By Kyle LoJacono
Darby Frankfurth has grown up in the New Tampa Juniorettes club, spending countless hours volunteering to make the Tampa Bay area a better place.
Now, the Wharton High senior has the chance to shape the future of the organization. Darby was elected state director of the Juniorettes by her peers at the group’s annual summer meeting in Gainesville on June 22.
“I definitely feel really honored,” Darby said. “For them to choose me, I feel really confident because they did vote for me. I feel really thankful for them to have the confidence in me to be their state director.”
She will serve as the director for one year, where she will work with other branches of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs (GFWC) within the state to further the organization’s volunteerism.
Her mother, Jolie, just concluded her two-year term as the director of the Juniors, which is for women ages 18 to 40. It is only the second time since the Juniorettes formed in 1983 that a mother and daughter have served as directors for the two organizations.
Darby was introduced to the organization when Jolie became a charter member of the New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club in 1997. She joined the Juniorettes, the branch of the GFWC for those ages 12 to 18, while a sixth-grader at Terrace Community Middle.
“My mom has been a part of it for a long time, so when I was old enough I wanted to try it out too,” Darby said. She added, “We volunteer a lot, and I love being able to help people.”
She has done a lot of helping in her six years with the Juniorettes, including chipping in at Feeding America Tampa Bay, along with building Personal Energy Transportation (PET) vehicles.
“They make this kind of like bicycles with a trunk, and they’re for people in Third World countries,” Darby said. “They can hand-pedal them so they can move food and things that they sell. We put them together and pack them in boxes to send to those countries.”
Jolie said building the PETs was the “coolest” think she has seen the Juniorettes do.
“They taught them how to use screwdrivers and hammers to build these things,” Jolie said. She added. “It was so cool to see the girls build them and to know how it’s helping people. They’ve been doing that since Darby started with the Juniorettes.”
Darby also had the honor of planting the 1,000th pinwheel at GFWC state headquarters in Lakeland.
Creating the pinwheel garden is meant to bring attention to fighting child abuse, and Darby has chosen domestic violence awareness as her theme for the year.
“Earlier this year we had somebody come and talk to us about teen dating and being safe,” Darby said. “I wanted to incorporate that into it because all the Juniorettes are teenagers. It would help them to be safe while dating and seeing the signs of an abuser. … I want to encourage all the Juniorettes to be a part of some kind of domestic violence prevention organization, like a shelter or something like that.”
Along with her new role, Darby was also the previous leadership coordinator for the state Juniorettes board and former president of the New Tampa Juniorettes.
“She has become a leader because of Juniorettes, but she has also seen the downtrodden,” Jolie said. “She’s been to downtown Tampa working with the missions and feeding the hungry. I think kids grow in a different direction when they see what could be, and it’s so easy in the economy today for people to be living on the street. … Most of the kids in the New Tampa area are used to getting what they want. The best thing for (Darby) is to go out there and see that there are a lot of people less fortunate.”
The New Tampa Juniorettes is accepting new members. Those interested should visit www.GFWCNewTampaJuniors.org/Juniorettes.