Joliet Area/South Suburban Alumnae Chapter

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Chapter History

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 as well as in other professions. With a very distinct vision in mind, a new chapter was born, the Joliet Area Alumnae Chapter, on January 12, 1974.

Charter Members
Leona Barlow Regina Carter Curtistine Holt-Miller*
Mattie Barnes Ruby Childs-Stewart Jean Ingram
Ernestine Berry-Beck Fulgham Fern Dunn* Evie Williams-Whitted
Jean Blackmon Mary Greenwood Yvonne Wright-Wells
Clarice Boswell Helen Hatchett Delores Yeary*
Dawn Brooks-Ellis Annie Hollins* * Omega Omega Chapter

Under the 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.

Past Chapter Presidents
1974-1975 Jean Ingram 1981-1983 Clara Lee 1999-2003 Juanita Floyd
1975 -1977 Curtistine Holt Miller* 1983 – 1988 Abigail Phillips 2003-2007 Tracey Bradley
1977-1978 Dawn Ellis 1988 – 1991 Gwendolyn Bowen 2007-2011 Valerie Sims-Rucker
1978-1980 Gwendolyn Bowen 1991-1995 Mary Newton Rose 2011- 2015 Carolyn Dishmon
1980-1981 Yvonne Wells 1995- 1999 Arnetta Cornelius 2015-2019 Kimberly Rowe-Barney

In 1975, the chapter also sponsored their first Ebony Fashion Fair Show under the leadership of Gwendolyn Bowen. This show was a major fundraising effort for chapter scholarships. 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. The chapter also sponsored the Umoja Step Show.

In 2003, the name Joliet Area Alumnae was officially changed to the Joliet Area/ South Suburban Alumnae Chapter in order to encompass the entire service 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, St. Irenaeus Catholic Church in Park Forest, IL and New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, IL. There also was a partnership with Habitat for Humanity where the chapter helped in the construction of several houses in the South suburbs. Mentoring programs have also been implemented and continue which serves at-risk girls through the Delta Academy and Delta GEMS programs and boys through E.M.B.O.D.I. (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence)

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 brought together all of the Five Point Thrust in one event. This has been duplicated several times through a Women’s Symposium and Kindness In Service through Sisterhood (K.I.S.S.) with 100 Acts of Kindness in one day in our service area.

Each year, the chapter has worked to create a program that expounds on the Sorority’s Five Point Programmatic Thrust.

Over the past twelve years, JASSAC has created and developed a myriad of other innovative programs. In 2009, the JASSAC Step Team was established, a competition team, marking the first time in chapter history that the chapter had an official step team committee. After delivering a memorable performance at the 2008 JASSAC Umoja Step Show, the chapter was asked to compete in the Homecoming Step Show at the University of Illinois-Urbana. After claiming the first place title, sorors knew that they had what it took to be a competition team. Since 2008, the Step Team has gone to win several first place titles, in which all proceeds have gone to benefit the chapter’s Scholarship program. However, the most monumental performance came at the 2010 49th National Convention Step Show in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chosen as 1 of only 5 teams to represent Delta in the National Convention Step Show, sorors delivered an impressive performance entitled Crimson Karate. The JASSAC Step Team has gone on to compete in other step shows and in the state of IL and has often been categorized as the “Best Step Team – Sorority” in the Midwest.

In 2010, the chapter successfully implemented a new fundraising effort, the Crimson and Crème Pageant former known as Little Miss DST Pageant. In ten years, the chapter has had over 250 participants. This pageant, unlike traditional pageants where its participants compete in the areas of talent and physical appearance, has a different mission and purpose. The pageant fosters positive interaction between young girls ages 5-13 by educating them in topics such as CPR, nutrition, and exercise. Participants are able to develop their self-esteem while developing new friendships.

The chapter has won several awards.

Year Events or Organizations Awards
2002 46th National Convention –

Atlanta, Georgia

Illinois Chapter of the Year
2005 42nd Midwest Regional Conference – Columbus, Ohio 3rd Place SEE (Science and Everyday Experience) Award
2008 49th National Convention – Orlando, Florida 1st Place – National Chapter Implementation Award – DST Homeownership Initiative

1st Place – Regional Chapter Implementation Award – DST Homeownership Initiative

Project Ace Award – JASSAC and Mu Theta (jointly)–

2010 Pan-Hellenic Council of Chicago Extra Large Sorority Chapter of the Year
2011 45th Midwest Regional Conference-

Rosemont, IL

1st Place- International Awareness and Involvement

1st Place- Economic Development

2013 51st National Convention – Washington, D.C. 1st Place – Step Team
2015 Urban League – Joliet Chapter Community Service Award
52nd National Convention –

Houston, Texas

2nd Place – Step Team

2nd Place – International Awareness and Involvement

2nd Place – Physical and Mental Health

3rd Place – Political Awareness and Involvement

2016 47th Midwest Regional Conference- Indianapolis, Indiana 1st Place – Step Team

2nd Place- Chapter of the Year (Large Alumnae Chapter)

2nd Place – Educational Development (Large Alumnae Chapter)

2nd Place – ERT(Emergency Response Team) – Be Delta Ready

2017 53rd National Convention –

Las Vegas, Nevada

National Chapter of the Year – Collegiate Transition Task Force

2nd Place – Risk Management Manual

3rd Place Step Team and 1st Place Online Peoples’ Choice

2019 54th National Convention-

New Orleans, Louisiana

President’s Vision Award “Joy In Our Sisterhood”

1st Place – ERT (Emergency Response Team)

1st Place – Political Awareness and Involvement

JASSAC has had several National Committee appointments with Clara Lee, Gwen Bowen and Curtistine Holt-Miller. Chapter member Lorine Samuels was elected to serve as National Treasurer and a member on the National Finance Committee. Inez Tolden was elected to serve as a member on the National Nominating Committee. Octavia G. Matthews who is a past Midwest Regional Director (2007-2009) has served as the Midwest Regional Social Action Coordinator, elected as a member on the National Finance Committee and as a past National 2nd Vice President. Tracy L. Bradley was elected to serve as a member on the National Nominating Committee and appointed to serve as Illinois State Coordinator (2007-2009).

On a regional level (2014-2018): Kimberly Rowe Barney served as a member of the Risk Management committee; Yvette Barrett served as member of the Regional Special Project Committee, Gwendolyn Buie served as member of the Information, Communication and Technology Committee, Tchicaya Ellis Robertson served as Illinois Coordinator of the ERT Committee; Demetra Kirksey served as the Illinois Coordinator for the Delta DEARS; and Marcie Wilson served as a member of the Illinois Chaplain Council.

Currently, serving on a National Level, JASSAC Chapter Members Octavia G. Matthews is one of the Co-Chairs of the National Constitution and Bylaws Committee; Helen Hill-Neely is Midwest Region Member of the National Finance Committee; and Tracy Bradley, member of the Reclamation Project a subcommittee of the National Membership Services Committee.

JASSAC is currently represented by the following members who have been appointed to serve on a Regional level: Aisha Barnes serves as the Co-Coordinator of the Information, Communication and Technology Committee; Tchicaya Ellis Robertson serves as the Co-Coordinator of Program, Planning & Development Committee; Gwendolyn Buie serves as the Co-Coordinator for Special Events;; Carolyn Dishmon serves as a member of Chaplain’s Council; Natalie Mason serves as a member of the Journalist team; Yvette Barrett serves as a member of Risk Management Committee and Fontella Long serves as the Illinois Coordinator for Program, Planning & Development.

JASSAC continues to strive and attain for Delta.

Joliet Area/South Suburban Alumnae Chapter – Service Area

The chapter service area is comprised of the following 47 communities:

·       Alsip ·       Glenwood ·       Orland Park
·       Blue Island ·       Harvey ·       Park Forest
·       Burnham ·       Hazel Crest ·       Phoenix
·       Calumet City ·       Hickory Hills ·       Posen
·       Calumet Park ·       Homewood ·       Richton Park
·       Chicago Heights ·       Joliet ·       Riverdale
·       Country Club Hills ·       Lansing ·       Robbins
·       Crest Hill ·       Lynwood ·       Sauk Village
·       Crestwood ·       Matteson ·       Shorewood
·       Crete ·       Markham ·       South Chicago Heights
·       Dolton ·       Midlothian ·       South Holland
·       Dixmoor ·       Monee ·       Steger
·       East Hazel Crest ·       New Lenox ·       Thornton
·       Flossmoor ·       Oak Forest ·       Tinley Park
·       Ford Heights ·       Olympia Fields ·       University Park
·       Frankfort ·       Orland Hills