“I wanted to give back to the community that I was born and raised in and honor my parents who landed in Naperville in 1830.” –Mary Fraley.
It’s the sentiment that the Naperville Junior Woman’s Club was founded on after Mary Fraley created the group in 1967.
“She was looking for an outlet for her friends to get involved and meet and do things together and she reached out to the Woman’s Club, which was very well established in town, and she said it didn’t seem likely they were interested in some young juniors moving in,” said Lisa Kasar, a member and the Public Relations Officer for the Naperville Junior Woman’s Club.
So Mary created her own group, reaching out to the National Junior Woman’s Club to begin one in Naperville.
Today that same club still exists and maintains the same mission to give back to the community in multiple ways.
“We are a non-profit philanthropic organization in the City of Naperville and basically we do various charity work in the city to contribute back to the community and to give money to other non-profits,” said Angie Gianesi, President of the Naperville Junior Woman’s Club.
Whether that be giving scholarships to graduating high school seniors, volunteering for a local event, or collecting items for the less fortunate, the Naperville Junior Women have come out in full force for 50 years.
Every two years the group selects a community improvement partner to raise money for through fundraising efforts like their Ladies Night Out and fashion show. All in an effort to make a difference for those in need.
“It’s just nice to see that with a little time and a little hard work we can make a difference, and that’s what we’re about,” added Kasar.
While the mission has remained the same over the years the group dynamic has changed. With stay-at-home moms transitioning to working moms, the Junior Women have become a diverse group and have taken on another focus of promoting safety in town.
“In 1976 Officer Pradel who is now Mayor Emeritus Pradel ran a safety program in Naperville and he asked the Junior Woman’s for support in helping teach the children,” explained Diane Whyte, a member of the Naperville Junior Woman’s Club.
Through the location on the public safety campus, the Junior Woman teach kids how to be safe year round. With trick-or-treating tips, bike safety lessons and stranger danger awareness, the Junior Woman have become synonymous with promoting safety.
And the club is now well-known for helping the Naperville community for a half century, gaining new members each year to promote that mission.
“I just moved back last year and I just loved the friends that I made and the opportunities to serve different organizations so I definitely see myself being a member for years to come,” said Karina Derhake, a new member to the club.
The Naperville Junior Woman’s Club is always looking for new members. All are welcome regardless of age or residency.
Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.