In 2002, residents of the 700 block of Bonnie Brae decided to hold a modest lemonade stand, in honor of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Seventeen years later, that small stand has attracted thousands of attendees and raised more than $250,000. 

This year, LemonAid will again be held on the anniversary of 9/11, with residents of River Forest and surrounding villages stopping by to donate to the chosen nonprofits — this year, the Austin-based New Moms and A House in Austin. Attendees can enjoy ice-cold lemonade, popcorn, baked goods, kids activities and live entertainment from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 11, with the goal of raising $40,000 for the nonprofits. 

In a statement, Laura Zumdahl, president and CEO of New Moms, said she was thrilled that proceeds from LemonAid would partially benefit her nonprofit, which provides transitional housing for low-income mothers. 

“This year we are constructing a new building in Oak Park, which will provide homes to 18 homeless families and new, expanded office and program space for our programs in the near west suburbs,” Zumdahl said in a statement. “The special support from LemonAid will help construct a playground at the new Oak Park Center, which we know will be well-enjoyed by the kids who live and visit there.” 

More than 80 Bonnie Brae residents, mostly kids, participate each year in the organization and success of LemonAid. Carl Olson, a junior at Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRF), and Isabel Keidan, a sophomore at OPRF, are co-chairs of the event this year. Patty Henek, a village trustee and longtime organizer, assists in bringing the event to life. 

Erica Hilgart, the founder and executive director of A House in Austin, likewise was thrilled to receive funds for her childcare and parenting support nonprofit.  

“LemonAid’s generous funds will help as we renovate our permanent space to serve more families in the Austin neighborhood for generations to come,” Hilgart said in a statement.   

Nona Tepper

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