Shianne Knight, Howard University News Service
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is a national mothers non-profit organization that provides African-American youth and families with the exposure and resources they need to be successful in their next phases of life.
While Jack and Jill consists of two-hundred and forty-seven chapters nationally, there are twenty-six chapters statewide, and nine chapters spread throughout Houston.
The local Woodlands chapter serves fifty-eight mothers and their families in the community, providing their children with seminars, workshops, financial literacy, and teen conferences. Even though the mother holds the official membership, the goal is to provide black youth with a sense of security in their identity. This membership organization teaches young children and teens the importance of philanthropy, volunteering, and leadership services.
Laquita Carter, The Woodlands Chapter President, feels that no matter whether they’re five years old or a graduating senior, there is something to be gained from being a member of the Jack and Jill organization.
“For them [the children], I think they benefit most from the connection they’re making with their peers with similarities in culture and experience. Especially in regards to where we live” Carter said. “Depending upon the age group and the depth of their involvement with activities and experience, I think there is a strong benefit in regards to leadership and leadership opportunities that can be transferred over into other areas like school and other clubs; It allows them the ability to demonstrate their confidence and leadership. The organization gives them access to opportunities to transfer those skills to other areas.”
For over thirty-five years, this Jack and Jill chapter has been serving the Montgomery County community by providing meals to seniors, food banks, partnering with shelters and foster care, providing scholarships, and other acts of service.
Every Thanksgiving, Jack and Jill partners with Meals on Wheels in efforts to provide meals to nursing and retirement homes. For the teens, there is a regional conference they can attend where they cover a year’s worth of activities in four days; touching on interests arts, sports, volunteer service, philanthropy and other networking opportunities, all while building connections with teens from other chapters in the region.
Regional Leadership Academy Chair and Woodlands Chapter Vice President, Yvette Oldacre, strongly believes that membership is the heartbeat of any organization.
“Both of my roles are instrumental in attracting, educating, and developing new members and leaders so it was a natural fit with my professional experience and personal strengths.”
Samone Knight, a current member of the teen group, said being able to network has been instrumental in her time there.
“My favorite part about being in Jack and Jill has been the connections that I’ve made with others in the community. In serving the community, it is always fun to see who you’re able to impact or the impact you have on others” she said.
“Also for me, it’s always been a huge deal to have Black friends and being around a black community, because I live in a predominately White community and attend a predominately White school- so having Jack and Jill as my outlet has been such a blessing. And again, I’ve just been able to make friendships that I plan on taking with me into the next phase of life,” she continued.