Memphis Chapter History
The Memphis Chapter was initiated by Mrs. Lillian Perry, who was originally from Philadelphia, the birthplace of Jack and Jill. After Mrs. and Dr. William Perry moved to Memphis from Tuskegee, Alabama, they renewed their friendship with Dr. and Mrs. Hollis Price, who had also relocated from Tuskegee. Mrs. Perry, who was previously a member of Jack and Jill in Philadelphia, expressed to Mrs. Price her desire to establish a chapter in Memphis. Mrs. Price invited 10-15 interested mothers to meet at the Perry’s residence, since Mrs. Perry was not that familiar with most Memphians. The Memphis Chapter was officially chartered on August 28, 1946, and is one of the first ten chapters of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. There were fifteen charter members. They were: Mrs. Vivian Baker, Mrs. Alma Roulhac Booth, Mrs. Lena Fouche, Mrs. Victoria Hancock, Mrs. Corrine Hightower, Mrs. Sallie Bartholomew, Mrs. Lillian Campbell, Mrs. Marian Gipson, Mrs. Helen Hayes, Mrs. Ida Jamison, Mrs. Althea Price, Mrs. Ann Rheba Twigg, Mrs. Louis Whitaker, Mrs. Vivian White, and Mrs. Bernice Pinkston.
Since its charter, the Memphis Chapter has been active on the national, regional and local levels. When the Memphis Chapter was chartered, it was a part of the Central region, but later moved to the Southeastern region. On a national level, the Memphis chapter hosted National Conventions in 1953 and 1990. Past National officers from the Memphis chapter include Nell Roulhac who served as the second National President, Charlotte Polk who served as National Corresponding Secretary, and Myrna Owen Ford who served as the National Associates Chair. Our very own Gina Williams-Jackson is the newly elected 2018-2020 National Editor.
On a regional level, the Memphis Chapter has actively participated in all programs, activities and committees of both the Central and Southeastern regions. Past regional officers include: Melba Brisco and Gina Williams- Jackson as Regional Directors, Allegra Turner and Dr. Janice Garrett Booker as Regional Secretary/Treasurers, Gina Williams-Jackson as Regional Secretary, and Lorraine Pettis Bell as Regional Foundation Representative. The chapter has hosted Mother’s Regional Conferences and Mother’s Work Day/Clusters and Children’s Clusters. The Marvelous Memphis Chapter of Jack and Jill of America hosted the 26th Biennial Mothers' Regional Conference in July 2009. Conference attendees represented all of the chapters in the Southeastern region. In addition to informative business sessions, mothers toured historical sites in Memphis and participated in a community service project at nationally renowned St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Memphis has hosted several Teen Leadership conferences (1965, 1976, 2002 and 2009). The 53rd Southeastern Teen Leadership Conference was hosted by the Marvelous Memphis Chapter in July 2009, with almost 600 teens in attendance. Past regional teen officers include Eric Turner, President, Vice President, and Parliamentarian; Christopher Horton, President and Teen Regional Representative on the National Foundation Board; Reagan Taylor, President; Frances Turner, Treasurer; Kristi Faulkner and Simone Polk, Corresponding Secretaries; and Brooke Hyman who served as regional Secretary/Treasurer.
With the assistance of Regional Associates Chair, Ruth Wilson and then Chapter President, Myrna Owen Ford, the Memphis Associates group was officially chartered in May 2004. The ten charter members of the group were Shirley Peace Cobbins (Chair), Patricia Walton (Secretary), Rowena Featherstone(Treasurer), Rholedia Morgan (Chaplain), Nelda Burroughs, Jeanne Chapman, Dr. Barbara Duncan-Cody, Dr. Shirley Hilliard, Charlotte Polk and Burnetta Williams. These Charter Associates represent over 100 years cumulative active membership in Jack and Jill and include past national, regional and chapter officers. The Associates have assisted the chapter by helping to host conferences/workdays, serving as Oratorical judges and in many other capacities when asked. Finally, the chapter is proud to have twelve Life Members of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. They are Janice Booker, Ritchie Bowden, Rose Flenorl, Myrna Owen Ford, Shirley Hilliard, Angela Lee, Rholedia Morgan, Denise Mustiful-Martin, Mary Peete, Charlotte Polk, Melanie Stafford, and Margaret Woods.
The chapter has a very active Fathers’ Auxiliary group whose members work to support the moms and teens and children of the chapter wherever they are needed. The fathers have assisted with the Teen Stock Market game and often serve as facilitators for the JMB Teen Leadership and Financial Literacy modules. The fathers don their blue POP (Parents on Patrol) vests and serve as chaperones each year for the teens Annual Christmas Dance. This year they have planned a Donuts with Dad event and a Father Daughter Dance contest.
The Memphis Chapter is wrought with awards and recognitions for both our member’s service and programs in furtherance of the mission of our National Foundation. We are proud to have trailblazers such as Mothers Gina Willams-Jackson and Rubina McCadney who held the coveted title of Lead Teen Sponsors of the Year for the phenomenal work they led involving the Chapter’s Vogue and Esquire’s Group. In 2011, Mother Angela Lee was named Treasurer of the Year during Mother’s Regional Conference. The Chapter made history in 2014 when Mother Vanecia Belser Kimbrow was named National Foundation Chair of the Year and our chapter won all three national grants including the Independent ($5000.00), the Jacqueline Robinson Regional Competition Grant ($3000.00), and the Violet Greer Teen and Associates Grant ($2000.00) during the National Conference. The funds were used to institute Project Achieve, an intensive ACT Prep Program for underserved students at the Hollis Price Charter School on the campus of LeMoyne Owen College in partnership with The Bluff City Cluster of The Links, Incorporated; to publish the American Black and Classic Black History Anthology and produce our signature Black History Stage Production, and to launch the chapters first S.T.E.A.M. Career Fair and Day Camp. In 2015 we were awarded the Jacqueline Robinson ($3,000), as well as, the Violet Greer ($2,000). These funds were used to support two community events: Black History Program American Black and Classic and The S.T.E.A.M. Engine Career Fair. In 2016 we were awarded the Jacqueline Robinson Regional Competition Grant ($3,000), as well as, the Independent Grant ($5,000). These funds were used to support two community events: Black History Program Jubilee and The ACT Preparedness Program. In 2018 the Memphis Chapter and our local community partners were the proud recipient of the Health and Wellness Chapter Grant ($3000.00) to launch a health fair to service the youth and families served by the Vance Avenue Development Center, which is situated in Memphis’ most at risk zip code , the Village Grant ($10,000.00) to partner with Porter Leath to create a reading corner in their daycare that serves at risk children, and the Health Grant ($10,000.00) to Common Table Health Alliance to institute an healthy lifestyles initiative with students at the Memphis Academy of Health Sciences.
The Memphis chapter has a long history of dedication to community service. The chapter has cultivated relationships with several local agencies such as the Binghampton Christian Academy, Porter-Leath and the Porter Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis. In the past, the chapter has worked closely with the Child Advocacy Center, a home for abused and battered children. Our families have also worked with the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) to deliver meals to the elderly/disabled, and to collect toys, clothes and school supplies for families in the Memphis community. The chapter has also worked with the Tennessee Department of Human Services to adopt hundreds of “angels” during the holiday season, filling the wish lists of many children for Christmas. The Memphis chapter teens have a long-standing relationship with the Union Mission, which provides food, clothing and spiritual counsel to homeless men.
The chapter also collaborates with other local organizations to provide community outreach and engagement. The chapter hosts an annual Breakfast with Santa which includes both Jack and Jill families and community guests. Guests enjoy a warm pancake breakfast, take pictures with Santa and his elves, and participate in cookie decorating and other holiday crafts. The older children and teens earn service hours for assisting with this event. Several of our mothers serve as life skills mentors to the Le-Moyne Owen College (local HBCU) women’s tennis team. Our members work with the young ladies both on and off the court to encourage academic and athletic excellence.
The Memphis chapter currently includes more than 300 mothers, fathers, children and teens. The chapter is an integral part of the history of the local community. We strongly believe that every child, with proper guidance and opportunity can be a leader. We continue our efforts, on behalf of all children, to strive for chapter excellence, support our community, encourage our members and nurture future leaders.