To go along with President Patti’s theme of “Crafting a Brighter Future for Our Veterans”, and the Junior’s being known as “Crafters” their theme has been “Juniors building and crafting a bigger and stronger path to help make a better future for their Veterans”. I am continuing to encourage all our Senior members to help bring together and work with all of our Junior Crafters. We should think of them as apprentices and us Senior members as their teachers. Guide them and encourage them. Don’t just tell them what to do. Give them a chance to be involved in the entire development of a project. From the decision on what type of project to do to how the project will be completed. I am continuing to encourage all Units, District and Divisions that have Junior groups to embrace this theme. Continue to do activities that will encourage and teach the Juniors how important they are to this organization and to the welfare of our Veterans, military, military families, and their surrounding community. Unless we take the time now to do this, our future as an organization may not be very bright. The younger you can start a child in helping others and doing volunteer work, the higher the chance that when they become adults, they will continue to do volunteer work. That is because it has become second nature to them, and they won’t think twice about jumping in to help. Also, when working with the Juniors on a project and they give you a suggestion, absolutely, positively do not ever just dismiss their suggestion or say, “that won’t work” and walk away. This will discourage them from participating. Instead, tell them “That was a great suggestion, but this is why it won’t work ………………, do you have any other suggestion”. This way, they know you did listen to what they said and are still interested other ideas they may have. Who knows, they might just surprise you with an idea that you hadn’t thought of, or they may even come up with a way to make their idea work that you just told them wouldn’t. Remember, just because your Unit has always done something a certain way or because you tried something one time doesn’t mean it can’t change with the times or a new idea that wasn’t thought of before, might actually fix the problem.
Coming up very quickly is our three Junior conferences this year. The first one will be held in the 5th Division, District 24 at Unit 176 in Fairfield on Saturday, April 2nd, the 2nd one will be held in the 2nd Division, 11th District at Unit 18 in Lockport on April 23rd. The 3rd one will be held in the 4th Division, District 19 at Unit 55 in Farmer City on April 30th.
At our Junior Conference, our Juniors will be learning how a poppy is made. They will be learning the difference between a National Poppy and an Illinois Poppy. They will also have the opportunity to make two poppies themselves. One they will be putting inside a wooden box that they will be decorating for President Patti to give to a veteran and one for them to keep as a reminder of what the poppy stands for. They will have chances to win prizes, as you can see in front of me. These are just some of them. They will be playing games that they will learn to work together as a team. Of course, they will be doing crafts since they are crafters. Don’t forget to bring their entries for the different contest.
Now, for us to have a great Junior Convention, we need to be able to keep the cost of the conventions down. By doing the three conferences this helps to cut down on the cost of hotels. This will help more Juniors to be able to attend since it is just a, one day event near most of them. Not all Juniors can afford the hotel stay. There are still other costs involved in putting on these conferences that we do need to raise money for so that we don’t have to charge the Juniors to attend, so thank you to everyone who bought tickets at the Junior Raffle during the Patriotic Conference. To all the Units, District and Divisions that have a Junior group, I encourage you to find ways to help your Juniors to raise money towards the Junior Conference if they do need to stay in a hotel. This may help some of the girls who don’t normally have the money to come to have a chance to come. If you check around, you may find that you have a lot more Juniors that want to attend than you know of. Once again, I am challenging every District to have at least 5 Juniors attend the Junior Conference. A certificate will be given to each District that meets this challenge. The Juniors can attend any of the Junior Conferences they choose. If they can’t make the one near them due to the date, they can attend any of the other ones. ALSO, DO NOT FORGET that the Junior members of the Sons of the American Legion can also attend and participate in the Conference. The only thing they are not able to participate in is holding an office or graduation. Everything else they are included in.
Our Department’s Honorary Junior President Hayden Freeman along with two other Juniors, attended this years National Junior Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana this past February. Please take time to read the article that Honorary Junior President Hayden Freeman wrote for the upcoming ALA Today on her experience at the National Junior Conference.
Please continue to encourage your Juniors to work on their Junior patch programs. If you have not looked at the Patch Program, please do so, it has great ideas on projects you can do with your Juniors. You can get all the patch requirements from the National Website. Juniors are our future. The patch programs help to train our Juniors on our various programs so, by the time they become Seniors, they already have an idea what the organization and all the programs are about. Remember, without them, there will be no American Legion Auxiliary in the future to help our Veterans.
This year at the 2022 Department Convention I will be giving out some awards. They are as follows:
The Department award will be:
Deb’s Zoo Crew Plaque – to the Unit for the best overall participation in the Junior Activities Program.
My Personal Awards will be:
$5 to the Unit bringing the most Juniors to Department Junior Conferences
$5 to the District with the most Juniors at Department Junior Conferences
$5 to the Division with the most Juniors at Department Junior Conferences
$5 to the Unit bringing the most contest entries to Department Junior Conferences
I would like to thank everyone who has been helping this to be a wonderful year for our Crafters as they have been building and crafting a bigger and stronger path to help make a better future for their Veterans. Remember they are our future for this organization. If we don’t make this a good experience for them now, the chances are that their future won’t include being a part of our organization.
Our 67th Junior Conferences are fast approaching. We will be having (3) Junior Conferences again this year. They will be held in the 5th Division at Unit 176 in Fairfield on April 2, 2022, in the 2nd Division at Unit 18 in Lockport on April 23, 2022 and in the 4th Division at Unit 55 in Farmer City on April 30th. This may not be the traditional forum that everyone is used to, but it will be filled with learning and fun. Safety will be a top priority. The Juniors may attend any of the locations. If they can’t make it to the one in their area, encourage them to go to one of the other ones. Remember, they are our organization’s future, so keep a look out and start getting your juniors excited about this upcoming event. Let them know that once again, we will hold a talent show for any of the Juniors that would like to show off their talent. Also, if you know of any Sons of the American Legion Juniors who would be interested in coming, they are welcome to attend also. They just will not be able to run for office. I would still love to have a total of at least 100 juniors to attend these conferences. This is totally possible if each District would bring at least (5) Juniors to any one of the three conferences. Wouldn’t that be such great achievement? Start looking for the registration forms. They will be available in the ALA Today and online. Please be sure to fill these out and send them into Department by the deadlines that will be listed. This way we can be sure to have enough items at each stop.
Start looking around and talking to your Juniors about running for either Honorary Junior President or Honorary Junior Vice President for the 2022-2023 year. If they are interested, they will need to make a campaign video and submit it to Tina Abdelnour at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a thumb drive to 209 S. Barnett St, Le Roy, IL 61752 no later than March 20, 2022. When making the video, they will need someone to nominate them. They are to say who is nominating the Junior, the Junior’s name who they are nomi-nating and for what position. The candidate should then take over and let everyone know how she is eligible to be a member, why she would be a good in the position, what she would like to see the Juniors accomplish for the upcoming year and whatever else she would like to say. BE AS CREATIVE as possible. Make it fun for the Juniors at the conferences to watch. Please try to keep it within three minutes.
Please keep working on those junior patches. We have had several Juniors working on patches this year. Don’t forget, Sons of the American Legion Juniors are also eligible to earn these patches. There has already been a SAL Junior who has earned a patch this year. The Patch program is a good way to teach our juniors about patriotism, service, and teamwork. These patches also help to train them for when they become Senior members and hopefully help them to want to continue in our organization. Also, include the juniors in your fundraising activities. They so much love to help out especially with the adults. If you go visit Veterans, take a junior. That would really put a smile on a Veterans face.