2013-11-07 / News

Islander named to board of Junior League of R.I.

By Ken Shane

Victoria McN ally Victoria McN ally A Jamestown woman has been put in charge of community service for an all-female volunteer organization that serves Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.

Victoria McNally was recently named to the board of directors of the Junior League of Rhode Island. McNally’s role on the board will be to direct the organization’s community-service council.

McNally has lived in Rhode Island all of her life. She grew up in Pawtucket, but spent summers in Jamestown. After graduating high school from Moses Brown in Providence, she enrolled in New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University where she studied elementary education and American history. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, McNally was off to graduate school at George Washington University where she got her master’s degree in museum education. Following a stint at a children’s museum in Washington, D.C., she returned home to the Ocean State.

Upon returning to Rhode Island, McNally got a job with the historic landmark Slater Mill in her hometown of Pawtucket. She then worked as an educator at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. She is currently a certified credit counselor with Money Management International in Warwick. McNally and her husband Mark moved to Jamestown in 1999.

It was when she returned home from the nation’s capital that Mc- Nally began to look for ways to serve the community.

“I wanted to be able to find something that would enable me to give back to the community and provide a volunteer opportunity,” she said, “and also to meet people and network.”

The Jamestown resident has been an active member of the Junior League for seven years. This is her second term on the board of directors. Her responsibilities with the community-service council include facilitating community projects and advocacy initiatives. She also develops programs for the Junior League’s new initiative that assists children who have aged out of the foster-care program. As an example, the league has recently furnished an apartment for a couple who have grown too old for foster parents.

The league also makes the community aware of eating better and exercising. The organization recently held a harvest fair in Smithfield where children could learn about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. The fair featured demonstrations by a fitness team, an executive chef, and master gardeners from the University of Rhode Island.

Since its founding in 1921, making it the third oldest branch of the international Junior League organization, the Providence-based group has worked with more than 250 nonprofits. Recently the organization has partnered with groups like the Amos House in Providence, the Rhode Island Autism Project, Crossroads Rhode Island, St. Mary’s Home for Children, and the Ronald McDonald House.

“We get involved in different projects,” McNally said. “We’re now focusing on kids aging out of foster care.”

The president of the Junior League of Rhode Island is Nancy Serpa of Newport. She has been with the organization for 12 years and has also served as finance director and communications director. She said the league is primarily a training organization that helps women to become civic and community leaders. Members have the opportunity to serve on a variety of different committees during their tenure, she says.

“It’s really a safe environment for members to try out different roles in the organization,” Serpa said. “They actually have a hand in managing a nonprofit while at the same time they improve communities through the various programs we offer.”

In the 92 years of the organization’s existence, Serpa said, members have donated more than 1 million hours of volunteer contributions. They’ve also raised $1.5 million. The volunteer hours and dollars have a combined present day value of $25 million in direct services to women and children in difficult circumstances.

According to Serpa, McNally has always assumed a leadership role within the community service realm on the Junior League.

“She has done everything from chairing committees, to taking on board positions, to being a part of our project development and spearheading this new issue of kids aging out of the foster-care system,” she said. “She has been a strong advocate for those in need and has a really caring approach to the work she does.”

Serpa said McNally is always making sure other members are satisfied and engaged in community service. It ensures that the Junior League has enough capacity to support the organizations it partners with.

McNally said the league welcomes women who are interested in helping support the organization’s mission: making women around the world a catalyst for lasting community change. In addition to helping communities, members also learn new skills that can help them navigate their way through the nonprofit world.

“We are always looking for people who are passionate about volunteerism, and are looking to improve lives and get skills of their own,” McNally said. “Since we are a training organization, we’re not only helping the community, we’re also helping women better themselves so that they can create change in the world.”

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