The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 16, 2011

Serving Enid a Return Engagement for JWL

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

— Enid’s Junior Welfare League has served the community for more than 80 years and continues to do so today.

The group began in the fall of 1930 by women who saw a need in the Enid community during the Great Depression.

With an initial membership of about 100, the group’s mission was twofold: relieve misery and suffering in the community and train members for efficient volunteer work.

Established as a general charitable organization, the group began identifying community needs and collecting and distributing food, fuel and old and new clothing for needy families.

Current president Eva Bartley said ladies would host “bundle teas” and bring gently used clothing to be sorted for distribution to the needy.

“Around 1949, the clothes bank began,” she said. “This was done as a way to preserve the dignity of those in the community that were unable to pay for clothing.”

In the early 1950s the group began fundraising to build a permanent location for Junior Welfare League and its thrift store, which held its grand opening in 1953.

In 1974, JWL expanded into its current location at Independence and Garriott. In 1985, the thrift shop underwent an update and re-opened as Return Engagement.

Bartley said the store, 201 W. Garriott, has three part-time employees, is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and is closed Sunday.

“Our organization of 75 women puts in over 2,000 hours of volunteer work to keep the store stocked and operating each year,” she said. “We sell clothing and shoes for women, men and children; furniture; and household items.”

She said the store would like to see more donations from the community. Donations can be dropped off at the store during business hours.

“The majority of our clothing and household items are brought in by members and past members of Junior Welfare League, but we appreciate and accept gently used donations from the community,” Bartley said. “We also sell our two cookbooks, ‘Stir Ups’ and ‘Cooking By the Bootstraps,’ from our Return Engagement Store.”

Money raised through the store is organized by the group’s finance committee, Bartley said, which takes funding assistance requests from the community. The clothing education and welfare committee fills clothing, shoe and school supplies requests from area schools.

“Our mission is promote volunteerism,” Bartley said, “and we are committed to improving our community through action, education and leadership.”