Member Spotlight

Brie Engelken-Parks
2021-2022 President

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Seneca, KS – about 70 miles North of Topeka. My family lived in Topeka until I was seven, when we moved to be closer to family but I always felt like Topeka was home. When all my friends and I were graduating college – they were KC or bust and I was Topeka or bust. I just was not interested in any other options.

What do you do for a living?

I’m the Senior Director of Marketing for AE Wealth Management, LLC. (AEWM), an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm where I help create strategies and plans to recruit and retain financial advisors for AE Wealth Management while also building tools to help financial advisors across the country grow their business and help serve their clients’ financial goals.

The Junior League of Topeka and AEWM are not affiliated.

How long have you been involved with the Junior League?

I joined the Junior League of Topeka in 2017 making this my 5th year. It’s been a whirlwind and I am so thankful for the strong women that help me grow and better myself every day. I always learn something new from their experiences.

What positions or roles have you held in League?

I’m currently serving as the President of the Junior League. Previously I’ve served as President-Elect, Vice President of Fund Development and a member of the Funding Council (a team I wanted to be on the LEAST but ended up learning so much and LOVED it!!).

What do you love most about League and what keeps you coming back year-after-year?

Junior League has provided me with a safe space to develop new skills and a place to share my talents. It’s also been a tremendous way to connect with other women in our community and I love having the ability to collaborate with others, be it members or those in our community, for the betterment of Topeka – the place I live, work and am choosing to raise my family. But I stay for the women I get to serve beside. They are strong, bold, compassionate, and intelligent women and they each have different and unique life experiences that I have had the great privilege of learning from. I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by a better group of women.



What advice would you give to someone wanting to join the Junior League of Topeka?

I joined the Junior League at a time when I felt lost. I was looking for community and the opportunity to find myself again after having kids. I got that and so much more. If you identify as a woman, join Junior League – you will NEVER regret it!

What are you involved in outside of the League?

Outside of work and League, I’m actively engaged in our community. I’ve previously held board positions with the Race Against Breast Cancer and the American Advertising Federation of Topeka. I have spent time volunteering with the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Let’s Help, Project Topeka and Harvesters. But more often than not you can find me chasing around my two daughters, Audra & Ryann, alongside my husband, Matthew, reading, watching the latest binge-worthy show or indulging my Target obsession with a pick-up run.

And their off … Junior League of Topeka prepares for the best 2 minutes in sports!

Join the Junior League of Topeka for the 3rd Annual Jockey’s, Juleps & Junior League, a Kentucky Derby Party FUNdraiser.

Wear your best outfit and don your most extravagant hat for the 148th Derby race.  Guests will enjoy the race, entertainment, silent auction, and prizes for Best Hat and Best Dressed.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

Tickets purchased before March 15 are $75 each, and will sell for $85 after that date.  Additional items can be added to ticket purchases and include Bourbon Tasting (COMING SOON), Horse Bet 50/50 Race Raffle, Wine Pull, and additional Drink Tickets.

January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States (previously referred to as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month). The Defense Department defines human trafficking as a crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. In 2019, Polaris, who runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, identified 22,326 victims and survivors along with 4,384 traffickers in the US.

Lit Leaguer’s in Action

Active and Sustaining members of the Junior League of Topeka come together once a month for Lit League – the Junior League of Topeka Book Club. November’s pick: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Books coming up:

January: These Tangled Vines by Julianne Maclean
February: Pure Will by Kriti Pelton
March: The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
April: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B Moore

To the Stars

The Junior League is proud to present its second limited edition Topeka/Kansas inspired ornament created locally by Kymm at Prairie Glass Studio.

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOURS NOW!

These handcrafted glass ornaments (4.5″ wide x 2.5″ tall) are a beautiful blue color and say “To the Stars” .Available by pre-order until October 15th. At just $30 each, these make lovely gifts for hostesses, teachers, co-workers, family members and friends.

Please shop local for your gifts this year and support

Diaper Depot and Beyond

How one community project inspired a transformed community
By Erin Aldridge & Tawny Stottlemire

Throughout our history, Junior League of Topeka (JLT) projects have been a catalyst for change in our community. Ideas spark and gaps in service are filled through these programs and initiatives. The Diaper Depot’s impact is no different.

In the 2018-2019 League year, Diaper Depot ownership was transferred to Community Action. As a distribution partner for the program, the fit was natural and complemented their existing social service assistance programs.

Today, Community Action continues to serve between 150 and 200 children each month, by providing a free pack of 50, size-appropriate, diapers to parents from low-income households. The program is supported solely through community donations and grants.

But, gaps in services go far beyond just diapers.

Through the partnership with the National Diaper Bank Network, Community Action sourced ways to further meet the needs of the community. This lead to a partnership that created “The Period Pantry”. “The foundation of the two programs is very similar,”
said Tawny Stottlemire, Community Action’s Executive Director. “Diaper Depot and Period Pantry allow us to address two very pressing needs for lower income mothers and menstruators.” According to data released by the Alliance for Period Supplies, an affiliate of the National Diaper Bank Network, one in four women have struggled to purchase period supplies in the past year. “Menstruation supplies are a need,” says Stottlemire, “not a luxury.”

In 2020, JLT members supported various projects, including Community Action, around the community through the creation of Period Packs.

Thanks to Community Action’s access to warehouse space, even more options became available. “Community Action rents space in a local warehouse to store and prepare our monthly diaper distribution and quarterly Period Pantry work,” Stottlemire told JLT representatives. “Because we have some available warehouse space, we are also able to participate in a product donation program with our local Bed, Bath and Beyond store.”

According to Stottlemire, Bed, Bath and Beyond provides a monthly donation of store products that range from bed sheets and pillows to curtains, clocks and candles. Community Action uses the products to help families transitioning from homelessness to furnish their homes. “Our customers have been so very appreciative, and surprised,” said Stottlemire, “by not only securing their own housing in a place they can afford and feel safe but to also have a few comforts to make it feel like a home.”

To learn more about how you can benefit from any of these services visit www.wefightpoverty.org.

Going beyond the surface needs of our community, the Junior League of Topeka is committed to continuing to find and the fill gaps to create a better Topeka for all.

Community Events September

Let us be your catch-all guide to the happenin’s in Topeka this month!

Image by ArtsConnect – First Friday Art Walk

9/3 First Friday Artwalk

NOTO Arts & Entertainment District is an attraction of all ages from all over. The restaurants, galleries, boutiques and more make NOTO the top Topeka Art Walk destination. Historic buildings are bubbling with artists, arts, music, crafts, and creative items to keep you entertained and wanting to bring a piece of NOTO home with you. Most shops are open starting at 10am and stay open late unto the evening. (Description from Explore NOTO)

10:00am-9:00pm, NOTO Arts Center 935 N Kansas Ave, Topeka, KS 66608

More information: https://explorenoto.org/event/first-friday-art-walk-5/

Image by Topeka Civic Theatre

9/10-10/2 On Golden Pond, Topeka Civic Theatre

On Golden Pond, a performance by the Topeka Civic Theatre

This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory—but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the elderly couple have longed for, and as Norman revels in taking his ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, he also learns some lessons about modern teenage awareness—and slang—in return. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Performance schedule and tickets available here: https://topekacivictheatre.com/on-golden-pond-1

9/11 Touch a Truck

Downtown Topeka Touch A Truck is a fantastic opportunity for kids and adults of all ages to get up close and personal with trucks and vehicles! After last years event being canceled, we are back and more than ready to touch some trucks!

The event will be set up around Evergy Plaza and the surrounding streets.

Entry to Touch A Truck is free, but there is a suggested donation of canned goods to benefit Harvesters. (Description from Touch a Truck)

9:30am-1:30pm, Evergy Plaza 630 S. Kansas Ave. Topeka, KS 66603

More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/evergy-plaza/downtown-topeka-touch-a-truck-2021/806614446708545/

Image by NOTO Arts District

9/11 NOTO Live

The NOTO Arts and Entertainment District is once again planning a celebration packed full of performance art, live music, busking, and talent of all kinds!  Join us for this family friendly extravaganza and experience performers sprinkled throughout the district, with special acts at Redbud Park and Compass Point, and a grand finale by Last Carnival Act to end the evening! This action packed day includes activities for everyone!  And for our little performers, the new Otto’s Adventure Area will provide special interactive art stations and opportunities to try a little busking of their own!

Free and open to the public. VIP passes can be purchased to access NOTO LIVE VIP Backstage where you can partake in art activities, enjoy refreshments, and be wowed by close-up specialty performances offered exclusively to VIP’s. (Description from Explore NOTO)

11:30am- 8:00pm, NOTO Arts Center 935 N Kansas Ave, Topeka, KS

More information and performance schedule: https://explorenoto.org/noto-live/

Image by TFI

9/11 TFI Blues, Brews & Bites

TFI BLUES BREWS & BITES FESTIVAL features live bands, adult beverages, fantastic food, and lots of fun in the beautiful outdoor atmosphere of Ward Meade Park. Proceeds benefit the TFI KIDS FUND supporting Kansas Foster Kids to improve their quality of life. Performances include: Nace Brothers • Divas on Fire • Cate Brothers • The Josh Garrett Band (Description by TFI)

Tickets available at: https://tfifamily.org/tfi-blues-brews-bites/

2:00pm-10:00pm, Ward-Meade Park 124 NW Fillmore St, Topeka, KS 66606

Image by the Kansas Book Festival

9/18 Kansas Book Festival

The 10th annual Kansas Book Festival will take place at Washburn University, hosted by the Mabee Library at the center of campus. The 2021 Festival, which is back after being cancelled by COVID in 2020, will include free presentations by 50 authors, as well as outdoor performances, a book-art exhibit, food vendors and exhibitor tents with publishers from around Kansas.

The headliner for the 2021 Kansas Book Festival is Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments.  Nezhukumatathil’s winsome collection of nature essays includes stories from time spent as a child in Larned, and it was selected as a Favorite Book of the Year by Barnes and Noble as well as National Public Radio. It also was selected by the State Library of Kansas for a 2021 Kansas Notable Book award. (Description from Kansas Book Festival)

All presentations are free and open to the public. They will take place on the upper floor of the Mabee Library at Washburn University, in rooms 300, 302 or 303, or in the Ballroom of the Washburn Memorial Union. The only exceptions are two pre-festival presentations and an initial awards ceremony for Kansas Notable Books.

9:00am-4:00pm, Mabee Library at Washburn University 1800 SW 19th St, Topeka, KS 66621

More information and schedule of events: https://www.kansasbookfestival.com/

Image by TopCity Comedy

9/16 Third Thursdays: TopCity Comedy at the Foundry Event Center

TopCity Comedy has been bringing you the best local and touring comics since 2011. In we lost our home but not our sense of humor. And now we have a new stage at The Foundry from which to entertain and delight you!

You will want to stick around after the show for So U Think U R Funny, the original Open Mic experience. Have you always thought you were funny, Well, here is your chance to show us your funny! (Description by TopCity Comedy)

Doors open 7:00pm, show starts at 8:00pm. Foundry Event Center 400 SW 33rd St, Topeka, KS 66611

More information and to purchase tickets in advance: https://www.facebook.com/Topcitycomedy

Image by Helen Hocker Theatre

9/17-9/26 Helen Hocker Theater Fireflies

Fireflies, a performance by Helen Hocker Theater. Retired schoolteacher Eleanor Bannister lives a quiet life alone in tiny Groverdell, Texas, set in her routines and secure in her position as the town’s most respected woman—until a hole in her roof draws the attention of Abel Brown, a smooth-talking drifter intent on renovating Eleanor’s house, and possibly her life. Can the unexpected sparks of late-life romance be trusted, or is there truth in the gossip that Abel isn’t all that he seems to be? Either way, the whole town is talking.

Weekend performances 7:00pm, Helen Hocker Theater 700 SW Zoo Pkwy, Topeka, KS 66606

More information: https://topekacivictheatre.com/fireflies-1

Image by Concert in the Park

9/19 Concert in the Park

The 12th annual Concert in the Park is a free event featuring the Kings of Swing. The 15-piece Topeka band specializes in swing music of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. There will also be a performance by the Topeka High School Drumline.

The concert is a great opportunity for individuals and families to enjoy some fine music in a beautiful, park-like atmosphere or take a turn on the dance floor and showcase their swing-dancing skills. (Description by Concert in the Park)

Free admission

2:00pm-4:00pm, Memorial Park Cemetery, 3616 SW 6th Ave, Topeka, KS

More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/4161457873971139

Image by the Kansas Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit

9/21 Kansas Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit

The Kansas Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit will feature a full day of activities including keynote speeches from Kuma Roberts, Arrowhead Consulting; Dr. Jarik Conrad, author and speaker; and Eugene Kelly, VP of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Colgate Palmolive Company. You will also be able to participate in expert panel discussions and workshops and explore the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplaces and communities. The Kansas Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit is aimed at small business, corporations, non-profits and universities to enhance the discussion around DEI and promote the positive impact it can have on our community and workplaces. (Description by Kansas Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit)

9:00am-3:00pm, Prairie Band Casino and Resort, 12305 150th Rd., Mayetta, KS 66509

More information and to purchase tickets: https://www.facebook.com/events/d41d8cd9/kansas-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-summit/841713209785158/

Image by Cider Days

9/25-9/26 Cider Days

The 40th annual Cider Days Fall Market is back September 25th and 26th, 2021. Explore over 175+ makers, creators, artisans and pickers at this year’s festival. 

Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm, Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm, Stormont Vail Events Center, 1 Expocentre Dr, Topeka, KS 66612

More information: https://www.ciderdays.com/

Capital Impact Goes Digital!

Welcome to the all new Capital Impact blog, run by the Junior League of Topeka. As we transition our publication from a print magazine to an online format, we hope to continue to share uplifting stories, community challenges and local resources, plus a few fun things thrown in along the way.

With this weekly blog, our goal is to spread awareness of ways we can all lend a hand to those who need it most.

To learn more about the Junior League of Topeka, visit our website at www.jltopeka.org.