For the Oak Brook Chapter of the Infant Welfare Society, helping underserved children and their families is time-honored tradition.

By Kerrie Kennedy

After working in the PR and publishing industries for decades, Liz Berglund decided it was time to focus on giving back. By chance, a friend invited her to a meeting at the Oak Brook Chapter of the Auxiliary of the Infant Welfare Society and she never looked back. “After visiting the Angel Harvey Family Health Center in Chicago and seeing some of the children there, it was heart wrenching,” Berglund said. “Many of them needed help and I decided on the spot that this was something I could really give my time to. I knew I had something to contribute.” That was in 2013 — today, Berglund is board advisor and co-president of the Oakbrook Chapter of the Infant Welfare Society, an organization whose work never ceases to inspire her. Founded in 1911, the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago has provided quality, community-based healthcare to children and families in the Greater Chicago area who would otherwise lack access to basic medical services. Through its Angel Harvey Family Health Center — established by Angel Harvey, wife of newscaster Paul Harvey — the organization is able to provide a broad range of services including well-child car, pediatric dentistry, vision screening, women’s health and family counseling. According to Berglund, each chapter has something unique to offer. “Our sole purpose is to raise funds and assist in any way we can, and each of the chapters use their individual strengths to accomplish that,” Berglund said. “Lake Forest hosts a massive 10-day design Showhouse and Gardens, Mount Prospect has a St. Patrick’s Day Pot of Gold event, Downers Grove ties in with Eyes to the Sky, Clarendon Hills has its Light Up the Night traditional dinner dance, Hinsdale has its fabulous Tablescapes event and Wheaton-Naperville holds a Luminaria event over the holidays and a golf outing in the spring.” The Oakbrook Chapter’s big fundraising event, Mistletoe Medley, is held after Thanksgiving every year at Drury Lane and features a luncheon, fashion show, raffles and holiday showroom boutiques.

“After visiting the Angel Harvey Family Health Center in Chicago and seeing some of the children there, it was heart wrenching. Many of them needed help and I decided on the spot that this was something I could really give my time to. I knew I had something to contribute.”

Proceeds help fund Infant Welfare Chicago’s advanced therapies, which address autism and learning disabilities. “We call it fundraising and friend raising, because it’s a great way to really get to know each other,” added Berglund. “Most of us know someone in our personal circle that’s been touched in some way by these issues, so it’s wonderful to feel you’re contributing in some way.” Marge Tresly, co-president of the Oakbrook Chapter of the Infant Welfare Society couldn’t agree more. “We’re very proud of what we do,” said Tresly, who joined the chapter in 1993. “To date, we’ve raised $4.6 million dollars for Infant Welfare to help children in need and their families receive the medical care they deserve.” From putting ‘angel’ baby bags together to provide new moms with key infant wellness items to spearheading food drives to help families struggling with food insecurity; preparing Santa gifts bags to bring holiday cheer to overseeing coat drives to give warmth to as many patients as possible, the Oak Brook Chapter of IWS volunteered more than 4,000 hours last year, not to mention raising hundreds of thousands of dollars even during the pandemic. According to Berglund, it’s a legacy that was established in 1913, when the Kenwood Chapter of the Infant Welfare Society raised $50 for an afternoon tea. “That was just the beginning,” she said. “In today’s dollars, this bunch of women in all these different chapters have raised the equivalent of $140 million dollars for Infant Welfare Society. It’s amazing what a group of women can do when they harness their power.”

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