Mid-Western Regional History
The origin of the Mid-Western Region began with the founding of the Columbus, Ohio Chapter in 1945. The Chapter hosted the National Convention in April 1947. It was the eighth chapter to be organized and was the first chapter not located in the Eastern area of the country. This represented the start of the spread of the organization. The chapters which later became organized into the Mid-Western Region contributed significantly to the early growth of the organization.
Between 1947 and the first Mother’s Regional in 1959 the following chapters were added:
It is noteworthy that our Founder Marion Stubbs Thomas was a charter member of the Detroit Chapter after moving from Philadelphia. From the very beginnings it has reflected the core values of the organization while embracing a Mid-Western flavor of commitment to excellence, leadership and innovative programming. The first teen conference was hosted by the Cleveland, Ohio Chapter in 1955. The first mother’s regional was hosted in 1959 by the Toledo, Ohio Chapter. As with other regions several chapters were impacted by the ebb and flow of a transitional target population. One example of this is the Wilberforce-Xenia Chapter which was tied to the Central State and Wilberforce colleges and disbanded when the core population was lost.
The Mid-Western Chapters provided leadership for the organization and for the Foundation throughout its history. Constance Bruce of the Columbus Chapter was the first National Corresponding Secretary. Alberta Turner and Eleanor C. DeLoache of Columbus were National Presidents, Sheryl Benning Thomas from the Detroit Chapter, Alice Leigh Peoples from the Ypsilanti Chapter and Jacqueline Moore Bowles of the Milwaukee Chapter also served as National President. Emma Bowman Benning of the Cleveland Chapter was long-time President of the Jack and Jill Foundation and now emeritus member of the executive board. She is also the mother of Sheryl Benning Thomas, 15th National President, who grew up in the Cleveland Chapter. In 2012, Jacqueline Moore Bowles was elected to serve as the President of the Jack and Jill Foundation after serving as National President of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The Chapters of the Mid-Western Region have been consistently among the highest contributors both teen and mothers to the Foundation. Our chapters raised large sums and are committed to the goals and aims of the Foundation.
The Region was the site of the first Teen Conference Service Projects which were held at the 1998 Teen Conference hosted by the Western Cook County Chapter. This concept was presented to the Foundation at its 1998 Board Meeting by Mid-Western Region Member-at-Large Alice Leigh Peoples. The Foundation was requested to provide support for the transportation of the teens throughout the Chicago area community to perform hands-on community service. It was embraced by the Foundation and executed under the leadership of Regional Director Sharon V. Clayton. The initiative was a great success and the practice has been embraced by several other regions and continues to align with the leadership development commitment of the Foundation.
The Mid-Western Region is organized into two clusters: Michigan/Ohio and Illinois Area. We have alternated between two and three clusters and initially held one cluster in the spring and one in the fall. The Clusters were moved to the fall in the late 1990s to ensure that all chapters received the information early in the program year to enhance its program and improve operations. Our teen and mothers clusters have grown significantly over the years and are widely attended.
Today, the Mid-Western Region is made up of over 1300 mothers and 1900 teens and children throughout our 8 states. We are represented by 34 chapters that are thriving and making positive contributions in the lives of children in their communities. We remain committed to equipping children to be leaders today and in the future. The region’s leadership and her chapters are focused on delivering programming that supports our current regional theme – Living the Jack and Jill Experience: Mission Minded, Dream Driven.
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Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of JJOA
P.O. Box 3744
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
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Members of the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc.
invite you to learn more about the largest and oldest African American family organization in the United States.