Clarendon Hills, IL

"The volunteer community"

Jurassic Jimmy arrives at Prospect School — the first installation of Arts in the Park. Funds were raised to purchase him by the Clarendon Hills Park Foundation. (Credit: Ann Hamman)

It would be very difficult to find a better description of Clarendon Hills other than “The Volunteer Community.” The elected village board (president and six trustees) is one of the very few governing bodies in the area whose members serve without pay. The Library Board, Park District Board, Chamber of Commerce, Parent Teacher Organizations, Historical Society and Lions Club members are all volunteers. Add all the church councils, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders and Indian Guide and Indian Princess leaders, and the majority of the adult residents volunteer in some capacity.

Marilee Feldman created the CHMoms list in 2006 as an email list to help her find babysitters and deal with other problems. Although it began as an email, she switched to Yahoo in 2010. As I write this, she has sent more than 4,000 lists. You can post requests for a doctor, an attorney, a babysitter, or someone to waterproof your basement. You can seek a position or seek someone to fill a position. You can try to sell baby clothes, furniture, toys, cars or a house. You can also give away items you don’t want any more. You can ask for advice on vacation locations or try to locate a lost pet. Today this site has more than 1,000 members with more than 4,000 postings over the years. It is a great resource for village residents to connect with each other as well as buying and selling. Of course, Marilee does this all as a volunteer service.

Daisy Days, which began in 1964, in June features sidewalk sales as well as entertainment for children and adults. Dancin’ in the Streets, a summer series of 8 concerts, received the Governors Hometown Award in 2012. At the Christmas Walk in early December residents can visit local businesses for refreshments as well as welcome Santa, hear carolers and take a carriage ride. Luminaria, a tradition which began in 1965, light the streets on Christmas Eve. The local chapter of the Junior Infant Welfare of Chicago sell the paper bags and candles to create the luminaria as a fundraiser.

Five local churches — Community Presbyterian Church (CPC), Notre Dame Catholic Church, Christ Lutheran Church, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, and the Christian Church — nurture the spiritual life of their members as well as reach out to those in need. CPC, the first church in the village, is one of the sites for Public Action to deliver shelter every Saturday night from October through April for the homeless in DuPage County.

In addition, as an annual tradition, almost 100 youth and adults will travel to Appalachia on two mission trips to do home repairs and two trips to Camp Courageous in Iowa, a camp for disabled children and adults. Notre Dame Church’s ministry includes a food pantry for local families in need as well as supplying other items these families may need. Holy Nativity Church has raised more than $180,000 through the years with its annual Farm Fest, which features live farm animals.

A resident relaxes in the serenity of Prospect Park overlooking Prospect Pond. (Credit: Ann Hamman)

There are many opportunities for social interaction in addition to those listed above. The library provides books for 15 book discussion clubs in town. Bunco groups and block parties bring residents together. Front porch gatherings with coffee in the morning, iced tea on a hot summer afternoon or wine in the evening offer farther proof of the neighborliness of the village.