have helped support the Junior League Family Resource Center, the Child Life Program, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Development Follow-up Clinic, the Junior League Sickle Cell Disease and Asthma Program and many more programs. Previous gifts also include providing capital to help build the freestanding Children’s Hospital that opened in 2004, and again in 2016 to help support the hospital’s Growing to New Heights Campaign to build the most recent four-floor expansion.

The Junior League also provided the groundwork for comprehensive maternal fetal care programming at Vanderbilt more than a decade ago when it made a transformative gift to improve care for pregnant women and their infants. The League enabled programming to get off the ground, expand and set the foundation for what is now The Reed Family Maternal Fetal Clinic.

Volunteer work is also an important tenet of every gift the Junior League makes to Children’s Hospital. Prior to COVID-19, in-person volunteers hosted special events for patients and families and spent time with patients in the hospital playrooms and at the bedside, whether to play a board game or offer companionship. Behind the scenes they have ensured the hospital has items for the comfort cart, which provides travel-size personal items and snacks for patients’ families. During COVID with social distancing and public health safety measures in place, the Junior League pivoted to ensure their volunteer mission endured with efforts like playing bingo virtually with patients, putting together activity kits and delivering notes to front-line health care workers.

“It was apparent from the beginning of my Child Life journey that the Junior League of Nashville volunteers would be an integral part of our team at Children’s Hospital,” said Stephanie Van Dyke, director of Child Life and Volunteer Services. “Their support continues to be a difference-maker in how we are able to provide the very best medical and psychosocial care for children, teens and their families.”