We have “The Power to make the Difference”, has all been possible because of the wonderful support of our families. Many thanks to our amazing executive board, founding members, members, committee chairs, grade group chairs, and dads for supporting mission and vision of the Western Maryland Chapter.
The Western Maryland Chapter started with the interest of our first President, Dr. Stephanie Brown. On Oct 13, 2012 the Western Maryland Cultural Alliance of Moms, affectionately known as WMCAM began at a Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Montgomery County chapter interest breakfast. The idea sparked Stephanie’s interest even more when the Montgomery County chapter Vice-President and Membership Chair, Allora Goode Cyrus encouraged and supported the interest group through the preliminary processes.
The group was sponsored and mentored by the enduring and loving support of the Baltimore Chapter under the leadership of their thirty-seventh president, Angela Walker. The grace and eloquence of the Baltimore mothers guided the interest group through the breadth and depth of the Jack and Jill of America experience. Many thanks to the Baltimore Chapter.
The course of the Cultural Alliance of Moms was charted; the first leadership and executive board includes, Dr. Stephanie Brown; President, Dr. Sharnine Herbert-Amoah, Membership Chair and Vice President; Erica Gordon Hyman, Program Director; Yokechia Kenyatta, Recording Secretary; Tiffany Burnett, Corresponding Secretary; Tina Cheney, Treasurer; Niya Yeboah, Financial Secretary; Protean Gibril as Editor/Historian; Andrea Dardello, Parliamentarian. Our Teens, known as the Ujoma Movement was lead by, Lauryn Daniels as President and Jar’en Kenyatta as Vice President.
Most of the WMCAM members lived in a wide range of lovely, small town communities from Mount Airy, Frederick, and Hagerstown, Maryland. Dr. Renee Thomas-Spencer, a well known physician and native Fredericktonian, began recruitment efforts to include a host of talented women in her personal and professional networks. The growth of our interest group and present chapter was largely due to the efforts of Dr. Thomas-Spencer. Many of WMCAM’s activities focused on the strengthening friendship and bonding among the parents and children of grade groups. We all had a common objective of continued prayers to God for the wisdom the group needed to simply raise children who are kind and respectful.
Our commitment to teaching our children to be aware of who they are, the history of their people, and the beauty of living in a world where everyone is different – just the way the universe intended has remained salient. Our children are encouraged to never make apologies to anyone for who they are, embrace themselves, hold their heads high, never forgetting that what makes you different also makes you who you are – just as our ancestors strove and purported.
Our second year, effort and time was spent organizing
The course of the Cultural Alliance of Moms was charted; the rst leadership and executive board and restructuring the Mothers’ Club in accordance with the national program guidelines of Jack and Jill of America. Inc. On November 16, 2014, two years after its inception, the Western Maryland Cultural Alliance of Moms became the Western Maryland Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated with fifteen Charter Members at the 42nd National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
The JJWMC chartering 15 mothers are forever to remembered for their dedication and sacrifices for our chapter: Our founding mothers are: Dr. Sharnine S. Herbert-Amoah, Dr. Stephanie Brown, Tiffany Burnett, Tina Cheney, Seslie Daniels, Andrea Dardello, Protean Gibril, Tracy Hilliard, Erica Gordon-Hyman, Dr. Tyra Kane, Yokechia Kenyatta, Toya Newman-Piermarini, Joanne Sweeney, Dr. Renee Thomas-Spencer, and Niya Yeboah.
In addition to our mothers and chapter being installed on this day, our chapter fathers took an oath to support the mission of their wives and to remain committed to the journey that these chartering mothers set forth for their children. To date, our dads have lived up their word and have continued to grow in their support of our chapter. Our Father’s Auxiliary was established in 2016.
The following year, we welcomed five new families and since that time the Chapter has grown significantly. Our membership currently includes over 28 families and more than 50 participating children and teens. We continue to nurture the e orts and talents of our members, the quality of our children’s programs, and broadening our commitment to the local community.
Recognizing the royal ancestry of mothers, our founding leaders locally, regionally, and nationally, the Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Western Maryland Chapter present and future will continue in the wonderful traditions established by our founders.
By sponsoring numerous educational projects, cultural programs, and social activities over the last four years, we have provided a keen focus for increasing educational and mental awareness among our grade groups. We continue to nurture our children and teens positive growth, and encourage an appreciation of our royal African culture.
Our mothers continue their commitment and attention to serving the needs of our community and instill the value of service in our youth. In our four year legacy, we have three “Mother of the Year” recipients: our first year, Dr. Stephanie Brown, second year, Dr. Sharnine Herbert-Amoah and third year, Niya Yeboah. We thank them dearly for their commitment to service.
With the legacy of the mothers before us, and our commitment to collective work, the mothers of the Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Western Maryland Chapter have garnered the power to change the lives of our own children and others in our community. Working together we will continue to demonstrate “The Power to Make A Difference”.
Eastern Regional History
The idea that Marion Stubbs Thomas espoused at the gathering of friends at the initial meeting concerning the development of a club that would bring their children together in a close social and cultural relationship was met with great enthusiasm. Because there were more children than a home could comfortably accommodate, the children met once a month at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). It soon became necessary to plan specially for each gathering; therefore, the mothers deemed it wise to have a “Mothers” Meeting for this purpose. Such was the humble beginning in the East- Philadelphia.
1939-1940, 1944 (New York and Washington, D.C.)
The second Jack and Jill group to organize was the New York Chapter in 1939. The Washington, DC Chapter was started by Marguerite Green in March 1940. Four years later, the success of Jack and Jill programs in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York picked up momentum. The enthusiasm and interest in the concept of such an organization began to spread.
1944 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Toki Schalk Johnson, presented to a group of Pittsburgh mothers the idea of forming a similar club. Marjorie Butler became Pittsburgh’s first president. Under her capable guidance began one of the most successful chapters of Jack and Jill.
1945 (Buffalo, New York)
Following the shadows of Pittsburgh, a group of mothers of Buffalo, New York were nurturing the same idea. The first group of prospective Jack and Jill members met in September 1945 to organize. The charter membership of twelve elected Edna Seay as their first Chapter President.
The Eastern Region tentacles were in a continuous growth pattern during this three year period with the chartering of chapters in Baltimore, Maryland and Boston, Massachusetts. A national organization committee was mobilized representing these seven Eastern Region chapters and three additional chapters in the Mid-Atlantic, Central and Mid-Western Regions. The committee met in Philadelphia on June, 1946 to make plans for bringing these groups together as one body.
The Eastern Region expansion had been phenomenal from the beginning and now Atlantic City, New Jersey and Springfield, Massachusetts were being added to the roster. Nathalie Johnson initiated the move to organize the North Jersey Chapter. The North Jersey Chapter officially joined the National Organization in June 1950. Because of the rural aspects of North Jersey, it was impossible to limit membership to a particular town; instead it was limited to a mileage radius.
The Eastern region resurfaced with the addition of the Lincoln University, Pennsylvania Chapter.
To Dorothy Wright of Philadelphia, the first National President, we owe our appreciation for guiding us through the difficult period of organization. Further, under the leadership of Emile Pickens of New York, Second National President, marked progress was made toward the realization of Jack and Jill objectives. Edna Seay of Buffalo, our Third National President served in the capacity of national officer since its inception and guided and directed the group wisely and efficiently to the place we assume in our communities today. The Eastern Region owes gratitude to Ida Murphy Smith of Baltimore for her high standards as Editor of the first edition of UP THE HILL; Helen Prattis of Pittsburgh and Vernice Wynn of Baltimore for the wonderful and difficult job they performed in the capacity of Secretary/Treasurer. It was necessary for all of the chapters to seek advice and grateful thanks were echoed for the guidance given by Sara Scott of Philadelphia, Program Chairman.
The idea of a regional plan for the National Organization was first advanced at the 3rd annual meeting of Jack and Jill of America Inc., held in Washington, D.C. in 1948. It was suggested that three regions (East, Midwest and West) be established to (1) shorten the travel time to annual meetings; (2) allow more time for discussions and (3) allow the inclusion of children at the meetings. For several years, a regional organizational plan was discussed during annual national conventions. These discussions were fueled by a hugely successful Teen regional conference organized and hosted by the Philadelphia Chapter in June 1951 around the year’s program year of study and research on Haiti.
At the 1957 National Convention held in San Francisco, the Regional Plan of the Organization was finally adopted and Regional Directors were appointed or elected. The first Regional meetings were held in 1959, and the decision was made to alternate years between the Regional and National conventions.
Hence, each is held every two years. Currently, the organization is divided into seven regions—Central, Eastern, Far West, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-Western, South Central and Southeastern. Each of the seven regions has four officers—Regional Director, Regional Treasurer, Regional Secretary, and Foundation Member-At-Large, who are responsible for providing continuity between the National Executive Board and the chapters in the respective regions. The Regional Officers are elected during the Biennial Regional Conferences, which convene on the odd numbered years following the National Convention.
Regional teen conferences are held annually. The first teen conference was held in Philadelphia, PA, in June 1951. Each Region has teen officers who are elected annually at the teen conferences.
The Eastern Region has continued to grow in membership and chapters. The Eastern region is the largest with 55 chapters. In the new millennium, the Eastern Region continues to provide innovative programming. In recognition of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday, teens are invited to participate in a regional Teen Leadership Summit on the campus of Howard University designed to catapult youth to new levels and conduct community service. The region is proud to have launched in 2006 mandatory certification training for teen conference chaperones to assure clear expectations and a safe experience for our teens. In 2011 and 2013, the Mother’s Conference was held on a cruise to Bermuda with over 400 persons in attendance. The Eastern region chapters hosted the On the Hill Summit in 2009 and 2011. In 2012, the region was the host of the 40th Biennial National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, which marked the beginning celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Jack and Jill of America. Over 350 members of the Eastern region commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington in August 2013. Our children proudly carried our banner and marched for education, healthcare, gun control, voting rights, and Trayvon Martin. At the 2014 41st National Convention, the body approved the Eastern Region Provisional Group from Frederick, MD and also elected our 24th National President, Tammy King, from the Bergen Passiac, NJ chapter.
As we approach our four-year anniversary, we are still so excited to be a part of this illustrious organization and at the same time feeling like we have grown some roots as a Chapter. We continue to exercise our “Power to Make a Difference” in the lives of our children and our community. As I embark on my fourth and nal year as President of this powerhouse Chapter, my vision for the Western Maryland Chapter continues to be one of transformation. And now, we have gotten more strategic with that vision by forming an ad hoc committee to institute strategies that will push us further into our greatness. I am so proud of the contributions of our twenty-eight Mothers as they sacrifice daily to enrich the lives of our thirty-eight eager children and thirteen terriffc Teens. We have come a long way; we’ve grown from fifteen mothers to twenty eight mothers in 3 years. We are looking ahead to spreading our wings and making an even bigger impact on our community and our world as we start to soar. Our Chapter grew this year with the addition of five phenomenal new sponsored mothers and one terrific transfer mother who hails from the Far West region. Our Chapter was also blessed with nine energetic children and one ambitious teen. We are very excited to be graduating out our largest Teen group yet with four graduating Seniors in 2018. We know that their futures are bright and they will be leaders in their chosen fleids. Our dads are actively engaged in our Father’s Auxiliary group and are headed o to Las Vegas for their first get away. We send our prayers and blessings with them for the victims of the most recent tragedy in Las Vegas a few weeks ago.
This program year, we are focused on incorporating mental health and wellness of the mind body and spirit into our programming. We are having honest conversations with our children and Teens and are giving them extra support when we know a difficult transition is ahead.
In an effort to teach leadership skills through public speaking, we are also very eagerly awaiting the launch of our new Gavel Club. The monthly meetings will give the children ample opportunity to practice giving speeches. Toastmaster’s sponsors the Gavel Club for 3rd through 12th grade students and has a winning formula of which we are thrilled to be the bene ciaries. Our certi cation should arrive in the mail any day now. The time is ripe for civic engagement and legislative advocacy.
Our Chapter plans to take advantage of the mid-term election cycle to get our children civically involved. We kicked o our legislative agenda with four of our Teens and three Mothers attending the On the Hill Summit. We plan to continue it with our second annual visit to the Fredrick County legislative o ces where our Chapter will witness
a legislative session in real time and be able to ask questions. We will break the groups up
We are guided by the National Theme: “The Power to Make a Di erence”, as well as our Foundation’s theme “Transforming African American Communities, One Child at a Time.” As residents of the Western, largely rural part of Maryland, we have the unique opportunity to showcase positive images of African-American role models to our community. In alignment with the mission of our Mighty Eastern Region, we are continuing our focus on literacy
by expanding the only community-wide fourth and fth grade Spelling Bee in our area to include third graders and sixth graders. We truly believe that we can help “Empower Families for Success” in the greater Frederick area. As we continue to transform, we look forward to establishing some signature events that our Chapter will become known for across the area and across the Region.
Teen President's Message
I would like to extend a warm, heartfelt welcome as we begin another exciting year as the Jack and Jill Teens of the Western Maryland Chapter. I am honored to be your president this year. The Teen Board has worked hard to put together great activities that will not only build character, but set us on the path of success in all our future endeavors. We kicked o our planning year with an overnight Lock-In and Module Mania Activity at the Hampton Inn in Frederick, MD. This was great opportunity for us to team build, plan activities for the upcoming year, and propose ideas for Teen Conference. This year’s Teen conference theme is “Royalty, Past, Present, and Future” and we discussed ideas on how to design our display, banner, and tee-shirts and other attire using this theme.
We have several exciting activities planned for this year which will include both leadership activities and charitable work. We plan to attend the “On The Hill Summit”, participate in activities at Terrapin Adventures, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and The Escape Room. In addition, we are planning several activities in support of our community partner, the Frederick Boys and Girls Club. We helped kick o the school year by donating school supplies. We will also participate in Homework Helper activities, and an end of the year party for the children. We are sure to meet all of the themes and thrusts that are required this program year.
Recently our country has experience devastation with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria. Our Chapter collected money to help families who were a ected by these tragedies.
As this is my senior year, it saddens me that this is my last year as a teen in Jack and Jill. This or- ganization has helped me become a well-rounded young man and helped me develop leadership abilities. These abilities will be invaluable to me as I continue my education at West Point Military Academy where I have accepted a football o er. Jack & Jill will always be in my heart and I look forward to having the best year ever!