The History of Jack & Jill | San Francisco
”It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was San Francisco, the city that has promised so much and delivered so little to people of color. The year was 1950 and the migration of African Americans to California was beginning in earnest. It was seldom spoken of, but San Francisco was a city geographically, educationally, and culturally segregated. Five families who had ventured to the beautiful port found it necessary to create worthy social, cultural, and educational experiences to which they could expose their children. Five mothers with similar concerns and aspirations met at the home of Mrs. Charlotte Poole in the summer of 1950. We discussed and shared our thoughts on children’s growth and group activities. We then began our communication with Jack and Jill national offices seeking acceptance of our group as a viable, functioning Jack and Jill chapter. "
- From the memoirs of founding chapter member Mrs. Vivian Hambrick
In the Beginning
The founding mothers of Jack & Jill/San Francisco had been hearing of Marion Stubbs Thomas who had founded the nationwide organization, Jack and Jill of America in Philadelphia. Stubbs and 19 other mothers had come together to discuss creating an organization to provide social, cultural and educational opportunities for African American youth between the ages of two and 19. By January 24, 1938, Jack & Jill of America had incorporated and was accepting applications for new chapters. Vivian Hambrick's group of five San Francisco mothers wanted to be among them.
"One of the requirements for acceptance by national was the presence of a National Officer to conduct installation of officers and confer the Jack and Jill charter. We were informed as to the number of families any interest group must have before they would be considered for membership."
- Vivian Hambrick
The San Francisco mothers began with just seven children, all in the two to five age group: Carolyn Bonner, Noah Griffin, Gilbert Griffin, Diane Hambrick, Edward Hambrick, Gail Poole, and Mary Francis Howard.
They invited Mrs. Vernon Ross (Ethel), Mrs. Wayland Fuller (Hazel), Mrs. Terry Francois (Mariam), and Mrs. Garfield Steward (Florence) to join with the group. Bake sales, raffle promotions and other fundraisers became high priorities. The goal: to underwrite the cost of bringing a national officer to the west coast for chapter installation. Mrs. Hambrick explains, "Interest began to grow in our children’s activities, and by 1952 we were a happy, healthy youth-motivating organization." Once the small but determined group of mothers had met all requirements, Jack & Jill's San Francisco chapter was born.
"In July of 1952 it came to our attention that the San Francisco chapter of Links, Inc. were hosting the 3rd National Links Convention. One of the national Links, Mrs. Daisy Lampkin, owner and editor of the Pittsburgh Currier Newspaper was also a national Jack and Jill officer. She was also a close personal friend of Mrs. Charlotte Poole and Dr. Ruth Howard. With the cooperation of Link Jacqueline Smith, chair, National Links convention, arrangements were made. The group selected Dr. Ruth Howard and Mrs. Charlotte Poole to meet with Mrs. Daisy Lampkin who in turn conferred the charter at the Mark Hopkins hotel, July 24, 1952. A reception immediately followed at the home of Dr. Ruth Howard on Alemany Street. We brought our most special china, silver and tablecloths and the setting was lovely and worthy of the accomplishment."
- Vivian Hambrick
Once the small but determined group of mothers had met all requirements, Jack and Jill's San Francisco chapter was born. Just five years after chartering, in the summer of 1957, the chapter was honored to host its first Jack and Jill National Convention .
The chapter hosted the Far West Regional Conference in 1975, and again hosted the National Convention in 1988. As the Chapter grew, it took on the hosting of Jack and Jill Regional Teen Conferences in 1956, 1970, 1994, and 2009.
In 1988, the San Francisco Chapter hosted its first Beautillion, a cherished tradition of many Jack and Jill chapters, created specifically to honor the achievements of young African-American men. Portions of the proceeds from this popular biennial fundraiser are donated to the Jack and Jill Foundation and other non-profit charitable projects supported by Chapter members.
By April of 2004, Jack and Jill San Francisco had celebrated its 9th Beautillion and the following year, the Chapter created its first ever program book. The 166-page handbook was declared a “book of excellence” by National Program Director Regina Singleton, and very much reflected the excitement of the big event. In April of 2006, when Jack and Jill San Francisco celebrated its 10th Beautillion, the banquet ballroom at the Grand Hyatt was filled to capacity for the event, which garnered a $25,000 net profit.
The Chapter's 2008 Beautillion was beautifully executed at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, marking the 11th biennial celebration and the event's 20-year anniversary. 10 Beaux , 10 Belles and 11 Jr. Beaux participated in this inspirational evening, Beautillion 2008 - A Man Among Men: Building Pillars of Strength and Integrity for Future Generations.
Beautillion 2010, our most recent, was held on March 27, 2010. The theme was A Man Among Men…Developing Leadership and Character During a Time of Change and the event recognized 10 Beaux. From the height of fundraising results in 2006 to our most recent Beautillion in 2010, hosting the event cost-effectively became an increasing challenge given skyrocketing event pricing, an outgrowth of the San Francisco Bay Area's booming tech economy. The worthy goal of generating a net profit to benefit Jack and Jill Foundation and other charitable causes became increasingly difficult to meet. While the Beautillion remained a signature event for more than 20 years, the San Francisco Chapter reluctantly suspended the program after 2010. Still, it remains a vibrant component of the Chapter's history and brand in the Bay Area.among Bay Area locals.
In Recent Years
Recent years reflect noteworthy Regional and National participation. The San Francisco Chapter hosted the Far West Regional Teen Conference at San Francisco State University in 2009. Our mother member Shelli Dade served with distinction as the Far West Regional Teen Advisor, as well as the Chapter’s Teen Advisor from 2010 to 2012, serving as a ready resource to successive Teen Advisors even beyond her term. Sadly, in 2017, the Chapter met with Shelli’s untimely passing, which was given an official acknowledgement at Jack and Jill Black Family Day.
The San Francisco Chapter's Associates Group was formed in 2008. Former Regional Director and Life Member Edna James now chairs the group of mothers whose children have reach age 20 and thus "graduated out" of Jack and Jill. The Associates have become a rich repository of organizational knowledge and experience for current mother members. Under RD James’ leadership, our Associates encourage continued involvement and community among our numerous graduated moms, and the number of Lifetime Members among them continues to flourish.
Today, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. boasts more than 230 chapters nationwide, representing more than 40,000 family members. Each chapter plans annual programming activities guided under a specific national theme.
The San Francisco Chapter continues its mission of bringing children together in a supportive social, cultural, and service environment nourished by like-minded children and adults. The membership is stable with 30 families with mothers whose interests, contributions, and imaginations blend to promote and support the goals of the organization. In 2015 and 2016, the Chapter refocused its attention on reinforcing the group's foundational vision and values, reviewing and revising chapter by-laws.
During that same period, Jack and Jill/San Francisco led the Far West Region in fundraising through the March of Dimes Walk, which is strongly supported nationwide by the mothers of Jack and Jill. Motivated by the notion that every baby and child deserves a fighting chance, members embrace the work that provides medically at-risk infants with an opportunity to become their best selves.
In March of 2017, the San Francisco Chapter hosted Children’s Cluster, an annual multi-chapter day of child-centered bonding among the pre-teen children of Jack and Jill. This successful, sold out event was held at SF Jazz and attended by more than 80 families throughout the Cluster.
Even with much territory conquered by the mothers of Jack and Jill, there remain new avenues to explore as the chapter matures. We recently completed our first Strategic Plan for membership to ensure that recruitment efforts are focused and sustainable, and we aim to continue being a strong voice in our community for many decades to come.