By Kristin Boza
A variety of local civic associations work hyper-locally within their designated boundaries to give neighbors a chance to socialize, volunteer and dedicate time to improvement projects. The Beverly Improvement Association (BIA) is one of the most active. It serves North Beverly.
Mark Singler has been the president of the BIA for the last two years, and been involved with the group for seven. Along with his extensive team of volunteers and event coordinators, the BIA gave itself a big push of publicity recently, making itself more well-known to North Beverly residents.
“We’re doing a lot of the same things that we’ve done for years, but I think more people are hearing about it now,” Singler said. “We have about 200 members who pay a $15 annual membership fee. We want to keep membership costs low because our main goal is to position the BIA as a community organization that enhances the camaraderie in the neighborhood.”
Providing stimulating and fun activities for the families of North Beverly is one of the highlights of the BIA’s work. The Bicycle Treasure Hunt takes place in late August and is coordinated by Collins and Mary Fitzpatrick. This year, an outdoor movie followed the treasure hunt.
“We lucked out significantly this year because of the weather; it all worked out really well despite all of the moving parts to put it all together,” Singler said.
The Family Fall Bike Ride, also coordinated by Collins Fitzpatrick, takes families down the Major Taylor Trail over a distance of 2.5 miles in late September. This event is great for families with young children, and Paul Weise from Beverly Bike & Ski is present to help out with minor tune-ups.
Once the Christmas season rolls around, the BIA presents a Santa’s Workshop, coordinated by Lynette Iannantuoni, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
“We offer free coffee and donuts, and stations for the kids to complete crafts,” Singler said. “Typically we’ll have some 6th through 8th graders helping out, and Santa makes an appearance for photos as well.”
To balance out the fun for kids and families, the BIA offers numerous opportunities for the adults to socialize. In September, they host a Fall Fest, coordinated by Neil Glynn, in the Christ the King parking lot.
“This annual event offers all-you-can-eat brats, plus Oktoberfest-style beers and wine,” Singler said. “For $10 per person, it’s a lot of fun and kind of like a big neighborhood block party.”
The BIA hosts 30 to 40 people for its annual Bird Watch and Nature Walk in mid-May, coordinated by Shirley Conley and guided by Walter Marcisz, an ornithologist.
“It’s a great walk through the Dan Ryan Woods, and Walter identifies the birds and indigenous vegetation. We typically can see over 60 bird species on this walk,” Singler said.
Aside from fun-filled events for all ages, the BIA also hold contests judging gardens, holiday decorations and “cheer zones” during the Turkey Trot 5K in November. They recently held the second annual community garage sale.
The BIA recognizes outstanding achievements made my local residents.
“We offer 7th and 8th graders from Kellogg Elementary and Christ the King to log their community service hours. Around the time of graduation, the BIA will recognize a single student from the group for their community service,” Singler said.
Volunteers also join together to clean and maintain the grounds near the 91st Street Metra Station, participate in the spring Clean and Green event that focuses on Cosme Park, the 91st Street and 95th Street Metra stations and the Major Taylor Trail, and maintain neighborhood memorial plaques and planters. The organization also contributed to the replacement of the Kellogg School playground.
“When something is needed in the neighborhood, that’s what the contributions we collect are for,” Singler said. “We want to make sure we’re doing things within the community that really benefit everyone.”
“We have a great community here and we aim to enhance it with the events we sponsor,” Singler said. “It’s great to see that we are lucky enough to have a community like this. The more people we can get to be a part of the organization will contribute to the betterment of the community.”
North Beverly residents interested in learning more about BIA and its events can email email@example.com.