By Mike Ellis
The Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club (HJWC) will host its annual benefit, "Amore," at Salvage One in Chicago on Feb. 4, supporting HCS Family Services, its beneficiary for the next two club years.
Through past benefits, the HJWC has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for area charities devoted to caring for underprivileged children, such as Bridge Communities and Hephzibah Children's Association.
But the festivities of the benefit evening and more importantly, the fundraising totals emanating from the gala and related club activities would not be possible without the generous support of businesses in the community functioning as sponsors.
This year, the HJWC has placed an emphasis on establishing lasting relationships between prospective sponsors and HCS Family Services, working to creatively generate exposure for these businesses and organizations, while also particularly seeking out ones that are likely to continue their partnerships with HCS even after the club's two-year relationship wraps up.
"We were really looking to hopefully create relationships for HCS--not only to sponsor our own benefit, but we have this unique opportunity being partnered with an organization in our own community," benefit underwriting chair Katie Crotty said.
Returning major sponsors include Oak Brook-based A. Marek Fine Jewelry and Hinsdale Bank & Trust.
"When we first opened the store eight years ago was the first year we helped sponsor the Hinsdale Junior Woman's [Club]," said Romana Malinowski, store director at A. Marek.
Malinowski, a Hinsdale resident, and Barbara Bradford, owner of the luxury boutique jeweler, said they are happy to support their friends and customers in the community.
"We have friends in the community who we want to support--and they are not only friends, they're our customers," Bradford said. "And we like to support what our customers are interested in or passionate about."
Jennifer Stout, marketing manager at Hinsdale Bank & Trust, said as a community bank, it likes to partner with "worthwhile community organizations."
"Hinsdale Bank is excited to be a sponsor of the Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club event this year," Stout said. "We've partnered with them in the past, but it's exciting for us to know that we're supporting HCS Family Services as well."
Stout said they are especially pleased to see the HJWC working with Hinsdale-based HCS Family Services, which Hinsdale Bank & Trust has supported in previous endeavors.
"We really see the impact that we're having on our community, and helping local families and people that are really benefiting from all that they do right here in our hometown," she said.
Other returning sponsors are not just local business owners, but also club members themselves, such as Dr. Carrie Thangamani of Hinsdale, owner of CHT Orthodontics, and Dr. Mira Albert of Hinsdale, owner of Brush Pediatric Dentistry.
Thangamani, who has been an HJWC member since she moved to Hinsdale about five years ago, said she was motivated to join to meet new neighbors, while also contributing to children's causes, as she believes it is part of one's "civic and personal duty to give back."
"It was a great philanthropic effort within the community, and it supports not only the community, but the surrounding west suburban areas," she said of the HJWC. ... "It was [also] a great way for women to get to know one another--especially for those that are new in the community."
Thangamani, who has sponsored HJWC benefits since she became affiliated with the club, said she is excited to see the organization partnering with a Hinsdale-based charity for the first time during her involvement.
"I think this [partnership] is that much more personal to our community, because it's located directly within Hinsdale," she said, "and I think that a lot of the members, even within the community, have no idea how large and strong this effort is."
Other businesses and organizations have pledged their support to this year's benefit due to their past involvement with HCS Family Services, including Citadel Information Management and Evergreen Bank Group.
Paul Swenson, president and CEO of Westmont-based Citadel Information Management, and Donna Cooper, senior vice president of Citadel Information Management, have both volunteered with and served on the board of HCS Family Services.
"I like the history that's involved with Hinsdale--having a local charity," Swenson said.
Mary Henthorn, executive vice president with Evergreen Bank Group, has served as an HCS Family Services board member since 2014, and currently functions as its treasurer. Henthorn said that Evergreen Bank employees have also worked with HCS's mobile food pantry, and made personal donations to the organization.
"It's very rewarding," she said. "It's a great organization. ... It's very touching to see that we're helping families, children that are in need. I think in this area, a lot of people don't understand that there is a need; but there truly is."
Henthorn described the partnership between the HJWC and HCS Family Services as "a gift and a miracle."
"It will allow us to open the school-based pantry [at Anne M. Jeans Elementary School in unincorporated Willowbrook], to be able to sustain that going forward, and do some of the things that we wanted to do in terms of growing the outreach that we weren't able to do, because we were constricted from lack of funds," she said.
Through funds raised at "Amore" and during the club year, benefit managing chair Irene Wood said the HJWC is hoping to assist HCS Family Services in expanding its reach to meet the nourishment needs of additional residents of west suburban Cook County, as well as its current constituents in Hinsdale and surrounding communities in DuPage County.