CHAPTER HISTORY





On September 20, 1960, sixteen East St. Louis mothers met with four members of the St. Louis, Missouri Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The following officers were elected at that meeting: President – Mrs. Dorothy L. Kenney Vice President – Mrs. Juanita Loveless Recording Secretary – Mrs. Evelyn Word Corresponding Secretary – Mrs. Mildred Jeffers Treasurer – Mrs. Myrtle B. Officer Parliamentarian – Mrs. Mary Louise Perry Historian/Journalist – Mrs. Louise Polk. Other members present that evening included: Mrs. Thelma Blackwell, Mrs. Mildred Jones, Mrs. Geneva Irby, Mrs. Lee Annie Bonner, Dr. Lena Weathers, Mrs. Rosie Hancock, Mrs. Ada Woodson, Mrs. Lawanne Russell, Mrs. Bernice Higgins, Mrs. Frazier, Mrs. Laura Beck, and Mrs. Florence Jackson. As a result of this meeting, and the hard work of the mothers involved, the East St. Louis, Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. was established at the National Convention in July 1962 and chartered on September 21, 1962 by National President Margaret Sims. Two special projects that received support from the local chapter at that time were the Mental Health Center and the Emily Willis Day Care Center.

The following mothers have served the East St. Louis Chapter with distinction as President: Mrs. Dorothy Kenney, Dr. Lena Weathers, Mrs. Evelyn Word, Mrs. Lillian Williams, Dr. Lillian Parks, Mrs. Lee Annie Bonner, Mrs. Willene Randolph, Mrs. Lessie Gregory, Mrs. Peggy LeCompte, Mrs. Bessie Peabody, Mrs. Curtis Louise Paradise, Mrs. Camille McCaskill, Mrs. Carlyn Brooks, Mrs. Betty Collins, Mrs. Audrey Jones, Mrs. Jackie Davis, Mrs. Lena Solari, Mrs. Willie Spencer, Ms. Mary Bobbitt, Ms. Lisa Bobbitt, Mrs. Robin Carey Boyd, Ms. Barbara Bowdry, Mrs. Jaye P. Willis, Ms. Sandra Rockett Brown, Mrs. Carmella Hardnett, Mrs. Michele Henry-McGee, and Ms. Liberia Hunt.

The current President is Mrs. Carmella Hardnett.

The East St. Louis Chapter was especially honored in 1978 to have one of its members elected to the highest national office of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Dr. Lillian A. Parks was elected to the office of National President. She served with dignity and distinction in this position from 1978 – 1982. Prior to becoming our 11th National President, Dr. Parks also served as Central Region Secretary-Treasurer and Central Regional Director. Formerly, Audrey Jones from the East St. Louis Chapter was the Central Region Member-at-Large from 1993 – 1995. As well, former East St. Louis Chapter Member and Past President, Lisa Bobbitt, served as a Central Region Director from 2007-2009. Past Member and Current Associate Member Honorable Zina Cruse served as the 2016-2018 National By-Laws Chair, and Past President Michele Henry-McGee served as Central Region Chaplain from 2014-2017 and as the Central Region Treasurer from 2017-2021. Chapter President Carmella Hardnett served as the Central Region Chaplain from 2019-2021.


The East St. Louis Chapter chartered its associate group in February 2000 with seventeen (17) former members of the East St. Louis Chapter. They are Donna Bender, Lee Annie Bonner, Betty Collins, Barbara Conrad, Jackie Davis, Barbara Dennis, Peggy LeCompte, Rowena Lewis, Curtis Paradise, Lillian A. Parks, Ph.D., Bessie Peabody, Delores Ray, Jackie Settles, Lena Solari, Genora Springfield, Cleater Wicks, and Joyce Williams. Lena Solari has served as the Regional Associate Chair. In April 2012, the chapter celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The event was attended by then Central Region Director, Natalie Brunson-Wheeler, Metro St. Louis chapter president Robin Connor, founding members, former members, current members, and over 75 friends and family. A memorial ad book prepared and provided to all participants. A video highlighting chapter activities over the past 50 years was shown during the program. Artifacts from the half century were on display and brought back many memories for the guests and former members. The emcee was Peggy Lewis LeCompte, former chapter president and past National President of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. Former Jack and Jill National President, Dr. Lillian A. Parks, was the keynote speaker. A fantastic time was held by all. Past President and current Associate Member Jaye P. Willis served as the anniversary celebration chairperson, along with co-chair former member and Jack and Jill Legacy Lauren Parks.

Over the years, the East St. Louis Chapter has touched the lives of many children, both within the organization and within our community. Many lasting relationships have been formed between the children and parents of these groups. Jack and Jill of America, Inc. has been instrumental in forming these relationships.