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Jack and Jill of America in the SCV

Posted: September 19, 2008 9:24 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

As the music of Mary J. Blige boomed across the Hyatt Valencia banquet room, more than 60 women, all dressed in white, danced their way to their seats as the installation luncheon celebration of the newest chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., was underway.

The Santa Clarita Valley/Antelope Valley chapter was celebrating the change in status from a provisional chapter to a full chapter of the national organization.

Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is a family organization, comprised mostly of African American families, that provides cultural, social, civic and recreational activities.

Co-founders of the new chapter are Katrina Schauble and Kim Hudson, both of Stevenson Ranch.
Hudson said the organization has expanded its reach to become more than just an organization about children.

"We have branched off and have a huge foundation - a philanthropic arm at the national level and at the chapter level giving back to our communities in the form of aid to women's shelters and educational grants which enable teens to further their education and to become really solid, contributing citizens to the community," Hudson said. "Today's celebration marks the change from a provisional group, to a full-fledged recognized chapter of this national organization and we are excited and very, very thrilled. We're ready to go."

Schauble attended a Jack and Jill of America function in South Los Angeles where the women asked her to join their chapter.

"I thought to myself, why would I drive all the way to South Los Angeles when we can start our own chapter out here," she said. "We have a fabulous community of children and mothers that have the same needs and desires for their children, so I wanted to bring that idea out here to the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys."
Schauble enlisted the aid of her friend Hudson who joined Schauble in an e-mail campaign to compile an interest list.

"It is amazing what the e-mail can do," Schauble said. "Within six days we had 40 mothers interested and within a week we had 70. That interest list just continued to grow until today - a year and a half after we sent out that first e-mail."

The installation began before the luncheon when they participated in a secret ceremony followed by their procession into the banquet room.

Claudia Hawkins, the installation committee chairwoman, welcomed the guests as they took their seats at tables covered in white linen and decorated with centerpieces of white flowers and pink roses.

"It's wonderful to see you all here together in white," she said. "I talked to a lot of you and you were stressing about where to find shoes and dresses. You all look beautiful today."
Hawkins gave a brief inspirational speech about being a mother.

"As mothers we know that limitations are self imposed, we teach our children that ‘I can't' is a bad word and there are no limits," she said. "We must do the things that we think we cannot do. We know that mothers stay up late, get up early, work all day at home or the office and still attend mother meetings, group meetings, encourage and uplift, keep on keeping on."

Hawkins urged the group to "make a difference, be a difference."

"Be all you can be at dawn, dusk and after dark without an army. Build self esteem. Raise doctors, lawyers, teachers and oh, a president. Rear children, rescue children, protect children and all without a cape," she said.

The installation ceremony included a presentation of a video that documented activities of the past year as a provisional chapter, a keynote speech by Donna Leavy, president of the San Fernando Valley chapter and a presentation to each member of the new chapter of small crystal plaques by Denise Eaton-May, national corresponding secretary and Leslie Cox, far West regional director.

After Eaton-May and Cox welcomed the new chapter, glasses were raised in a champagne toast. The SCV/AV chapter joins 21 other chapters of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. in California.

In addition to Hudson and Schauble other officers include Kathy Tolliver, program director; Danielle Cooper, treasurer; Kathy Shank, financial secretary; Andrea Tyndale, recording secretary; Melva Benoit, corresponding secretary; Florence Lankford, historian; Sheree Spencer, editor, Cerene Howard, parliamentarian and Veronica DeLeon, hospitality chairwoman.


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