By Valerie Hardy

Over twenty-five years since its formation, the Elmhurst Junior Women’s Club (EJWC) continues to be a small group that makes a big difference. Founded in 1997 by a group of 13 local moms, the Club remains true to its original mission: seeking to better the Elmhurst community through hands-on service and philanthropic donations.

EJWC Membership

Club membership numbers have fluctuated over the years. There are 25 active members currently, and the organization always welcomes new members.

While most members reside in Elmhurst, residency in the community is not required. Likewise, despite the word “junior” in the Club’s title, there is no age cutoff. Any woman interested in joining forces with like-minded women committed to serving the Elmhurst community (and having fun in the process) is eligible to join. This year’s annual dues are $65.

Members may contribute however suits them. “Whatever people can give of their time, we’ll take it,” explained EJWC President Julie Vacko.

“Whatever people can give of their time, we’ll take it.”

– Julie Vacko, EJWC President

All members typically serve on one of the Club’s three committees: Membership, Ways and Means (fundraising), and Community Service. Regardless of which committee members are on, all have numerous opportunities to volunteer throughout the year.

While length of membership varies, many women who join the EJWC are in it for the long haul. For example, the Club’s Past President, Jane Evans, joined in 1999 and is still an active member.

Members of the EJWC gathered for their annual holiday party.

Service with a Side of Social

In addition to the rewarding nature of the volunteer and philanthropic components of EJWC, a major reason many women, like Evans, continue their involvement year after year is the strong sense of community cultivated through the Club. This was the case for EJWC Vice President Stacey Roginski, who said, “I have many of my closest friends in Juniors.”

Social opportunities are varied – some for members only and others geared toward couples. Examples of the Club’s social events are a curling outing and a progressive dinner. Roginski noted that EJWC also has a book club which meets every other month. “We pick books from all of our suggestions, and switch between fiction and non-fiction… it’s tons of fun!” she said.

While some EJWC events are purely for fun, many blend service with social. The Club’s trivia night also functions as a fundraiser. Likewise, shopping nights bring members together at a local retail area or venue, and a portion of the proceeds from the event are allocated for donation to the Club’s charity partner that year.

The spring shopping event was held at Kie and Kate Couture, and members’ spouses joined them afterwards at Phase Three Brewing Company, from which the EJWC also received a portion of the evening’s revenue to donate.

At their February meeting, Club members assembled lasagnas to donate to families in need via the Lasagna Love nonprofit organization.

Philanthropic Giving

The Club’s charity partner this year is Access Sports, a nonprofit organization providing access to team sports for young athletes with disabilities in and around Elmhurst. Vacko explained that as of April, the EJWC had raised $1,600 for Access Sports, and that is before the Club’s major fundraiser: a Poker Crawl coming up on June 8. This event is open to the public (all participants must purchase a ticket for the event).

The Poker Crawl is a pub crawl down Spring Road, and participants receive a playing card at each stop. At the end of the evening, the participant with the best poker hand wins a prize. The EJWC’s 2023 Poker Crawl benefited the Ray Graham Association in Elmhurst.

EJWC Meetings Do Double Duty

The Club’s general membership meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at a member’s home or local venue. Not only is EJWC business conducted at these meetings, each also includes a charitable collection or activity.

For example, in April, they collected puzzles and games to donate to the Ray Graham Association. At the February meeting, members made valentines for seniors in the community. Corresponding with EJWC’s annual holiday celebration, the Club “adopts” a family in need from the community and provides gifts to make their holiday season more joyous.

EJWC is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, a national philanthropic and social organization. For more information about EJWC and its community contributions or to inquire about membership, email [email protected]. ■

EJWC members teamed up to run the 13th annual No Frills Fun Run, which benefits members of the Elmhurst community who are facing hardship.
The EJWC’s 2023 Poker Crawl event raised funds for the Ray Graham Association and was so successful the Club is hosting another Poker Crawl fundraiser on June 8.