Partner Spotlight: CASA of Shawnee County

The daughters of Brie Parks, 2021-2022 President, helping decorate cookies for the 2021 CASA Homes for the Holidays.

CASA is an organization that utilizes volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children and youth who are involved in the court system. In 1985, the Junior League of Topeka conducted a survey to determine the need for an organization like CASA and found children in Shawnee County could benefit from advocates. This lead to the Junior League of Topeka providing funding and volunteers to help establish CASA of Shawnee County.

Today, members of the Junior League of Topeka continue to show their support in a variety of ways, most recently by donating and compiling training manuals for future Advocates and by baking cookies for their CASA Homes for the Holidays event.


Junior League of Topeka donates $5,000 to the YWCA of Northeast Kansas

To close out the Junior League of Topeka’s 3rd Annual Little Black Dress Initiative we presented the YWCA of Northeast Kansas with a $5,000 donation to help establish a children’s space in their emergency shelters. In addition to the donation, members also collected urgently needed items for YWCA residents.

“This week, members and friends of the Junior League of Topeka have joined together as advocates by wearing one black dress – the same black dress – for five days in a row to illustrate how limited resources affect daily life, and to raise funds to support the Junior League of Topeka and their projects to address key factors of poverty and community instability,” says Brie Engelken-Parks, President of the Junior League of Topeka. “This social experience shines light on how a lack of resources limits a individuals’ opportunities.” 

By wearing a sticker or button that read “Ask me about my Dress,” LBDI advocates invited and welcomed dialogue among colleagues, friends, and strangers to raise awareness about generational poverty while they shared their journey’s on social media.

Click here for the full story! 

Photo courtesy of WIBW

Break the Cycle

Poverty and lack of education form a vicious cycle that can be impossible to escape without the means to get a good job and change your life. This week was our 3rd Annual Little Black Dress Initiative campaign. Advocates have worn the same black dress for 5 days in a row to illustrate the effects that poverty can have on a woman’s access to resources, her self-esteem, and professional opportunities. Help us raise support efforts to break the cycle of poverty in Topeka. Thank you to the numerous women and community partners in Topeka who are helping #JLTopeka raise money for and bring awareness on the issue of community instability in Topeka. With your support we hope to meet our goal for this year! Click here to help make this happen:https://www.gofundme.com/charity/junior-league-of-topeka

Junior League Members Supporting TARC’s Wright Place to Play

Junior League of Topeka members were excited to have the opportunity to do a morning of clean up for The Wright Place to Play Playground at TARC!

TARC enhances the lives of people affected by intellectual, developmental and related disabilities through commitment to excellence in service, support and advocacy. Their vision is that all people, including those with intellectual, developmental and related disabilities experience life to their full potential.

Junior League of Topeka Members from Left to Right: Jodi Boyd, Katie Blaufuss, Jodi Litfin, Brie Engelken-Parks, Laura Harrison, Haley DaVee, Sarah Dietz, Amber Carlson, Ashley Landis, Renae Carsten.
Junior League of Topeka members, Amber Carlson and Ashley Landis cleaning the TARC Wright Place to Play getting it ready for kids to return!

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.