The idea for 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, 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 and Charlotte Polk who served as National Corresponding Secretary.
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 as Regional Director, Allegra Turner and Dr. Janice Garrett Booker as Regional Secretary/Treasurers and Lorraine 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 sights in Memphis and participated in a community service project at nationally renowned St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The chapter’s very own Mother Gina Williams-Jackson, who previously served as the Regional Director for the Southeastern Region, is currently serving as the National Editor. Additionally, Memphis Chapter Jill Cailin Brown is currently serving as Regional Teen Treasurer.
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; Simone Polk, Corresponding Secretary and Brooke Hyman who served as regional Secretary/Treasurer. The Memphis Chapter is currently home to Regional Teen Treasurer Cailin Brown.
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. Associate Myrna Owen Ford recently served as National Associates Chair. Finally, the chapter is proud to have three Life Members of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. They are Myrna Owen Ford, Rholedia Morgan and Charlotte Polk.
The chapter has a very active Fathers’ Auxiliary group whose members work to support the moms, 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.
In recent years, the chapter has received several awards including the Jacqueline Robinson Regional Competition Grant, the Violet Greer Teen and Associates Grant, and the Independent Grant. These funds have been used primarily support signature community programs and events such as the Black History Program Celebration, The S.T.E.A.M. Engine Career Fair, and The ACT Preparedness Program.
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 School, 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. This center is home to 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. Over the past two years, the chapter has added the Vance Avenue Youth Development Center, serving in a variety of service and support roles.
The chapter also collaborates with other local organizations to provide service. The chapter hosts an annual Breakfast with Santa which includes both Jack and Jill families and community guests. All invited to have a warm pancake breakfast, to take pictures with Santa and his elves and to participate in cookie decorating and 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 LeMoyne-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 our children, to strive for chapter excellence, support our community, encourage our members and nurture future leaders.