Personality: G. Sylvia Jackson

Spotlight on Grand Worthy Matron of the Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star of Va.

7/19/2019, 6 a.m.
She’s one week away from the 118th Annual Session of the Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star of Virginia, ...

She’s one week away from the 118th Annual Session of the Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star of Virginia, Prince Hall Affiliation. And Grand Worthy Matron Gertrude Sylvia Jackson is fighting the good fight, leading a group of organizers the public still sees “as old ladies in white who belong to a secret organization,” she says. It’s a misconception that diminishes the work Ms. Jackson and other members of the Order do. Established on Nov. 28, 1901, the Order of the Eastern Star comprises the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of Master Masons, alongside non-affiliated women, who engage in a variety of community outreach services. The 92 chapters that make up the Order of the Eastern Star of Virginia have put their support behind the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, March of Dimes and other local charities. Twelve chapters are in the Richmond area. “Members want to be perceived as people who have an interest in enhancing the lives of their fellow man. They do not perceive the organization as having secrets, because their works are known,” Ms. Jackson says. These activities fit with the beliefs behind the Order’ s creation, which sees female involvement as key to a Masonic order that seeks to improve society and aid the marginalized. “It was these ideals that prompted the idea to organize the Order of the Eastern Star to give the black woman a right to share in its heritage and honor and be part of their program,” Ms. Jackson says. Ms. Jackson joined in 1986, when the Order had its largest body with 10,000 members and her son started high school. She was looking for a meaningful outlet for her free time. She was elected Grand Worthy Matron in July 2018 for an organization facing a decrease in membership and a public unaware of the good the Order does for Virginia. Her solution can be summed up easily: “When people see you doing good things, they want to join you.” This approach, besides keeping their mission and its worth fresh in the minds of members, goes hand in hand with Ms. Jackson’s search for alternative methods to reach and inform the public, while not overlooking the communities and associations that rely on the Order’s help. The Annual Session, which expects to see an estimated 600 members in attendance and visi- tors from other states on the East Coast, makes for a good place to further this goal, potentially bringing in new members dur- ing the worship-focused event that will run July 23 through 25 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Williamsburg. Until then, the work goes on. “We continue to put smiles on children’s faces, give love to neighbors, support friends and members in crisis, help students to continue their education and stand by our sisters and brothers in need,” Ms. Jackson says. Meet this week’s Personality and leading lady in white in the Order of the Easter Star of Viginia, G. Sylvia Jackson:

Position with the Order of Eastern Star of Virginia, P.H.A.: I serve as the proud