Chapter History

Chapter History



2015 - 2016
Executive Board

Alexis James Steals

Leslie Britton Dozier
Vice President 

Melanie Roach
Program Chair

Adrianne Aiken
Recording Secretary

Crystal Turner
Corresponding Secretary

Rae Fussell

Erica Grant
Financial Secretary

Karen Swift

 Bridgette Cofield

Kelly McCormick

DeVona Hopkins
Legislative Chair

Della Hollins
Community Service Chair

Amber Pabon
Foundation  Chair 

 2015-2016 Pittsburgh Chapter Members

The Pittsburgh Chapter was organized in 1944 as the fourth chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
and was at the heart of the development of a plan for the national organization and its incorporation
in 1945.

Among the organizers and earliest members of the Pittsburgh Chapter were:

Mrs. Lucille Cuthbert (deceased) Mrs. Fannie Knott (deceased)
Mrs. Norine Cyrus (deceased) Mrs. Winnie Nickens (deceased)
Mrs. Zelma Johnson (deceased) Mrs. Bernice Utterback (deceased)

Several Pittsburgh Chapter members have served as “national” officers:

Mrs. Helen Prattis Secretary – Treasurer 1948
Mrs. Vernice Wynn Secretary – Treasurer 1950
Mrs. Margaret Smith Vice-President 1952-54

In 1954, the Pittsburgh Chapter hosted the Seventh Annual Convention of the National
Organization and in 1967; the Chapter hosted the Fifteenth Eastern Regional Mother’s Conference,
which had as its theme, “Strengthening the Black Family Through Improved Communications”.

The Upper New York and Pennsylvania Mother’s Cluster was hosted by the Pittsburgh Chapter on
October 14, 1989. At the end of the cluster, the chapter was cited for its organizational skill,
hospitality and its success incorporating community and retail sources. In 1991, the chapter
received a prestigious plaque at the Regional Conference for its Jumoke Project community service,
designed to increase the understanding of African cultures.

Throughout our history, the Pittsburgh Chapter has addressed social concerns. In 1992-1993, the
chapter funded R.I.M – Reducing Infant Mortality. The project provided childcare education to highrisk
pregnant teenagers to help offset the region’s high rate of black infant mortality.
The chapter also participates annually in a “Healthy Babies Walk” and a donation is forwarded to the
March of Dimes on behalf of the chapter.

Additional community projects have included monetary gifts and hands-on services to the
American Cancer Society, Bestheda Community Food Bank, Bethlehem Haven, a shelter for homeless
women, the Black College Tour, sponsored by the Church of Holy Cross, the Carnegie Library of
Pittsburgh ( Homewood Branch), Hill District YMCA, Kingsley House Community Center, Lemington
Home for the Aged, Jubilee Soup Kitchen, N.E.E.D., the Negro Emergency Education Drive, which
offers financial support to African American youth pursuing higher education; Ozanam Community
Center, Sickle Cell Anemia, Three Rivers Adoption Agency, United Negro College Fund, Northside
Christian Center ( a home for children in alternative care), AAMI ( African American Music Institute) ,
Womanspace Ease ( a home for abused families) and The August Wilson Center.

In 1994, the Pittsburgh Chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary. In recognition of the occasion,
the University of Pittsburgh collaborated with the chapter to honor 50 student achievers from
Wilkinsburg High School at a luncheon highlighting the numerous higher education opportunities
available to them. In addition to acknowledging the achievements of the individual students, the
chapter donated a book series to the school library.

In 1998 the Eastern Regional Teen Conference, themed “Knowledge, Leadership and Service Yield
Success” was held in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Chapter served as the hosts to more than 700 teens
and adults. At the conference, Pittsburgh Chapter fathers became involved in supervising and
chaperoning the teen participants with “Pops on Patrol”. Since then, other chapters throughout the
region have followed this example to involve the fathers.

In October 1999, the Pittsburgh Chapter hosted the Upper New York/Pittsburgh Cluster. New York
previously hosted the “cluster” in 1989 and 1994. Following both events, the Pittsburgh Chapter
received citations and recognition for its organizational skills and hospitality.

Our Presentee Ball is the signature event for our Pittsburgh chapter. The purpose of the event is
three-fold. First, it is a major fundraising event for a local charity and for the Jack and Jill of America
Foundation. Second, it recognizes high school juniors and seniors for their accomplishments in the
classroom and in the community. Third, it allows the chapter to showcase the organization to the
Greater Pittsburgh area. In 2002, we selected the August Wilson African –American Cultural Center
as the charity we supported through the Ball’s fundraising. The Three Rivers Adoption Agency was
our beneficiary for the 2004 ball and in 2006; the Pittsburgh chapter supported the Sickle Cell
Foundation. Our 2006 Ball was given special recognition at the 2007 Eastern Regional Conference.
Our most recent Ball in 2008, the chapter chose to support the August Wilson African American
Cultural Center. This is only one of three institutions in the world that focuses on the “African
American culture”. Our organization has received prestigious reorganization from the center. Jack
and Jill of America now has a community room named in its honor in the August Wilson African
American Cultural Center. Our 2010-2011 Presentee Ball is expected to be yet another premier black
tie event and will honor and benefit The Neighborhood Academy which is a school located in the city
of Pittsburgh that provides a holistic college-preparatory education for students in grades 8-12 who
come from low income families.

In 2010, our organization made great strides in continuing to increase our presence in
the community with a strong emphasis on servicing those around us. Our chapter kicked off our
2010 programming year with a clothing drive for Healthy Start of America. Our donations benefited
moms and dads in our community who are attempting to enter into the work force. Also, our
children were deeply reward internally by participating in the Fall Food Share with Giant Eagle and
the Pittsburgh Food Bank by soliciting donations of non-perishable items as well as cash donations for
families in need so that they too will have a happy, healthy holiday season. And in preparation for a
season of giving, our community service activities will continue as we bring Christmas to our
"adopted" family by purchasing food, household items, clothing and toys -- all the items needed to
enjoy a wonderful holiday.

This year, our 8-10 year olds participated in a Back to School Supply Drive. The group collected enough items
and donations to make 130 Back to School Supply Packs. The packs were given to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank
who will in turn, give them to children in need in the Duquesne City School District.

The Junior and Senior Teens put together a basket of supplies which included: toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick
and washcloths to take to the Mel Blunt Youth home.

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