Assembly chair anxiously awaits 2021

December 23 is a date that holds a place in Hinsdale's culture and history. For generations the evening has been reserved for the Hinsdale Assembly's annual ball - the culmination of a year's worth of work and involvement by the program's debutantes and honor guard.

"In 57 years the ball has never not been held on Dec. 23," said Laurie Eichelman, chair of the 2020 Assembly board. She said the decision was made back in August to stray from tradition in the interest of safety. The young women and men will postpone donning their white gowns and tuxedos until June 27.

Eichelman said the year promises to be a busy one, with plans to have the traditional ball just six months after the June event. But the 29 hard-working members of the Assembly board are up to the task.

The Hinsdale Assembly's class of 2020 includes 21 young women and 18 young men, all 2020 high school graduates, who made a commitment to learn about the many needs of their community through projects and activities held throughout the year. The group began volunteering and supporting service initiatives in January of their senior year. Although COVID-19 restrictions limited some activities this year, the class of 2020 held a carnival for children who had attended the St. Thomas Hospice bereavement camp, played bingo with seniors at Bethlehem Woods retirement community in La Grange, assisted at the HCS Family Services food pantry and helped to clean up and organize Amita Hinsdale Hospital's behavioral health facility.

"We try to give these young adults the chance to experience a diverse variety of community service," Eichelman said.

The mother of four became involved with the program when her oldest daughter took part in 2014. So far, all three of Eichelmans' daughters have "bowed" as part of the program, and she hopes her son, now in eighth grade, will one day choose to be part of the honor guard.

Eichelman said the Hinsdale Assembly isn't just about dressing up in fancy dresses and suits. In its 57-year history, the program, including the annual ball, has raised more than $3 million for the Hinsdale Hospital Foundation, supporting such initiatives as the Amita Health Cancer Institute and St. Thomas Hospice Care.

Money raised at the June 27 event, as well as the Dec. 23, 2021 ball, will benefit the Amita Behavioral Health Medicine Institute.

It's been a difficult year. Along with postponing the ball, the class of 2020 missed out on the three-generation tea that brings moms, daughters and grandmothers together each year and the debutante/presenter waltz. But they will be back, Eichelman said, and this tradition will continue to benefit the community and build charitable young adults long after the pandemic has passed.

"We have a full class for next year," she said.

She's looking forward to celebrating that tradition in June and December next year.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean