The Mid-Western Region began with the founding of the Columbus, Ohio Chapter in 1945. The Columbus Chapter was the eighth chapter to be organized and was the first chapter not located in the Eastern region of the United States. This was the beginning of the organization expanding across the country. The Columbus Chapter hosted the 2nd National Convention in April 1947. The theme was “The Responsibility of Jack and Jill Mothers”. Chapters organized in the Mid-Western Region continued to contribute significantly to the early growth of the organization.
In 1953, National Founder Marion Stubbs Thomas helped charter the Detroit Chapter after moving from Philadelphia. The first teen conference was hosted by the Cleveland, Ohio Chapter in 1955. The first mothers’ regional conference was hosted in 1959 by the Toledo, Ohio Chapter. As with other regions, several chapters were impacted by the ebb and flow of a transitional target population. One example of this is the Wilberforce-Xenia Chapter which was tied to the Central State and Wilberforce colleges and disbanded when the core population was lost.
Mother members from the Mid-Western Region provided leadership for the organization and for the Foundation throughout history. In 1946, Constance Bruce of the Columbus Chapter was elected the first National Corresponding Secretary. Alberta Turner (4th) and Eleanor C. DeLoache Brown (8th) of the Columbus Chapter were National Presidents. Sheryl Benning Thomas (16th) from the Detroit Chapter, Alice Leigh Peoples (20th) from the Ypsilanti Chapter and Jacqueline Moore Bowles (21st) of the Milwaukee Chapter also served as National President. Emma Bowman Benning (mother of Sheryl Benning Thomas, 16th National President) of the Cleveland Chapter was long-time President of the Jack and Jill Foundation and now emeritus member of the executive board. In 2012, Jacqueline Moore Bowles was elected to serve as the President of the Jack and Jill Foundation after serving as National President of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The Mid-Western Region’s mother and teen chapter contributions have consistently been among the highest contributors to the Foundation. Our chapters raise large sums and are committed to the goals and aims of the Foundation.
The Region was the site of the first Teen Conference Service Projects, which were held at the 1998 Teen Conference hosted by the Western Cook County Chapter. This concept was presented to the Foundation at its 1998 Board Meeting by Mid-Western Region Member-at-Large Alice Leigh Peoples. The Foundation was requested to provide support for the transportation of the teens throughout the Chicago area community to perform hands-on community service. Support for community service at teen conference was embraced by the Foundation and executed under the leadership of Regional Director Sharon V. Clayton. The initiative was a great success and the practice has been embraced by several other regions and continues to align with the leadership development commitment of the Foundation.
The Mid-Western Region is organized into two clusters: Michigan/Ohio and Illinois Area. We have alternated between two and three clusters and initially held one Area Workday Cluster in the spring and one in the fall. The Area Workday Clusters were moved to the fall in the late 1990s to ensure that all chapters received the information early in the program year to enhance its programming and improve operations. Our Area Workday Clusters have grown significantly over the years and are widely attended by mothers and teens.
Today, the Mid-Western Region is made up of over 1300 mothers and 1900 teens and children throughout our 8 states. We recently chartered our 35th chapter, South Central Wisconsin, on October 22, 2016. We are 35 strong and are thriving and making positive contributions in the lives of children in their communities. We remain committed to equipping children to be leaders today and in the future.
The region’s leadership and her chapters are focused on delivering programming that supports our current regional theme – Living the Jack and Jill Experience: Mission Minded, Dream Driven.