Anne Arundel Co. mom grows organization to invest in future ‘African A…

Anne Arundel Co. mom grows organization to invest in future ‘African A…




When an Anne Arundel County mom couldn’t find activities for her children in the late 80s, she established a chapter of an organization that invests in programming for African American kids.

This report is part of WTOP’s coverage of Black History Month. Read more stories on WTOP.com.

In 1990, a mom looking for opportunities for her kids in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, chartered a local chapter of Jack and Jill of America, a national organization that invests in programming for African American children.

Christine Davenport established the Arundel Bay Area Jack and Jill of America, Inc. What started out as a handful of moms taking their kids out on trips has grown to an group of 45 moms in the past three decades, she said.

“Their goal is to nurture African American leaders of the future,” said Davenport, an associate member of Jack and Jill.

The organization began 84 years ago when a group of Black mothers gathered to discuss creating an organization that provided social and cultural opportunities for children 2 to 19.

In January 1938, Marion Stubbs Thomas started the organization in Philadelphia. It’s headquartered in D.C.

When Davenport moved to Maryland from South Carolina, she found that there were no activities obtainable for African American children. She was a mother of two, a son and a daughter.

Christine Davenport established the Arundel Bay Area Jack and Jill of America, Inc. in 1990. (Courtesy Photo Christine Davenport)

Anytime she wanted to take her children out on activities, they had to go alone. In the late 80s, she heard about Jack and Jill while at a convention in California for her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. Davenport said she learned Jack and Jill was the only national Black organization at the time whose mission was focused on children.

When she returned to Maryland, Davenport says she invited six mothers over to her house and told them she wanted to start a group. The organization grew quickly.

Every Saturday morning the moms took their kids on trips to entertainment parks, museums and already to the White House for Easter Egg Hunts. The Glen Burnie Chapter of Jack and Jill was chartered on Oct. 27, 1990.

“That was the best thing I could’ve ever done, not just for myself but for my kids, and the kids in the community.”

The chapter continued to grow and was renamed the Arundel Bay Area Jack and Jill in 2000. Davenport says the chapter now has 45 moms and 65 children.

The national organization has 252 chapters across the country representing more than 40,000 families. They develop projects that deal with cultural awareness, education health and service to help stimulate growth and development for Black children. Davenport says she had many success stories to tell.

The Anne Arundel Bay Area Chapter of Jack and Jill of America started with six moms.

The children, who are now adults, are in every profession you can name. Davenport said.

“They will tell you that they credit Jack and Jill for their start … for reminding them who they are,” Davenport said.

Davenport is a trailblazer who symbolize excellence and leadership in many areas. She taught school for 35 years.

As a leader in the State of Maryland, she was the first African American elected to the Democratic Central Committee from District 31 in 2002. Davenport also organized and served as president of the North Arundel County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1989 and was elected for another term in 1999.

And, she organized and served as the president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Anne Arundel County Chapter from 1991 to 1997.

She’s currently the regional director of the Continental Society, Inc, a nonprofit organization committed to providing quality program and activities to children. The grandmother of one says she’s delighted that her daughter-in-law recently joined a Jack and Jill chapter in Gulfport, Mississippi knowing the legacy lives on.

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

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