JOLIET – Marilyn Garapolo lives in the countryside between Dwight and Mazon. But once a month, Garapolo drives to the Joliet Country Club for the monthly meeting of the Joliet Christian Women’s Club, which Garapolo joined seven years ago after a friend introduced her.
“I was looking for group of like-minded women other than a church group,” Garapolo said.
Many social groups focus on fun activities. Many church groups focus on faith and outreach. The Joliet Christian Women’s Club does both. Each meeting has three components: a breakfast, an engaging speaker and a testimony.
For Garapolo, who said she works in health and wellness, she feels it’s important to help women “live long and live strong,” and for women to help one each other become the best they can be.
The Joliet Christian Women’s Club ministers to the entire woman.
“It really shows me women of faith coming together – of all different denominations – and what their lives are really about,” Garapolo said.
Then and now
Karen Chapman of Crest Hill, chairwoman of the Joliet club, said the Joliet Christian Women’s Club began in 1971 in the Joliet area. The club is an affiliate of Stonecroft, an international organization headquartered in Kansas City.
“They have affiliate groups, such as us, throughout the country – and even some international partners,” Chapman said. “They’re letting the whole world know about Jesus Christ.”
Chapman said the Joliet Christian Women’s Club is a nondenominational group that meets on the third Wednesday of the month at the Joliet Country Club and begins with breakfast. A program and a testimony follows. Often, these are presented by guest speakers.
Program topics vary. Chapman said past events included presentations by musical artists, as well as experts on centerpiece arranging, card-making and the benefits of wills and power of attorney. In December, the club hosts a cookie sale, and in May, a fashion show, Chapman said.
“In my opinion, what’s neat about the fashion show is that we use members of our group as the models,” Chapman said.
The club charges no dues, although there is a charge for the breakfast and for Stonecroft materials used for in-home Bible studies, Chapman said. Stonecroft encourages members to begin small Bible studies in their homes using Stonecroft materials, so they can spread the Gospel beyond club members, Chapman said.
Joliet Christian Women’s Club only has two rules.
“You can’t talk about your weight,” Chapman said, “and you don’t talk about whatever church you attend. We definitely do not promote any church in the area.”
Chapman previously belonged to another group in St. Charles and joined the Joliet club when she moved to Crest Hill.
“Everyone is so kind and friendly and welcoming,” Chapman said. “I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Janice Lender of Joliet attended Joliet Christian Women’s Club meetings many years ago and stopped when her work schedule conflicted with the meeting time. Lender said she reconnected with the club about a year ago and has made nearly every meeting since.
Lender said she feels the club appeals to different aspects of women. She enjoys engaging in fellowshipping with other women and learning from the various programs. But it’s listening to testimonies of challenges overcome that nurture Lender’s Christian spirituality.
“They reassure me I’m doing the right thing by continuing in my faith,” Lender said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Joliet Christian Women’s Club
WHEN: 9:15 to 11 a.m. July 19
WHERE: Joliet Country Club, 1009 W Illinois Hwy. Joliet
ETC: Meets on the third Wednesday of each month for food, fellowship and fun. No membership fees, only the cost of the breakfast.