Wilmette, Community

Wilmette Woman’s Club rises from the literal ashes to once again host events with a revitalized membership

Members of the Woman’s Club of Wilmette are proof that when united, there is little that can’t be overcome.

After a 2015 fire rendered the group’s historic clubhouse on Greenleaf Avenue unusable, the pack of resilient, community-minded leaders didn’t give up.

They rebuilt, reimagined and even revitalized their membership. 

By the winter of 2019, the members proudly opened their doors to the public, eager to host lectures, community events, private galas, fundraisers, book clubs and so much more. 

All too soon, however, the joy of bringing folks together was brought to a screeching halt, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

So, just as they had done in the past, the club members rolled their sleeves and embraced their long standing motto, “The Power of Woman Working Together.” The group quickly developed a pandemic-friendly Plan B. 

“As odd as it might sound, the timing of the pandemic was really fortuitous,” club Co-President Stefanie Rupp said. “We already had our new website designed and were beginning to up or online presence.  We were able to pivot to a virtual format with some confidence.

“What it really comes down to is that we are so lucky to have such a diverse membership. The Woman’s Club is truly a multi-generational group and everyone was eager to jump in and share their expertise so we could continue to stay present in the community.”

Over the past several months, the women have created a myriad of online programs, offering lectures, book club meetings and building tours to name a few. They have collaborated with local partners like The League of Women Voters and Wilmette’s Wellness Guru, Kathy McCabe. 

Charity too has made the club’s to-do list and plans are underway for a November coat drive to benefit Family Focus of Evanston. 

Board member Sophie Candido coined the energy that is alive and well within the club as “womentum,” adding there are no signs of slowing down anytime soon. She also said the desire to keep progressing stems from the original tenets set by the club, which is to serve the needs of the community.

“We encourage people to reach out to us, tell us what they want and tell us their passions,” she said. “And essentially, with their input and help, we can help develop whatever the community dreams up.”

On that note, Candido explained that the members are gearing up for their Phase 2 annual appeal, with the hope of rebuilding the auditorium into an exquisite usable space. They envision using this space to host future school-district fundraisers, private events and weddings. 

Those interested in seeing the Phase 2 renovation of the woman’s club come to life can visit womansclubofwilmette.org, where ideas can be shared and donations can be made. Additional opportunities for getting involved and becoming part of the revitalization effort to enhance the historic building are also available.

Alexa Burnell

Alexa Burnell is a Wilmette resident who has been covering the North Shore for the past seven years, previously for The Wilmette Beacon and its sister newspapers.

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