1989 - 1999
In 1989, the League began a project to restore the J. R. Levy House. Built in 1894, the Levy House was the home of the first African American physician in Florence. The house was moved to its new location on Griffin and Day Streets on the McLeod Regional Medical Center Campus on March 23, 1991. On September 15, 1982 the League and the community celebrated the Levy House Grand Opening. The house was used for various League and other community boards and committees, serving as the League's Headquarters until 1996.
For the first 41 years, the Junior League grew in size and concept. League members always wanted to be affiliated with the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) and was, on October 29, 1989, officially accepted as part of the AJLI and changed its name to The Junior League of Florence, Inc.
In 1989, Florence County's infant mortality rate was one of the highest in the country. The League received a grant from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to study infant mortality and identify barriers to prenatal care as well as to organize a local task force and programs to raise awareness.
Also in 1989, the League introduced a new fundraiser-- Mardi Gras. With help from the community, local businesses, and League volunteers, it was an immediate success. Since that time-- except for 1993 and 1998-- Mardi Gras was our annual fundraiser until the introduction of the Merry Marketplace. In the fall of 1991, the League established its first continuous fundraiser, Ditto Resale Shop. This financial endeavor proved to be extremely profitable for the League and allowed us to provide clothing and other resources for needy individuals and families.
After several years of research and cooperative effort among League members, McLeod Medical Center professionals, and community representatives, The Parents' Manual was published in 1993. This publication is an easy-to-use guide for parents with children from preschool to high school ages. Topics include education, recreation, social, and medical resources. By 1995, over 20,000 copies had been distributed throughout the Pee Dee area and are still being distributed today.
Kaleidoscope Kids, another marionettes troupe, produced their first shows in 1993 and 1994. Two skits, "Everyone is Special" and "Friendships" were designed to help second graders work through issues of self-concept and social skills development. Also in 1993–94 we made a new commitment of volunteers and funding to Florence School District One. The Rainbow Riders project was developed to give third graders valuable educational experience to enhance their class curriculums.
Starting in 1994, the Junior League of Florence has given $12,000 to support the Rainbow Riders program. The third grade students of Florence School District One have experienced trips to Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC, the State Museum in Columbia, SC, the aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC and many more trips around Florence and the Pee Dee area as a result.
In 1995, the League began looking for a permanent home. The Russell House (located at 1502 W. Palmetto Street) proved to be ideal for the League's needs. The League continues to use this facility today for its Headquarters as well as for board and committee meetings. The house is available for rental to all League Members and the community.
With the League's sponsorship, the Hall Mark Kaleidoscope Project came rolling into town in April of 1997. The huge purple tent housed various hands-on art projects that provided area children with weeks of fun, fellowship, and art. All of the League projects including Kaleidoscope Kids, Marionettes, and Rainbow Riders helped make the school year a little brighter for Florence students.
During the year of 1997-1998 the Junior League of Florence celebrated 50 years of service to the Florence community. The Marionettes troupe-- the League's oldest volunteer service-- celebrated its 40th year of performing for area kindergarten students and the League presented its 10th Follies Production.
The League continued to support its current projects in 1998-1999: Kaleidoscope Kids, Marionettes, Rainbow Riders, and The Parents Manual. Due to the success of the Mardi Gras fundraiser, an additional $15,000 was given to The House of Hope, a homeless shelter for women and children of the Pee Dee. The League also initiated two new projects-- Attire to Inspire and Leaders In Action. Attire To Inspire allows women from the House of Hope and the Pee Dee Coalition to obtain business attire at no cost from the Ditto Resale Shop to be used for interviews and court appearances. Leaders In Action recognizes area high school women who have shown outstanding community concern and involvement.