Barrington Junior Women’s Club Celebrates 80 Years of Service and Friendship


Produced by Lisa Stamos | photograph by April Graves

A Brief History of BJWC

In August 1914, a group of civic-minded ladies formed the Barrington Women’s Club motivated with the desire to establish a cultural organization, as noted in Arnett C. Lines’ A History of Barrington. Led by a total of 22 presidents recorded from its formation in 1914 through 1957, the club made a lasting impact in a wide variety of areas: forming the first kindergarten, creating the first school cafeteria, holding informative baby clinics, incubating the first library in town, and even sharing concerns about the wild bird population. The Barrington Women’s Club’s contributions of yesteryear are standard operating procedures today—things we nearly take for granted.

In the 1930s, the Barrington Women’s Club sponsored a sister organization, the Barrington Junior Women’s Club. For the past 80 years, “Juniors” has maintained itself as a dynamic service organization that is also a longstanding foundation for women to make and keep wonderful new and lifelong friends.

On Saturday, November 7, the Barrington Junior Women’s Club hosts is annual Fall Fashion Show—their largest fundraiser each year. This year’s theme, “Legendary Ladies”, is a fitting tribute to the hardworking, devoted, and charismatic women who, for the past 80 years to now, have lifted the lives and spirits of the entire Barrington area community.

We asked women who lead some of BJWC’s programs and services to share their thoughts about membership and their area of service.

Erin Shechtman, BJWC PRESIDENT

This is such an exciting year to be a part of Barrington Junior Women’s Club. In January, BJWC will celebrate its 80th anniversary. I feel so honored to be serving as president as we cross over this historic milestone.

People often ask me, who joins BJWC? We are women from all over the Barrington area who want to connect both to our community and with other women. The energy is always stronger and possibilities greater when we unite as women and give back together. Plus, we get to have lots of fun, too!

Our annual Fall Fashion Show is our biggest fundraiser of the year. This year, our “Legendary Ladies” event is going to be our best yet! All of our committees and sponsors are going above and beyond to create this amazing day!

Every year, the women of BJWC generously give so much of their time, talents, and money. Our mission is to enhance the lives of other women, children, and seniors in our community. We volunteer to deliver meals through BACOA, spend time reading at Sunny Hill Elementary School, help run the children’s summer Safety Town program, attend Service to Senior events, and sort toys for Barrington Giving Day.

The Fall Fashion Show and our Spring Fundraiser, “Casino Night” on March 5, 2016, are essential in generating the funds to realize our mission. We allocate grants to more than 20 local organizations that serve local families in need. We supply all the toys for Giving Day, and help families provide the basics to their children during the holidays. Also, we are the only organization to award scholarships to high school students based solely on their community service hours.

In honor of BJWC’s 80th anniversary, we wanted to do something extra special for the community. Our dream is to build a “Universally Designed Splash Pad” for all the families in Barrington to enjoy. In collaboration with the Barrington Park District and other community groups, we are raising the funds and participating in the design process to ensure that it is interactive, educational, and truly accessible for all children. For updates and opportunities to be a part of our historic 80th year visit our website at

Annmarie, GIVING DAY

Barrington Junior Women’s Club is involved in many important aspects of our community, but the piece that I value the most is Barrington Giving Day. It is an inspirational day, and a wonderful way to give back to the people in our community. BJWC proudly works with other local groups to meet the needs of families, and to provide them with a happy holiday. It is a heartwarming experience, and makes me proud to be a member of Juniors.

Barrington Giving Day is an annual event that provides goods to local families for the holiday season. Families who are on the Free & Reduced Lunch program in Barrington 220 are invited to the event where they receive boxes of food, warm coats, blankets, books, and toys. BJWC is responsible for organizing and supplying many of the toys. Our members also staff the toy section, where we help families select the perfect gifts for their children. Last year, more than 370 families visited the BJWC toy area to pick out gifts. We provided toys to almost one thousand children in the community. Barrington Junior Women’s Club is one part of Barrington Giving Day, but the joy that we bring to the kids in the community through our toys is invaluable.


I’ve been a BJWC member since 2009. In addition to the great friendships I’ve made, I value the impact our organization has on our community because we can support many local organizations at one time.

I’m co-chair of our sponsorship committee. This is a relatively young committee but growing fast! We partner with the businesses in the Barrington area to find ways that they can get involved with BJWC and that we, as members, can support their business. We have a great business community in 60010 and are grateful that they value the work we do.


I joined BJWC shortly after moving to Barrington almost eight years ago. In addition to developing wonderful friendships, volunteering in the Club brings much reward and pride! We combine a lot of creativity, energy, and talent to achieve our goals and contribute in positive ways to our community.

Our Club made a commitment a few years ago to enhance our fundraising initiatives by developing a Corporate Sponsorship program. I’ve worked with Shefali Bhuva on Sponsorship for the past two years. I enjoy reaching out to Barrington businesses, learning about their philanthropic goals, and trying to connect them with our mutual causes. Sponsor support allows us greater opportunity for funding our annual grant and scholarship award programs. In 2014 and 2015, this support amounted to over $25,000!


When I moved back to Barrington a few years ago I was given some advice—join BJWC immediately. Well, that advice turned out to be spot-on. I met some of my closest friends at my very first BJWC meeting and have found such fulfillment working to improve our community. One of the things I love most about BJWC is that it brings women together from all over Barrington and that we all have one goal in mind, to give back to our community.

I started out my BJWC experience by becoming the Community Outreach Co-Chair. This was a great way for me to see the impact BJWC has around the Barrington community. The goal of Community Outreach is to raise the profile of BJWC by participating in community events. We have participated in Relay For Life, The Hills Are Alive, Scarecrow Fest, Barrington Honor Ride & Run, Bike Barrington, and the Barrington Sesquicentennial Celebration where we were in charge of all the children’s activities. I have loved being a part of extending the reach of BJWC to such wonderful events around Barrington.

Currently, I am the Membership Co-Chair and am so honored to introduce BJWC to a new group of amazing women. We have over 50 new members this year and we are so proud to welcome such a motivated group of women to BJWC. I truly feel that BJWC is so successful because of its members and the individual talents and experience they are able to bring to our organization. Meeting all of our new members has reminded my how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful community and to be part of an organization that strives every year to make Barrington even better.


I have been a member of BJWC for five years and love working with smart, talented, and dedicated Barrington women. I love the energy and passion of the people and appreciate learning about the goals and missions of the organizations to which BJWC grants money. It is a dynamic organization that encourages each of us to give and volunteer in our individual areas of strength or passion. I am excited to see what our 80th anniversary will bring.

BJWC works with our senior community primarily through two programs. Along with other community groups, we serve as drivers for the Meals with Wheels program.

Home-delivered meals have been available to qualifying Barrington-area residents for over 30 years. In 1998, the Barrington Area Council on Aging (BACOA) took over the Meals with Wheels program. In keeping with BACOA’s mission of promoting the independence of older adults, the purpose of the program is to not only provide seniors in our community with a healthy, hot meal, but serves as a daily well-being check. Meals are available Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) to persons who are unable to shop for or prepare their own meals. BJWC is one of 15 local organizations to deliver meals. Last year, BACOA’s volunteers delivered 3,689 meals to 33 clients.

BJWC also organizes three social functions for seniors throughout the year. The events are seasonally based and provide an opportunity to connect with one another. Seniors have enjoyed the beautiful sounds of the BHS Madrigals at Christmastime, Frank Sinatra impersonators, and had wild bingo competitions along with refreshments and conversations with BJWC members, their kids, and the seniors.

Cindy Kuesis, SAFETY TOWN

Juniors is an amazing group of incredibly strong and extremely gifted women who bring together camaraderie and passion for the betterment of our community.

Safety Town is a two-week educational summer camp for kindergarteners and 1st-graders. Our main focus is to teach children important safety lessons about pedestrian, motorist, fire, bicycle, water, poison, electrical, animal, and playground safety, as well as stranger danger. We want to help children enjoy and understand safety rules and lessons. This is achieved at our fully functioning miniature Barring-town where kids have the opportunity to ride bikes and walk in a real life setting. Children learn through songs, poems, art, and field trips to the Barrington Police and Fire Departments. Safety Town offers four sessions starting in June and July and ending with huge smiles, new-found friendships, and a priceless knowledge of safety!


As my involvement with Juniors has increased over the past four years, I’ve realized that from five years of age to 95 years of age, Juniors has a program to impact and improve the lives of our community. Whether it’s organizing wide-eyed kindergarteners careening around Safety Town on tricycles to the simple gesture of delivering a lunch to a home-bound senior citizen, we provide services people depend on. The strengths of our individual programs are reflected by the diversity of engaged, positive women who make up Juniors and who I am now lucky enough to call friends. Volunteering is rewarding in and of itself, and with friends, it is that much more.

An annual event and our biggest fundraiser with over $100K raised last year, the BJWC Fall Fashion Show is a day for women of our community to come together and enjoy a ladies’ day out. The various events of the day, including shopping, bidding on silent auction items, enjoying a plated lunch, partaking in the always-exciting live auction, and observing the latest fashions in the fast-paced runway show, make for a memorable day catching up with old friends and meeting new women. The thrill of going home with one of our many amazing baskets or auction items while contributing to a great cause that funds 20+ organizations supported by Juniors is a winning combination.


Moving to the suburbs with no children, I joined Juniors in 2012 in hopes of finding an outlet where I could meet new people and do something good for others. It is impressive to see the impact that can be made in a community when a group of caring, passionate, and talented women come together. I am proud to be part of this empowering organization and I am grateful for the lifelong friendships that I have made.


I joined Juniors three years ago looking for a way to get involved in the community. I was impressed with how many different philanthropic ways the organization serves the Barrington Area. It has been a fulfilling experience and has also introduced me to many new friends interested in the same cause.