Greater Grand Rapids Chapter
Greater Grand Rapids Chapter

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 founded 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 Conference 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 Conference was hosted in 1959 by the Toledo, Ohio Chapter. As with other regions, several chapters were impacted by the ebb and flow of 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. Both from Columbus, Ohio, Alberta Turner served the organization as the 4th National President (1952) and Eleanor C. De-Loache was the 8th National President. Sheryl Benning Thomas of Detroit served as the 16th National President and Alice Leigh Peoples of Ypsilanti served as the 20th National President. Jacqueline Moore Bowles of the Milwaukee Chapter served two terms as the 21st National President of Jack and Jill, Inc. In 2008 at the 38th Biennial National Convention in Miami, the teen leadership modules were renamed and are now known as the Jacqueline Moore Bowles Teen Leadership Modules. Jacqueline Moore Bowles is currently serving as the President of Jack and Jill Foundation. Emma Bowman Benning of the Cleveland Chapter was long-time president of the Foundation and now emeritus member of the executive board. She is also the mother of Sheryl Benning Thomas, 16th National President who grew up in the Cleveland Chapter.

 

The Chapters of the Mid-Western Region have been consistently among the highest contributors to the Foundation, both teens and mothers. Our chapters have raised large sums and are committed to the goals and aims of the Foundation.  The Mid-Western 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 cluster groups: the Michigan/Ohio Area and the Illinois Area. Initially, we alternated between two and three workday cluster meetings per year; sometimes holding one cluster meeting in the spring and one in the fall. We now conduct two (2) Area Workday Cluster meetings per year, one for each area. Both were moved to the fall in the late 1990s to ensure that all chapters received the information early in the program year to enhance rogramming and improve operations. Our Area Workday Clusters have grown significantly over the years and are widely attended.

Where to Find Us:

Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of JJOA
P.O. Box 3744
Grand Rapids, MI 49501

Email: GGRJJOA@gmail.com

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