The Junior League of Columbia Is Amazing.

Thursday evening my wife, Jennifer, and I attended an event I’ve not missed for 15ish years. The meeting was the Junior League of Columbia’s Annual End of the Year Awards Celebration.

Once again The League put on an awesome program, of course. That said, there was a little side note going on. Here’s the scene; Jennifer and I arrived a little late for the Sponsor’s Reception.  JLC President, Jennifer Robinson, started a program which honors the “Friend of The League Award,” and the “Sustainer Lifetime Achievement Recipient.” All is awesome.

During Jennifer Robinson’s talk, a longtime friend of mine, Jane Ruschky, was standing behind my wife and me having fun and super candidly blasting in my ear (so Jennifer could hear clearly), “Dude, forget it. This is not your trophy. They are not talking about your ass. You need to know this. We love you, but c’mon….” I just keep telling her, “Buddy. I know, I know. I’m here because I want to be.” She persists, “I mean, you do know you’re not getting anything. Right?”

Jennifer Robinson took a few steps to the side and my friend and Fund Development Chair, Emily Brady Bedenbaugh, started to speak about how someone in the room had a 10+ year relationship with The League. She kept on…

Jane blows out, “Holy S*^*.. What? No. Way. They ARE talking about you?!” and doubles over laughing (hitting me with that high pony tail you see in the pic above).

Jane caught on to what was going on before I did, and when she called it, my jaw dropped. I was so taken aback that Emily had to leave her corner to bring this wonderful symbol of appreciation to our side of the room.

The pic above is a good snapshot of what was going on. Emily was so generous and elegant while I was trying to hide Jane busting a gut at herself behind us. My wife is in the blue and white dress, directly between Emily and Jane. Mandy Wren is to the left of the pic thinking, “What is so funny….?”

It was an amazing and memorable moment that ended up being funny, too. To my friend, Emily… It’s one I won’t soon forget. Thank you!!!

To the League business at hand; The Junior League of Columbia posted a massive number of $350,000 for the 2016-2017 year. This sum includes receipts from annual events such as  Holiday Market, Clean Sweep, Touch-A-Truck, and Fund Development (Direct Monetary Gifting).

I was thrilled with Jennifer Robinson posted this number on the screen. I was so proud of my local philanthropy of choice, again.

Along with Jennifer S. Jones, I had the pleasure of presenting the Kinsey Black Jones Award to the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, Year ‘Active Member’ of the League. This year’s recipient is Hilary Brannon. I got to know her husband in the back of the venue as the evening progressed. I was elated to give Hilary the award and I know the Black family would feel the same. I could tell Hilary and her friends were excited when Jennifer Robinson ‘gave it away’ in the first sentence of her introduction. It was fun to watch everyone sit up as their faces lit up in the section sitting around Hilary.

It’s getting late and I’ve typed a little long tonight, but given many readers of this blog were in the room at the time of the presentation, I thought it was a good story to tell. I will type a little later about what this gift and gesture from the League means to me and how we all got here.

At the end of the night the League’s new president, Mandy Wren, closed the meeting, which will open a new year with some thoughts and perhaps a theme. During her speech, she reminded us of quote from the late ESPN television professional, Stuart Scott. She said,”Life consists of two dates and a dash in between. Make the dash count.”

I like that.

Franklin Jones

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