Since 1923, our members have put their skills and talents to use to build better communities. We create projects with a lasting impact that, once established and running smoothly, can be transitioned to another organization for further growth. We then shift our focus to another community need and devise a solution to address it. This process ensures we are continually adding new support programs to our communities and adapting to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve. The following list is a small sample of the projects we have spearheaded or participated in establishing throughout our service area.
Lockwood Mathews Mansion: 1965 – 1984
Built in 1864 by businessman LeGrand Lockwood, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion was a popular landmark in Norwalk and public outcry was strong when the city announced plans to demolish it in the 1950s. JLSN stepped in to help save the property and secure its designation as a historical site, entering into a lease for the property. The League moved its headquarters into the building and began plans to restore it as a museum open to the public. An advisory committee of museum curators and architectural historians was established and fundraising commenced. The Mansion opened to the public for Summer Sundays in 1967 and featured tours by trained docents and an annual Mansion membership drive was launched in 1970. In 1972, the Mansion Education Committee helped secure the property’s designation as a National Historical Landmark by the Department of the Interior. The Mansion Educational Program was developed to serve local elementary school children the following year. In 1984, the League moved out of the Mansion and into its current headquarters in Darien.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk: 1980 – 1990
JLSN Membership voted to collaborate with the Oceanic Society, The Norwalk Seaport Association, and City of Norwalk and its redevelopment agency to create a new maritime center featuring animals from Long Island Sound and an IMAX. Initially called the Maritime Center, the city’s objective was to create a tourist destination that would revitalize the area and cultivate new business. The League created a Maritime Center Committee to spearhead its participation in the project. Members raised funds for the Maritime Center and worked in the Center’s offices, offering support during the planning and development process. In 1986, membership approved a four-year extension of the League’s participation, including a commitment to raise $120,000 to build a Touch Tank exhibit, and the publication of a regional seafood cookbook to defray costs. Membership planned and participated in the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Aquarium which opened in the summer of 1988 and created the Martime Center’s newsletter. In 1989, the League celebrated the opening of the Touch Tank exhibit, receiving a Certificate of Environmental Achievement from Renew America for this project.
Fairfield County Women’s Center: 2003 – 2006
In September of 2003, the League launched the Fairfield County Women’s Center (FCWC) at Norwalk Community College (NCC). Committed to promoting the self-sufficiency, personal growth, and the overall advancement of women it was open to all women in the Norwalk area. Its programs focused on a variety of topics such as stress management, self defense, financial planning, personal organization, home ownership, resume writing, interviewing skills, body image, and public speaking. In 2005, it co-sponsored the New England Women’s Studies Conference at NCC. In 2006, it transitioned to a self-sustaining entity with funding ensured from NCC. During the two and a half year period the League owned the program, 2,018 people took advantage of this community resource. Of those, 375 received assistance by telephone and 1,643 were visitors to the FCWC or FCWC sponsored programs, of which 779 were NCC students. Fairfield County Women’s Center continues to be a valuable resource within the Norwalk community.
Diaper Co-Op: 2008-2013
The Diaper Co-Op launched in October 2008 with bi-weekly distributions of diapers and wipes to low income families in our community. Mothers and infants were hosted at a Family Fun Day and received gifts for the holidays and Mother’s Day. Within its first year, over 55,000 diapers were distributed. The Co-Op benefited from donations of funds and diapers from community foundations, corporations, schools, churches, and individuals. In the fall of 2009, the Diaper Co-Op celebrated its first anniversary with the distribution of its 100,000th diaper and a participant survey was conducted to determine how to better serve them. In 2010, members of JLSN’s Community Planning Committee participated in a round-table conference, Diaper Rights: Health, Hygiene and Public Policy, at Yale Law School. Public diaper drives reached a high point in 2011 when JLSN members attended the event “Hockey for Huggies” at a New York Rangers game and collected diapers and donations benefitting JLSN’s Diaper Co-Op. In 2013 the Co-Op was transitioned to the New Haven Diaper Bank as the League prepared to launch its current signature project, Read 2 Succeed.