The Service Club of Chicago: 128 Years of Success

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128 years ago in 1890, a group of remarkable women with a vision for a bright future started an organization called The Service Club of Chicago that was devoted to giving back to society and uplifting neighborhoods in the Chicago area.

Over the years this unique club has not only survived but flourished into a sizeable group of 175 talented and resourceful individuals of various backgrounds, nationalities, and careers; all united for a common purpose and possessing one basic philosophy: “Sooner or later every deed that you do will return to you.” A perfect example is Myra Reilly, excelling as a Service Club member for 39 years. Her achievements are so significant that she was honored last October at the Service Club’s Gala “Do You Believe in Magic ?” Myra’s perspective is refreshing: “I had two friends who were members and I went to events with them. I was impressed with the mission of the organization, so when I was asked to join, I accepted. I love the philanthropic aspect of the Service Club.”

Strategically utilizing their funds, the Service Club never writes out a check to a given charity, choosing instead to buy items, then writing out checks to vendors. Funding the Robert Crown Center in Hinsdale, Shirley Ryan’s Pathways in Evanston, and Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Bluff are just three fine examples of their highly respected efforts. And their ingenuity pays off: the Service Club donated a van to the Lighthouse for the Blind, who in turn let them use the van to visit other organizations. An outsider might ask: What is the secret to their success? According to Myra Reilly, “The secret is our events. We make it a point to do fun, unique events that people like to come to and our board attracts friends who want to help, once they learn our mission.”

A good example of one of these fun, unique events is the annual Hat Luncheon. Recently, Service Club President Tracey DiBuono welcomed 300 ladies and gentlemen who gathered at the Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest for the 2018 Hat Luncheon, “Vive Le Chapeaux.” On hand for this fashionable soiree were emcee Micah Materre (news anchor for WGN – T.V.) as well as Co-Chairs Myra Reilly and Lynda Silverman. In front of a panel of judges, the enthusiastic crowd walked from room to room, wearing their finest millinery and favorite springtime outfits. Winners included: Tina Weller for Tres Jolie, Mamie Walton for Tres Chic, and Mark Olley for Tres Beau. This year’s Hat Luncheon raised an impressive $140,000 and is just one clever and successful fundraiser the Service Club coordinates.

Indeed, the Service Club’s accomplishments are outstanding: in the last five years, they have awarded $1,648,075.40 to community organizations. One impressive feature of this club is that it is truly a non-profit organization with all proceeds benefitting deserving community groups.

With a history spanning well over 100 years, the Service Club of Chicago has clearly led by example; never seeking attention and always determined to uplift neighborhood groups that are sometimes overlooked or under-represented. This fascinating collection of talented individuals unselfishly devote their time and resources to a club that is obviously a role model for all service clubs across the country.

About Irene Michaels

Over the past 25 years I have taken on the roles of a producer, publisher, insider journalist and fundraiser. My artistic interests began early in my teens working as a model and a dancer throughout the U.S. I formed my first modeling agency before I was twenty. While modeling I secured a re-occurring role in the popular daytime TV series General Hospital. Read more...