Shown l-r; Rev. Sondrea Tolbert, Shiloh Cobb, Majesty Ford, Atheia Smith, Co-Chair Pamela Bobo, Shakira Cobb, Kaylea Arnold, Payton Lowe, Patsy Rees, and Coordinator Carmelitar Parham

NASHVILLE, TN — Vivian Wilhoite, a member of the Nashville Chapter of Les Gemmes, made a compelling appeal to the audience at the 15th annual Literary Luncheon and raised more than $13,000 for the Jewels.

This group of teenage girls are part of the Lighting the Path for Girls program and are called “Jewels.”  The Les Gemmes organization provides a variety of programs to help the Jewels grow, mature, and become more exposed to the quality of life experiences. Funds raised by Wilhoite, who also serves as the Davidson County Assessor of Property, will help to support projects for the Jewels.  That support includes computers, books, college room items, and financial scholarships. “It was an honor to serve these Jewels by making the appeal to help them see how important they are to us all,” said Wilhoite.

Gloria McKissack, founder of the program says, “I am thrilled to witness this kind of support for our Jewels.” The Nashville Chapter has had this program for more than 10 years.  “These Jewels deserve our complete support” she added.

The annual luncheon was a sold-out event and focused on the Civil Rights activists of the Lunch Counter Sit-Ins in downtown Nashville. This year’s theme,” Crystallized Conversations of Race & Justice across Generations,” was quite meaningful to involve the Jewels.   In addition to the five Civil Rights Sit-In participants, a modern-day activist, as well as the Jewels, who are future agents of social change.  The Jewels studied the activists and learned about their roles during the sit-Ins.  They questioned them during the luncheon.

Wilhoite said, “I believe this subject matter resonated with the audience during this time of such social unrest, and moved them to provide special support to the Jewels.  This support will help guide them on a path for successful lives.”

The audience included the national president of Les Gemmes, Inc. Luvenia Harrison, the president elect, Connie Davis and a former national president, Shirlene Johnson,  and other Gemmes virtually, and many guests and supporters in the Nashville area, as well as elected officials and those aspiring for public office.

A charter member of Les Gemmes, Dr. Evelyn Fancher remarked, “It was wonderful to witness this annual event, and see how it positively impacts the lives of these young girls.  I am so proud of the outstanding women in this chapter I helped to establish.” Our bond and the mentor/mentee relationship with them continues beyond their high school graduation.

Our Jewels are being molded to make good decisions in their lives.  Moniaka Bonds, who attends Boston University said, “I am so proud to have been a Jewel and will always be a Jewel.  I am thankful for my mentor, Janice Woodard who continues to encourage me in my higher education pursuits and job market readiness.”  Moniaka graduates from Boston University, May 2023 earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Information Systems.