Helping kids a lifelong mission for Hinsdalean

Jay Alfirevic was still a child himself when he began helping his parents in their support of an orphanage in Mexico. At nearly 66 years old, he's still helping children as a member of the Hinsdale Masonic Lodge and the Medinah Shriners.

"You have to be a Mason in order to be a Shriner," said Alfirevic, who joined the Hinsdale lodge in 2005 and served as master of the lodge in 2010. He currently leads the Medinah Shriners, headquartered in Addison, as potentate.

Looking back, Alfirevic said the Shriners touched the landscape of his life on several occasions before he became a member. He recalls attending the Medinah Circus as a child, and his graduation from Brother Rice High School was held at the Medinah Temple.

The Addison temple is one of five in Illinois and among 200 in the world, all of which support the health and wellbeing of children through support of Shriners hospitals. The Medinah Shriners raise money for Shriners Children's Healthcare in Chicago, where Alfirevic serves on the board of governors

"Having fun and helping kids" is the motto of the Shriners, Alfirevic said. He said he and his fellow Shriners take both purposes seriously. Within the Shriners are many subgroups to match the interests of its members, including motorcycle enthusiasts like Alfirevic.

"I ride a white Harley in the parades," Alfirevic said. The motorcyclists are one of many groups that entertain crowds at dozens of parades and community events throughout the Chicago area. There are bands, clowns, Shriners who ride motorized coolers and others who fly down the street on magic carpets. Still others drive miniature 1957 Chevys.

The cycle he rides in the parades is one of several in Alfirevic's collection, which he started in his early 40s. Along with riding, Alfirevic said he enjoys maintaining, fixing and restoring motorcycles, as well as driving them to destinations near and far.

He and his wife, Susan, who has her own Harley Davidson, often attend the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and Burning Man in Nevada.

"There's a social aspect to it," he said of the rides.

There's also a social aspect to his work with the Masons and Shriners, Alfirevic said. Along with knowing he's doing good work for people and organizations in need, he's meeting people who share his interests and commitment to service.

"There's no better place to make good, lifelong friends and meet people of good character," he said.

The Hinsdale lodge supports about a dozen local organizations and projects each year, Alfirevic said, including scholarships to graduates of Hinsdale Central and South high schools.

Along with parades, the Shriners hold chili cookoffs, golf outings and other events to raise money for the fraternity as well as the hospital. On Sept. 23, the Medinah Temple will hold their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Sports and Big Money Jackpot, to support the fraternity.

The event includes live music, food and dozens of prizes.

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean