Published April 16, 2015
60 SECONDS - MARY ALEX
GREW UP IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA • IS YOUNGEST OF FOUR • MARRIED TO CHARLIE, MOM TO NICHOLAS • CENTRAL PTO TREASURER • ENJOYS GARDENING AND NEEDLEPOINT AND CYCLING WITH HER FAMILY
Animals had been part of Mary Alex’s life since she was a child in central Virginia.
“We always had dogs growing up and I developed that young girl love of horses, and I was a rider and then worked in retail in the horse business for many years after that,” she said.
Then she married, moved to Hinsdale and found her life bereft of the creatures she loved. A neighbor suggested she talk to Di Aldridge, then executive director of the Hinsdale Humane Society, about volunteering. That conversation led to a position as volunteer coordinator and a 20-year relationship with the humane society.
“I just loved it,” Alex said of working with the volunteers. “We all have the same motivation, the same heart, and love the idea of helping the animals.”
When her son Nicholas was born, she easily incorporated him into her volunteer routine.
“For the first year, I brought him to work with me in a basket. I would be training volunteers and helping out and he would be sleeping in his basket,” she said. “Then at a very early age he started coming with me to the Pet Walk. He would always be in the Fourth of July Parade pulling a wagon. As he got older, he started doing more hands-on (work) and volunteered with the cats.”
Nick now is co-president of the Care Club at Hinsdale Central High School, where he is a junior.
“They spend time trying to make a difference in a couple of the local animal shelters,” Alex said.
As a frequent traveler, Alex never thought it was a good idea for her to adopt a pet of her own. Instead, she has appreciated the opportunity to support the animals in a different way.
“I just feel like I provide a much better service being able to help all the animals here in the capacity that I can rather than trying to make a decision to take one home.”
After spending about five years as volunteer coordinator, Alex branched out to handle bookkeeping, special events, photographer and other responsibilities. Planning the annual Pet Walk has remained a favorite task.
“I love doing the Pet Walk. It’s a yearlong courtship getting that organized and getting it to run smoothly,” she said. “I’ve done it so many years now that every year you think of something new that can make it better. Really it runs very smoothly and it’s so much fun.”
As her son begins thinking about where to attend college, Alex realizes a new phase of life is rapidly approaching. But she knows her involvement with the Hinsdale Humane Society will be a constant.
“I don’t see myself ever stopping,” she said.
— by Pamela Lannom