The Atlanta chapter of Jack and Jill of America celebrated its 60th anniversary Saturday night with a splendid gala at the Piedmont Driving Club.
“We are truly going to celebrate tonight,” event co-chair Kimberly Evans Paige told the packed ballroom. “We have doubled our expectations in terms of our financial objectives.” (The event had aimed to raise $60,000 and did so, twice).
Themed “Creating a Legacy of Literacy,” the gala benefited the Jack and Jill of America Foundation as well as The East Lake Foundation and Raising Expectations. All three organizations offer educational programming for young people.
“Once a child has a love of reading, they are well on their way to educational excellence,” Paige said.
Her co-chair, Farah Fakir Cook, talked about her Jack and Jill experience both as a participant and as a mom.
“As a child I don’t think I understood the importance of Jack and Jill,” she said. “It really does foster a community.”
Her closest friends from childhood are Jack and Jill friends, including a former Spelman College roommate who is the godmother of her kids – now in Jack and Jill themselves.
The galas, she said, represented a year of planning.
“We finally made it,” she said as the evening began. “It has been a wonderful journey.”
Chapter members’ hard work was evidenced in details such as the collection of photos and documents carefully assembled by the history subcommittee: Laura Sams Haynes, Leslie Thomas, LaShanda Dawkins and Sherie Hodge.
The artifacts included the sign-in sheet from the chapter’s very first meeting, on Sept. 16, 1951. Today, the Atlanta chapter, with nearly 300 children, is the country’s largest.
Saturday night’s crowd included chapter president Patrice Brown Greer. “Jack and Jill means a way for me to broaden the horizons of my children and make sure they’re exposed to culture and philanthropy,” she said.
National Jack and Jill president Tara Joseph-Labrie, vice president Tamara Turnley Robinson and numerous past Atlanta chapter presidents attended as well.
“Jack and Jill members have had a major impact in the communities in which they live,” Joseph-Labrie said. “We are definitely in the business of developing leaders.”
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzfirstname.lastname@example.org