March is Women’s History Month, so Anita Fairchild Jones (aka A.J.) held “A.J.’s First Ladies Walk of the Community Awards Ceremony and Luncheon” last Saturday at Bethel Cultural Arts Center, 1140 N. Lamon, honoring two outstanding ladies from Chicago’s West Side.
This was the ninth year of A.J.’s First Ladies luncheon, which has honored more than 50 women over the years, recognizing their work in the community. This year’s honorees were Crystal Palmer, case manager at Near West Side Community Development Corp., and evangelist Lucille Jones, marketing volunteer and fundraiser for Sunlight of the Spirit/Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.
Jones said, “I’ve been with Sunlight approximately two years, and before that I was running a pantry at Old St. Paul. Before that I was 25 years at 1522 S. Sawyer, another pantry. I’m working with various organizations as well as Jack Clark’s Organization where I am vice president. It’s been a good year so far and especially receiving this honor.”
Palmer stated, “Currently I am president of Henry Horner Local Advisory Council and treasurer of the Central Advisory Council, which represents the residents of CHA [Chicago Housing Authority].”
Georgia Jakes Gibbs, president of Free Spirit Women Unlimited, explained, “We are honoring ordinary women who do extraordinary work in the community. They don’t have any limits on what they will and will not do as long as they are helping people in the community. As we looked around this year, my eyes were on Crystal Palmer, who is from the West Haven community. She is the LSC president and the mother to whoever she needs to be. She takes care of them, whether it is food, clothing or shelter, and she stands behind what she says. She works weekends, Sundays, holidays. I have personally asked her to do some things on the weekend and she didn’t say today is Saturday, I can’t do it, my day ended yesterday at five. She worked until it was done.”
Fairchild Jones, founder and marketing director, explained her selection of Lucille Jones. “She is a vocalist and goes to different choirs around the country helping them to get their choir together. She is a volunteer for SOS, meaning those who have been in abuse situations, those who have been in different homes, as well as individuals coming out of jail. She also works at a food pantry two days per week and goes to different churches that are struggling to be successful by helping with the choir. She does this for no charge, and she is also a nurse, volunteering her time at senior citizen homes, making sure they have their medication, picking it up and dropping it off, and this why she was my choice for community leader.”
The banquet hall was beautifully decorated with a lavender color scheme, and a fashion show was presented by designer Harold Suede of Another Fashion and A.J.’s Fashions. Modeling the fashions were models LaKeisha Jakes, Devon Branch, Georgia Jakes Gibbs, Joi Wright, Donisha M. Jones, Anita L. Jones, Bernard Turner, Donille Mitchell, Linda Toles, Billie McShane, Dottie Walton, B.J. Jones, Emmett Jones III, Nyomi Fentress-Jones, Gloria Avery, David Moore, Michael Stone Jr., and Nathaniel Jakes Jr.
The awards presentation was emceed by The Bishop of Comedy, Ms. Cleo, and the music was performed by The Band, with vocalist Reginald Torian of The Impressions.