On your mark, get set… set!
For the 22nd consecutive year, the ladies of the Hinsdale Auxiliary of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago (IWS) will follow these directives for Tablescapes—a signature fundraiser that invites members to lend their imaginations to artfully arranged dining tables.
The benefit, to be held at noon on March 22 at The Westin Chicago Lombard, will feature boutique shopping, a silent auction, and—of course—an array of namesake tablescapes. Raffle tickets will be available for guests to win everything displayed on their favorite table.
The theme for 2020 is “Illuminate!” Auxiliary members, who are divided into groups and led by designated table captains, have interpreted this title in various creative ways: There is a “Bright Lights, Big City” table inspired by a “downtown chic” aesthetic; a “City Lights” design for more romantic vibes; and a casual campfire set-up conceived by Junior Board members.
But the concept goes much deeper than the twinkling displays.
“One of the reasons we chose ‘lluminate’ this year was that not only will it be striking and dramatic to see the ballroom decorated this way,” says IWS Hinsdale president Laura Alter. “But the second and more important meaning is that we are providing light to people’s lives.”
Kimberly O’Gorman, who is co-chairing the event for her second year with fellow member (and first-time chair) Tracy Fussaro, echoes Alter’s sentiments. “It’s about bringing a ray of hope to these families,” she says.
The IWS was established in 1911 by a group of volunteer nurses, physicians, and women to provide fresh, safe milk to infants. The primary goal was to lower infant mortality rates. Today, in its current form, the Angel Harvey Family Health Center of the IWS of Chicago is a full-service community health center providing medical care, dental care, optometry, and behavioral health services to both children and adults.
“It’s all tied together,” explains Alter. “Maybe dad loses his job and mom is trying to hold it together, but it’s difficult to make ends meet. As a result, their children might have nutritional or dental issues because they don’t have the resources to get the care they need. We are trying to treat the whole family and make it a one-stop health shop.”
In October, members of the Hinsdale Auxiliary (the oldest of 13 chapters) made a visit to the center to observe the fruits of their labor. With $90,000 raised from last year’s events, plus donations earned by the Hinsdale Junior Women’s Club, the Angel Harvey Family Health Center was able to purchase a new state-of-the-art dental X-ray machine.
“Going down to the center, I can’t go into it without getting teary eyed,” says O’Gorman. “How much they do and provide is so touching.” She says that the goal of this year’s benefit is to help fund a new teen anxiety counseling program.
“There’s a lot of anxiety that comes with being impoverished,” she says. “Social media causing low self-esteem can be a problem. But these teens also face uncertainty: Where will their next meal come from? Can they keep their lights on? This program will help those who are the most underserved deal with those issues.”
Tablescapes will provide plenty of incentives for attendees to help the IWS reach their 2020 goals. WGN-TV reporter Ben Bradley will serve as emcee for a second year (“If anyone can keep 500 ladies quiet after they’ve had a few drinks, it’s him,” quips Alter). And impressive auction items and raffles prizes will include a trip to Maui and a Florida golf vacation.
The program will also include special guests—members of the IWS who will discuss how the Auxiliaries’ support has impacted their lives for the better.
“It’s so rewarding in that we have this small group here in Hinsdale—between 30 and 50 ladies—and everybody is hands on,” says Alter. “What we do makes a direct impact on people’s lives. Every dollar helps them. It’s not going to an advertising campaign, or we don’t just use ten cents out of the dollar. It’s really important that we do this, because quite honestly, the IWS wouldn’t be able to operate or stay open without our help—they rely on us to help pay for some of the programs they are providing.”
She promises guests an event that will be “quite meaningful, but also a ton of fun.”