Service Club celebrates 125th anniversary at "Versailles" inspired gala

The Service Club of Chicago celebrated its 125th anniversary in grand style at a gala at the Four Seasons on November 6 that was inspired by its historic past. The “Anniversary Ball” began with a reception where guests shopped an extensive silent auction before dinner in the ballroom. There, decor by Kehoe Designs set the tone for the organization’s milestone anniversary evoking the old world glamour of the 1890’s.

Nearly 350 guests dined under three styles of centerpieces, from grand trumpet vases covered in gold leaf holding majestic palms to Victorian-style candelabras with Waterford crystal hurricanes amid clusters of white roses. Along the perimeter of the ballroom, 12′ tall ornately framed candle “walls” held over 700 glowing candles. The room was aglow both with decor and remembrances of the non-profit’s historic founding in 1890 by 14 women from the most prominent families in Chicago with names such as Armour and Palmer.

The black-tie ball, co-chaired by SC members Susan Gohl and Cookie Cohen, had an “Evening in Versailles” theme. Past events’ themes featured a salute to disco and the ’70’s with Studio 123,  an historical look back at the White City and a Moulin Rouge celebration last year.

The organization raises money all year long, and at the end of the year, they donate 100% of the funds raised to 501c3 charities throughout Chicagoland. The process begins when the charities apply for grants, then the Philanthropic Committee reviews each one. This year, the Committee interviewed or visited over 70 agencies needing help. Money is never given directly to the charity, but rather funds are provided to pay for tangible items that are needed to expand or enlarge their services. For example, the Service Club pays vendors for such items as hospital beds, kitchens for a homeless shelter, shuttle vans for after-school programs and computers for social service agencies operating with antiquated equipment.

The evening concluded with guests dancing to the 21-piece Stanley Paul Orchestra under a collection of crystal chandeliers suspended over the dance floor where a leaf pattern design was projected.

According to SC president Myra Reilly, “When you donate to Service Club, in reality, you’re helping your neighbors. We have been proud over the years to support the Lincoln Park Zoo, Catholic Charities, Little City and Chicago Hope Academy among many others. In 2015, we were able to grant over $300,000 toward these efforts.”  Reilly acknowledged honorary chair, Marguerite Hark, a 60 year member of the Service Club.

This year’s event raised nearly $425,000 to support SC’s grant program. (Photos by John Reilly Photography)

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