This column describes how BAPA is fulfilling its mission of offering programs, services, and events in the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

Village Viewpoint August 2020

As we make our way through the second half of 2020 and continue on the roller coaster ride of the pandemic, I can only say, we are still here. We are still here.  

It’s nature to always look on the bright side. I have quotes placed and pasted all over my office that I read every day.  

One of my favorites is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. I just love that.  It reminds me that if I just trust in myself to do my best, things will be okay.   

The other day I heard another good one: “Keep going. Just keep going.”  

That one really struck me because as the months go by, BAPA’s pandemic rollercoaster is getting a little scary.   

BAPA would typically be riding high at this time of year, with our three major community events – Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour, Ridge Run & Memorial Day Parade, and Beverly Hills Cycling Classic/Bikes and Brews Festival – successful completed.  This year, coronavirus response regulations forced us to cancel all three. 

BAPA’s annual events provide a full circle support.  They bring our neighbors together which builds community spirit and pride and they also generate funding BAPA needs to support and serve the community for the rest of the year.  

The money raised at our events fuels BAPA’s programs that support local businesses, beautify our community, strengthen our safety efforts, showcase our housing and support our amazing schools and parks.  

Despite this crippling loss of revenue, the BAPA staff has produced important new initiatives to help our neighbors through the rollercoasters that have affected their families, their businesses, their health and their wellbeing. (You can read about and see photos from these programs on pages 12 and 13.)    

But now, BAPA needs your help. 

Because we have not been able to raise funds through our events, our resources are tapped 

Just like supporting your favorite local restaurant or retailer, I hope you will support your local community organization, BAPA.  BAPA has been serving our community for over 70 years and are looking forward to serving you for another 70.  Please use the envelope in this issue of The Villager or go to bapa.org to give. Your money will go right back into the community.   

Thank you to the families and businesses who have already given generously. We are still here because of you.  

Hopefully, we can look back at 2020 from a better place and say that we are stronger because of what we went through. Let’s all just keep going.  

 

Village Viewpoint

By Mary Jo Viero 
BAPA Executive Director 
As I reflect on the past 10 weeks of quarantine, it’s easy to think about everything we missed — gatherings, games, graduations, just to name a few.  

Just like you, BAPA missed hosting our annual Home Tour and the Ridge Run and Memorial Day Parade. These events take months of planning and preparation, but also include the anticipation and excitement of bringing our community together.  

After I got over the “missing,” I realized that the quarantine took away certain things but it also gave us something we really needed: Opportunity.  

It gave me the opportunity to read the book on my nightstand and the one below it too! It gave me the opportunity to play cards, do puzzles, clean out my garage and even some closets. It gave us all the opportunity to be creative and learn.  

BAPA seized the opportunity to come up with a parade idea to uplift our friends at Smith Village. We have been supporting our local businesses with new creative and collaborative approaches like online workshops for businesses and opening a weekly Free Store in our Community RoomWith not much else going on this summer, we took the opportunity to reshape an old favorite that is perfect for our current situation: The History Mystery Bike Adventure! And you can participate not once, but four times this summer! 

This month, we’re hosting a music series and a parade in honor of Brian Piccolo.  

The idea of collecting pictures of our local first responders is giving me so much joy. We are going to display them at the Ridge Run in September.   

All of these ideas would not have been possible if not for this unique opportunity. When we look back on this time in history, I hope there we remember not just those who we lost and those who were fighting it, but also the wonderful opportunities it presented.  

 

Happy Summer, Have Fun, Stay well, 

Mary Jo  

 

Village Viewpoint, May 2020: Hope and Gratitude 

By Mary Jo Viero 
BAPA Executive Director  

Other than love, the two most important things we have in life are hope and gratitude.  They are simple words but so powerful if we take the time use them. Every time I begin to feel down — which is a lot lately — I use these words to help me.  I start with gratitude.  First I focus on all of my personal blessings and immediately my mood begins to change. Then I think about all of the amazing things I can be grateful for around me.  As the list growsa complete change comes over me: I begin to feel hopeful.   

The feeling of hope is powerful.  Think about when you are at the White Sox game and it is the 9th inning; the game is tied up and the Sox are up to bat. What do we do?  We stand up and we HOPE that we win. It’s powerful to see everyone stand up and HOPE.  That is what I am doing now. I’m standing up and I am filled with hope.  

If we apply hope and gratitude to our current situation, I believe they will help us get through, and we will come out stronger and more compassionate than ever.  

I am grateful for every single essential worker who is getting up and going to work even though they could be at risk.  

I am grateful for the dedicated first responders who are on the front lines taking care of us every day.   

I am grateful for everyone who is staying at home.   

I am grateful for technology because it is giving us the opportunity to continue to learn and connect.   

I am grateful for the generosity of our entire community that continues to support the organizations that are helping to support our workers, small businesses and the hungry.  

I hope all of our collective efforts help to end this pandemic quickly.   

I hope that anyone who has lost a loved one or is battling COVID-19 feels the love and support our community. 

I hope our medical workers and first responders get the PPE they need to stay safe. 

I hope we remember that people are struggling and need our help, and if we can help we should.   

I hope we fill the community food pantry over and over. 

I hope that we continue to order food from our local restaurants and use our local businesses to keep them going.  

I hope that we check on our seniors who are isolated.  

I hope that we can enjoy summer activities and events.  

I hope that we continue to spread joy to those who are alone.   

I hope we continue to perform random acts of kindness.   

As we take walks around the neighborhood, I hope we take the opportunity to see the love that exists behind every decorated front door and front window.  

I hope you know that BAPA is here for you.  

Mostly I hope that you will stay home, and be well. 

With Hope & Gratitude, 

Mary Jo 

 

 

 

I am grateful for the positive social media that informs me and uplifts me and makes me laugh.   

 

 

The definition is: 

to cherish a desire with anticipation :to want something to happen or be true 

 

Village Viewpoint, April 2020 

By Mary Jo Viero 
BAPA Executive Director 

I have always loved this neighborhood. As a child I loved living on Vanderpoel and walking to school. I loved my first apartment on 111th Street. I loved taking the train downtown to my first real job. I loved moving back to the neighborhood with my husband to raise a family.  

Each different stage in my life showed me different aspects of what makes this community special.   

My memories are probably similar to many of your memories. Being a little kid at a block party and having the firemen stop by with their big red fire truck for us to climb on. Sledding down the hill at Ridge Park. In my early 20s, it was going to the South Side Irish Parade and having some fun on Western. 

Moving back to the neighborhood as an adult, I was blessed with incredible neighbors on my block of Bell. They were kind, funny and welcoming.  One of my neighbors invited a large group of women to her home for coffee to welcome me. She told me, “These are women you can count on whenever you need. When we had our son, the outpouring of kindness was incredible, from teenagers offering to babysit to gifts at our door.  

These are all examples of the love that is the lifeblood of our neighborhood.  These things happen every day, whether it is on Bell or Talman or Wood or Pleasant.   

Now in this incredible time in history, we see more and more examples of this love. We see love for our first responders and medical professionals love for our small businesses, love for our seniors and love for each other.  We are doing what we do best: neighbors helping neighbors.  I can’t think of a better place to be right now. 

Now more than ever, I Love Where I Live!    

As we enter the month of April with more uncertainty ahead, we need to continue with what we do best. There are gift cards to buy, meals to deliver, fundraisers to donate to, neighbors to check on, resources and information to share.  

We also need to stay at home and do our best to flatten the curve. 

Even though our plans are on hold, BAPA is still here and we are doing our best to support you. If you need help, call; if you have an idea, call; if you want us to share some news, call.  

BAPA is here for you.  

 

 

 

Best,  

Mary Jo 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Village Viewpoint

By Mary Jo Viero 

BAPA Executive Director 

I don’t know about you, but the day after Valentines Day is one of my favorite days of the year. Why? Because for me, it’s the start of spring.  

I put away all of my winter decorations, from snowflakes to pinecones to hearts, and I replace them with shamrocks.  It puts a smile on my face all day.  The color green throughout my house brings me a sense of excitement and energy about the good things to come.  

One of those good things is the South Side Irish Parade. I always look forward to parade day because it is day that celebrates who we are as a community. On parade day it’s not just about being Irish, it’s about being part of what makes Beverly/Morgan Park a uniquely special neighborhood. Ours is a community that loves tradition and values faith, family and friendship — which is also the message in the Irish Claddagh symbol. 

On parade day, our community opens its doors and welcomes family and friends from all over to join us in celebrating all things family and heritage.  We’re so lucky that at BAPA we get to do that all year longIn the spring, BAPA welcomes new people to our community through the Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour and Ridge Run and Memorial Day Parade.  We’re already well into the planning for those events and planning for Bikes and Brews and other summer programs will be starting soon 

This month we are launching BAPA’s New Neighbor Program. We want every new Beverly/Morgan Park resident to feel at home here, so BAPA is reaching out to say welcome, and to provide information on where to do, what to do and how to get involved in our community.  

We encourage anyone who is new to the neighborhood – or knows someone who is — to get in touch. I want every new person, couple or family that moves in to feel excited about their choice in a community.  Look for our New Neighbor profile on page 12 and call me at 773-233-3100.  

Mary Jo  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Village Viewpoint

By Mary Jo Viero, BAPA Executive Director 

When I was driving into work on my first official day as Executive Director for BAPA, a thousand thoughts were going through my head. First, I was thinking about how excited I am to begin my dream job. Then I was thinking about jobs and bosses that I’ve had over the years. That made me happy and nervous at the same time.  I have a lot of experience at BAPA, but I don’t know what I don’t know. So how do I fix that?  I have to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening.   

BAPA is so many things to so many people. The different perceptions people have of our community and BAPA are always amazing to me.  As I begin the process of implementing my vision for BAPA and the community, the first step is listening. I want and need to hear what you want BAPA to do and be in the neighborhood.   

I envision BAPA as a place to come together to share ideas and concernsand then work together to make ideas become realities and to find resolutions for concerns.  My mission is to empower you to advocate, beautify, strengthen, create, celebrate and support one another. If you have an idea and I can help you make it happen, that is my role. 

A friend of mine came to me and said his friend passed away last February and she loved the Ridge Run.  He wanted to form a team and fundraise in her honor. I listened carefully and we are making it happen.  You will see the article about them in this issue of The Villager. Hopefully, that story will spark an idea in you and that you will share it with me so we can make it happen. 

I can’t help if I don’t know your ideas, so please invite me to listen. Call me at 773-233-3100 or email me at mjviero@bapa.org. 

In the meantime, I am working to make 2020 a memorable year filled with community events and programs that bring us together.  

Best,  

Mary Jo  

 

Village Viewpoint

On the snowy Monday of Dec. 16, the BAPA staff started the day with this wonderful email from neighborhood resident Barbara Gyarmathy:  

I just want to let you know how awesome I think BAPA is. When I was traveling south down Western on Saturday during your Cookie Crawl, I was treated to the sight of so many people walking down the street in groups of ladies and in family units with the kids, all clutching their golden tins to collect their treats at local businesses. It looked like a wholesome picture from the cover of an old Saturday Evening Post magazine.  It made me so proud of the neighborhood I live in and of BAPA. It struck me that BAPA is like the string of the necklace that holds the pearls together: One without the other would not have the same value. I would imagine there are many more people like me who appreciate beyond measure what you do. 

Wow!  

Barbara’s note came as our staff was tying up BAPA’s last event of 2019 and thrilled with another chance to bring together neighborhood residents and businesses (check out the Cookie Crawl photo gallery at Beverly Area Planning Association on Facebook!). We work hard on behalf of the neighborhood, and it’s really nice to get such a heartfelt affirmation from a neighbor.   

As we look forward to 2020, BAPA’s staff, leaders and volunteers are more committed than ever to serving our neighbors with meaningful, effective programs and events that make all of us proud of Beverly/Morgan ParkWe’ll be expanding our communications, popping up our special events, and building on the recent work we’ve done refocusing our committees on education, housing and economic development. We’ll be enriching programs that welcome new neighbors, promote local businesses, and connect area residents to important resources. It looks like it’s going to be a great new year!  

BAPA’s motto – and our job — is Love Where You LiveThank you to all of our neighbors who support our work as members, donors, volunteers and – like Barbara – cheerleaders.  

 

Sad News 

At the end of 2019, our community lost a great friend with the passing of Lorraine Stanton.  Lorraine and Pat Stanton created a legacy of community activism that now spans three generations. In her 60 years as a Beverly/Morgan Park neighbor, Lorraine fostered a stronger community by helping to found and sustain the Beverly Arts Center and the Catholic Youth Ministry Center, and in helping to shape BAPA and the welcoming neighborhood we have today. Lorraine received lifetime achievement awards from BAPA and the Beverly Arts Center, but those recognitions are small thanks for the huge contributions she has made to our community. The staff and leaders at BAPA will miss our friend, Lorraine.   

 

Shop for a Gift to Our Community 

By Grace Kuikman 

I’ve been shopping at small neighborhood businesses all my life. When I was a kid, on Saturdays I’d tag along when my dad made the rounds to the butcher shop, the bakery and the grocery store. We bought our clothes and shoes on 95th Street, we went to restaurants on Western AvenueWhen I asked to go out to the malls to shop the answer was always the same: Only if you can’t buy what you need in the neighborhood. 

The names of the stores have changed, but the benefits of shopping where I live remain the same: Local businesses shape not just the local economy but the culture of our community 

According to a recent study, about $65 out of every $100 spent at a local small business stays in the community. Those dollars help to restock the shelves, pay wages and taxes, improve business properties and support other local businesses. Strong commercial areas strengthen their residential counterparts, helping to keep home values up.  

When local entrepreneurs see a gap they try to fill it. They are creative, industrious, collaborative and open to new ideas Their one-of-a-kind businesses not only serve shoppers, they help to define the unique nature of the Beverly/Morgan Park communityBusinesses partner with organizations to sponsor our community’s signature events like BAPA’s Ridge Run, Home Tour and Bikes & Brews Festival, and the Beverly Area Arts Alliance’s Beverly Art Walk.   

Local businesses are more inclined to buy locally sourced merchandise and materials, and to employ neighbors. They donate to neighborhood fundraisers, sports teams and community organizations.  

Most of the owners of local businesses are our neighbors. They recognize us when we drop in at their shops, offices and restaurants. We feel comfortable asking them about their products and services, and trust that they will stand behind what they sell. If a local business doesn’t have what I’m looking for, it’s not unusual for the owner to check into whether they can get it for me. That’s the definition of customer service.  

Success breeds success. When local businesses thrive, they contribute to the growth of commercial districts by attracting new businesses. There is no better advertisement for an investor than the busy shop next door.  

It’s in our hands – literally – to support our local businesses.  

Don’t go to the internet first when it’s time to shop. Those businesses are not investing in our community, creating first jobs for teens or adding to the neighborhood spirit.  Yes, it’s convenient to have a box dropped off on your front porch, but it adds nothing to the holiday spirit.  

Take my dad’s advice: When you need something, check to see whether someone in the neighborhood sells it. Beverly/Morgan Park covers a lot of territory, and it’s not uncommon for the people who live on one end of the neighborhood to forget about what’s available on the opposite end. I’m confident most people will be pleasantly surprised to discover how much they can buy that’s close to home.   

Think outside the box. What do local businesses have that may suit the people you’re buying for better than the “routine” stuff that’s been going under the tree or gifted for other occasions? You may find yourself very inspired on a visit to a boutique, flower shop, bookstore, restaurant, salon or other local business 

 

 

  

 

Village Viewpoint – November 2019  

By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director 

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Beverly/Morgan Park.  Each passing day that I have the privilege of working for this community, I grow more and more in awe of our neighborhood and neighbors. I have developed an appetite for understanding how we got where we are today, what we’ve done right, and how we can do more of it.  

History provides us a valuable lens for organizational and individual reflection. The passing of the federal Fair Housing Act in 1968 changed the trajectory of Beverly/Morgan Park’s history.  

Starting on page 1 of this issue of The Villager we are sharing “How to Integrate a Neighborhood in three (not so easy) steps,” aarticle about that time of our history written by neighborhood resident and BAPA Board member Scott Smith and published in Belt Magazine. The essay details how our neighborhood navigated racial change in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the phrase “white flight” became an infamous part of Chicago’s vocabulary 

Smith interviewed three longtime residents who played pivotal roles in how racial integration transformed our community – each of these neighbors sees this time through personal lens of experienceThis topic comes up frequently when the history of BAPA is discussed, and It’s not at all surprising that the story is often as unique as the person telling it. To engage in the re-telling of this important part of our history is to reveal our own lens. It feels risky. But, for me, choosing not to tell the story is the wrong choice.  

I know I am not alone in this belief.  

Today, I see conversations about diversity, integration, acceptance of all people actively sought out in our community.  These dialogues are organized through groups like Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative, Unity in Diversity, You Are My Neighbor forumsand the new Beverly Arts Center’s Diversity Committeeto name a fewThese conversations provide new lenses for consideration.  Reading Smith’s article, we can look at facts, actions and words that were captured in our community’s history 50 years ago and hear from three people who were involved about how it felt at the time to take a step into something that was new – and often volatile — territory.   

Like all of us, I can only speak from my own personal lens. This article provides a way to acknowledge BAPA’s role in reflecting Beverly/Morgan Park as it was in the 1970s and the organizations intention to do what was right at the time.  That lens, for me, provides an even sharper focus on what we’re doing right in our community today.   

Village Viewpoint

The Welcome Wagon 
By: Susan Flood

As I write this column, the BAPA staff is busy getting ready to welcome new neighbors to Beverly Hills/Morgan Park at our first New Neighbor Meet and Greet.  The concept of the “Welcome Wagon” is not new.  It was founded in 1928 in Tennessee by a man named Thomas Briggs who saw the power of marketing to people who recently moved into an area and how it connected newcomers to a community where they could build meaningful relationships.  

Our neighborhood was well underway to becoming the tight knit community it is today well before the 1920sand our beautiful historic homes tell that story.  

When I joined BAPA’s hard working team I started probing our residents about how they feel about living here. It’s no surprise that almost all who I encounter are in love with our neighborhood.  Still I saw an opportunity to extend that warm welcome feeling to newcomers, whether they grew up here and just bought their first home for their own family, or whether they landed here as new homeowners.   

BAPA staff members put our heads together with local leaders and residents of all ages and backgrounds,  and came to the conclusion that the welcome efforts need to be personal.  That just a gift bag or a letter, no matter how useful, well written, or jam packed with resources is not the key to feeling a part of our special closeknit village in the city.  Connection is being called by your name, being recognized by neighbors at the coffee shop; it’s a smile because you met over a beer on Saturday or are church on Sunday.   

I’m a transplant myself, and if not for my neighbors’ efforts to be personal, I don’t know how my journey would have turned out.  Introductions, advice on where to find schools, stay healthy, find organized activities and fun for my family.  It’s simple when you think about it.  It’s what we learned in kindergarten: The power of a smile, sharing and caring about the people around us. People who visit feel it when they’re here, and that’s what makes them want to stay.