Women's league devotes its heart to Misericordia

While reflecting on her nearly decade-long tenure with the Misericordia Women's League, this year's Heart of Gold award recipient, Kathy Connor, attributes the league's success to Sister Rosemary Connelly, whose heart has been at the crux of the organization since 1969.

"Sister Rosemary is like a beacon of light," said the Hinsdale resident, who was named by Connelly to receive this year's award, along with her husband, Kevin. "She inspires all of us. She has made this her life's work and look what has come from it."

Misericordia's Heart of Mercy campus and residences support more than 600 children and adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Connelly has been at the forefront - creating programs and services to help foster the gifts and abilities of residents - with the organization's Women's League serving as its vital fundraising arm.

"We work hard, have fun and take pleasure in trying to find every dollar we can for Misericordia," Connor added. "We believe in it so much and what it's doing." And, year after year, the league continues to exceed its fundraising benchmarks at its annual benefit. This year, according to league President Ann Weithers, the "Heart of Gold - A Night at the Races" fundraising event will be held virtually at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26.

"We've had to reimagine many of our traditional fundraising initiatives," Weithers said. "While it will be hard not to celebrate this night together (in person), one positive thing about going virtual is that we are able to open our doors to more guests, more entertainment and even more ways to support Misericordia."

Last year's event raised more than $600,000 for Misericordia. Weithers hopes the league can raise at least $650,000 to help offset the pandemic's impact on funding.

Funds raised at this event will support the new drive-through bakery and coffee shop, which is currently being built in close proximity to the Misericordia campus and will provide programming and employment opportunities to residents. Misericordia is also planning to build additional homes on the expanded campus to accommodate more families moving forward.

"As the parent of a Misericordia resident, I am so lucky to be involved with the Women's League," Weithers added. "The residents at Misericordia are given so many opportunities for personal growth, purpose and friendship in a loving, caring and happy environment. Every dollar raised, raffle ticket sold, and everyone who participates in our event directly impacts the lives of Misericordia residents."

Event-goers will be able to join virtually from the comfort of their own home while enjoying entertainment, a silent auction and special messages from Misericordia residents and celebrities including former Chicago White Sox star Jim Thome and actress Jane Lynch. Registration is free. Visit https://heartofgoldbenefit.org.

- Alexis Braden of Hinsdale is the paper's society columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].