Welcome from the President

I am so proud to be serving as the 95th President of the Junior League of Grand Rapids. I joined the Junior League in 2012 when I was brand new to Grand Rapids, and I had just moved here for work. I didn’t know a single person other than a few new office mates. Junior League soon became a network of best friends. I have seen Junior Leaguers support each other through the greatest joys and the lowest lows. This network of women is the true definition of community.

While I joined to make friends, I soon realized that the Junior League is a total powerhouse for training women leaders. I can honestly say that the Junior League leadership training is more organized, more translatable, and more effective than any other training I have ever had, including Army training. And the Army is pretty organized. : ) I am constantly blown away by the passion that our members have for leading other women in community action.

The Junior League of Grand Rapids has served the local community since 1925. Our local mission focuses specifically on improving children’s physical health. Over the years, we’ve worked with Mary Free Bed, Grand Rapids Public Schools, the YMCA, the YWCA, CASA, St. John’s Home, Artists Creating Together (Very Special Arts), Habitat for Humanity, Kids’ Food Basket, and countless other non-profit organizations providing services that benefit children. We are part of a network of 140,000 other volunteers across 291 Junior Leagues in four countries.

Two of our local signature projects here in Grand Rapids are Kids in the Kitchen and our Wellness Adventure Yards. Through Kids in the Kitchen, which began in 2006, we teach children and families about nutrition and healthy lifestyles through games, interactive food preparation, and fun ways to exercise.

Our Wellness Adventure Yards are innovative, state-of-the-art playgrounds that serve specific populations and locations in need of access to safe play. I have been so proud to see our first two Wellness Adventure Yards crop up – the first in 2014 at the YWCA-Wege Sojourner House (formerly the Domestic Crisis Center), and our second in 2018 at the Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center, an urban public charter elementary school. Our third one will be installed this year at the Ted Rasberry field near Hall St SE and Division Ave. All of our Wellness Adventure Yards serve areas of the city that are in critical need of access to safe play.

It is with the greatest pleasure that I welcome you to the Junior League – whether as a prospective new member, an active member, a sustaining member, a donor, a sponsor, or a community member. We are here to lead and serve, and I can’t wait to see where this year takes us.

Sincerely,

Tessa Hessmiller

Junior League of Grand Rapids President 2019-2020