My JLW Story

Jinni Hayes‘ passion for voluntarism and empowering others began during childhood. Growing up in the foster care system, she learned early how simple acts of kindness and the giving of time and talent could transform an individual’s world. Witnessing her great-grandmother’s volunteer involvement with Wilmington Garden Day and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Jinni also learned the importance of giving back to the community at large. “As an adult, I realized I wanted to repay and replicate the generosity that I had experienced growing up,” Jinni recalls. “After reading about the incredible work the Junior League of Wilmington was doing with the Woodlawn Library and promoting literacy, I knew this was an organization I wanted to join!” Jinni’s involvement with the League has changed her life. Through various committee positions, leadership roles and service on the Board of Directors, she planned, coordinated and directed successful fundraising programs, public relations efforts and community programming and oversaw the development and implementation of a comprehensive fund-development plan. As the League’s president during 2012-13, she gained further capacity-building and leadership experience in operations, fundraising and membership. “As a result, I found I was qualified for many nonprofit positions,” she says. “I worked at the American Lung Association in Delaware as a development manager before taking a position as an integrated media consultant for WSTW/WDEL. I also serve on the Grant Committee for the Delaware Community Foundation Fund For Women, with the United Way Women’s Leadership Steering Committee and in the Christiana Rotary.” Jinni embodies the Junior League mission, showing the impact that the effective action of a trained volunteer can have in the community she chooses to serve.


Catherine Alvarez’s mother was a member and president of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so Catherine spent many childhood hours doing her homework at headquarters or helping with various League tasks and activities. As she grew older, she came to realize that the women she encountered were wonderful friends who provided a much-needed support system to each other through so many of life’s ups and downs. They also were a very powerful force in the community, with many going on to lead nonprofits, head businesses and hold political office. Catherine was living in Atlanta when she joined the Junior League herself in 2002. A move to the Brandywine Valley led her to transfer to the Junior League of Wilmington in 2007. “I immediately found the JLW to be very warm and welcoming, and my member advisor immediately went out of her way to try to find people living near me who might have something in common,” she recalls. “I also loved that I could become involved at a significant level right away and that there was never that sense of seniority or that you had to wait your turn to contribute significantly.” Serving on the Kitchen Tour Committee, Catherine loved the uplifting sense of camaraderie and accomplishment its members developed. She then chaired the Communications Committee and, before becoming a Sustainer in 2013, spent three years on the Board of Directors as secretary, assistant treasurer and treasurer. “Serving on the Board is something I highly encourage all Junior Leaguers to try,” she advises. “You will gain a wealth of knowledge about nonprofits, develop a sense of pride in our organization from a different perspective and make friends who will be by your side as you go through the major events of your life.” Catherine also greatly appreciates the hands-on career training she received. It was her League experience that helped her procure a job at Kind to Kids when she transitioned from being a stay-at-home mom in 2012. She has since become the development director for the Delaware Branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “Whether you want to be an executive director, a fundraising professional or coordinate the day-to-day operations of a start-up nonprofit,” she says, “you will find the experience you need with the League.”