Distinguished Mother Award

Created by Sanderal S. Brown to honor outstanding service and commitment

2020-2021 Distinguished Mother

Neerja Baijal-Jones

Neerja Baijal-Jones nominated as our chapter’s 2020 Sanderal S. Brown Distinguished Mother recipient

Dear Madame President,

Please accept this nomination of Mother Neerja Baijal-Jones for the Suffolk County Chapter Distinguished Mother Award for the 2019-2020 Program Year.

Since joining our chapter in 2018 as a transfer from the Nassau County Chapter, Mom Neerja has shared her “Power to Make a Difference” and jumped right in to serve our chapter, children and community. She has been an active and engaged member of the Membership Committee, offering her time, resources, talents and her home to support our activities. In her first year of membership in our chapter, she opened her home to host the New Mother Mentor Dinner. For every event she is often the first one to raise her hand to help with a task. She shows up and shows out! Currently she serves as our Gavel Club Chairman and has succeeded in taking our club and children to the next level of excellence….exemplifying “We Can Do More”. When our chapter hosted Children’s Cluster, Mom Neerja offered her service and took on the instrumental task of developing the expense budget for the cluster, and during that weekend she showed up early, energized with sleeves rolled up to ensure our chapter shined in our Sensational Suffolk County way! But this is truly who Mom Neerja is. During a Mother’s Cluster, I fondly recall many Nassau County mothers expressing loving jealousy that we now have Mom Neerja.

Mom Neerja demonstrates grace and ease in a mighty way. Upon first meeting her, I felt an instant energetic connection. Warm, welcoming, creative, helpful, generous, and compassionate are the perfect words to describe Mom Neerja. I’m sure all of you can reflect and think of a time when she has shown all of these, with love and kindness, to you and your children. Mom Neerja has never missed an in- person Mother’s Meeting and continues to attend and participate in our virtual events. When our nation recognized the coronavirus as a pandemic and our state sent quarantine orders, Mom Neerja reached out and asked, how can we help our mothers and families? Her thoughtfulness and consideration of others is endless.

It is with gratitude and pleasure that I submit this nomination for Mother Neerja Baijal-Jones as our 2019-2020 Distinguished Mother.

VP Retha Fernandez


Distinguished Mother

Associate Mother Tonia Alea Watts

Associate Mother Tonia Alea Watts received the 2019/2020 Distinguished Associate Mom Award 

Lea, as she is known to us, has been a member of Jack and Jill for fifteen plus years. She has been an active participant in the Jack and Jill culture, and in chapter government, having served as Program Director and chair of the Health Committee before graduating
out. Currently as an Associate Mom, Lea raised her hand to be the Hospitality Liaison, sending cards to our Associate Moms, acknowledging life events (birthdays, illness etc).  We thank her and find it fitting to name her Distinguished Associate for the program year 2019-2020.


Distinguished Mother

Kathryn Simmons
VP Kathryn is the picture of “grace under pressure”.  The responsibilities of Vice President are no easy task and are of paramount importance to nurturing a chapter that is sisterly, welcoming, and fulfilling for all members.  Kathryn carries out these responsibilities with creativity and compassion, and an exceptional attention to detail; but most of all with grace and love for all of us.

In her role as Program Director, Kathryn has embraced our chapter’s mission to provide educational and social programming that enhances the lives of our children, helping to develop them into leaders that are committed to service.  From encouraging even our youngest ones to speak publicly to supporting the community service activities of our teens, Kathryn’s leadership in that role was phenomenal; garnering our chapter’s 2015-2016 Program Book a score of Superior.  Her “Southern hospitality” charm could be unmistakably felt throughout our chapter-wide activities.

As Vice President and Membership Chair, Kathryn has demonstrated her commitment to keeping chapter morale high through ensuring that mothers have an opportunity to bond and develop feelings of togetherness. We are all mothers, all with the same desire for safety and success of our children; through the various bonding activities that Kathryn has spearheaded, we have been able to share those desires with each other, feeling comforted and supported by our fellow Jack and Jill moms.

Let’s reflect together on the special ways that VP Kathryn goes beyond the call of duty to support our chapter.  Fresh flowers and surprise gifts at monthly meetings, special presentations, thoughtful notes or cards, beautifully decorated events that make us feel special, menu planning that is considerate of the needs of our moms, and always greeting any one of our children with a warm smile and encouraging word. We thank you.

VP Kathryn has been a member in the chapter for over 5 years, has held positions of Program Director and Fundraising Committee Co-Chair. She was instrumental in the planning of our chapter’s highly successful Chic White & Candlelight Fundraiser and has set the bar for what Suffolk County can achieve when we have a committed and enthusiastic mother body.  With gratitude and pleasure, I nominate Kathryn Simmons for the 2016-2017 Suffolk County Chapter Distinguished Mother Award.


Distinguished Associate

Andrea Midy
Andrea Midy has served both the Chapter and the Associates Group with dedication, enthusiasm and attention to the needs of the members. Andrea is constantly seeking new ways in which to engage the Associates with fun and exciting activities. She is also a ready source of assistance, advice and inspiration to the Chapter. Andrea is always ready to lend a hand to any Associate in need of assistance. Andrea Midy personifies the spirit of sisterhood for which Jack and Jill is known. She is truly a woman of distinction.
Previous Year

Distinguished Mother

Melodie Laidlow
Melodie has exemplified what it means to go above and beyond. Melodie has set the standard for professionalism, commitment and composure. Melodie has managed to continue to effectively and efficiently carry out her duties as treasurer in sometimes difficult situations. She has never wavered in her duties as a member, and more importantly as a mother. She has successfully carried out her duties as treasurer in times when we as mothers have not always understood the importance of following the proper protocol for the procedures necessary and required for our treasurer to carry out her duties. Yet, we have never heard Mel raise her voice or walk away. She has always calmly and respectfully carried out her duties as treasurer. Melodie also has demonstrated her commitment to ensure that Ian gets the most out of his experience in Jack and Jill by making sure that he participates in the activities of his age group. Mel has always said that her age group is made up of great mothers and wonderful children and that she wanted to make sure that Ian benefits from the greatness of his peers and the love of the mothers within the group.
Mel is a superb treasurer and most importantly an awesome and loving mother.

Distinguished Associate

Lenore Battle
Lenore has worked diligently as a Co-Chair for the Suffolk County Associate Group this program year ensuring we were always kept up to date on the latest chapter happenings and that we were included in any events if we wanted to participate or if were needed.  In addition, her grace and wisdom in part epitomizes what it means to be an Associate.  Being able to provide guidance and assistance when called upon by the newer mothers and the chapter in general.  By continuing our service even though we have graduated out.  That is the distinction of an Associate.  That is Lenore Battle.
Past Award Winners

Khadijah Starling – 2015

Carmelia Taylor  – 2014

Sharon Hinkson – 2013

Dawn Lott – 2012

Juanita McKinney – 2011

Mireille Lubin – 2010

Linda Maxwell Evans – 2009

Sherri Coverdale – 2008

Bobbi Murray – 2007

Lisa Evans-Chapman – 2006

Tory Hare – 2005

Deborah Kimborough Lowe – 2004

Sharon Hinkson – 2003

Belinda Marquis – 2002