April 2-9th, 2022
As we kick off JA Week 2022 we would like to share with you how our organization began over 80 years ago.
Our history originally started in the midst of The Great Depression, in 1935. Two doctors in Greenville, MS, Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Gamble, contacted the society editor of the Delta Democrat Times, Louise Crump, for help. These doctors saw daily the plight of Greenville’s underprivileged children that were living in back alleys and on shanty boats on the river. They asked Ms. Crump to solicit the aid of her friends in providing food, clothing, and toys, along with transportation to the doctors’ and dentists’ offices. She contacted nine women who met with her in her home. They assessed themselves $5 each to begin their work. They got businesses and other individuals in Greenville to provide services and goods. Local dentist and doctors donated their time. Membership grew…and most of the time the members were chosen because of what they had to offer…so doctor’s wives were many of the earliest members.
Now this is where NAJA history begins. The Greenville women began to realize that there were other groups of women similar to theirs in other towns….and by 1940 they began to meet with some of them around the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta. They decided to join forces…and using the Junior League (which had already been started) as a model, they drew up a constitution on November 14, 1941 with Mrs. Crump as the first President of NAJA. The Charter Chapters were: McComb, Greenville, Greenwood, Leland, Laurel, Meridian, Vicksburg and West Point, MS and Pine Bluff and Russellville, AR.
During its first year of life, NAJA met the full force of World War II; and, necessarily, emphasis was shifted for a time from care of children to home defense measures and war work. Members contributed many tireless hours to help save democracy for their own and their Junior Auxiliary children. In the face of total war, the slogan of the Second Annual Convention in 1942 was “Children, The Last Line of Defense.”
During that second year of existence, they managed to add two new Chapters. In 1943 by pooling ration coupons, the Third Annual Convention was held with the determined convention slogan “There Must Be No Idle Women”.
By the end of the war, total membership had increased to 640. With renewed determination, the organization returned its energies and talents once more to work with children, selecting for the 1945 convention slogan “The Way of Peace.” Clinics were established, handicapped children were given special care, nursery schools and hospital wards were supported and children were fed and clothed and cared for.
Today there are 99 Chapters with over 15,000 members in eight states in the South. Chapters find needs that are not being met in their communities and develop projects to meet those needs.
To learn about how to become a member of JA of St. Francis County contact Hannah Hall at 870-270-2033.
Our first National President, Louise Eskrigge Crump’s quote still holds true today. The children in our community is our future. If we want to improve America we need to focus on the children today.
Graduate Scholarship Program
The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc. has one National Project and that is the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries Graduate Scholarship Program. Scholarships are awarded in the fields which address the special needs of children and youth.
The Betty W. Robbins Endowed Scholarship was established in 1995 by the Robbins family in memory of Betty Robbins of Ruston, Louisiana, who served the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc. as Director of Region V, First Vice-President and President (1992-1993). Contributions from Junior Auxiliary Chapters, the National Association, the Robbins family, memorials, and honorary gifts from individuals and groups support the Program.
The NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program is available on the NAJA website from September 1st through February 1st each year. Scholarships are awarded each April. To learn about how to apply and determine if you are eligible visit: http://www.najanet.org/naja-scholarship/