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Southeastern Regional History

In the Beginning - The National Organization… On January 24, 1938, a group of mothers met at the home of Mrs. F. Douglass Stubbs to organize the “Jack and Jill Club.” Mrs. Stubbs introduced the idea of having the children of their friends meet for social play and activities. On February 12, 1938, a Saturday afternoon, the “Jack and Jill Club” held its initial meeting. On August 28, 1947, Jack and Jill of America was incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware with the express object of creating a medium of contact for the children and of providing a constructive educational, recreational and social program for children and their parents. The first national president was Dorothy Bell Wright, former president of the Philadelphia club, who saw a new opportunity for the Jack and Jill clubs – a new opportunity, another chance, a challenge to walk on more strongly, more forgivingly, more lovingly. Since the first meeting of the children in 1938, the club has expanded and developed in many ways…into the new millennium And then there were Regions… When the national organization was only three years old, there emerged a great difference of opinion among the fifteen chapters concerning a division of the national organization into regions. The Washington (DC) chapter introduced the feasibility of a regional organization at the 1949 annual meeting in New York City. During the debate period, some mothers expressed concerns that regional divisions might weaken the effectiveness of the national organization. Those who favored regional meetings argued – that the rapid expansion of Jack and Jill would pose a financial problem and would not warrant delegates attending one day meetings at distant locations discussions at the annual meetings focused on problems irrelevant to those peculiar to local chapters; and that there should be more emphasis on programming for children and less attention given to social activities and local meetings Over a period of nine years, the regional plan dominated the agenda of the national convention. In the meantime, the Teenage Committee on Regional Boundaries organized seven regions to serve as the framework for teen regional meetings. After nine long years of debate, delegates at the 1955 National Convention in Chicago approved regional meetings. This action on the part of the delegates heralded the greatest progress to date. (Rouhlac, pg. 46) Established as one of seven regions under the 1957 Regional Plan, the Southeastern Region has distinguished itself as one of the premier regions of the national organization. With a rich legacy of leadership, both as elected and appointed leaders and as developers of signature programs that address the needs of children and families, other regions have traditionally viewed the Southeastern Region as a model organization.

First Southeastern Region Chapter…

The Nashville (TN) Chapter was the first chapter chartered in the Southeastern Region in April 1947 and the twelfth (12th) chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. Today, more than twelve hundred (1280) families are members of the thirty-nine (39) chapters that make up this region. The mission of the Southeastern Region is to be the most effective organization in the Southeast advocating for the welfare of children. We will accomplish this by delivering the finest quality programs and services to our members and communities while being socially and financially responsible. This will provide enrichment and support for our members and optimize the long-term positive impact on our communities. (Mission statement adopted in 1998) Teen Leadership Conferences unfold… Under the administration of President Edna Seay, mothers articulated that it was important that they install programmatic ventures geared especially for Jack and Jill teens. As a result, Sara Scott and Lucille Blondin teamed to organize the first teen conference that was held June 15-17, 1951. The Philadelphia Chapter planned and hosted a “Haitian Festival” which served as the umbrella for the weekend’s events. The Nashville, TN chapter hosted the first Southeastern Regional Teen Conference on the campus of Fisk University and served as host for the next three years. The region is honored to have the Memphis Chapter host the 53rd Annual Teen Leadership Conference in July,2008. Children’s Clusters mark expanded programming for children… During the 1991 – 1993 administration of Regional Director Sylvia W. McGee, the concept of Children’s Clusters began to take shape. Delegates at the 1993 Southeastern Mothers’ Regional Conference hosted by the Williamson (TN) chapter voted unanimously that a portion of the regional budget be allocated to fund programming specific to children between the ages of 2-12. Mothers passionately argued that too much emphasis and a disproportionate allocation of funds were directed to teens and teen conferences. With that mandate, the first Children’s Clusters in the nation unfolded in the Southeastern Region Saturday, April 16, 1994 on the campus of the Green Forest Baptist Church in Decatur, GA. The North Suburban Atlanta (GA) chapter, Georgene Miller, chapter president and the Stone Mountain (GA) chapter, Ruth Wilson, chapter president, teamed with the 1993-1995 Regional Director Patricia Wilker, Regional Secretary-Treasurer Lydia Young, Member at Large Jeris Smith and National Corresponding Secretary Shirley Barber James to host what has become this historic event now held annually by other chapters across the country. Umoja, the first principle of Kwanzaa was the first Children’s Cluster theme. For the next nine years chapters continued to design Children’s Cluster activities using one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It was not until the spring of 2003 that the Kwanzaa principles were retired and the newly formed Regional Programming Team shifted the focus to 27 2010 J&J, Inc. Treasure Coast Handbook personal development for our children. The 2003 cluster theme was Courtesy Counts and 2004 theme was Manners Matter. During the 2007-2008 program year, under the leadership of Regional Director Tamara Robinson, the region introduced the innovative Super Cluster concept, combining the Ann Owen Gordon Teen Oratorical Competition, Speak Up—Speak Out! Youth Presentations and the traditional Children’s Clusters into one family celebration, in one location – the theme for the 2007 Children’s Cluster was “I Love The Skin I’m In” and for the Teen Oratorical Competition, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”. For 2008-2009, the Children’s Cluster there was “Yes, I Really Can” and the Teen Oratorical, was “Young, Black & Restless…..Be the Face of Change”. Family Leadership Conference takes center stage… Some nearly fifty years since the introduction of mothers’ regional conferences, the mothers of the Southeastern Region seized the opportunity to not only continue the trademark of focused and strategic leadership and best practices but to move us to the next level of excellence in programming and service by introducing the Inaugural Family Leadership Conference. In 2005, the members of the Southeastern Region agreed to continue the tradition of focused and strategic visioning by sponsoring it Inaugural Family Leadership Conference, in Atlanta, GA, June 28 – July 3, 2005. Over this five-day period, the traditionally separate Mothers’ Regional Conference, the Regional Teen Leadership Conference and the Children’s Clusters took place at a common site. With the seventh (70th) birthday of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated approaching, Southeastern Region is responding to the changing family structure by providing a family learning experience that will enhance the efforts of our organization through: · intergenerational learning and interaction · skill building, and · community service If we are to not only sustain our legacy but also continuously build a culture that promotes the family and places our children’s needs at the forefront of all that we do, we must embrace change. We, too, as the 1955 delegates recognized, retool existing paradigms, policies and processes to unleash the unlimited reality of all that we can yet become. In 2008, the Region participated its third Family Conference hosted by the Memphis Chapter. Building on the past… Three members of the Southeastern Region have served as National Presidents of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated: Dr. Mirian C. Shropshire 9th National President 1970 – 1974 28 2010 J&J, Inc. Treasure Coast Handbook Dr. Eva C. Wanton 13th National President 1986 – 1990 Mrs. Shirley Barber James 15th National President 1994 – 1996 Many of the programs and projects included in the current national programming agenda unfolded in the Southeastern Region. Each of these programs reflects the commitment of the Southeastern mothers and leaders to continually advance the aims and objects of the national organization. Included among these are the following signature projects and programs: Regional Officers Directory Regional Advisory Board Children’s Pen Pal Program Children’s Clusters/Super Clusters Senior Recognition and Medallion Ceremony Salaried Regional Administrative and Event Planning Staff Secured Regional Website Electronic Conference Registration and Credit Card Payment Processing Annual Regional Trip Teen Stock Market Game Regional Book Club The Southeastern Region, launched in 1959 under the leadership of its first Regional Director Alpha Robertson (Birmingham, AL chapter), and with the theme, “Forward – Through Organization, Friendship and Services”, continues in 2008 under the leadership of Regional Director Tamara Robinson (North Suburban Atlanta Chapter) with the theme, “Dreaming More and Doing More – For The Children” to be one of the most effective organizations in the Southeast advocating for the welfare of children. For the 2008-2010 term, Regional Director Joli Cooper was elected at the Mother’s Conference where she laid out her vision for her term, with the theme “Cherish The Journey”.