Joliet Area/South Suburban Alumnae Chapter Charter Members and Dignitaries
1st Row(Seated l-r) Clarice Boswell, Leona Barlow, Barbara Curtis (Midwest Reginal Director on chartering date-not charter member), Jean Ingram, Mary Greenwood, and Mattie Barnes. 2nd Row(Standing l-r) Ruby Childs, Jean Blackmon, Ernestine Berry-Beck, Evie Williams-Whitted, Lorene Skulark Samuels (who, on the chartering date, was Chicago Alumnae Chapter President, National Finance Committee Member, and Special Advisor, Chapter Chartering Process, not a charter member), Regina Carter, Yvonne Wright-Wells, Annie Hollins, Helen Hatchett, Dawn Brooks Ellis, Curtistine Holt-Miller(d). Charter Members not pictured: Delores Yeary and Fern Dunn.
Seventeen dynamic Delta women chartered the Joliet Area/South Suburban Alumnae Chapter (JASSAC). These pioneers worked together in the South Suburban School Districts of Cook and Will counties in Illinois, and had a very distinct vision in mind; to start a new chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Their vision became complete on January 12, 1974 when the Joliet Area Alumnae Chapter was born.
Under the new leadership of Jean Ingram in 1975, the chapter worked hard in their beginning years. They took on various programs and projects such as voter registration, a Thanksgiving basket give-away, and fundraisers for the YMCA building fund. During this time, the sorors also started working toward establishing an undergraduate chapter at Lewis University in Joliet, IL.
As leadership changed, the chapter continued their fundraising efforts, enabling them to make significant contributions to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the YMCA Youth and Government Organization, and the United Negro College Fund. They also made it a point to work with unwed mothers, and offer health options during their Health Fairs.
In 1975, the chapter also sponsored their first Ebony Fair Fashion Show. This show has been a major fundraising effort for chapter scholarships. The first sell-out show was under the leadership of Gwen Bowen, and continues to be a successful event for the chapter and the community. Through this effort, the chapter has awarded over $150,000 in scholarships to deserving high school seniors in South Suburban Cook County and the Joliet area. Also, the chapter sponsors the Umoja Step Show which also benefits the scholarship program.
In 2003, the name Joliet Area Alumnae was officially changed to the Joliet Area South Suburban Alumnae Chapter in order to encompass the entire area. Also at this time, the chapter added a non-profit arm, Jassac Charitable Foundation, Inc., which functions under its own Board of Directors.
As the sisterhood continues to grow, the continued focus on the Sorority’s Five Point Thrust has also grown. The chapter provides support to two Public Action To Deliver Shelter (PADS) sites at St. Ireanaus Catholic Church in Park Forest, IL and New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, IL. There is also a partnership with Habitat for Humanity where the chapter helped in the building of five houses in the South suburbs. Mentoring programs have also been implemented which serves at-risk girls through the Delta Academy and Delta GEMS program.
The chapter fulfills children’s Christmas wishes through the Breakfast with Santa program. This key program distributes over 500 toys to local children, while they enjoy “Breakfast with Santa”. In 2005, the chapter held its first Delta Expo at Lincoln Mall in Matteson, IL. The Expo continues to bring together all of the Five Point Thrust in one event.
Joliet Area South Suburban Alumnae chapter has won several awards. In 2008, the chapter's hard work was recognized at the 49th National Convention in Orlando, Florida. As a result, JASSAC won three awards. The awards were First Place- National Chapter Implementation Award-DST Homeownership Initiative and Regional Chapter Implementation Award-DST Homeownership Initiative. Also, JASSAC and Mu Theta were awarded The Project Ace Award. Additionally, the chapter won the SEE Award at the Regional Conference in Columbus, OH in 2005 and during the 2001-2002 National Convention in Atlanta, GA, the chapter won Illinois Chapter of the Year.
JASSAC has had several National Committee appointments with Clara Lee, Gwen Bowen and Curtistine Holt-Miller. Chapter member Lorine Samuels served as National Treasurer and Inez Tolden was elected to the National Nominating Committee. Today, National Committee and Regional positions are held by Octavia Matthews who is the Immediate Past Midwest Regional Director. She also served as the Midwest Regional Social Action Coordinator and is a past National 2nd Vice President. Immediate Past Chapter President Tracy L. Bradley has served on the National Nominating Committee and has held the position of Illinois State Coordinator. Michelle Mills is a member of the National Social Action Commission, Midwest Communications committee, and former Midwest Regional Journalist.
JASSAC continues to strive and attain for Delta.