Clary finds ways to help build community

Grace Episcopal Church of Hinsdale was a part of Sara Clary's life long before she moved to the village in 2012.

Grace was her grandmother's church of choice, and visits to her grandmother often included visits to the church, Clary said.

"It just seemed like the logical place to continue going," Clary said.

Today, Clary serves as senior warden at the church. Together with junior warden Sarah Tims, she helps interim rector Rev. Tom Crittenden make everything at the church run smoothly.

"We serve as the leadership," Clary said. That includes making decisions about programming, the church budget and even the church's worship leader. As senior warden, Clary will assist in the search for the next permanent rector.

Clary said providing a welcoming place for everyone is at the heart of everything that happens at Grace Episcopal Church, where "If you're here, you belong," is both a guiding statement and a promise to the community.

Her job as senior warden will continue for one more year before Tims steps up to the position and another church member becomes junior warden. Until then, Clary said she's enjoying her work at the church and the difference it makes for people who look to the church as their spiritual home.

"It's super important to me," she said.

An active member of the Hinsdale community as a whole, Clary's work at The Community House and Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 likely will keep her busy when her job as senior warden is complete.

Clary and husband Rob helped chair the annual Community House Holiday Ball a few years ago, and Clary continues to serve on The Community House Board of Trustees. She said that like Grace Episcopal, The Community House has been an important part of her family's lives and part of what makes Hinsdale such a special place to live. The Clary children frequently participate in Stage Door theater productions, and oldest son Oliver recently joined the facility's junior board.

"It's really become a family commitment," Clary said.

As a member of the Academic Success Committee in District 181, Clary provides insight and feedback on topics related to teaching and learning. She said her work on the committee is both a way to stay involved in her children's education and a way to give back. "It's really provided so much for our family," she said of District 181. "I always try to find things that are important to our family, and school is fundamental to that list."

Clary's commitment to helping others extends beyond her volunteer positions to her professional life. Prior to starting her family, Clary worked with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, N.C., to provide legal help to people in need. She then joined the National Council on Aging in Washington, D.C., doing policy and advocacy work on behalf of low-income older Americans. She continues to consult for the NCOA.

Her decision to attend law school after college is one that continues to open doors, Clary said.

"It teaches you how to think well and figure things out," which helps in every part of life, she said.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean