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Colts Neck Member Of Jack & Jill Monmouth County Chapter
07/01/2007 - By Lauren Covino
Colts Neck Member Of Jack & Jill Monmouth County Chapter
As a young child living a playful and enjoyable life, Wileeta McGee looked at her affiliation with the Queens, NY Chapter of Jack & Jill of America as a time to meet new friends and enjoy an afternoon together within her community. Now, as a grown woman, wife, and mother of three daughters, Wileeta can appreciate much more about this special organization, which maintains its focus on enriching the lives of African-American youth as they grow into adulthood and for years beyond.
Founded in 1938 by Marion Turner Stubbs Thomas, the Jack & Jill idea fostered the desire to bring children together in a healthy, social, and cultural atmosphere. Twenty mothers gathered at a home in Philadelphia to form this society, which today spans across seven regions all over the country, with hundreds of chapters and thousands of members. It continues to grow larger each year, as families pass on this sacred tradition as if it were an heirloom.
Belonging to Jack & Jill comes with many responsibilities. As Wileeta explained, “It truly is a lifelong commitment that is meant to be passed down for generations.” Wileeta is Group Chair for her middle daughter, Destiny’s, age group, and is responsible for developing activities that are suitable for them.
In addition to event planning, mothers, along with their children, express commitment to Jack & Jill by performing community service; it is their duty as dedicated members. During the chapter’s recent annual Christmas Party, each guest was asked to bring a new coat of their size as the entry fee; these were later donated to the needy by the organization’s social chair. Wileeta explains, “My motto has always been ‘to whom much is given, much is required,’ and the service component of our organization is so critical for each child’s experience.” She even stresses the importance of service outside the organization by preparing extra Thanksgiving meals, which her daughters and husband Sean distribute to the homeless in New York City each year. She attributes her compassion for helping others to her early surroundings at Jack & Jill.
Wileeta and her family are fairly new to Colts Neck, having lived here for only one year since leaving NYC to settle into a more suburban lifestyle. It is here in Colts Neck, however, that they plan on staying and continuing to raise their three girls – Dejah, who attends Cedar Drive Middle School; Destiny, who attends Conover Road Elementary School; and Desirae, who is currently at Conover Road Primary. “The school system was very strong and the town itself was just beautiful,” said Wileeta. “The decision to move here was easy.” Wileeta is proud to have her three daughters as well as her husband - who is part of the Fathers’ Auxiliary of Jack & Jill - play such an active role in the Monmouth County chapter. Currently, the group totals 42 children and Wileeta believes her girls’ involvement will aid them tremendously as they grow into women. She only hopes they have as much fun as she did growing up, while also grasping the importance and impact the organization has on so many lives.
Members also continue to invest their time to keep their chapter as strong as it stands today. The footprint that was laid over 50 years ago is like a well-oiled machine, yet the women still need to stay abreast of the changing world around them. The development of their Monmouth County website was a huge enhancement and Wileeta hopes to someday use it as a real catalyst for continued growth. “Since we don’t advertise heavily…the organization is currently growing by word of mouth and through the families involved,” she said. She feels there are many individuals in the area who would benefit from such a positive organization – one that portrays the black community in such a respectful light despite the negative stereotypes seen on television and in the media. “I know my children will never be influenced by the opinions of society about our culture, and that is so very rewarding,” she added.
Wileeta would like to extend a special invitation to anyone in the Monmouth County area who is interested in attending a special Jack & Jill of America open event on August 11th. For more information, please contact Wileeta McGee at email@example.com.
—by Lauren Covino
Favorite restaurants: Mahzu, Freehold; Red, Red Bank; Metropolitan Café, Freehold
Favorite music: anything R&B, jazz, or gospel
Favorite movies: The Best Man and Pretty Woman
Pet peeves: disorganization and people who are not good communicators
Three people you would like to have dinner with: Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Ellen DeGeneres
Are you or someone you know in Colts Neck a “Person on the Move”? If you’ve got a story to tell this could be you! E-mail a brief description to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know who you are.
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