Stories about nonprofit and community organizations that are working to improve the neighborhood and help others.

Special Recreation in Mount Greenwood Gives Back

By Kristin Boza

With the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics is this July, the participants in the Special Recreation program at Mount Greenwood Park are gearing up for the competition while maintaining their mission of giving back to the community. 

The program serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the Chicagoland area, and currently has 115 participants ranging in age from 7 to 65, according to Special Recreation Coordinator Lisa Mulcrone. Mulcrone has been a part of the program in some capacity for the last 27 years, beginning as a volunteer when her sister, Sioban, was enrolled in the Special Recreation program. 

While the program accepts community volunteers to help out, the participants in the Special Recreation program have become great partners to other community groups as well. 

“We have volunteered by baking cookies at the Oak Lawn Ronald McDonald House, we assist BAPA with the Ridge Run and Home Tour, and we volunteer with Special Children’s charities in various jobs, such as assisting with 5K runs, the annual Duck Derby fundraiser, and the Polar Plunge, to name a few,” Mulcrone said.  

The Special Recreation group has been essential in helping BAPA with the Ridge Run by stuffing goody bags, handing out fliers along the race route, and passing out refreshments and finishing medals to the Ridge Run runners. 

Mulcrone and the team is especially looking forward to participating in the Special Olympics July 17 through 21 at Illinois State University in Bloomington, Ill. Athletes will compete in power lifting, track and field, gymnastics, swimming and bocce, according to Mulcrone.  

“We are extremely excited about being a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics. We will be attending as a group, hoping to make it to the majority of activities that Special Olympics has planned,” Mulcrone said. “We compete year-round in 14 different Special Olympic sports.” 

To get involved as a volunteer with the Special Recreation program in Mount Greenwood, contact Lisa Mulcrone, To volunteer at a Special Olympics event, contact Eileen Guinane, 


Catherine Rogers ‘18 Named National Merit Scholarship Winner 

Mother McAuley graduate Catherine Rogers has been named a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship Winner by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).  She is one of 2,500 designees who were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.  

Rogers is a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and graduate of St. John Fisher School.  

With a grade point average of 4.49, Rogers earned the distinction of valedictorian for the McAuley class of 2018. Last year, Rogers earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. She will attend the University of Illinois where she plans to study engineering. 

“The distinction of being selected as a National Merit Scholarship winner is the perfect capstone to Catherine’s Mother McAuley career,” said Eileen O’Reilly ’03, school principal. “Throughout her years at McAuley, Catherine’s academic success has been a testament to her drive to never settle for less than her best. As she moves into college and a career, I know that she will continue to set and achieve the impressive goals she sets for herself.”  

National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official. 

Rogers is a Catherine McAuley Honors Scholar, a program which recognizes superior academic achievement. She also is a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Junior Classical League, Student Ambassadors, Book Club, Math Macs and runs Cross Country and Track.  

Her freshman year at McAuley, Rogers received the Sister Agatha O’Brien Memorial Scholarship which recognizes students who score in the top five percent on the High School Placement Test.  She also was one of 16 students to receive the Tradition of Excellence Scholarship for legacy students.  

Zeshan B and the Transistors at Beverly Art Center June 22 

Zeshan Bagewadi, one of the Rolling Stone’s 10 New Artists You Need to Know, will be performing Fri., June 22, 8 p.m., at the Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St.  Zeshan B and the Transistors will play a concert that mixes Memphis R&B, Chicago Blues and the sounds of Bagewadi’s roots in India and Pakistan.  

Zeshan B and the Transistors is composed of some of Chicago’s brightest musical talent. Now on tour, they performed at the Lincoln Center in New York last month and will be at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee in June before heading to Chicago for their concert at the BAC.   

Born in Chicago, Zeshan B’s distinctive musical style was formed by the influences of the local music scene as well as the music played in his home. Bagewadi’s parents are from India, and exposed their son to traditional Indo-Pakistani music in addition to an extensive collection of music from the 1960s and 1970s, including blues, soul and R&B.  

Music lovers and the media took notice when Zeshan B released “Vetted” in 2017. The album charted at 8 on Billboard’s Top Ten Albums (World Music), and received excellent reviews from Rolling Stone, NPR, ABC, and the Times of India. Zeshan B’s hit single, a cover of George Perkins’ 1970 civil rights-inspired “Cryin’ in the Streets” that resonates with today’s social justice and political issues, earned high praise from American Songwriter (which called it “an anthem for modern protesters”), New York Times, Chicago Tribune and other media.  

Tickets for Zeshan B and the Transistors are $27 ($24 for Beverly Arts Center members) and available at, the BAC, 111th and Western, Chicago, or by phone 773-445-3838.  

Guide to Staycations in Beverly/Morgan Park 

By Kristin Boza 

Why go on vacation when there’s so much to do here in the neighborhood? There’s lots to experience throughout the summer; check out this guide to the perfect Beverly/Morgan Park Staycation. 

Explore the Parks 

Dan Ryan Woods (enter parking lots from Western Avenue between 83rd and 87th Streets). Explore all 257 acres of the Dan Ryan Woods. Aside from the well-known paved trails and sledding hill (which is also great for rolling down in the summer), take a step further into the natural areas to see native plants and migratory birds. Take a bike ride along the Major Taylor Trail, and enjoy a picnic in one of the many sheltered areas dotted throughout the preserve. Check the Cook County Forest Preserves District website for activities at the woods and other preserves. 

Beverly Park, 2460 W. 102nd St. While the playground is receiving a much-anticipated renovation to be completed by Sept.ember, families can still enjoy the fields surrounding the playground and paved trail. On Tues., July 17 at 8:15 p.m., grab a blanket and snacks and enjoy a screening of the Disney movie ‘Monsters, Inc.’  

Kennedy Park, 11320 S. Western Ave. Numerous baseball/softball fields, a paved trail, and an enclosed playground make Kennedy Park a destination for every family member. Strap on some rollerblades and engage in a friendly roller hockey game at the Blackhawks Roller Hockey Rink located on the south side of the park building. The pool opens on Fri., June 15; visit the park district building to obtain a pool pass for Chicago residents. 

Shakespeare in the Park at Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Dr. Enjoy this free outdoor performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,”, performed by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater actors on Tues., Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Ridge Park has an indoor pool, walking path, ball fields, a playground, a work-out room, and “artsy” options like the woodshop and ceramics studio.  

Graver Park, 1518 W. 102nd St., offers fun activities inside and out. The fieldhouse has an auditorium, science lab and woodshop. Outdoors, there’s a water park, tennis courts, a playground and baseball and soccer fields.  

Munroe Park, 2617 W. 105th St., offers sand volleyball and tennis courts, as well as baseball diamonds and a soft-surface running track. There is a theater program for adults and kids, including Theater and Arts and Crafts summer camps.  

Experience Art, Music and History 

“Quantum Me,” 99th and Walden Pkwy. Take a mind-bending photo in the reflective surface of this unique sculpture that people are already calling the Beverly Bean, then head over to Pizzeria Deepo, 1742 W. 99th St., for a deep dish pizza. Don’t forget to BYOB and request to sit in the outdoor garden. 

Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival, 1817 W. 96th St. Plan to spend Sat., June 23 at the Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival — measure your walls before you come so you know what size painting to look for from the talented array of artists selling their creations. Stay to enjoy a tour of the Vanderpoel Gallery (located on the 2nd floor of the Ridge Park fieldhouse), food trucks, live music, and community camaraderie. 

Live Music Mondays at BAC, 2407 W. 111th St. Beginning Mon., June 4 and ending on Mon., Aug. 6, head to the courtyard at the BAC from 7 to 9 p.m. to enjoy live music. A $5 donation is requested, and beverages are available for purchase. 

Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley Ave. Learn how our neighborhood came to be what it is today by learning about the past at Ridge Historical Society. The Ridge Historical Society is open Mon., Weds. and Fri. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Family Fun Nights (various locations). Geared toward the stroller set, enjoy kid-friendly music, food and more at BAPA’s Family Fun Nights, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Thursdays, June 14, 21 and 28. (look for an article with details elsewhere in this issue of The Villager.) 

Sporting Events 

Beverly Hills Tennis Club, 9121 S. Hamilton, is a private club that opened in 1919 with one court, and now has 8 courts (4 of which are lighted for night play). The club also has platform tennis, a clubhouse and more. People interested in learning more can attend the open house, Sun., June 10, 1 to 7 p.m. There will be free mini-lessons, refreshments, a chance to play on the courts and information on the membership financing special. 

Morgan Park Sports Center, 11505 S. Western Ave. There’s something for everyone at MPSC. From yoga and fitness classes for adults, to gymnastics and hockey, sign up for summer sessions or drop-in classes. Afterwards, head across the street for a Chicago-style hot dog at the new Joey’s Red Hots to complete a perfect summer afternoon. 

Beverly Hills Cycling Classic. Watch road racers tear through the streets of Beverly/Morgan Park at the annual Beverly Hills Cycling Classic on Fri., July 20. Enjoy food trucks, craft beers, and activities for the kids to keep everyone entertained on a hot summer night. New location and race route at 101st and Longwood Drive!  

Beyond Our Borders 

One of the cool parts of living in Beverly/Morgan Park is how easy it is to jump on the Metra and head downtown. Metra offers $10 weekend passes for Saturdays and Sundays that can be used in conjunction with Metra family fares.  

Your Attention Please! Family Fun Nights Now Arriving at Your Station

By Abby Johnson

Spice up your daily home commute with live music, fun activities and good food at BAPA’s 3rd annual Family Fun Nights. The celebratory summer kick-off is coming to a station near you on Thursdays, June 14, 21 and 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. 

“It’s a great opportunity for people to spend time with their families and mingle with their neighbors,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “You’re on the same train with the same people every day, but how many times do you actually talk to each other?” 

Family Fun Nights was started in 2015 for this exact reason: To encourage neighbors to get to know each other. To make friends of what may be only friendly faces. Now the festivities are in their third year, and their popularity, their symbolizing of Beverly as a familial neighborhood, are what make Flood proud of continuing this tradition.  

“One of our goal’s at BAPA is to make our community more than a place where people live,” Flood said. “We want the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park neighborhood to feel like home. We want residents to love where they live.” 

Of course, these events must be planned with the children in mind. That’s why the “Meet Mom ‘N’ Dad at the Metra” is the theme for the third year in a row. With a bouncy house, face painting and sidewalk chalk available at every station, there are plenty of activities to keep the kids busy. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from the Calabria Imports food truck and Sweet Freaks Chocolates will be selling desserts. 

While the event hasn’t wavered from its original purpose, its location has changed. For the first time, Family Fun Nights are “on the move”, advancing from one Metra station to another, much like the trains that run alongside them. This year, the festivities will take place at three locations, as opposed to the previous years’ steady 103rd St. spot. Flood said the move is an attempt to bring attention to other gathering places throughout the neighborhood. The fun nights have been so popular, they begged for expansion, she said. 

“We want people from all across the neighborhood to have the chance to join in the fun,” Flood said. 

The festivities will take place at a different Metra station every Thursday, beginning Jun. 14 at 91st St Station/Maggie Cosme Park, 9201 S. Longwood Dr., where guests can participate in soccer drills with Kics United, listen to a performance by the Chicago Children’s Choir and practice tennis drills with the Beverly Hills Tennis Club. Kids can also learn about animals and nature with Erin Yanz of Nature’s Creatures. 

Commuters of the 99th St Station can enjoy the festivities Jun. 21, which will feature Live Music with Bridget and Garrett at Tranquility Stage, an arts/crafts table and Nature’s Creatures. The caboose arrives at 111th St. Station for the final gathering on Jun. 28, where children can enjoy a petting zoo from Miss Jamie’s Farm. 

Sponsors of this year’s event are Little Company of Mary Hospital, Mike Haggerty Buick GMC, Beverly Bank & Trust, Office of the 19th Ward, Beverly Improvement Association, AT&T, Shops of Walden, and Beverly Ridge Homeowners Association. 


Check Out What’s New at the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic 

New location! 

New course! 

More races! 

The Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) presents the 16th Annual Beverly Hills Cycling Classic: Bikes and Brews Fri., July 20. The start/finish and festival grounds are moving to the St. Barnabas parish parking lot, 101st and Longwood Drive, and the new 1.54KM criterium course takes riders down Longwood Drive to 100th Street to Winchester to 101st Street to Seeley to 102nd Street and back to Longwood Drive.  

The first day of racing in the Prairie States Cycling Series Intelligentsia Cup, the local event features six exciting pro/am races sure to provide plenty of action for spectators all around the race course.  

The Bikes and Brews festival opens at 4 p.m. and features craft beers from Lagunitas and other favorite breweries including Open Outcry Brewing and Horse Thief Hollow. There will be plenty of food, a kids’ zone, live music following the races, and lots more.  

The Racing 

Founded in 2012 as the Prairie State Cycling Series, the Intelligentsia Cup features top-level professional and elite amateur athletes. The Beverly Hills Cycling Classic will host two juniors races, a Masters’ race, women’s race and two men’s races. Racing starts at 4:15 p.m. 

Be a Volunteer 

Many volunteer opportunities are open for the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic, including assistance at the festival site and course marshals around the race course. For information on volunteering, call 773-233-3100 or visit 

The Sponsors 

Beverly Bike Racing Team is the local presenting sponsor of the race. Also sponsoring the event are Mike Haggerty Buick – GMC – Volkswagen, Beverly Bank & Trust, the 19th Ward Youth Foundation, Smith Village, AT&T,  

The Beverly Review, Lagunitas, Horse Thief Hollow, Open Outcry 

For information on becoming a Bikes and Brews sponsor or donating primes for rider prizes, call 773-233-3100.  

BAPA hosts the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic as a community-building summer event. The suggested donation for admission to the Bikes & Brews festival area is $5 and supports BAPA’s community-based programs. 

Food, Flowers, Music and Fun at Farmers Market in June

The 95th Street Farmer’s Market has big plans for June. Face painting, children’s librarians from Beverly Branch library and Kellogg’s Garden Club are just a few of the exciting features that can be found this month in the commuter parking lot at 95th and Longwood Dr. The market is open every Sunday through Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine. 

The Community tent this month will feature Nautilus School in the community tent, Cavanaugh, face painting in the children’s tent, and music by Bridget Cavanaugh on June 3; Kellogg School Garden Club in the community tent, One Tail at a Time rescue and dog adoption, and music by Joel Barr on June 10; Beverly Branch Children’s Librarians in the community tent, face painting in the children’s tent and music by Beverly All Stars; and Beverly Art Walk in the community tent and music by Mark Taylor. These activities are scheduled 10 a.m. to noon.  

New and old vendors come together for one of the neighborhood’s most popular summer events where neighbors can mingle while live music plays and munch on goodies from vendors like Sweet Freaks and Not Just Cookies, and explore healthy options from The Eating Well, Southtown Health Foods and Breadman, one of the market’s long-time vendors whose homemade bread forgoes artificial preservatives, colors and flavorings.  

If you’re hungry while you’re shopping, stop by one of the vendors offering prepared foods.  

Stroll through the many tents and fruit stands and enjoy the beginning of a perfect lazy Sunday. 

The market is organized by the 95th Street Business Association. Supporting the market are Beverly Bank, Premier Market Sponsor; Southtown Health Foods, Children’s Activities Sponsor; State. Rep. Fran Hurley, the 19th Ward Youth Foundation and State Sen. Bill Cunningham, Face Painting Sponsors; and BAPA, 95th Street Business Association, Pacor Mortgage Co. and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, Market Sponsors. Find market details at 95th Street Farmers Market on Facebook.   

Improvements Springing Up in the 19th Ward

On Thurs., Apr. 19, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea joined Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and the Public Building Commission to break ground on the Beverly Park Playground, and annexes at Esmond Elementary School and Mt. Greenwood Elementary School.

“This series of investments on the south west side will create the state-of-the-art facilities and extra space necessary to support the future of our children and the future of our city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Together with Alderman O’Shea, we are proud to make smart, critical investments that help both students and residents to strengthen the social fabric of this community.”

“Ongoing investments in our parks and our schools are a sign of what’s to come in Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood,” said Ald. O’Shea. “These projects will not only benefit our children, they will become community staples that benefit our residents for generations to come.”

The Beverly Park Playground will undergo significant renovations. New play equipment for children ages 2 to12 includes a swing set, net climbers and a spinning play feature. Improvements include new artificial turf surfacing, a new asphalt ramp leading into the playground, new park signage and modifications to the existing timber walls.

“Neighborhood playgrounds are valuable resources that strengthen our communities and enrich the lives of every individual that visits our parks,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent & CEO Michael P. Kelly. “Today, we are not only investing in these resources, but also in our future generations.”

The state-of-the-art playground improvements will align with ADA accessibility guidelines and are expected to be complete by September.

New annexes at Esmond Elementary School in Beverly/Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood Elementary School in Mount Greenwood are expected to be completed by January.

“The annexes at Esmond and Mount Greenwood Elementary will create extra space and state-of- the-art learning facilities necessary for our students to learn, grow, and thrive,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “These investments will provide engaging learning opportunities for generations to come.”

The two-story 20,000 square foot annex at Esmond School will replace a deteriorating stand-alone modular building. It will include a classroom, computer lab, science lab, art room with storage, library, dining room, hybrid kitchen and dining area, administrative office, bathrooms, building storage, an elevator and building support space. The project will also include a renovated parking lot, a new playground, community garden, and a turf field. Renovations to the existing building include a new roof and repairs to the exterior envelope.

The two-story 27,000 square foot annex at Mt. Greenwood School will include 13 classrooms, a science lab, offices, storage and utility rooms, bathrooms and an elevator. Work within the school building will include expanding the lunchroom capacity. The school will get a new playground and parking lot.

These investments build on upcoming and completed projects in the 19th Ward since 2011, including the Morgan Park Sports Center and a new walking path and outdoor exercise equipment Mt. Greenwood Park. Upcoming projects include the addition of a new water feature at Graver Park.

Art Fair & Festival Debuts at Ridge Park this Summer

The 1st annual Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival will take place Sat., June 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Ridge Park Cultural Center, 9625 S. Longwood Dr. The event is being planned by the Ridge Park Advisory Council (RPAC) and John H. Vanderpoel Art Association along with the Chicago Park District, and will highlight Beverly/Morgan Park as a cultural hub.

The Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival will feature more than 40 Chicago area artists working across a wide variety of media, selling original paintings, sculptures, textiles, photographs, jewelry, art glass, leatherwork and more. Registration is now closed to artists.

As a Chicago Park District cultural center, Ridge Park offers rich and dynamic programming that will be highlighted throughout the art fair and festival. The John H. Vanderpoel Museum is located in the fieldhouse through the Chicago Park District’s Arts Partners in Residency Program, which unites artists and communities in Chicago’s parks. The Museum hosts a world-class collection of Impressionist paintings and other late 19th and early 20th century paintings and works on paper. Ridge Park Art Fair attendees will  have the opportunity to take guided tours of the Vanderpoel Museum, as well as of the park facilities and ceramics studio.

Rounding out the day will be events for patrons of all ages: food trucks, a bouncy castle, local bands, the opportunity to connect with Beverly/Morgan Park institutions and services.

Information about the Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival is available at Donations and sponsorships are still available. For more information, contact Irene Testa,, or Mary Jo Viero,

Half-Marathon Commitment Proves ‘Nothing is Impossible’

By Abby Johnson

John Cancialosi was hit with a great idea while lying in bed. It was 2011, he was in writhing pain from a life-threatening pressure sore and bone infection that had left him immobilized for six months, and he had just learned that surgery was a must, a procedure that would extend his bedridden sentence another twelve weeks. While this type of news is discouraging for most, for John it was inspiration. Inspiration in the shape of a three-wheeled handcycle that in 2015 would make Cancialosi the first athlete to complete a half-marathon on a handcycle. Now he’s doing it again.

Cancialosi had received bad news before. It had come in a more devastating form 30 years prior after a diving accident that damaged his lower spine and left him a C-6 quadriplegic at the ripe age of 20. It was this accident that would eventually lead to Cancialosi’s infection in 2011.

But being confined to a wheelchair for more than three decades has not diminished Cancialosi’s zest for life. There is a positive energy that emanates from him as he sits at his desk at Tinley Park Kitchen & Bath Shoppe, the business he has owned and operated for 15 years. He is happy to be able to run his own company, he says. And even happier to have the opportunity to use his disability to show the children that nothing is impossible.

“They’re young,” Cancialosi said. “We need to show them that no disability or unfortunate occurrence in life makes them less capable of success.”

That’s why Cancialosi is participating in this year’s Southwest Half Marathon as a charity runner for South West Special Recreation Association (SWSRA), a non-profit organization that provides year-round quality recreation programs and services for individuals with special needs. A week before the May 6 race day, Cancialosi had raised $3,865 of his $4,000 goal. And his dedication goes beyond the physical realm: Cancialosi and his wife have pledged to donate $1,000 themselves.

So how difficult is riding a bike without being able to use your legs? When asked, Cancialosi responds so matter-of-factly that another laudable characteristic shines through. One that is perhaps even more admirable than his resilience. Cancialosi is modest. He has use of one bicep, one tricep and zero finger dexterity. Yet he is capable of operating the bike with his upper body strength alone, using his arms as one would use pedals to move the cycle forward. It’s tiring. Challenging. Strenuous. But Cancialosi does it. Because the alternative is not an option.

“I don’t want my disability to prevent me from having a normal life,” he said. He makes a few clicks on his computer and up pops a picture of a kitchen he recently designed for a client. It’s sleek and modern. A telltale sign of his talent and passion. He’s proud.

“I don’t want it to stop me from doing what I love.

The good news? It hasn’t.

For more information or to make a donation visit Cancialosi’s GoFundMe page,