Women Working for the well-being of children
By George Becker, Shaker Traces
SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio: Jan 2019 – Twenty-three women comprise the local chapter of The CHUMS, Inc., an organization devoted to the well-being of children and women. Quietly, their efforts over the years have resonated.
This spring, The CHUMS chapter awarded scholarships, ranging in value from $500 and higher, to seven area high school seniors. But its commitment to their success does not end with presentation of a check: members will follow and support those scholarship winners through their undergraduate years. That's because The CHUMS pays particular attention to what it says are "Mentoring, Manners and Mathematics."
Recently, The CHUMS made it possible for a Little Free Library (LFL) to open on the grounds of the Fatima Family Center, 6809 Quimby Ave. As Cheryl C. Bobo, president of the local CHUMS chapter explained, her friendship from high school days with LaJean Ray McNair, director of Fatima, got the project going.
"It was THE CHUMS' idea," Bobo said. "It was something (McNair) wanted to do, but did not have the money for. Of the many projects the Cleveland chapter of The CHUMS has worked on, the LFL has had the most immediate gratification in seeing how excited children became over choosing their own book.
"The potential for cultivating a desire in children for wanting to read and be read to by a parent or sibling is thrilling," she added. Through scholarships and such efforts as its LFL involvement, the chapter is following the national organization's mission that is "to provide opportunities for women to meet in friendship and fun, to encourage a spirit of helpfulness, and to use their many talents in service to the community."
A second focus, based on the theme, "Listen to the Children," is to enrich young people's lives by helping them to develop to their fullest intellectual, moral, emotional, physical, and social potential.
The organization, according to its website, began when Mary Barnes, Joyce Tate Brown, and Theodora Jackson Cora were sitting in Barnes' red Thunderbird convertible in February, 1946, in Norfolk, Va. The Second World War was officially over, each of the young women had a boyfriend serving in the military who wasn't home yet, and segregation was still the norm.
That particular night, the three friends couldn't think of anything to do so they decided to form a social club and name it after their friendship, "Chums." Although the organization began as a social club, The CHUMS soon gained a new emphasis on helping others. The group functioned locally as a club until 1952 when it was incorporated as CHUMS, Inc.
Members of the local chapter of The CHUMS at a recent dedication of a Little Free Library at the Fatima Family Center
CHUMS, Inc. has now greatly expanded to include 38 chapters across the United States. There are also 20 associate members in areas where there is no representation of a chapter.
Of the 23 local CHUMS members, seven live in Shaker Heights. They meet monthly, with one member playing host at a restaurant or in her home. Some are retirees. According to Bobo, the chapter has received funding or donations from Fidelity Investment, The Cleveland Clinic, and Cuyahoga Community College. It has its annual fundraiser in March.
Bobo, a social worker at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, has been a member of The CHUMS for 17 years. Another chapter member is Glenda Moss, who resides with her husband, Ronald, in the Boulevard neighborhood.
A retired teacher and former registrar of the Shaker Heights School District, Glenda Moss said many members are educators and social workers who believe deeply in The CHUMS' goals.
"Each of us really cares about children and has a deep commitment to their well-being," she said. "It is a pleasure to be in an organization like The CHUMS. We have a unique opportunity to be of service to our community, to meet in friendship and focus on programs to enrich the lives of children."
Bobo added: "Through the years, the group has devoted itself to the betterment of social, civic and cultural relationships in their communities. Many hours of volunteer work are dedicated to the success of the national theme."