Published July 17, 2014
ENJOYS TRAVELING AND READING • HINSDALE RESIDENT SINCE 1971 • LIKES SEEING LIVE THEATER • ONE OF FIVE SIBLINGS • MET HER HUSBAND IN CHURCH YOUTH GROUP
Joan Allenopoulos remembers the tight-knit spirit that bound residents of Monterey, Ind., together when she was growing up in that little farming community.
Although Hinsdale’s considerably bigger, she’s found the same kind of spirit at work here.
“I enjoy Hinsdale. It’s a beautiful town. I’ve made a lot of friends here,” she said.
When Allenopoulos and her late husband Louis moved into their home on the village’s northeast side more than 40 years, there were no children on the block. Not so anymore, to her delight.
“Now, we have all the young couples,” she said, enumerating the children in each surrounding household. “It’s so much fun to see the kids out there playing.”
Allenopoulos said she was ready for a bigger community after experiencing rural life on an one-acre onion farm. She and her husband were directed to Hinsdale by her boss, Horace Holcomb, whose mother lived here.
“I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” she said.
Allenopoulos, 85, has a youthful energy that inspires her to start each day with a 45-minute walk around The Community House track.
“It’s air-conditioned in the summer time and heated in the winter,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about broken sidewalks.”
The Community House has played an important role in her life since she retired from a career in the insurance industry in 1992.
At the urging of a neighbor she become involved in Hinsdale’s AARP chapter, which met at the facility, serving in various roles with the group over the course of 20 years until the chapter disbanded in 2012.
“I held five positions, all at one time,” she said.
The friendships she made endured, thanks in part to the Active Adults programs that sponsors classes as well as all-inclusive trips to places such as Grant Park and Ravinia.
“What is good, especially for seniors, is we take a bus,” she said. “(Seniors) don’t like to do anything at night because they don’t want to drive or can’t drive.”
During her involvement with AARP she came to cherish the staff of The Community House for all their work preparing the rooms and refreshments for their various meetings.
Feeling compelled to give back, Allenopoulos began bringing lunch for them on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
“We really never did anything to show our appreciation to them for what they’ve done for us,” she said. “They only get a half hour for lunch, but there’s nowhere around here to go for lunch and get back in half an hour.”
A stroke she suffered a year ago suspended that practice for about six months. But the lunch wagon is rolling again, making sure the employees stay well fortified for their busy schedules.
“I say, ‘Gee, you guys are looking thin, maybe I’ll bring you some food,’ ” Allenopoulos said with a chuckle.
An avid Cubs fan, she follows team moves closely. She’s thankful for her restored health and for the activities available locally to keep her and others engaged.
“I would probably be more bored,” Allenopoulos said of life without The Community House. “I wouldn’t have anything to do.”
— by Ken Knutson