Junior Leagues are usually focused on issues and problems in their own communities. But what can we do to make a difference when the issue we want to address goes beyond our community’s borders?

A joint action by the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee (CalSPAC), which represents more than 11,000 members of 16 Junior Leagues across California (including the Junior League of Los Angeles), and the Junior League of Los Angeles (JLLA) provides a useful model.

Kelly Abraham Martinez was a young mother who took her own life in 2010, three months after the birth of her daughter. This tragedy focused national attention on the dangers of perinatal depression and the potential for a severe case, as with Kelly Martinez’, to develop into postpartum psychosis.

Kelly’s husband, Raul, said, “After the Junior League of Los Angeles and CalSPAC heard about a tragedy that happened to our family, they took the initiative to lobby the California Legislature to pass a resolution to raise awareness about a very important issue and to reduce the chances that this type of tragedy will happen again to other women throughout the State of California.”

He added, “I don’t know why they’re called the ‘Junior’ League since there’s nothing small about them. They envision big goals, create a plan to achieve those big goals, and tirelessly execute that plan to accomplish those big goals, which inevitably improve the lives of those in the communities they serve.”

Last year, CalSPAC worked with Assembly Member Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) to sponsor Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 105, which declared May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month in California.

This year, CalSPAC and JLLA, working together, returned to Sacramento to co-sponsor ACR 53, also known as the “Kelly Abraham Martinez Act.” The act, passed in July, focuses on increasing awareness regarding the proactive measures that healthcare providers and women and their families can take to understand risk factors and triggers in hopes of heading off this devastating disease.

For more information about ACR 53 and the partnership between CalSPAC and JLLA, go here and here.