Franklin Park Women’s Club looks to next generation
The 2012-2014 Franklin Park Women's Club Board of Directors, (from left) are Rita Jaffe, Marie Fitzgerald, Terry Grbac, Lona Guyer, Pat Maggio and Judi Riess. | Photo courtesy Franklin Park Women's Club
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Those interested in knowing more about the Franklin Park Women’s Club’s 115th anniversary celebration can call Club President Marie Fitzgerald at (847) 455-0370.
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:23PM
FRANKLIN PARK — A list of all the good causes taken on by the Franklin Park Women’s Club would be as long as your arm.
A short list would include the creation and establishment of the Franklin Park Library, persuading authorities to install the first stoplight in the village, folding bandages for troops during both world wars, assisting in the establishment of the park district and funding an infant welfare clinic.
The club is celebrating its 115th anniversary this year and will hold its annual fundraiser on Oct. 20 with a fashion show and lunch. Marian Faro, who is 88, joined the Women’s Club in 1971. For her, the club’s most memorable effort was Vials for Life.
“I remember the Women’s Club members calling on every home in the village,” Faro said. The women would give residents a plastic medicine bottle that contained prescriptions, dosages and a doctor’s phone number. The container was to be stored in the refrigerator and EMTs were instructed to look there in case of emergency.
Rita Jaffe has been in the club 30 years and served as president. She recalls the organization’s 100th anniversary project in 1997.
“The last big project was the signs that say ‘Welcome to Franklin Park,’” Jaffe said. “We raised the money for the village for those signs.”
While the club continues fundraising for good causes – it offers several scholarship for students in local schools, supports a day care center in Sao Paulo, Brazil for a sister club and helps veterans – current president Marie Fitzgerald notes membership is aging.
“I’m probably one of the youngest members there and I’m retired,” Fitzgerald said.
“The club has had difficulty in finding young people who are interested in a service organization,” she said. “We need someone else to carry the torch for the next generation.”
The Women’s Club has 22 active members and perhaps another dozen honorary members who pay dues, but no longer participate. That’s a contrast to the 1980s, when the club had an estimated 80 active members, Jaffe said.
The Franklin Park Women’s Club was called the Benevolent Society when it was started on Oct. 21, 1897. According to an article published for the organization’s centennial, the founders were Mrs. Louis Schierhorn, Mrs. Charles Martens, Mrs. A.B. Krichhoff, Mrs. W.H. Krichhoff, Mrs. P.M. Combs and Mrs. H.E. Dodge.
In 1899, the group changed its name to the Social and Literary Club. It still aided the poor, but according to papers at the Franklin Park Library, the group was officially organized for “self advancement along literary and social lines and to give civic and benevolent aid to the community.”
The club established the library in March 1899 at 9602 Franklin Ave. in Wasson’s Store, according to the Franklin Park Library website. The library shared space with a post office, telephone exchange, ice cream and cigars.
Members raised money, staffed the library and contributed books. The first book was donated on April 15, 1899, and by 1903, the library could boast 197 books. It was even popular outside Franklin Park and the club made arrangements for those outside the village to rent books.
In 1908, a major sewer between Park Avenue and Schiller Boulevard, which ran to the Indiana Harbor Belt Railway, was completed. The Women’s Club, which had contributed money for the project, decided to celebrate with a banquet in the sewer pipe. A faded photo from a 1965 article shows women sitting side-by-side in the sewer with a buffet lunch served by candlelight on Sept. 23, 1908.