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

Village Viewpoint: Hope, Gratitude and Patience 

 

Back in May I wrote my Village Viewpoint about the power of hope and gratitude. Six months later I am reflecting on the power of hope and gratitude once again. However, I am adding one more powerful word to the list: patience.  

The amount of stress, suffering and uncertainty we have experienced over the past eight months feels like enough for a lifetime, and yet, it is not over. If you are like me and struggle with patience sometimes, the continuation of COVID-19 is making life harder and harder. 

So what can we do?  I read a wonderful book by Mary Ryan called “The Power of Patience.”  It offers so many great examples of how patience is rewarded.  I go back to it often to remind myself to “practice patience.”  Now, instead of getting annoyed when I am in a long line at the store, I put my patience into action. When it’s finally my turn, take a moment to ask the person at the register, “How are you?” Both of us feel better by that simple exchange. Patience brings out the best in people. 

Patience is something I try to use at BAPA.  My goal for BAPA is to bring out the best in our community. We do that by supporting our small businesses, our residents, our schools, our parks and our first responders. That is our mission every day.  Pandemic or not, BAPA celebrates our incredible community through programs, events and connection.  

Hopefully you see the value of BAPA in your own circumstance as our community continues to cope with coronavirus. Whether you attended our recent garden walk, witnessed our beautification efforts throughout the neighborhood, planted a new tree with us, attended one of our many porch concerts over the summer, enjoyed the fun of solving a History Mystery Bike Adventure, attended our new neighbor meet and greet or bought tickets in our12 Weeks of Christmas Raffle we hope you experienced a community connection 

Thank you to everyone who supports BAPA as residential and business members, and to our generous community partners and sponsors. Your support allows us to do what we do best.  

If you are not a current BAPA member, I humbly ask that you consider becoming one. You can use the envelope enclosed with this month’s Villager.  
On behalf of myself and the entire BAPA staff, we wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.  

Sincerely, 

Mary Jo 

Village Viewpoint October 2020 

By Mary Jo Viero 
BAPA Executive Director 

I have to admit that I am still a little giddy a few weeks after BAPA’s  firstever Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk.  After six months of disappointments and setbacks, the ability for BAPA to do what we do best was a tremendous gift.  We were able to bring our community together for a special event for the first time all year! 

Our goal is always to bring out the best in our community. That means showcasing the beauty of it, through gardens and architecture, using local businesses to add to the experience, providing an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and giving ourselves a lift in spirit at the same time.  

As I reflect on the day, I think the Garden Walk accomplished our goal. 

We were blessed with perfect weather, wonderful volunteers, support from local businessesvisits by over 600 participants and unique surprises at every garden. Thank you to all who took part! 

But now we must look forward.  How can BAPA bring out the best in our community again? 

COVID-19 has forced us to think differently and, sadly, we are unable to hots our usual Sip and Shop and Cookie Crawl. These events are designed to bring our neighbors together to support local businesses in fun and friendly way.   

So what can we do instead? The answer — BAPA’s 12 Weeks of Christmas Raffle. 

After a lot of brainstorming, we are thrilled to present a new and exciting way to support our community.  We have designed 12 different collaborative prizes that will be fully paid for by BAPA and engage local businesses. A prize package worth $1500 will be awarded to every week through Dec. 23.  

BAPA is investing over $18,000 into our local economy and highlighting the vast amount of local goods and services available right here in our community.  

As we enter the last quarter of 2020, we must continue to think local. If ever there was a time to shop local and think before you click, it is now. I hope you will all take part in supporting the 12 Weeks of Christmas RaffleOnce our costs are paid, ticket purchases will help BAPA fill our funding deficit too.  

We want to be able to continue to bring out the best in our neighborhood with community-building events, programs to promote our schools, safety, beautification, and small business support. I hope you will rally behind this effort.  Let the games begin! 

Best,  

Mary Jo  

Village Viewpoint – September 2020

By Gary Jenkins, BAPA Safety Liaison

I have lived in the Beverly/Morgan Park community for the past sixteen plus years. My wife Sharon and I moved here from the 6500 block of Sangamon Street.  I am originally from New York City, so Englewood was my first taste of Chicago.

Most of Englewood then, as it is now, was considered a very tough neighborhood. I wasn’t intimidated by Englewood — I’m from the southeast Bronx, and people from the Bronx aren’t intimidated easily.  So, I just did what I had done most of my life: I got involved.  I attended community revitalization meetings; I talked to neighbors and seniors about how we can make our block and neighborhood better; I swept my and other neighbors’ trash from in front of homes; and spoke to the kids on the block about things they could do to improve their chances in life.

Since I was new to Chicago back then, CAPS was a new concept to me.  I was somewhat familiar with NYC community policing efforts, but I had not participated in them in any significant way. Since I was very concerned with being safe and comfortable where I was living, I began attending CAPS meetings where I listened as neighbors shared their concerns over crime and violence on their streets.

One of the things that struck me about those meetings is that there didn’t seem to be a real connection between the residents who attended and the 7th District CAPS officers who conducted the meetings.  Residents also seemed to be reluctant about being forthcoming. I believe there was a sense of hopelessness, fear, and distrust among the residents.

When we moved to Beverly/Morgan Park, Sharon and I began attending 22nd District CAPS meetings. I was struck by how the level of issues were on two different ends of the spectrum for Englewood and Beverly/Morgan Park.  I had come from a district where murder, rape, assault and robbery were the topics of CAPS meetings to a district where kids hanging out in the park after dusk and loud music complaints topped the CAPS agenda.

There were other differences, too.

I noticed there seemed to be a closer connection between the residents and the officers, and that the meetings were attended by other community stake holders like 19th Ward and BAPA representatives. I attended many meetings over the next couple of years, then I made my voice and concerns known.

More than ten years ago I was recruited to serve in a two year term as beat facilitator for Beat 2213. As beat facilitator, I got to know and work with more of the officers of the 22nd District.

Although I have no proof, I believe that one thing that makes the relationship between the residents and officers in the 22nd District different from the 7th District is that more of our officers live in the community.

As I stated earlier, I am from the Bronx, and growing up an African American male in the Bronx, I did not have a great relationship with police officers.   I rarely saw police officers who looked like me.  On more than one occasion, I have been stopped by police because of the color of my skin.

For six years before coming to Chicago, I worked as a peace officer along with and close to law enforcement individuals of all stripes, from federal, state, and local agencies. I began to appreciate and respect the individuals behind the badges who where doing the right thing, the right way.

That is what I have come to know about the personnel at the 22nd District who I have worked with over the years: they do the right thing, the right way.

As BAPA’s Safety Liaison, I view my role with the folks at the 22nd District as merely an extension of my role as an active, concerned, member of this community.

I want to recognize how hard the officers at the 22nd District have been working and the sacrifices they make by working 12 hour shifts with no days off. Special thanks go to the 22nd District police for keeping our community safe during these turbulent times.

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.