A Publication of WTVP

Through dedication and collaboration, the Junior League of Peoria has strived to meet the community’s underserved needs for nearly 80 years.

In 1901, Mary Harriman formed The Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements. Harriman mobilized 80 young women to work to improve child health, nutrition and literacy among immigrants living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. By 1921, dozens of Junior Leagues had formed across the United States, and 30 banded together to form the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI). In 1936, the Service League of Peoria, founded in 1931, was accepted by the AJLI and became the Junior League of Peoria with 83 members.

AJLI and every one of the 292 Junior Leagues today throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States share a mission. Each is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Our purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

For more than 75 years, the Junior League of Peoria has developed lasting and high-impact programming that meets the community’s underserved needs. At the same time, it has provided hundreds of women the rare opportunity to develop their skills as best-in-class civic and community leaders.

The Junior League of Peoria, and the dedicated women who have supported it for decades, makes its mark on Peoria with more than 65 community programs. Not every idea becomes a program or project. The Junior League assesses community needs, member support and overall viability. After countless hours of research and planning, the entire membership votes whether or not to approve the program. Once approved, members quickly take action and implement the program under the guidance of a committee and the board of directors, managing each program until it has matured. A partnership is formed between the League and another community organization that best serves that demographic and need. The Junior League provides support during a turnover transition until the organization can run the program to its fullest potential.

Past programs spanned as few as two years and up to decades, several of which are still part of the Peoria community today through the leadership of the League’s partners. Some of the most well known include:

Today, the Junior League of Peoria has nearly 400 active and sustaining volunteers. Not only do these members serve within the Junior League and its programs, but many are highly active in other community organizations, have successful careers in the business community and serve on nonprofit boards. Members take the skills they learn in the Junior League and apply them to both their professional and community volunteer work.

Current Junior League of Peoria projects focus on the issue of children’s education:

2013 is a special year as it marks the 125th birthday of the Ballance-Herschel House, the Junior League of Peoria’s historic headquarters. Built in 1888 by Willis H. Ballance Sr., the Ballance-Herschel House serves as a reminder of Peoria’s vibrant past and is an important fixture in the organization’s community work. The Junior League purchased the Ballance-Herschel House in 1979 with the goal to not only restore the home, but also to become part of the community and downtown revitalization. Thanks to the efforts of countless members over the years, it has been successfully restored to its original state. Today, the Ballance-Herschel House continues to serve as headquarters for the Junior League of Peoria and stands as a visible statement in support of historic preservation.

The success of the Junior League of Peoria requires the commitment and dedication of every single member and collaboration with our community partners. Together we are building a better community! iBi

To learn more, visit