n the early 1980s, Carol Leftridge spear-headed an effort along with several other mothers to create a Jack and Jill chapter on the western side of Montgomery County, MD. Their goal was to include their children in an organization whose ideals encouraged the spiritual, intellectual, and social growth of African American children. The efforts of 29 dedicated women, the charter members, culminated on the evening of October 6, 1984 with the installation ceremony of the Potomac Valley Chapter, MD into Jack and Jill of America, Inc. National Editor DeVida Howard Johnson conducted the installation ceremony.
The program included a pre-Installation workshop in which Ms. Johnson provided a national overview of Jack and Jill of America, and Charlie Mae Brown, the Eastern Regional Director, shared an overview of the Eastern Region. Each member was installed, signed the Potomac Valley Charter, and lit a candle. Barbara Ward, President of the Montgomery County MD Chapter (the Sponsoring Chapter), attended the Installation Ceremony.
The officers of the newly installed chapter included: Carol A.J. Leftridge, President; Janis Mitchell, Vice President; Diane L. Fenton, Corresponding Secretary; Melva McFarland, Recording Secretary; Shirley Middleton-Jones, Treasurer; Joyce Stokes, Parliamentarian; and Joy Robinson, Historian.”
Charter member Shirley Middleton-Jones and her youngest son Elliot, graduated from the Potomac Valley Chapter in 2001. Since its inception, the mothers of the Potomac Valley Chapter and their children have contributed to the community in numerous meaningful ways. In April 1985, the Potomac Valley Chapter hosted the Eastern Region Southern Cluster meeting. In 1989 and 1990, the chapter sponsored a Beautillion. In April 2009, Potomac Valley hosted the Eastern Region Children’s Cluster in Bethesda, MD at Sidwell Friends School.
Since 2009, the Potomac Valley Chapter has supported the Potomac Library in the Montgomery County Public Library system by donating new wish list books by African American authors during Black History Month.
The chapter has donated 163 books worth approximately $1,400 to the Potomac Library. Proceeds derived from annual fundraisers are contributed to local charities and the Jack and Jill America, Inc. Foundation. In recent years the chapter has supported the National Center for Children and Families.
During the 2009-2010 program year, Potomac Valley celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a Mardi Gras Gala. The gala was well attended and supported by members of the Potomac Valley chapter, past and present, as well as extended family from neighboring Jack and Jill chapters and others from the community. Proceeds from our silent auction and tickets sales were donated to Habitat for Humanity and our local partner, National Center for Children and Families.
The 2011-12 was an exciting one for Potomac Valley. We received recognition in SCOPE for outstanding programming in the area of community service. The momentum from our 25th Anniversary celebration has continued, and has made our spring Mardi Gras Gala a signature event. We had record attendance by our teens at the Teen Regional Conference held at National Harbor, Washington, DC, and one of our own (Mondi Kumbula-Fraser) was appointed to serve as a regional officer for legislative programming.
In March 2011 and 2012, the Potomac Valley Chapter hosted a unique fundraising event, “Jack and Jill Day at the Imagination Stage,” in Bethesda, MD. The event brought together nearly 100 Jack and Jill children and families from around the region. Proceeds from the ticket sales were used to fund a summer camp scholarship for a child served by the national Center for Children and Families (NCCF). A highlight in 2012 was additional fundraising that enabled 40 NCCF children, families and staff members to attend the event. A reception attended cast members was held after the performance. 2014 will be our third year promoting Imagination Stage.
In 2013, our very own Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale was honored at the On the Hill Summit for her commitment to public service in serving as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Obama Administration. Our President Mondi Kumbula-Fraser served as the 2012-2014 Eastern Regional Legislative Chair and is currently serving as our Eastern Regional Membership Chair. At the 2014 National Convention, the Potomac Valley Chapter was honored for receiving First Place of all Jack and Jill chapters nationwide for March of Dimes donations! In addition, we received a Superior Rating on the Program Handbook and 2 Stars for Financial and Operational Excellence. This year we are celebrating our 30th Anniversary with a lovely Gala and we are excited about what the future has in store for 2014-2015!