Nearly every week somewhere in Johnson County, members of Johnson County Young Matrons can be found making life better for seniors, children, students and families.
They may be painting a dining room for a senior living community, calling bingo for children in a residential program, sorting clothing at a shelter or dressing up like pioneers to assist with field trips back in time.
Since 1961, the organization has covered the county with grants and elbow grease.
“Their annual grant helps to fund education programs,” said Jennifer Laughlin, site director of the Shawnee Indian Mission National Historic Landmark.
“And they provide amazing volunteers for field trips, the fall festival and holiday decorating.”
The Friends of Shawnee Indian Mission is one of seven local philanthropies the Young Matrons are supporting this year.
“We are a hands-on organization,” said Eleanor “Snookie” Krumbiegel, president. “We provide support through financial donations, service projects and educational scholarships.
Since its founding, Krumbiegel said, the Young Matrons have donated more than $3 million to some 100 Johnson County organizations and student scholarships. Members also have contributed 657,603 volunteer hours.
Now more than 200 members strong, the Young Matrons was founded with 51 members in 1961. In the early years, members wanted their own clubhouse and they began putting away funds to build it.
The clubhouse never happened. Instead, the Young Matrons recognized a greater need in the community and voted in 1972 to purchase and prepare an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children. Temporary Lodging for Children was born.
Like a well-loved child, Temporary Lodging for Children grew and matured over the years into KidsTLC. The Olathe-based nonprofit now provides shelter and social services to children and youth throughout Kansas.
“We wouldn’t be here without the vision of the women in 1972,” said Elizabeth Hall, director of campus and community engagement.
KidsTLC serves children and youth ranging from 2 to 21 years of age who are facing mental and behavioral challenges, developmental trauma and autism.
To comfort those in the care of KidsTLC, the Young Matrons sew and assemble therapeutic weighted blankets. The blankets help calm those in crisis. This year, the Young Matrons created and donated 58 blankets.
The Johnson County Young Matrons focuses assistance on organizations and individuals in Johnson County but there are no residency restrictions to belong. They draw members ranging in age from 40s to 92 from both sides of the state line.
In October, Young Matrons volunteers helped paint a dining room at the Evergreen Community of Johnson County, a skilled nursing facility for 112 residents in Olathe.
Shay Ashley of Overland Park was one of the volunteer painters. Although she contributes some 200 volunteer hours a year, Ashley said she benefits as much as those she helps.
“I come away with a feeling that I am doing something for someone else who really needs it,” she said. “I have gained so much in comparison to what I give.”
But it’s not all work and no play.
The Young Matrons enjoy fundraising events such as home tours, bridge tournaments and in November a “wine and swine, where pork meets cork” party.
Because the organization depends entirely on volunteers, “100 percent of the proceeds go to our philanthropies and scholarships,” Krumbiegel said.
A busy holiday season doesn’t interrupt the members’ service to Johnson County.
The Young Matrons will continue to care for their community as they surprise residents as Secret Santas at the Evergreen Community of Johnson County, work shifts at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau, take up a collection for Thanksgiving at Safehome and decorate Shawnee Indian Mission for Christmas.
For more information about Johnson County Young Matrons:www.jcym.net