Joliet Junior Woman’s Club is active, diverse and serving the community, its president says

Perella: ‘We are resilient and determined to keep making a difference’

Stephanie Lega Perella of Joliet wants people to know the Joliet Woman’s Club has remained active through the pandemic.

And despite the club’s name, women of any age are welcome to join, Perella said.

“We are a diverse group, both in ethnicity and age,” Perella. “So all are welcome to join.”

Since the club year kicked off Aug. 26, members have participated in a number of services projects.

These include a school supply drive for St Paul the Apostle Catholic School and Our Savior Lutheran preschool and kindergarten, a book drive to fill the Little Free Libraries in the Joliet area and participating in the 2021 Walk to End Alzheimer’s - Will & Grundy County, IL, where the club’s team earned second place and raised more than $7,200.

Upcoming projects include volunteering at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, South Suburban Center in Joliet and building a Little Free Library at near the Joliet Park District’s Inwood Complex (the club has already sponsored several of these free libraries in the Joliet area, Perella said).

“Although the pandemic has put pressure on us – like most nonprofits – we are resilient and determined to keep making a difference, Perella said in a Facebook message.

Perella joined 10 years ago after becoming acquainted with a member through their children’s baseball activities and the club “is truly one of my greatest joys,” she said.

“I saw all the fun she was having doing community service and I really just wanted to learn more,” Perella said. “So she told me about and I went to a meeting. I’ve been a member ever since.”

Perella said she grew up watching her mother Marsha Lega being involved with the Zonta Club of Joliet Area and Perella often took part in “all sorts” of community events, she said.

But the Joliet Junior Woman’s Club was the first organized club Perella joined as an adult, she said.

“It was all women, and the focus was on helping serve woman and children in our community,” Perella said. “It was very local.”

Perella said the COVID-19 pandemic has been “very hard” on the club but members “have banded together to make sure our club stays active in making a difference in our community.”

The Joliet Junior Woman’s Club is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, an international organization that began in 1890. The junior clubs were once for women between the ages of 25 and 30 (later 25 to 35) but Perella said they are now open to any woman of any age.

In addition to Perella who serves as president and handles publicity, the Joliet Junior Woman’s executive board includes Chrissy Monaco, vice president and the person who handles membership and hospitality; Connie Head, treasurer and GFWC representative; and Kim Kalafut, secretary and GFWC representative.

The Joliet Junior Woman’s Club meets monthly, although not always on the same day, in order to make meetings available to all members, Perella said. Meetings include an activity, club business and fellowship. Two virtual fundraisers are in the works for early 2022, Perella said.

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