Woman finds community service outlet in Juniors

Shortly after moving to Hinsdale from Chicago in 2021, Hinsdale's Alex LaRoia signed up for a baby music class hoping to enrich the bond with her child.

She had no idea the extent to which her personal connections also would flourish.

"I met some girls who were in (Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club), and that opened up the floodgates to my entryway to the club," LaRoia said.

Leadership posts in Juniors followed, first as new member chair and currently as one of the philanthropy co-chairs of the community service-oriented group, leveraging her background in social work.

"We oversee the entire grant-making process and our service projects," said LaRoia, who is able to lean into her social work background. "It felt like a natural fit to take on this role."

She's been busy recently helping coordinate the "Sunsets in Santorini"-themed summer party benefit on July 20 (see Page 18 for details). All of the ticket proceeds will be used to support worthy agencies, she said.

Miss Illinois will even make an appearance to advocate for Bernie's Book Bank, promoing literacy among under-resourced youth, and guests are invited to bring a children's book to donate.

"It's a nice nod to what the club is about: community and philanthropy," LaRoia said.

Organizers have also planned an homage to mark Juniors' 75th year, with artifacts including cookbooks early members compiled as a fundraiser.

"It's a real way to honor the legacy of the club and also to light the path to where we're going in the future," she said. "The reason why it started in 1949 was not only to enrich the lives of the community but to give back."

The gatherings the group holds may seem social in nature, LaRoia acknowledged, but they are parties with a purpose.

"We are raising a lot of money to give away to people," she said. "Last year we raised over $300,000 and gave it to 21 different organizations and (awarded) four different scholarships."

LaRoia, who works for a family-owned natural stone firm, recounted the challenge of securing a home during the crazy market during the pandemic.

"We had to write a letter and put our family photo in the letter," she recounted. "It was like, 'Pick me!' "

LaRoia and her family like to travel when time permits, and she looks forward to walking her oldest to school in the fall when he starts kindergarten.

"I feel very blessed to be here," she said. "Hinsdale feels very idyllic. We're just trying to give our kids that good old-fashioned childhood."

And it's worked out well for the parents, too.

"We've met so many people through the club, so many like-minded people and young families," LaRoia said. "Now I know so many more people at the grocery store and in town because of the club. It's been a critical part of my transition from the city."

Helping carry on the tradition of Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club has been an unexpected reward to making the village their home.

"It's definitely a point of pride being in it, because the work that we do is outstanding," she said.

- story by Ken Knutson, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean