BAPA residential member profiles

Know Your Neighbors: Kevin & Karen O’Malley

By Kristin Boza

Community Involvement with a Splash of Coffee

Kevin and Karen O’Malley made a huge splash on the neighborhood small business scene when they opened B-Sides Coffee + Tea, 9907 S. Walden Pkwy., last summer. The family moved to Beverly/Morgan Park three years ago and are raising their children, Cassidy, 2 and Aiden, 6 weeks, in a neighborhood that they’re committed to contributing to.

“We chose to move to Beverly because it’s close to downtown, it’s a supportive community, and there are many beautiful homes and young families like ours,” Karen said. “The thing we like best about living here is definitely the people. Everyone is so friendly and it is a true sense of community.”

Eager to get out and walk with their stroller, the O’Malleys realized how important amenities are to a neighborhood.

“We want Beverly to be the best neighborhood possible; we thought the shops at 99th and Walden provided the perfect location for a coffee shop. It is convenient for commuters, parents dropping their kids off at school, salon customers, and those wanting to work away from the office,” Karen said.

For the O’Malleys, the location also had some special perks.

“The advantage to working so close to home is being close to the kids, as well as shorter days since there is no commute,” Karen said. “With our daughter at All Day Montessori, across the street from our shop, it is very convenient to drop her off and pick her up before and after work.”

The O’Malleys take pride in showcasing their inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and quality food and drinks at B-Sides. The shop also offers an extensive collection of vinyl records, so customers can enjoy great music while caffeinating. Karen says their customers are eager to enjoy their Instant Karma latte (made of dark chocolate and caramel), pistachio muffins from Iversen’s Bakery in Blue Island and Turmeric Ginger herbal tea. B-Sides Coffee + Tea is a BAPA Business Member.

In addition to contributing to the build-up and buzz around 99th and Walden, B-Sides will be making appearances at the 95th Street Farmers Market this summer, selling coffee and 12 ounce bags of Metropolis beans to brew at home. For and hours, call 773-629-6001.

Beloved Visionary Retires from Little Company of Mary Hospital after 53 Years of Dedicated Service

Joan Murphy recently retired from Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) after 53 years of dedicated service. Murphy spent her time at LCMH changing the lives of women with her unique blend of Christian humor, faith-based nursing and love of life. Murphy is a registered nurse with an MS in Management and a PhD in Behavioral Psychology. Murphy served at LCMH as an ICU Nurse, Director of Community Health and, most recently, Leadership Mentoring Specialist.

During her time as Director of Community Health, Murphy cultivated many relationships and health and wellness opportunities for women and the community through the hospital’s Health Educations Center and the Women’s Wellness Consultants. Murphy began teaching community wellness classes in the early 1970s, which included disease prevention, diet, medication, stress management and exercise. She knew 30 years ago that the female presence in the household was the most influential in the family’s healthcare decisions. These programs were so well recognized that LCMH received national acknowledgment from the American Hospital Association. Murphy’s efforts also were awarded by the State of Illinois with the Illinois Governor’s Council on Health and Fitness Award in 1991.

Over the years, Murphy and her community wellness team created numerous programs for the entire family. Murphy has been an innovator of community health and continues to utilize her PhD in Behavioral Psychology, focusing on humor and its powerful impact on health. Murphy developed CHEER (Choices, Humor, Enhancement, Education, Renewal), which is a free program that works by bringing community members who have life-threatening diseases together to interact and heal through laughter and positive attitude.

In 1985, Murphy developed LCMH’s first annual Women’s Wellness Weekend. This popular event gave women a chance to get away for the weekend and be in the company of other women, focusing on themselves, renewing their spirits and learning better ways to care for themselves and their families. Murphy also was instrumental in creating an annual Women’s Event at LCMH that features an expert physician who focuses on women’s health issues.

Murphy transitioned to her role as Leadership Mentoring Specialist in the fall 2015. She offered positive support and provided both individual and cohort counseling sessions to leaders in the LCMH organization.

In addition to her career at the hospital, Murphy is involved with other laity supporting the work of religious women of the Little Company of Mary. As a Little Company of Mary Associate, Murphy carries on the mission of Venerable Mary Potter, founder of the Little Company of Mary Sisters, in the Sisters’ institutions, in their communities and in their own lives. She also is a national public speaker and has been a past presenter for the American Hospital Association, American Association of Nurse Executive Women, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association.

“Murphy brings love and laughter to all who know her,” said Mary Jo Quick, Vice President of Mission and Spirituality at LCMH. “Even through nursing a family member through a chronic illness, she never revealed that her day’s events might be the slightest bit stressful. Murphy is known for reminding others to ‘let your performance be bigger than your applause.’ She has touched the lives of thousands and has played a large role in ensuring the southwest Chicago area is a healthier place for women to grow and succeed.”

Murphy is a loving mother of three and grandmother of seven. Her children Colleen, Peggy and Vince are in the helping professions of special education, nursing and social work. Since the passing of her beloved husband Vince nearly a decade ago, her four-legged love, Oliver, has given her a new “leash” on life and many laughs.

BAPA Names New Executive Director, Expands Programming

The Board of the Beverly Area Planning Association is delighted to announce that Susan Flood has joined the staff as the new BAPA Executive Director.

A longtime Beverly/Morgan Park resident and active volunteer and supporter of BAPA for many years, Flood brings expertise in business development, non-profit management and strategic planning to the organization.

Margot Burke Holland, who recently completed her three-year commitment as BAPA Executive Director, has moved into the newly created position of BAPA Program Director. In that role, she will focus on developing and enhancing programs that fulfill BAPA’s mission in the areas of supporting local schools, small businesses, community safety, beautification and quality of life.

The addition of Flood at BAPA’s helm and transition of Holland into an important new role fulfills BAPA’s recent efforts to reorganize the staff and reenergize the programs and services that benefit the Beverly/Morgan Park community.

“I could not be more thrilled to welcome Susan Flood to BAPA as the new Executive Director,” said BAPA Board President Maureen Gainer Reilly. “BAPA will benefit from her years of experience and strong non-profit, event and fundraising background. The neighborhood is so fortunate to have yet another talented, dynamic executive director to ensure BAPA’s success. With Margot Holland transitioning to a newly created program director role, the staff is poised to continue their ‘back to basics’ approach which has strengthened the organization.”

Flood began her career doing business development in the tech industry, then took a break to raise three children and pursue some personal development. She dabbled in Chicago’s improv scene at Second City and Improv Olympic and on weekends embarked on training new runners for their first races and marathons. Her first experience with BAPA was through the Ridge Running 101 training program where she trained to run then signed on to train others. “I trained more than 200 women for the Ridge Run and another 200-plus to run marathons to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association,” she said. Flood was also on the committee that organized the first Beverly Hills Cycling Classic, setting a course for this popular annual summer event.

When she reentered the work force, Flood joined the staff at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, taking a leadership role in fundraising. Among the many successful programs Flood spearheaded during her ten years at Mercy Home were the “Mercy Home Heroes” Chicago Marathon team program and Legacy of Learning, an endowment campaign that raised money for the education of Mercy Home’s youth in perpetuity. Susan remains committed to the kids at Mercy Home through service on their Leader Council, a women’s board that funds the home through their Graduates Luncheon, held in the spring.

Flood has shared her expertise for many years as a member of BAPA’s Development Committee. She has served on Christ the King’s Family and School Association and began the parish Moms and Tots group.

“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to lead BAPA into the future, building on the dynamic and extremely successful formula of solid programs and talented staff,” Flood said.

In the past three years, BAPA’s mission-based programs have been expanded and special events have grown to attract bigger audiences and more engaged participants. These trends are expected to continue and realize even better growth with the addition of Susan to the team.  .

In her tenure as executive director, Holland introduced successful programs including the recent Author in the Schools at local public elementary schools, the community safety survey, and the popular Meet Me at the Metra Family Fun Nights.

Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence Benefit Day is March 24

The Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club will present the 7th annual Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence (WOWO) Benefit Day on Sat., Mar. 24, raising awareness about the serious issue of domestic violence, and raising funds for the local domestic violence agency, A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park (AND).  The agency provides counseling, legal advocacy, education, and support at no charge to families affected by domestic violence.

As the event organizer, the Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club recruits Benefit Day partners among local fitness businesses and professionals.  One goal for this year’s event is to add new fitness centers and activities, including a center and activity for elementary and high school students. Morgan Park Junior Dena O’Reilly said, “Last year several parents wanted their children to be able to join them. This is a great idea.” St. Barnabas Parish and Bethany Union Church will be the designated sites for family exercise with an all-ages Zumba class as the group exercise event.

Several new partners who will be hosting WOWO events this year. Mother McAuley High School’s National Honor Society (NHS) and Action Reaction Club are hosting WOWO activities around their annual Ice Cream Social, which will be held at the school on Mar. 22.  Students will help to raise awareness about domestic violence and raise funds for A New Direction.

“We love the idea of supporting Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence Benefit Day,” said Cathy O’Grady, World Languages Faculty and McAuley’s NHS moderator. “Using our Mighty Mac strength to give strength to other women makes for a great day.  Exercise is a fantastic tool to help both physically and mentally.”

In addition to Mother McAuley’s participation, Cathy O’Loughlin, the 2018 facilities coordinator for the Morgan Park Juniors, said several new businesses will offer classes on the Benefit Day this year, including Treadfit Beverly, Barre It All, Blazin’ Cycle, Fit4Mom-Palos-OrlandPark, Light House Yoga and Fitness, Running Excels, Sculpt and Shred and Stone Age Cross Fit.

“It’s amazing how every year we are able to offer participants a great variety of workout sites.  There truly is something for everyone,” O’Loughlin said.

Through a generous sponsorship, Marquette Bank provided funds for WOWO T-shirts. Morgan Park Junior Karen Meyer, chairman for this year’s event said, “This is the second year in a row that Marquette Bank has sponsored WOWO.  We are so grateful for their commitment and their help in raising awareness and funds to end domestic violence in our community.”

Meyer added that Bullpen Sports, a baseball and training facility in Crestwood, and Beverly Therapists, donated funds for the event’s printed materials.

A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park is in its seventh year of providing confidential counseling and legal advocacy services for victims of domestic violence, many of whom live in the neighborhood or surrounding suburbs.

“Domestic violence is a reality in every community and we need to work together to create awareness and quality programs to fight it,” said Jessica McCarihan, AND Board President. “WOWO is our second largest fundraiser of the year, thanks to the efforts of the Morgan Park Juniors. With no state or federal funding, the monies raised are critical to the agency maintaining services.”

To participate in the Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence Benefit Day, visit www.anewdirectionbmp.org/wowo to register online for a suggested donation of $25 and select an activity offered by one of the many fitness centers, churches, schools and businesses on the Benefit Day schedule. Onsite registration on the day of the event is welcome if space at the facility permits.

For those who can’t participate on Mar. 24, donations to AND and purchases of the mint-green event t-shirt ($15) can be made at the same website.  T-shirt supplies are limited. T-shirts will be available for pick up on Mar. 21, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Belle Up Boutique, 1915 W. 103rd St.

The GFWC IL Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club is a group of women dedicated to making a difference in their community through volunteer service. Since its inception in 1934, the Club has actively initiated various service projects contributing to the quality of life in Beverly/Morgan Park. To learn more about membership and volunteer opportunities visit morganparkjrs.wordpress.com.

 

Photo: From left to right, Donna Dalton, President of the Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club, Karen Truitt, Regional Sales Manager for Marquette Bank, and Jessica McCarihan, AND Board President.  

 

Know Your Neighbors: McGarry Family

By Kristin Boza

When Marty McGarry passed away after a long fight with Familial Amyloidosis in January, the whole community felt the loss. Proud Irishman and supporter of the South Side Irish Parade, McGarry and his family were named as the special honoree of this year’s parade. The family includes his wife Kathleen, and their children Theresa (Jim) Lakawitch, Morgan (Meghan) McGarry, Molly (Michael) McAlinden and Nora (Jim) Winters.

“Being this year’s honoree is incredibly humbling. My dad felt truly honored to be able to spread awareness of his disease through this parade, which he loved attending each year,” Theresa Lakawitch said. “It means that the hard work my parents fought for the last six years hasn’t gone unnoticed. We will continue to follow that path and work to find answers to end this disease.”

Marty McGarry was intent on spreading awareness of his disease that not only affected him, but many members of the extended family throughout the U.S., Ireland and England. “It makes us proud to know how much awareness he has single-handedly brought to Amyloidosis, because of the incredible person he was. He had touched so many lives and the generosity of those who love him will help to benefit the future of this disease, and hopefully end it altogether,” Theresa said. “We have to advocate for ourselves and for those who aren’t able to themselves.”

The clan plans to walk or ride a trolley down Western Avenue, and will be joined by numerous family members, even a cousin from London who is travelling to Chicago for the event. After the parade, they’ll head back to the McGarry house and spend the rest of the day in the Irish bar in their basement, per years of tradition.

The McGarry children carry on their father’s legacy of helping others through their advocacy and their chosen professions. Theresa is a CPS bilingual teacher; Morgan is a Chicago firefighter and took over for his dad at McGarry’s Boxing Club; Molly is a retired hairstylist and part owner of Beverly Barre; and Nora is a hair colorist. Mom Kathleen is a retired early childhood educator with CPS.

Fond memories of Marty are sure to be shared in abundance on Parade Day. Theresa says that they all treasure his stories and memories of Ireland, and his dedication to the kids through coaching their soccer teams and travelling with him back to Ireland to visit family.

“He loved to be out and about in the neighborhood and would love running into people. He had a charming personality and a great sense of humor, he would light up a room with his smile or a joke,” Theresa said. “Nora always says she was fascinated by how he ‘knew a little about a lot’; he was very humble and wise.”

Act of Kindness Welcomes New Neighbors

By Kristin Boza

Sometimes, one simple act can create a ripple of goodwill throughout a community. One act of kindness by a local business truly made the day of one Beverly/Morgan Park mom and demonstrates the generosity that our neighborhood is known for.

Joanne Carstensen, her husband, Alex, and two-year-old daughter, Daphne, moved to Beverly/Morgan Park from Lakeview last October. As the young family settled into their new neighborhood, a pregnant Carstensen was also dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. She shared a poignant story on the ‘Moms of Beverly’ Facebook page, where she wrote about the diagnosis she received during her first trimester of pregnancy, and the kindness of Capsule, a women’s clothing and accessories boutique at 9915 S. Walden Pkwy.

As Carstensen wrote on Facebook, “… on a day I was feeling well, my mom and I went to Capsule … My mother put a purse on hold, but I got incredibly sick and had to be hospitalized that week. My mom informed Maura [Conine, owner of Capsule] to stop holding it for us, as I would be unable to return to make a final decision. After hearing about my health, Maura and the Capsule family surprised me by dropping off a box with the beautiful purse wrapped up inside and an extremely kind card wishing my family good health and happiness for 2018. This act of kindness and generosity is one my family and I will never forget.”

When she found out about her second pregnancy, Carstensen was ecstatic, but wary when she felt a lump in her breast in June 2017. Ultimately, her doctor ordered an ultrasound and a biopsy, confirming a breast cancer diagnosis on Carstensen’s 32nd birthday in July.

Carstensen underwent a sentinel node biopsy, a lumpectomy, and four rounds of chemotherapy, the last of which was on Dec. 14, 2017, approximately one month before she was due to give birth to a boy.

On Jan. 25, 2018, Theodore Francis Carstensen was born, and his birth thrilled his entire family, all of whom have pitched in to help in any way they could. Recently, Carstensen began seven weeks of radiation. Amazingly, she was able to breastfeed baby Theo.

“I’ve learned a lot through this process, but one of the most surprising things is just how amazing a woman’s body is in adjusting to her baby’s needs,” Carstensen said. “The side effects from radiation won’t kick in for a couple of weeks, so right now the hardest part is just coming to terms with leaving my babies every day. But knowing that they are in amazing hands has helped, including my mom, mother-in-law, and nanny Katrina.”

As she fights breast cancer, Carstensen looks forward to the day when her family can get out and enjoy the neighborhood. “We were blown away by the generosity of Maura and the Capsule team, but also the kind words sent from others in the area after I posted on the ‘Moms of Beverly’ page. Our neighbors have been extremely welcoming,” she said.

“Joanne’s story resonated with me so deeply and immediately,” Conine said. “That someone so young and vibrant, a mother expecting her second baby, had to deal with something so scary and exhausting.”

Conine and another store employee, Natalie Baldacci, wanted to do something to brighten Carstensen’s day, hoping to ease her stress and worry for at least a moment. Conine called the purse designer, Primecut, and had a special-made bag, which was shipped within a week. “I wanted Joanne to understand that she is part of a wonderful community with people that are there for each other, especially during hard times,” Conine said.

 

 

Police Presence, Nosey Neighbors and Being Informed Impact Safety

According to BAPA’s safety survey, a strong and consistent police presence, a commitment to being nosey neighbors and having access to community alerts and crime information are the top three tools needed for a safer community. (See survey results.)

“I think these results show how much confidence our community has in our police force, so much so that we hope Chicago Police Department leadership will dedicate more police manpower to protecting our commercial and residential areas,” BAPA’s Margot Holland.

“The survey provides valuable information for our law enforcement partners,” said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea. ” I look forward to ongoing collaboration with BAPA and the 22nd District.”

The survey was distributed in early December through email blasts and social media, and was completed by nearly 2,000 area residents.

“It was a great response, and respondents overwhelmingly agreed that frequent police patrols throughout the community is the most effective crime-fighting tool,” Holland said.

Being a nosey neighbor and calling 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity was cited as the second most important aspect of crime prevention, and quick access to crime alerts came in third. CAPS meetings received the lowest confidence as a crime prevention tool.

Nearly 80% of the people who completed the survey have lived in the community for more than 10 years, and they provided good perspective on changes in community safety. “Many people noted that neighborhood receives a lot of attention from police when there is an uptick in crime, and that strong police presence is an effective crime deterrent,” Holland said. “People also commented that the neighborhood needs continuous police presence, not just added presence when something happens.”

While the vast number of survey respondents perceive the neighborhood as somewhat safe or very safe, a concerning number of people also indicated that they limit certain activities due to safety concerns.

“We received a lot of comments about where and why people curtail activities, and many people said that concern about their safety increased with the recent spate of crimes and there is more opportunity for crime because there are not enough police on the streets,” Holland said.

Even before the recent armed robberies, BAPA was developing the safety survey. “Those crimes made the survey more timely and the input we received more critical,” Holland said.

Survey respondents selected increased crime prevention tips in BAPA communications, volunteer-driven neighborhood watch, and neighborhood watch Facebook groups.

People interested in seeing the survey results can find it at www.bapa.org. The survey was developed by BAPA staff and board members with the help of 22nd District CAPS leaders, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, and community members.

 

Scientist Wins Award for Work On Particle Accelerators

By Howard Ludwig

Dr. Sandra Biedron will soon have an award recognizing her work in the field of particle accelerator science for her mantel in Beverly/Morgan Park.

Biedron won the prestigious Particle Accelerator Science and Technology Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It will be presented in May 2018 at a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. Every two years, the IEEE gives the award to two individuals – one to a long-time contributor in the field and another to an individual earlier in his or her career.

“I have had a great career so far, doing very interesting research and development with people around that globe that I consider family,” said Biedron, who will receive the award along with Dr. Hermann Grunder.

The pair both worked at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont – a Department of Energy laboratory. There, Biedron held several key positions including the director of the Department of Defense Project Office. Grunder served as Argonne’s overall director from 2000 to 2005.

Biedron joined the University of New Mexico’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a research professor this fall and will expand the school’s program in accelerators. There are more than 30,000 particle accelerators in operation around the world. Research from these facilities has led to improvements in medicine, industry, energy, environmental science, national security and other scientific discoveries.

Biedron’s husband, Stephen Milton, received the same award courtesy of the IEEE’s Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society in 2003 along with colleague Dr. Keith Symon. Milton is now the division leader of accelerator operations and technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The couple considers the South Side of Chicago home, but they live and work throughout the world, often collaborating with scientists in Italy, Sweden and the United States. They also have a home in Colorado.

“My neighbors here in Beverly/Morgan Park are always so supportive. It’s like having my own cheerleading team, and I owe a great deal of thanks to them and my entire family,” Biedron said.

Biedron’s work has also included several projects at Fermilab in west suburban Batavia, including research into high-power electron sources for security and environmental engineering applications. One example is a project conducted at Fermilab for the Department of Energy with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to purify waste streams.

She has worked on similar projects with other companies throughout the Chicago region, including Meyer Tool and Manufacturing in Oak Lawn. And she received a Letter of Commendation in 2010 from the chief of naval research.This letter followed Biedron’s work on a high-power laser prototype for the Navy. She later continued with this research as the deputy lead engineer for integration and testing for the project. The project was contracted through Boeing and conducted, in part, at Argonne.

Biedron has also sat on several NATO electronics committees and worked to connect these advanced technologies to end users by bringing her research team to meet with Naval recruits at Great Lakes Naval Station and elsewhere.

Biedron was raised in Chicago’s southwest suburbs and took graduate courses at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology with a minor in mathematics from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. She went on to receive a doctorate in accelerator physics from Lund University in Sweden.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) is also among the winners of this prestigious award. Foster won the prize in 1999 for his work that led, in part, to the discovery of the top quark – the heaviest known form of matter.

“I feel like this prize is a union card to go on and do more research, more service and more mentoring,” Biedron said. “It is an affirmation that my efforts are in the correct direction.”

Howard Ludwig is a media specialist in Chicago. He can be reached at howardaludwig@yahoo.com.

Climbing Mountains for Kids in Foster Care

By Kristin Boza

Terry Herr is turning a personal goal into a charitable endeavor. An accomplished hiker and climber, Herr decided to check off an item on his bucket list, all while raising money to support children in foster care through the Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois. In May, Herr will climb to the Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal and attempt to summit Kala Patthar (18,514 feet elevation) and Island Peak (20,305 feet elevation). With the help of the community, his fundraising goal for Children’s Home and Aid Society is $29,029 — or the elevation of Mount Everest.

Herr’s campaign is called “Cairn for Kids,” and 100% of the funds raised will go directly to Children’s Home and Aid. “A cairn is a pile of stones used by hikers and climbers to mark the trail,” Herr said. “Foster children need ‘cairns’ in their lives to guide their path.”

Herr says he always found Mount Everest fascinating and tossed around the idea of climbing it for years. After discussing it seriously with his wife, Carla, Herr decided it was time to take on the climb.

“I knew that if I was going to do this, I’d have to also do something for charity,” he said.  As a project of the Beverly Hills Junior Women’s Club, Carla was involved in collecting 800 pieces of luggage for children in foster care with Children’s Home and Aid Society, and she won a Make a Difference Day award from USA Today for the luggage drive. The charity is close to the Herrs’ hearts. “We learned more and more about the challenges faced by foster kids. My wife and I come from very large families; we’ve always had people in our lives to help us,” he said.

Knowing that there are children in foster care who may not have that support drives the Herr family to raise money and awareness. “Picture a child entering the foster care system. Their parents are no longer involved, for whatever reason, they move an average of eight times, and each time they move, there is excitement about the potential of a new stable home, anxiety of a new house and people, never really feeling comfortable in yet another stranger’s home . . . yet, they do it,” Herr said. “Everything they own is often put in a garbage bag. The bag sometimes breaks and they lose some of the few possessions they can call their own. It’s heartbreaking.”

Herr also feels anxiety about the climbing trip — and finding a group to go with. “It’s hard to describe the anxiety this has caused me . . . and I am only talking about one month of my life! These kids deal with this on a daily basis and never know when they might have to move again,” he said. “We all have various things that cause us anxiety, but the challenges most of us experience — while deeply personal — can be overcome. Not having a parent or stable home in early childhood, these kids need resources and to feel loved.”

Herr credits the great work of the Children’s Home and Aid Society in making a difference in the lives of children in foster care. “I was going to climb the mountain either way, but raising funds through the climb lets me be a part of their amazing daily efforts,” he said.

To prepare for the climbs, Herr attended Colorado Mountain School to gain some valuable mountaineering skills. “I’ve done rock climbing in the past, so I’m not unfamiliar with ropes and harnesses. But trying to climb a glacial mountain is different than a vertical rock face,” he said.

Herr will need crampons, a harness, ropes and an ice axe. The biggest challenge will be learning to hike in what are essentially ski boots. “My boots are ultra light, at about three pounds each. But I have to walk in a certain way in order to save energy for the climb,” he said.

Herr will endure 15 days of walking and hiking at altitude before reaching the mountain. He plans to be on the mountain for 19 days, with the total trip taking about 25 days. Getting to Nepal and the mountain will be an adventure in itself. “Some of the most dangerous parts of the trip don’t involve the mountain. Flying into the airport will be dangerous, as the pilot has to land going up the side of the mountain. It’s one of the most dangerous airports in the world and pilots have to train for three to five years before they can land there,” Herr said.

After the flight, Herr will trek from village to village as he makes his way to base camp. “If the tea houses have room for you to stay, you can. But as you go up the mountain, the tea houses are more like plywood boxes — they’re fairly primitive by our standards. If they don’t have room, you camp in their yard, essentially,” he said. The climb of Kala Patthar is more of a walk on an incline; Herr won’t need crampons or be tied in. That will change once he summits Island Peak, where he anticipates hiking a significant incline covered in snow. While he won’t be traveling with a group, he will have the assistance of mountain guides.

Herr hopes to summit on his 47th birthday. In the meantime, he will continue to train and hold fundraisers. The first is Midnight at the Masquerade, a murder mystery dinner on Sat., Oct. 28. He will also sell Carson’s Coupon Books, and encourage the community to “adopt” families through Children’s Home and Aid Society at Christmas time. He also intends to hold a couple of community events in the spring.

Herr hopes people will become inspired to act due to the awareness surrounding the climb, either by donating money, items, or even becoming a foster or adoptive parent. “I want to hit my fundraising goal, but in the end if it just makes people more sensitive to these issues, then it’s worth it,” he said.

To get involved in Herr’s fundraising campaign for Children’s Home and Aid Society, visit CairnForKids.com. To follow Herr’s story, like “CairnForKids” on Facebook.

Lizzie G Brings Positive Messages to CPS Students

By Kristin Boza

Lifelong Beverly/Morgan Park resident, Lizzie G, turned her love for the performing arts and rap into a career by motivating Chicago Public Schools middle and high school students. Through her company, Lizzie G Entertainment, she partners with schools to bring in programming that they often don’t have the funding for. Lizzie G’s impact on the lives of the youth throughout Chicago — and the world — is life-changing for many.

“A lot of schools are lacking in the arts, so I felt it was up to me to provide the space for children to be able to express themselves,” Lizzie G said. She creates after school programming for CPS schools, where middle and high schoolers can learn more about music, art, music management, creative writing, and more. Each program is tailored to the specific school’s needs.

Lizzie G also offers special programs during the day. “I perform concerts, motivational speaking, anti-bullying workshops, and more,” she said. “I am a partner with CPS, but I also bring my message to children all over the world.” Lizzie G is traveling to Haiti for the sixth year in a row, bringing school supplies and other donations to the neediest kids in Haiti.

A CPS graduate, Lizzie G attended Clissold Elementary School for 7th and 8th grades. Already bitten by the performing arts bug, Lizzie G attended Curie High School, which has an extensive performing arts program. After earning a BA from Northern Illinois University and a masters degree from Roosevelt University, Lizzie G decided to take her knowledge and give it back to the community by starting her company.

“Music was a hobby, but I started making it a career,” Lizzie G said. “Giving back to young people who will become the game-changers of tomorrow is very fulfilling. I can share my experiences with the kids and tell them how I pursued my dreams, and they can do it too.”

Lizzie G knows her music career has been helped tremendously by earning her undergrad and masters degrees. “A lot of the high school students I talk to think that they have to drop out of school to pursue a music career,” she said. “They think they can be rappers, and I’m trying to tell them to stay in school because college is a platform to perform music, get a fan base, and soak up all the knowledge you can.”

Beverly/Morgan Park helped shape Lizzie G’s life, which is one reason why she still calls it home. “I’m grateful that I’ve always been in a safe environment where I can go outside and practice rap for hours on my porch and not be bothered or in trouble with the police,” she said. “I could be creative here and I also appreciate the level of education I gained. I’m in a community with like-minded people who want to strive for success.” She reminisces about swimming in Kennedy Park pool and running laps on Morgan Park High School’s track. “I’ve been in the same house for my entire life. I love to travel, but it’s great to come home to this community.”

To assist her former elementary school, Lizzie G started a GoFundMe to benefit Clissold and four other South Side schools in getting new sound systems for their performing arts programs. To donate, visit gofundme.com/schoolsoundsystem.