‘Celebrating a Century of Visionary Care” – that’s the motto of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, founded in 1911 to lower the rising infant mortality rate in the city. Their original effort was to provide fresh milk and information on infant care to immigrant mothers. The society opened 13 stations throughout the city staffed by a doctor and a nurse.

As needs arose and funds were needed, in 1913 the Women’s Auxiliary was formed to help raise money and serve as volunteers. The original group consisted of only 12 to 15 women who did fundraising and provided the much-needed clothing, bedding and baby items for needy families.

The group was so successful that its numbers increased. By the end of 1914, there were more than 1,000 auxiliary members. Now today, 100 years later, there are 15 Infant Welfare Auxiliary Chapters in the Chicago area with more than 750 members.

The Riverside Chapter of the Infant Welfare Society has long been an integral part of the organization through participation in the society’s major fundraising efforts and by raising funds on the local level. Members also give their time to the society at the organization’s resale shop or at the Angel Harvey Infant Welfare Society of Chicago Community Health Center located on Fullerton in Logan Square.

As with most philanthropic organizations, camaraderie and fun are mixed in with the business of fundraising. According to Olga Sylvester, president of the Riverside chapter, last year’s fundraiser – the “Healthy Steps” 5K run and walk was such a success they will be holding the second annual event on Saturday, June 11 in Riverside.

The 5K run and 2-mile walk will begin with registration at 6:15 a.m. at Barrypoint and Bloomingbank roads. The race will begin at 7:30 a.m. for adults and a three-quarter mile fun run for children 10 and under (my speed) will take place at 8:45 a.m.

The registration fee is $35 before the run and $40 the day of the run. Sylvester added that Channel 5’s Dick Johnson is scheduled to attend. Remember, you don’t have to be in the run. I’m great at cheering people on. You can do the same and make a donation to the Riverside Chapter of Infant Welfare. To learn more about the Riverside chapter of Infant Welfare or the 5K run call 447-8407 or go to www.riversideinfantwelfare.org.