Stone Bridge High School senior Arlyn Donnelly is the president of the Loudoun County Virginia Chapter (LCVC) of Jack and Jill of America’s Teen Umoja, which means unity in Swahili.
Jack and Jill of America was founded by Marion Stubbs Thomas in 1938, with the idea of bringing children together in a social and cultural environment. The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all children, particularly African-American children.
"Being black and proud means being beautiful, having your own culture, being different, but the same in all the ways that count," she said.
The Jack and Jill organization celebrates cultures and promotes positive social interaction across the county and the country.
THE LOUDOUN COUNTY Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. began its third annual Black History Program with the National Black Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church’s minister of music Rafealito Ross led his group and Stone Bridge High School in song.
The Loudoun Chapter of Jack and Jill honored its past by acknowledging Leesburg activist Irene Walker Bobich with a Legacy Award.
Bobich was born in Loudoun County in 1935 and raised on Loudoun Street in Leesburg.
Bobich described what it was like to attend class at the then all-black Douglass School in Leesburg in the 1940s.
"We were the last to get everything," she said. "The white schools got everything first."
The Douglass School was heated by coal, Bobich said.
"On a day like today, you would be cold."
Bobich was impressed by Stone Bridge High School’s facilities.
"When I hear about students who cut class and deface property, I get angry," she said.
Bobich is a lifetime member of the NAACP, a member of the National Urban League and has volunteered at the Women’s Resource Center, Interfaith organizations and at the Loudoun Museum.
Teen Umoja vice president James Shelton was impressed by Bobich’s story.
"It was inspirational to hear Mrs. Bobich speak," he said. "Some people think they have it really hard. It is good to understand what a struggle really is."
THE YOUNGEST MEMBERS of the Loudoun chapter celebrated black history with several performances. Sugar and Spice, made up of children ages 6 through 8, represented the future of America by dressing up as what they want to be when they grow up.
"My name is Madison Brown and I will be the first African-American female president," Madison Brown said.
Her sister, Ashlyn Brown wants to be a teacher.
Umoja Unlimited, made up of children ages 9 through 12, honored black men and women, like Sarah Boone who invented the ironing board, Madame C.J. Walker who created many hair products for black woman and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a black doctor who performed the first open heart surgery.
Dominion High School’s step team, Divine Steppers, performed a synchronized dance and Ashburn’s Capital Community Church group, High Praise, performed an interpretive dance.
THE LOUDOUN CHAPTER of Jack and Jill of America is active in the community, volunteering at the Washington, DC., shelter So Others Might Eat (SOME) and collecting supplies for Loudoun County’s Transitional Housing Program. It sets aside funds for local organizations, as well. LCVC parliamentarian Wendy Levy presented Next Level for Teens, a nonprofit after-school program for teens with a $1,500 donation.