Jack and Jill 86 th Anniversary

Today we celebrate the 86 th Anniversary of the Founding of Jack and Jill of
America, Incorporated. The late Marion Stubbs Thomas founded Jack and Jill of
America, Incorporated, on January 24, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Twenty
mothers came together to discuss creating an organization to provide social,
cultural and educational opportunities for youth between the ages of 2 and 19. In
1946, 10 chapters were involved in the national restructuring process. The
constitution and bylaws were drawn up, and the organization was incorporated
under the laws of the state of Delaware. Jack and Jill of America, Inc website.
We know the founding members desired that ALL Jack and Jill members
recognize service as one of the central tenants of our organization. And today, I’d
like to speak about service and what it means to me. Please note that my
comments are my feelings and mine alone. I’m not here to preach a bunch of “you
should” and “you ought to” mandates, only what I’ve experienced and what has
worked for me. So please keep that in mind during my message with you today.
What does SERVICE mean in the Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated
organization in particular and in my life in general? This is what Service
means to me.

S=sincerity-Join organizations for the right reasons. In short, don’t be a T-
shirt wearer. I joined Jack and Jill because I wanted to make a difference
and put my energy into an organization that helps children. Looking back, I
had a horrible and tragic childhood that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Jack and Jill became my second chance to help kids who may have had a
similar history to have a better childhood experience. My sincere life’s
mission is to make children’s lives the best they can be. My children, my
grandchildren and other people’s children. So, from me to you, “Let sincerity
guide your actions in whatever you do with Jack and Jill or any other
volunteer or civic organization”.
E=energy- I’ve held numerous positions in the Jack and Jill of America,
Incorporated organization:
Jack and Jill Foundation, Inc. – Foundation Board President and Vice
o KCKS Chapter President – 2 terms
o KCKS Chapter Vice President – 2 terms
o KCKS Chapter Recording Secretary & Corresponding Secretary
o KCKS Chapter Financial Secretary
o KCKS Chapter Teen Advisor 3 terms

o KCKS Chapter Parliamentarian
o Central Region Teen Advisor
o Central Region Member-at-Large – 2 terms and other impromptu
positions as they were needed. All this activity requires sleep and self-care.
Drop what doesn’t feed you or feel right because it will drain you.
Remember we are asked by flight attendants to “Put a mask on yourself
before helping others”. You can’t pour anything from an empty cup. We must
keep ourselves energized. I’m still on a quest to do better with my eating,
exercising and work life balance habits. How do you manage your energy?
R= Religion- Whatever you call your religious higher power, whether it be
Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, North Star, etc. Where do you get your inner
strength? I’ve been a PK (preacher’s kid), deaconess, 17 years as a teacher
at Catholic schools. Religion is very important to me. I’m proud to be very
active in my parish by teaching 6th grade Sunday school, future Catholic
adults and a member of St. Agnes Women’s Auxiliary. Where does religion
rest in your life? Is it a handbag or garment that you choose to carry along
for certain occasions or is it a birthmark that’s visible on your skin every
day? Don’t get it twisted, I’m no saint by any means! Thank God for his
grace and mercy. And forgiveness!!

V=volunteerism-Jack and Jill encourages multiple teen and mothers
conference community service projects (Love is an action verb!) Actions
speak louder than words. Jack and Jill provides unlimited opportunities to
volunteer, donate, and share of oneself. When we help other people, we are
ultimately building character and compassion. Ask our kids how they felt
when they completed a community service project? You will hear about how
happy it makes them feel. When they help others, they can see how blessed
they (themselves) are and it helps them grow to be generous and
empathetic. Let’s joyfully make it part of our DNA. When my kids were little,
I always told them to do things with a happy heart. Volunteering pays it
forward. Let’s do it with a happy heart. And for this I say, Thank you, Jack
and Jill!
I=integrity- Serve for the right reasons, do the right things even when
nobody’s watching. Jack and Jill doesn’t allow members to benefit
financially from fundraising efforts. Our bylaws clearly prohibit this. But how
can we prevent this from happening? I believe it’s because we work very
hard to recruit members who have integrity and who will do the right things.
Nobody is perfect, but when we recommend a family, we are putting our
reputation on the line. We do things because they are the right things to do.

During community service projects, we try our hardest not to complain when
we pick up trash in the hot summer sun. Or when our children empty our
piggy banks to donate to people who are less fortunate. This month, as we
donate books and money to Lead To Read KC, we show our integrity and
compassion. Let’s go above and beyond whenever we volunteer.
C=consistency- At 62 years of age, I’ve tried to live my life helping people.
I left companies and organizations where I didn’t feel like that was the case.
Being a member Jack and Jill, teaching kids and adults for 25+ years,
holding a leadership role in the GKC Chapter of The Links, Inc., starting
Diversity Telehealth, offering free telehealth services through Diversity
Telehealth Community Network, 501c3, creating the Come On Now app so
patients will have quicker access to healthcare through telehealth,
participating in Junior League, and contributing my time, talents and
treasures to St. Agnes Church are no accident. I’m sure each of you can
name organizations and situations just like I did. Jack and Jill families have
been reaching out and giving even when it’s inconvenient. Jack and Jill is
consistently making lives better in many different ways in many different
places for all walks of life. And I say, “Thank you!”

E=eternal & everlasting. People will always need help. Imagine the
children in war torn countries. Children who don’t have access to medicine
and healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. Children who go to bed hungry
worldwide. Children who live in unsafe home environments. Children who
don’t know hope or love. Jack and Jill has done so much for children over
these 86 years, but the need for service will never end. So, thank you
sponsoring organizations and donors. Thank you Jack and Jill Moms and
Dads and “Jacks” and “Jills”. Thank you, Marion Stubbs Thomas, the
founder of our beloved organization. Your idea is what has made and
continues to make this organization life-changing for tens of thousands of
people across the nation.
So, to me, service means: Sincerity, energy, religion, volunteerism,
integrity, consistency and eternal hope.
I’m asking you, on this 86 th Jack and Jill Anniversary, let’s continue to make
a difference by helping improve the lives of children whenever and wherever
we can. Let’s work, let’s play, let’s live together because it’s our Jack and Jill
motto forever!
Dr. Shelley Cooper drcoopercmg@gmail.com


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