Junior League of Chicago fetes 100 years of service
Surviving and thriving for an entire century is a groundbreaking feat for any organization — and this Thursday the Junior League of Chicago celebrates reaching that milestone.
“This date was selected because (it’s) the eve of the date that our organization was founded: June 29, 1912,” says JLC Centennial Gala co-chair Francee Harrington.
The gala’s other co-chairmen include Ann Grube of Hinsdale and Caroline Huebner of Chicago.
“For the three of us, chairing this event is an opportunity to give back,” says Harrington. “We are grateful to honor our founders, and all the women who have been members over ten decades, [and] it is a tribute to friends for the future.”
The Centennial Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago includes opening remarks from Gov. Pat Quinn and a speech from public service veteran Lori Healey, who most recently helmed the NATO host committee.
After dinner and a silent auction, the festivities are guaranteed to stretch long into the evening with a “nightcap” party chaired by JLC leaders Christine Kudia and Lisa Shydlowski.
For the past 100 years, JLC has promoted volunteerism among its 1,600 members.
Organizers research the needs of the community to develop projects best suited to make a greatest impact. JLC also includes their members’ professional skills within their project’s scope to offer a working group of volunteers who deliver hands-on community service.
“Volunteerism has always been relevant,” says Harrington. “The sense of giving back, the sense of gratification, to be able to be a hands-on volunteer helping someone with whatever talents you might have is an experience that for 100 years has been important to the women who have been our members,” said Harrington.
Current campaigns include the fight against childhood obesity with a focus on healthy lifestyles and support of the national “Let’s Move” initiative.
“We are an organization that has evolved to meet the needs of a different volunteer corps over time,” says JLC President Michelle Miller Burns. “The key is that we train leaders, we serve our community and we change lives.”
Members look at the Junior League as a lifelong connection that emphasizes the importance of “paying forward,” so that future Chicagoans have equal or better opportunities, says Burns.
“The Junior League has taught women to evaluate and respond to changing needs and nurtured innovative community programs in a unique philanthropic incubator,” says Burns. “This is the League’s legacy and it is worth preserving for generations of women and Chicagoans to come.”
Proceeds from the Centennial Gala will benefit the JLC’s ongoing community projects.
The Chicago Sun-Times is the media sponsor of this event. Lee Litas is a local free-lance writer
Lee Litas is a local free-lance writer