Two local women with decades of service and leadership will be honored by the Senior Citizens’ Center of Oak Park and River Forest at its’ annual Ulyssean Awards dinner on Friday, September 22 at Brookdale Oak Park, 1111 Ontario Street in Oak Park.

Barbara Ballinger and Harriet Hausman will be cited for contributions to their communities during their lifetimes and in particular during their later “post retirement” years.

The Center’s awards are named after the legendary Ulysses, king of Ithaca, a hero of Homer’s Iliad, who yearned for an active and adventuresome later life.

Ballinger served for 33 years on the staff of the Oak Park Public Library, including 24 years as the system’s Executive Director.  During her tenure she led the library through a period of extensive growth and change, including the exchange of books with other communities and multiple new technologies.

The annual “Ballinger Lecture Series” has, for 25 years, brought accomplished authors to the community for a presentation of their works.  Most recently, she has formed a group of local poets who craft and present their own works.

Hausman has provided leadership to the village of River Forest and the wider community through a lifetime of social justice activism. 

She served breakfasts to children on Chicago’s west side with Black Panthers at the Better Boys’ Foundation where she was a board member.  In 1965 she and her supportive husband walked the first leg of the march from Selma to Montgomery.  They have received numerous awards from the American Civil Liberties Union and Oak Park Temple, and the John Marshall Law School recently awarded Hausman her an honorary Doctor of Law degree.

She is the author of “Reflections: A History of River Forest, and has served as an elected Trustee of River Forest Township.

The Senior Citizens’ Center of Oak Park and River Forest is the first non-profit of its type to be incorporated in the state of Illinois.  It offers classes in ceramics, painting, weaving, lapidary and a range of other craft-related areas.  It is supported by grants from the Economy Shop, the Oak Park Area Arts Council, memberships and a variety of fund-raising events.

Tickets and additional information are available by calling the Center at (708)848-5251.

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