| Greater Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. (“Jack and Jill”) has established itself as the premier organization bringing African-American children together in a social, cultural, and service environment. The Jack and Jill chapters in the metropolitan area of Atlanta are demographically unique in that over 40% of those residing in the community are African-American; therefore, there continued to be a need to expand access to families desiring to provide the unique opportunity that membership in Jack and Jill offers to their children.
The Progressive Atlanta Moms Provisional Group began with the vision of former Atlanta Chapter President Patrice Greer and former Vice-President Hillary Dunson. In the fall of 2010, Vice-President Dunson petitioned National Vice President Tamara Robinson to help determine ways to focus on the growing need of addressing the high interest level within the Atlanta area of families wishing to embrace the aims and objectives of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. National Vice President Tamara Robinson endorsed the petition as part of her vision for regional growth.
In the spring of 2011, under the leadership and with the encouragement of President Rebecca Young and Vice President Marian Roach, the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill voted favorably to share boundaries and fully and actively embrace the formation of an interest group. Under the direction of National Vice President Robinson, President Young appointed Hillary Dunson, Kyra Harvey, and Felecia Farrar-Perkins as liaisons to guide and provide resources to the group as well as interested mothers Darlene McGhee Whittington and Melody Marie Smalls to organize the group. The interest group received letters of support and affirmation to proceed from National Vice President Tamara Robinson, Southeastern Regional Director Joli Cooper, and President Rebecca Young. These efforts culminated in an informational meeting on June 21, 2011, at Maggiano’s Restaurant in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, Georgia. There were over 100 mothers in attendance to discuss the next steps needed to form a new Jack and Jill chapter in the Atlanta area. The first meeting at Maggiano’s began the journey for the Metropolitan Atlanta Area Interest Group (as they were called at that time) towards potentially becoming the 40th chapter in the Southeastern Region of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
The first official mother’s meeting for the Provisional Group was held on July 19, 2011, at Morehouse School of Medicine. Officer elections for the provisional group occurred on August 11, 2011, at Ben Hill United Methodist Church and the official provisional group name of Progressive Atlanta Moms (PAMs) was chosen. Our leadership team was formed with the elections of Darlene Whittington as President, Melody Smalls as Vice-President, and Chiquita Dent as Program Director. The group was honored and thrilled that newly elected Southeastern Regional Director Marjorie Mitchell made herself available at the meeting and the group adopted her as a mentor.
The first Mother’s Retreat for the provisional group was organized by Mother Shearun Britton- Parris with liaison Kyra Harvey and facilitated by Regional Director Marjorie Mitchell at the Westminster School on August 27, 2011. During the retreat, the mother’s discussed a range of topics and focused on what would be important during the provisional year. The programming calendar was finalized during the retreat to include a programming year covering: Social, Cultural, Civic, Service, Recreational, Educational, Health, Leadership Development and Legislative focused activities.
On September 10, 2011, Progressive Atlanta Moms took part in the first official programming year activity in conjunction with the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill. This Jack and Jill Day activity was held at the High Museum of Art and featured the works of Radcliffe Bailey. The group event provided an opportunity to meet Atlanta Chapter families and bond with families within the provisional group.
During October 2011, 12 mothers travelled to Orlando, Florida for the Southeastern Mother’s Workday to “Reflect, Connect, and Engage”. Other chapters were present from the Sweet Sweet Southeastern Region and this provided the Progressive Atlanta Moms with the opportunity to learn more about how chapters discover their identity and create engaging programming while balancing the responsibilities of motherhood. Ideas were shared and some long lasting friendships had begun during the insightful conference.
Progressive Atlanta Moms is committed to supporting our community. We dedicated a reading nook to the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA on November 12, 2011. Mother Yolanda Wimberly championed this effort and we donated over 300 books. The Andrew and Walter Young YMCA also had an initiative to read 1,000 books in one month and we returned to donate additional books and also read to the after-school children.
The second Mother’s Retreat for the provisional group was organized by Mother Sheraun Britton-Parris with liaison Kyra Harvey and facilitated by Regional Director Marjorie Mitchell at the Westminster School on January 21, 2012. During the retreat, the mother’s discussed a range of topics that included preparing for the Jack and Jill National Convention. After the retreat adjourned, Mother Nathalie Robinson coordinated “Ladies Who Lunch” as our first luncheon that was held at South City Kitchen in Atlanta, Georgia.
We held an historic event as a provisional group on February 11, 2012. One of our mothers – Wendy Eley informed us that her father Leroy Eley was an original Tuskegee Airmen. Wendy, along with her father was able to coordinate a private screening with his fellow airmen. We sponsored a private screening of the movie “Red Tails”. This was an interactive event with Tuskegee Airmen signing autographs, participating in a ‘Q&A’ session, and being photographed with everyone in attendance. We invited the Jack and Jill Chapters of the Southeast region and it was a huge success.
The 2011-2012 programming year ended with 59 amazing mothers. The final step for the provisional group was the acquisition of a unanimous favorable vote from the delegates at the 40th National Convention of Jack and Jill on July 27, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to ratify Progressive Atlanta Moms as a Provisional Chapter. This culminated in the installation of the Greater Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. on September 30, 2012.
The 28th Biennial Mother’s Conference was held in Atlanta, GA from July 25-28, 2013. GMAC Moms in attendance fellowshipped, elected regional officers, and received vital training. The Teen Conference was held on June 26-28, 2013 in Birmingham, Alabama. Fifteen GMAC teens registered, attended plenary sessions, the Civil Rights Luncheon, toured the 16th Street Baptist Church, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
GMAC Leadership Retreat, led by President Darlene Whittington, was held August 24, 2013 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. All of the newly formed Executive Board attended, and the calendar was formed for the Programming Year. Southeastern Region 2013 Mother’s Work Day was held on October 11-12, 2013 at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista.
In early 2013, GMAC obtained a favorable vote to proceed with the chapter’s first signature fundraiser, an Inaugural Leadership Program and Debutante Cotillion, with the theme - A Moment to Treasure: Reflections of Splendor and Grace. With an entire year of monthly activities, the programming will lead up to an elegant inaugural Debutante Cotillion Ball on December 20, 2014.
The Community Service Committee, led by Mother Janine Randall, highlighted Domestic Violence Awareness. GMAC partnered with the Women’s Resource Center to end Domestic Violence, and Verizon Wireless HopeLine to help victims of Domestic Violence. Mothers donated old cellphones, diapers, toiletry and hair care items, and public transportation vouchers.
Another new, superb collaboration was launched by Mother Andrea Lewis. GMAC Mother Away from Home HBCU Initiative came to fruition in the fall of 2013. Students received loving moral support, home cooked meals, and care packages from their Moms away from home.
The Martin Luther King Day Committee, Community Service Committee, and Legislative Committee joined forces to knock out illiteracy! The ambitious goal was to assemble 80 Literacy Backpacks for 3 and 4 year olds who are in the Y's Head Start Program and to refurbish and replenish the Book Nook. A total of 12 elementary schools are served by the Andrew Young YMCA that participate in this Program. The contents of the backpacks included pencils, books, and writing tablets.
On Feb 26, 2013, GMAC hosted the historic Trayvon Martin Town Hall Forum and candlelight ceremony. Ebenezer Baptist Church was the location where a lively roundtable discussion around the controversial STAND YOUR GROUND law was held. National President Tamara Robinson was in attendance, and TV journalist Mother Tiffany Cochran was the moderator. This event was the brainchild of Mother Veleda Cofield.
On May 11, 2013, GMAC conducted its first New Member Installation Ceremony by bringing in two legacy mothers. On February 20, 2014, GMAC voted in its first group of new mothers; with 17 candidates selected to join the group.
During the 41st National Convention, GMAC became the FIRST CHAPTER in the history of Jack and Jill to be designate as 5 Star. The historic honor was bestowed on the Chapter in Charlotte, NC on August 1 , 2014. GMAC received EXCELLENT ratings in the areas representing Membership, Programming, Chapter Operations, Financial Management, and Philanthropy and Community Service. GMAC also received 2nd place for the National Legislative Award for the Remembering Travon Martin Town Hall Forum.
GMAC elected its 2nd President, Mother Andrea Lewis, Vice President Kimberly Bell, and Program Director Jesse Hood. The 2013-2014 Programming Year ended with the addition of a transfer and two additional legacy mothers, our membership roster has 73 phenomenal mothers engaged and motivated to assist with taking our chapter to new heights.