When she joined the Lemont Junior Woman’s Club eight years ago, Shelley Taylor was a new mom and resident just looking to meet some people in town.
But as time went on the club grew into more than just a social outlet.
“It’s a great group of women. We’ve always been sure of our purpose and what we want to achieve,” she said. “I have always felt proud being a part of it.”
Now in its 19th year, the club—which consists of about 80 members who volunteer more than 7,000 service hours annually—is focused not only on its numerous philanthropic goals but on creating opportunities for Lemont women to build friendships with each other.
Next month the club is hosting a new Kentucky Derby-inspired fundraising event called "Denim Derby" that will mesh those two goals together perfectly.
“Every year we try to put a twist on our big fundraiser,” said club president Jennifer Gould. “It’s a great themed party. We’re expecting it to be a lot of fun.”
The Denim Derby will take place from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, May 4—the night before the Kentucky Derby—at the , 14911 E. 127th St.
The tickets, which are $55 per person and $100 per couple in advance or $60 per person at the door, include a Southern buffet with beer and wine. All guests must be 21 or older.
Some highlights include raffles for spa, sports and travel-themed baskets and an auction for two tickets to the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. There will also be music, videos of mock horse races and a hat contest.
Money raised at the event will go toward the club’s numerous community support efforts.
Taylor said about 25 percent of all funds raised by the club each year is put toward monthly donations to the food pantries at both and , and to Lemont Township’s Meals on Wheels program.
“Our food pantries are struggling financially,” Gould said, adding that because they fund vouchers allow families to purchase fresh produce and meats on their own.
“I know that the number is increasing of families that could use the help,” she said.
Members also prepare around 100 or more packages twice a year—loaded with food in the spring and household supplies in the fall—for disadvantaged families in . They also send cards with gift cards to children in those families on their birthdays and during the holidays.
A large portion of the money raised throughout the year goes toward four scholarships, each for $1,250, that are awarded to high school seniors who reside in Lemont or an adult woman going back to school to further her education. Winners are announced annually in May.
Besides the Denim Derby, another new endeavor the club is taking on this year is brainstorming a new long-term community project. Gould said the club is currently in the beginning stages of researching an idea to build an interactive, natural “play-scape” area near the head of a biking and walking trail near downtown Lemont.
When they are not working together to help the community, members also meet regularly to share common interests. The group has a walking club that meets four times a week at the ; a book club and recipe club that meet once a month; and a play group for moms with children.
“I think everyone can find something that interests them,” Taylor said, adding that members are at all different stages of life, from college students to retirees. “You can find your own little niche in the club."
Women who are interested in joining the group are welcome to attend the next meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2, in . For information on the Lemont Junior Woman’s Club or to buy tickets to the Denim Derby visit lemontjuniorwomansclub.org or call 630-312-8810.