On March 30, 2019, the first of two informational sessions was held at the Chicago Urban League to determine if there was interest in establishing a fourth Chicago chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Incorporated. The meeting was led by Mid-Western Regional Director Nadine J. Gibson and Regional Growth and Retention Chair Yvonne Blake of the Chicago Chapter, along with Sponsor Chapter Lake Shore President Dr. Monica Moore, Past National President Alice Leigh-Peoples, and Mid-Western Growth Coordinator Dr. Tonya Coates of the South Suburban Chicago Chapter. Members from the local chapters of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated all came out in support of the event. Mothers unable to attend the first meeting were able to attend the second meeting on May 4, 2019. This diverse group of mothers would be known as the Magnificent Mile Interest Group.
During the summer of 2019, the Magnificent Mile Interest Group prepared an application for provisional status. On June 22, 2019 the Magnificent Mile Interest Group held our first June planning meeting where mothers began working on planning excellent activities for our children. The Magnificent Mile Interest Group held its first retreat for mothers to fellowship and elect officers on July 28, 2019, at Gallery Guichard in Chicago, Illinois. While some offices are historically appointed, the interest group voted for most officers, and a few were appointed as follows:
Mothers present at the retreat had the benefit of 20th Past National President Alice Leigh Peoples’ and Regional Growth Chair Yvonne Blake’s wisdom and guidance. At the retreat, mothers shared their hopes and dreams for their children’s growth and development.
With the support of the Lake Shore Chapter and the Mid-Western Regional Leadership Team, on October 2, 2019, the National Executive Board of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated approved the Magnificent Mile Interest Group’s request to become a provisional group.
Once approved, the Magnificent Mile Provisional Group continued planning quality and engaging programming, reflective of the group’s needs and wants. Over the program year, the group also learned how to implement programming the “Jack and Jill” way through national training calls, the Illinois Area Workday Cluster and seeing the Lake Shore Chapter in action. The Magnificent Mile Provisional Group held monthly mother’s meetings during the 2019-2020 program year at Vanderpoel Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois.
The Lake Shore Chapter mentored through inviting the Magnificent Mile Provisional Group to several programs as guests such as the Regional Jack and Jill Day/Carole Robertson Celebration, December Cultural Day Activity, Founders’ Day Tea, and Annual Oratorical Contest. On January 20, 2020, the Magnificent Mile Provisional Group assembled and prepared care packages for the MLK Day of Service. These activities allowed Magnificent Mile moms to bring their children together through educational, social, and cultural experiences.
The journey to chartering the Magnificent Mile Provisional Group did not occur in a bubble. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization characterized the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. As restaurants, museums and events were closed and canceled throughout Chicago, Magnificent Mile mothers had to pivot and make adjustments to this new way of life. On May 29, 2020, the city of Chicago was the site of numerous protest and rioting for several weeks in the aftermath of several unjustified killings of African Americans in the United States, resulting in the closing of retail and grocery stores. The group’s members supported each other during this time with lists of black-owned restaurants that provided carryout and delivery, a virtual membership week, and virtual grade group activities. Magnificent Mile families took part in a nonviolent protest against racism for children and families organized by the Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated Chicago Chapter on June 13, 2020. Youth spoke to the importance of civic engagement and the value of black lives.
On August 23, 2020, at the 44th National Convention, the national body voted in favor to officially grant the mothers of the Magnificent Mile Provisional Group new status as the Magnificent Mile Provisional Chapter. Today, October 17, 2020, 81 mothers officially charter the Magnificent Mile Chapter, dedicated to making an impact on the lives of their children and other African-American children in Chicago.