By Maureen Gainer Reilly
A few months back I became the BAPA Board President, carrying on a bit of a family tradition. My dad, Bill Gainer, was BAPA President back in the 1980s.
It may seem unique, but it’s really such a typical Beverly/Morgan Park story of seeing generations of families engaged in and committed to the neighborhood. They raise children who grow up, move away and then return when it’s time to raise their own families.
The Beverly/Moran Park I am enjoying with my children is even better than the one I grew up in. That is in large part due to the dedication of people like my parents. My mom was forever stretching out the kitchen phone cord as she simultaneously cooked dinner, planned the Snowflake Ball, chaired the Home Tour or followed up on whatever event she was running. Being a nurse at Little Company and having 6 kids wasn’t enough to keep her busy?
My dad was eternally dragging us to a community meeting (or wake), and was involved with BAPA for years when he worked at AT&T. The investments made by my parents and countless others like them can be seen in the stable, safe, healthy and diverse neighborhood we see today. I am grateful they made Beverly/Morgan Park such an attractive destination! Today, we see a wave of new people with no family connection to the area buying houses. These new neighbors have brought an energy and vibrancy to our local retail, culture and entertainment. I mean, have you been to The Frunchroom or the Beverly Art Walk? Add these events to the Southside Irish Parade, Ridge Run, Home Tour, Breast Cancer Walk, Bikes & Brews and many other events and you have a neighborhood unmatched by any in the City or suburbs.
I joined the BAPA Board because it’s time for my generation to step up and invest the same time and energy as my parents did so that one day our children will be drawn back here to buy a house and raise a family.
The issues the neighborhood faces today are different than the ones my dad and BAPA faced in the 1980s and 90s, but the volunteer needs are the same. A new generation of volunteers fortifies BAPA, but also ensures that this venerable community organization continues to respond to the ever-changing needs of our neighborhood and our neighbors.
Volunteering is also a way to connect and strengthen the area through the relationships forged through BAPA, school, church and community organizations. One downside of an incredibly tight knit community like ours is that newcomers can feel isolated or unwelcome. BAPA can be the bridge to connect new and old residents so that everyone is at the table and has access to all the amenities.
The perfect first step in engagement is joining your Civic Association. What is a Civic Association? Think of it as the group of your immediate neighbors who come together to take care of your few square blocks and watch out for each other. These small groups feed into BAPA which, as the umbrella organization, supports, promotes and strengthens the entire neighborhood. Active civic associations have been part of our community’s success since the late 1960s. When the Civic Associations are strong, BAPA is strong. Please consider joining your association. Call the BAPA office at 773-233-3100 to get connected.
With everything there is to see and do in our community — and with so many opportunities to get involved — I look forward to meeting you soon!