ince 1956, The Junior League of Pensacola has provided opportunities for women to volunteer, collaborate and train for civic leadership.
“Junior League Pensacola is now, and always has been, a group of women interested in empowering themselves through volunteer action, collaboration, training and engagement with other women,” said Katherine Murphy Creel, president of Junior League Pensacola, Inc. and tax accountant at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund.
The organization continues to support children’s health and wellness, as it has from inception. Another constant is Lexie Thorsen, the executive director for 33 years. She embodies a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for Junior League of Pensacola.
In the six years Murphy Creel has been a member, some things have evolved with the times. Social changes demanded adaptation in how Junior League Pensacola raises funds. In years past, Market Basket and the Annual Bargain Sale were staples for Pensacola and surrounding communities. With the popularity of Etsy and many local makers’ markets, changing demands on the time of working women and a changing economy, Junior League developed two signature events to replace the dated fundraisers.
Each year, Junior League recognizes and celebrates the outstanding contributions of women and young ladies in the Pensacola area with the Women’s Empowerment Awards. These awards honor exceptional women of all ages, of diverse cultures and roles, celebrating the power of individuals to spark change and improve their community and beyond. Held in March, in 2023 the event will take place in the evening to accommodate the schedules of more working women. Nominations for deserving women in various categories such as Woman in Business, Woman in Philanthropy, Youth Woman in Leadership and Hometown Hero can be made at pensacola.jl.org/ empowerment.
Evening in White, held in April, is a pop-up picnic where attendees wear their most fabulous white attire and bring then-own picnic baskets and white decor. The fundraiser is held each year in a mystery location in Pensacola, the location remains a surprise until the day of the event. Proceeds from both the Women’s Empowerment Awards and Evening in White benefit the Junior League of Pensacola’s charitable outreach efforts.
One fundraiser that has remained the same is the sale of “Some Like it South!” - the Junior League’s cookbook, first published in 1984. At the time, cookbooks were a popular fundraiser for many Junior Leagues across the country, but quite an undertaking back then.
“No computer was used for layout, design or production,” Murphy Creel explained.
Yet the publication has stood the test of time with a place in most local kitchens. One of her favorite recipes has also stood the test of time - Hot Crab Dip is versatile enough for a tailgate, yet elegant enough for a New Year’s Eve celebration.
“By Invitation Only,” published in 2002, is a second book offered for sale by the Junior League. The format offers an entire menu plan along with recipes to make event planning creative and easy for today’s busy woman. Inventive celebrations include Blue Angel Air Show Beach Party,
Ghost Awakening and Gathering of the Goddesses.
Among Murphy Creel’s favorite recipes from this printing is Peach Pound Cake, put forward as a menu item for a traditional Southern Bridal Tea. “By Invitation Only” is beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Paul Jackson and is as much a coffee table book featuring Pensacola sites as a cookbook.
Other things have changed with the times, too. Membership requirements in the 1980s included rigorous volunteer hours. Now the organization is more inclusive with more relaxed volunteer requirements. Dues are $250 for New Members and $200 for Active Members, while Sustainers pay lower dues rates.
“Sustainers stick around just to have fun; they have no meeting or fundraising requirements, and only participate in community service as they like,” Murphy Creel said.
Unlike Junior Leagues in other cities, membership in the Pensacola chapter is open to anyone who has an interest in volunteering and a heart for the mission. Monthly meetings are held at the Pensacola Yacht Club and include an educational speaker. Recent speakers covered such timeless topics as voting issues and voter registration, diversity and inclusion and women’s health. The public is invited to open house events, held from April through the summer.
With a legacy of service and progress, Junior League of Pensacola members clearly have deep roots in the past and a strong heart for the future of Pensacola’s women and children.
Visit Pensacola.JL.org for details on upcoming open house events.
Magi Thomley Williams is a corporate consultant, writer, speaker, and trainer at Thomley Consulting. She can be reached at Magi@ThomleyConsulting.com .
Peach Pound Cake
From "By Invitation Only”
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 /4 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups chopped drained fresh peaches
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• 3 cups sugar
• 6 eggs
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 tsp. almond extract
Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Mix the peaches and sour cream in a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the peach mixture, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract.
Spoon into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 !4 hours or until the cake tests done. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar and serve with additional peaches and whipped cream.
You may substitute thawed frozen peaches for fresh when they are not in season.
Hot Crab Dip
From "Some Like It South!”
Yield: 4 cups
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 2 drops Tabasco sauce
• 1/2 tsp. pressed garlic
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 pound crabmeat, picked and cleaned
Melt cream cheese on top of double boiler. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat thoroughly and serve with crackers of your choice.