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

Rallying for Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry 

By Kristin Boza 

Many people have organized to help others in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Soon after the city began its shelter-in-place orders, the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., noted that the demand for food assistance in our neighborhood rose dramatically.  

One neighbor, Colleen Loehr, heard the pleas and took the initiative to organize the neighborhood via her connections in numerous Facebook groupsEvery week, Loehr collects donations of food, County Fair Billy Bucks, money, and more which she then hand-delivers to the Pantry. She got the idea when she cleaned out her cupboards at the beginning of quarantine and realized the amount of extra food she had on hand. 

“It started by texting my neighbors to see if anyone had anything to add to what I found at home; I had about half a car load and $50 to donate. I arrived at the pantry at 1 p.m. when they opened and the cars were lined up out of the parking lot. I got in line and let them know I had donations; I noticed the volunteers immediately distributing my bags before I even set the second set down. It hit me really hard. That was March 27. I went home and started posting everywhere. Their staff of volunteers are a well-oiled machine, but due to Covid there are fewer volunteers working more hours,” Loehr said. 

Loehr has become a well-oiled machine herself.   

“Every Tuesday and Friday, I post on local Facebook pages asking for any donations. People will message me, text me, call me, or even show up on my porch with food. I also bring in cash or check donations,” Loehr said. “Someone just texted me at 8:30 p.m. to see if they can come by and drop off a trunk load after doing their own shopping. I just love this neighborhood!”  

It takes about an hour and a half for Loehr to complete her round-trip to homes in Beverly/Morgan Park, Mt. Greenwood, Merrionette Park and Evergreen Park. She found that alerting the community about specific needs and asking them to leave donations on their porches helped to streamline her pick-ups. She has become a great asset for those who want to regularly contribute but may not have the time to run a car load of donations over on their own each week. 

As of Aug. 14, Loehr has made 38 trips, two per week, to the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, with help one week from her friend Sheila Maroney who stepped in while she was out of town. Loehr estimates that about $9,000 worth of food and monetary donations have been delivered since she started.  

“My 11-year-old son, Will, is my navigator. We plot the addresses by area and head out! We are getting really good at knowing all the streets from Vincennes to Pulaski,” she said. “We average about 20 porch pick-ups each time and completely fill my large SUV. A couple of times, I’ve had to make a few trips in a day or Will has to hold food on his lap. Those are our favorite days!” 

County Fair’s Billy Bucks expire two times per year; Loehr realized the July 31 expiration date was looming and decided to capitalize on the random Billy Bucks people had in their wallets. “I ended up collecting more than $800 worth of Billy Bucks! I went to County Fair to explain I was going to go shopping and didn’t want to clear out their shelves of anything, so they did some pre-orders of sauce, cleaning products, pasta, cereal, and other non-perishables,” Loehr said. “They gave me a great deal and I was able to easily pick them up boxed and deliver to the Pantry. County Fair has been super gracious and accommodating, even for some of my last-minute asks.” 

Loehr is grateful for the support from local groups and “frequent flyers” who donate each week, specifically: her out-of-state friends and family who send money; Lauren Skerrett and her group, Nice Chicks with Sewing Machines, who donated masks and Billy Bucks; a St. Cajetan School mom who organized her neighbors and had an entire porch full of donations; Dena O’Reilly and the Morgan Park Junior Women’s Club; and the garden at Sutherland School, which donates fresh produce, to name a few.  

To help, reach out to Collen Loehr via text at 773-316-0828 or email at  

September at Beverly Arts Center 


Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St., welcomes art and film audiences, and students of all arts media to visit in September.  

Women’s Work, a group exhibit of works by ceramics artists Widad Albassam, Lori Bartman, Malika Jackson, Christine Liz LaRue, Dawn Liddicoatt, Charlotte Mays, Mary Cat Tepper, Tran Tran and Cheryl Williamson, has been extended to Sept. 20. On Fri., Sept. 25, 6 to 8 p.m., Remnants & Remains, an exhibit of works by Elaine Miller, opens and continues through Nov. 8. Both exhibits are in the Simmerlng Gallery; hours are Mon. through Fri., 12 to 6 p.m. Admission is free.  

BACinema will screen “Central Standard,” Fri., Sept. 25, 7 p.m., in the Baffes Theatre. The film compares the education experiences of five Chicago area 8th grade students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. As a lens to consider educational issues facing the nation at large, the drama for this film turns on admission to Chicago Public Schools’ 10 selective-enrollment high schools. Tickets $8, $7 for BAC members.  

BAC is hosting a Film Study Workshop featuring weekly movies and lectures in four themed sessions for ages 18 and up. Screenings will be in the BAC Studio Theater, Wednesdays, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 16. Movies range from “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) to “Dances With Wolves” (1990) to “The Hurt Locker” (2009). Persons not enrolled in the workshop can drop in to see movies for $10 per film.  

The BAC’s 11-week School of Fine Arts fall session begins Sept. 14. Both in-person and virtual options are available for classes across a variety of visual and performance arts. Visit for a complete list of courses and online registration. 

For information on all programs, exhibits and classes. Call 773-445-3838 or visit 

September Neighborhood Notes

High School 101: Free Parent Seminar. Families in the 19th Ward have a lot of choices when it comes to high schools, and parents of 6th, 7th and 8th graders need to begin the search now for the right high school for their kids. On Thurs., Sept. 10, 7 p.m., Ald. Matt O’Shea and BAPA will host High School 101, a free Zoom seminar, to help guide parents through the process. A representative from CPS will explain the process of applying to selective enrollment schools, and principals from Chicago High School from Agricultural Sciences and Morgan Park High School will answer questions about their schools. To register visit  

LSC Meetings. Call the school or visit their website for information on in-person or virtual Local School Council meetings. Vanderpoel Humanities Academy LSC, Tues., Sept. 1 and Oct. 6, 5:30 p.m., 773-535-2690,;  Kellogg School LSC, Thurs., Sept. 3 and Oct. 1, 6 p.m., 773-535-2590,; Sutherland School LSC, Tues., Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m., 773-535-2580,; Morgan Park High School LSC, Wed., Sept. 16, 6 p.m., 773-535-2550,; Barnard Elementary School LSC, Mon., Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m., 773-535-2625, Barnard.CPS.eduand Clissold School LSC, Mon., Sept. 23, 7 p.m., 773-535-2560,  

95th Street Farmers Market. The 95th Street Farmers Market continues on Sundays through Oct. 25, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the parking lot at 95th and Longwood Dr. The first hour is reserved for seniors and people with compromised immune systems. Vendors include C&D Farms, Lafevor Farms and Greenhouses, Stamper Cheese Co., John Bailey Honey, Coco’s Tamales, Breadman Baking Co., Piscasaw Gardens, Emmy & J’s Dips; AndySunflower Café, Lizzie’s Baked Goods and Noffke Family Farms. Masks and social distancing required. Find details at 95th Street Farmers Market on Facebook.  

Wellness Series. Beverly Therapists offers a virtual wellness series on the second Saturday of each month, 3 to 5 p.m. Upcoming topics are For Teens: The Road 2 Adulthood, Sept. 12; Historical Trauma and LGBTQIA Elders, Oct. 10; For Couples: Shifting Communication Patterns, Nov. 14; and Sending Yourself Love, Dec. 12. $10 per session. Info and registration, or 773-310-3488. 

Edna White Garden Fall Events. Edna White Garden, 1805 W. Monterey, hosts fitness classes, live music and more in one of the community’s most beautiful settings. Coming up this fall are Bee Day, Make Your Own Scarecrow, too sharpening and outdoor movies. The Garden is the starting point for the Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk, Sun., Sept. 13, starting at 11 a.m., and visitors can enjoy music and home grown vendors as they tour this special place. Social distancing and masks required. More info on Facebook at Edna White Gardens.  

Fore the Macs Fundraiser. Mother McAuley High School is holding the Fore the Macs Golf Raffle to replace its annual golf outing. The raffle will raise funds for the Tradition of Excellence Scholarship.  Winners will receive a chance to golf at one of the area’s most prestigious golf courses; there will be nine winners (one for each course)Tickets are $100 each or 6 for $500; purchase deadline is Sept. 10. Info and tickets: Peggy Rourke, 773-881-6547 or 

19th Ward Document Shredding. Bring documents that are loose and free of staples or binders to free document shredding Sat., Sept. 12, 9 to 11 a.m., Crosswinds Church, 10835 S. Pulaski.  

Fall Fun at City Grange. City Grange, 1818 W. 99th St., reopens Sept. 2, unveiling the new café and introducing socially distanced fall fun dinner and movie on Fridays, Sept. 18 and 25, and Oct. 2, and a pumpkin giveaway and carving contest sponsored by the 19th Ward on Sat., Oct. 10. Now is the time to schedule fall containers and holiday decorating. Info:  

Exhibit Extended. Women’s Work, a group show featuring outstanding original works, has been extended to Sept. 20 at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Gallery hours: Mondays, 4 to 8 p.m., Tues. through Fri., 4 to 6 p.m.   Artists are Widad Albassam, Lori Bartman, Malika Jackson, Christine Liz LaRue, Dawn Liddicoatt, Charlotte Mays, Mary Cat Tepper, Tran Tran and Cheryl Williamson.  

19th Ward Prescription Take Back. Turn in unused or expired prescription medication for safe disposal, Sat., Sept. 19, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Crosswinds Church, 10835 S. PulaskiOnly legal medications from private households accepted; no liquids.   

19th Ward Blood Drive. The 19th Ward will hist a blood Drive. Sat., Sept. 26, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Brother Rice High School10001 S. Pulaski, north gym. Appointments are strongly encouraged; (use the code CSOL). 


Golfers Tee Up for South Side Irish Parade  


The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade will hold its annual golf outing Mon., Sept. 21, with added public safety measures in place. The “Halfway to Parade Day” golf outing will be held at Ridge Country Club and proceeds support the 2021 South Side Irish Parade set for Sun., Mar. 14. 

“This year’s golf outing will be smaller than years past as we value the safety of our communities above all else,” said Don Larisey, South Side Irish Parade Committee member. “We will abide by all State of Illinois Phase 4 restrictions while continuing to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary. The golf outing is crucial in helping us raise funds for the South Side Irish Parade, a longstanding tradition we hope will return to Western Avenue in March of 2021.” 

To comply with social distancing guidelines, this year’s “Halfway to Parade Day” celebration will offer a limited number of tee times at either 8 a.m. or 1 p.m. Golfers will be required to wear masks during check-in and whenever social distancing is not possible. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available to all golfers, and the post-golf lunch will follow for registered golfers. Golf outing tickets include golf, beverages, and lunch for $200 per person.  

Due to the limited availability of this year’s golf outing and the absence of a post-event celebration, sponsorship is especially vital to raising the necessary funds to operate the 2021 South Side Irish Parade.  

“We greatly appreciate the neighborhood and business support of the Parade and look forward to being able to celebrate our Irish heritage, faith and families,” shares Tim McSweeney, co-chair of the South Side Irish Parade.  

For purchase tickets and information, visit and the parade’s Facebook page. For information on “Halfway to Parade Day” sponsorship opportunities, contact Don Larisey, 773-960-7312.  

Virtual Grief Group  


Heather Beth Duke, an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with the Relationship Store, hosts a free virtual Grief Group via Zoom to help people through the loss of a loved one.  Duke will help people navigate through the pain of loss and learn how to miss them while still living their lives.  Anyone 21 years and older is free to join every other Wednesday starting Sept. 9. Pre-register via email , or call 312-869-2540. 


Beauty and Community: BAPA Hosts the Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk

It almost seems ironic that the blessings of a warm and rainy spring and the need to be productive during the isolation of a global pandemic were a winning combination for Beverly/Morgan Park’s gardens. Inspired by the exceptional beauty of our community and the need for our close-knit community to come together safely, BAPA is hosting its first Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk on Sun., Sept. 13, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Due to the restrictions enforced by Covid-19, BAPA’s Ridge Run/Memorial Day Parade, Home Tour and Beverly Hills Cycling Classic were cancelled. This new offering will be BAPA’s only community-wide special event for 2020.

From the time the event was announced, community residents have been coming forward to offer their gardens, volunteer to help and purchase tickets. So many gardeners invited us to come see their yards, it was very hard to choose the ten private gardens that will be featured this year! Planners have included several don’t miss points of interest in public spaces, and are already looking ahead to Garden Walk #2 next summer.

This year’s Garden Walk will begin with check-in at the Edna White Community Garden where people are welcome to walk among the beautiful plantings while enjoying music and merchandise from Home Grown vendors.

Masks will be required at all Garden Walk locations. Visitors will be expected to follow the rules of social distancing and adhere to the map in order avoid overcrowding at gardens.

Featured locations range between 89th and 117th Streets, West Beverly to East Beverly, and many points in between. Each stop is distinctive for its style, variety of plantings, and beauty. Three are award winners in the Chicago Bungalow Association’s annual garden contest, and all of them are uniquely beautiful. No matter whether you’re going home to a sunny or shady yard, a mature garden or a freshly dug flower bed, you’ll be inspired by the hard work, creative vision and delight shared by the gardeners.

Among the locations are:

  • A sunny yard where seating areas and paved pathways offer endless ways to enjoy an eclectic variety of colorful and lush shrubs, trees and plants, many of which were purchased on clearance and nursed back to life.
  • A winner of this year’s Chicago Bungalow Association Garden Contest for the front yard where there is a mix of perennials and annuals anchored by evergreens and a shady back yard where lawn was replaced with garden beds separated by curving pathways and seating areas, and an unusual water feature.
  • A serene garden of native plants and prairie style garden fixtures and ornaments, including a stunning pond.
  • Side-by-side yards (one of which earned a Chicago Bungalow Association garden contest award!) where sisters have taken down the fences and joined efforts to create a showcase of flowers, vegetables and herbs as well as beautiful spaces for entertaining and places for the kids to play.
  • A true garden hideaway which surely what they had in mind when Urbs in Horto was chosen as Chicago’s city motto! A cozy yet expansive yard that features a small stage for live music, serpentine garden spaces and a perfectly manicured putting green.
  • A welcoming multi-tiered oasis filled with fabulous plantings and appealing decorations that just three years ago was a concrete jungle. Wait until you see the “before” photos!
  • An expansive yard filled with abundant and colorful interest throughout the blooming season, including whimsical fairy gardens, a dramatic front garden, and an elegant elevated patio.
  • A lovely space situated next to the Dan Ryan Woods that features a meditation pond with sand and ceramic fish, a garden of kitchen herbs, and an array of shade-loving perennials and potted plants that create an ever-changing garden experience?
  • A sprawling double lot with garden spaces that have evolved over 20 years, incorporating quiet seating areas, flower beds bursting with color and texture, and built elements for form and beauty.
  • A lovely garden filled from early spring through fall with outstanding flowers and plants lovingly tended by a group of volunteer garden experts.

Points of Interest to be showcased on the Garden Walk include three school gardens where students and community volunteers create magical outdoor education; a peaceful baptismal garden behind a church; and selected residential front yard gardens that are simply not to be missed.

Garden Walk sponsors include OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Beverly Bank & Trust, Southtown Health Foods, The Beverly Review, Chicago Bungalow Association, and County Fair Foods. Garden Walk partners are Steuber Florist & Greeenhouses, City Grange, The Blossom Boys, Edna White Garden and Oak & Bloom.

Garden Walk tickets are $20 in advance at and $25 on the day of the event.

For information on becoming a Garden Walk sponsor or volunteer, call 773-233-3100 or email

Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk 


After a rough spring and summer of cancelled plans and foregone gatherings due to pandemic restrictions, BAPA is planning an outdoor event that’s sure to restore community spirits: the Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk 

Join us on Sun., Sept. 13, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to visit some of the neighborhood’s most beautiful private gardens and hidden spaces as the beauty of summer begins its transformation into the vibrant colors of fall. Gardens are being selected for their quality and variety, and will feature sunny and shady locations, and mixes of annuals and perennials, flowers and veggies, and formal and casual places. Details will be announced in the September issue of The Villager.  

Showcasing spaces throughout the neighborhood, the Garden Walk will be organized following safety guidelines that include planned physical distancing, staggered starting points and wearing masks. Fun and informative experiences will also be staged in many of the gardens, including tastings, garden tips and music. 
BAPA is recruiting Garden Walk volunteers (gardening knowledge helpful but not required) as well as sponsorships. For information, email or call 773-233-3100.  



Words and Music at Beverly Arts Center 

Experience the art of the story and the beauty of music this month at the Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St.  

On Fri., Aug. 7 beginning at 7:30 p.m., people from the LGBTQ community tell their personal stories for OUTspoken Hosted by Chicago comedian Elizabeth Gomez, virtual event features storytellers Nancy Burkholder, Sydni Chiles, Steve English, Kim L. Hunt, Archy Jamjun and Murphy Row. OUTspoken is a Chicago collaborative celebrating the art of storytelling to share authentic stories, with each teller identifying as part of the LGBTQ community or an ally. The group is committed to inclusion, recognizing people’s commonalities while celebrating their differences. Tickets: $15 ($13 for BAC members).  

Music Mondays live concerts in the BAC courtyard continues with a line-up of local favorites: 

Return2Soul performs R&B and soul music, Aug. 3; classic rock duo The Blend plays Aug. 10 and 31; Steve Haberichter and Friends offer an evening of folk and bluegrass Aus. 17; and Caliente Old School plays soulful sounds with a Latin groove Aug. 24.  

The suggested donation for Music Mondays is $5. Bring lawn chairs; masks required for bar service.  

For more information on these and other BAC offerings, visit or call 773-445-3838.  


Community Calendar 

Student Art On Display. Original works by the students in the 2020 Vanderpoel Art Association art class are now on display at the Chicago Public Library, Beverly Branch, 95th and Damen. The students attended Basic Drawing, Cartooning and Sequential Art Classes with Instructors, Jim and Spencer McGreal. Some of the student pieces are published in the class project comic books“Comic Bork: The Empire Strikes Bork. Learn more about classes at View the display at Beverly Library during open hours, Mon. and Wed., 2 to 8 p.m.; Tues. and Thurs., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Fri. and Sat., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

Summer Camp at BAC. Registration is still open for the Beverly Arts Center’s last two summer camps with on-site and virtual options. Sing, dance, act and laugh in the glitzy, jazzy session dedicated to the “Lullaby of Broadway,” Act Up Broadway Camp, Aug. 3 to 14; and foot-tapping, leaping, jumping and breakdancing action while students learn to play different instruments, read music and bang on drums in Floss Like a Boss – Music and Dance Camp. Aug. 17 to 28.  Info/registration: or 773-445-3838.  

Summer’s Bounty. The 95th Street Farmers Market, 95th and Longwood Drive, is open Sundays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with vendors offering a wide variety of fresh summer produce, artisan products and more. Social distancing and masks are required. More info on Facebook a 95th Street Market. 

Relax In Nature. Join the Forest Preserves of Cook County and GiGi Tonye‘ Arts & Fitness for mediation and yoga at Dan Ryan Woods, grove 4, at noon on Tues., Aug. 6 and Thurs., Aug. 13, 20, and 27. Shake up your routine with Zumba in the Woods, Tues., Aug. 25 at noon.   Spend time outside while you connect your mind and body, leave distractions behind as you learn to control your breath, and enjoy time in nature. These events are free, but registration is required. Contact Jessica Becker, 312-415-2970 or 

LSC Meetings. Call the school or visit their website for information on in-person or virtual LSC meetings. Kellogg School LSC, Thurs., Aug. 13, 6 p.m., library, 9241 S. Leavitt St., 773-535-2590,; Sutherland School LSC, Tues., Aug. 18, 6:30 p.m. 10015 S. Leavitt St., 773-535-2580,; and Morgan Park High School LSC, Wed., Aug. 19, 6 p.m., library, 1744 W. Pryor. 773-535-2550, 

Zoom In to CAPS Meetings. 22nd District Police Beat Meetings will be held via Zoom, accessible online at or d dial in, 312-626-6799. Info, 22nd District CAPS Office, 312-745-0620. Beats 2211, 2212 and 2213, Tues., Aug. 11 and 15, 6 p.m.Meeting ID: 982 7618 5186; password: 347128. Beats 2221, 2222 and 2223, Wed., Aug. 12 and Sept. 16, 6 p.m.Meeting ID: 923 2135 9813; password: 548867.  

Divvy Bike Sharing Coming Soon to a Location Near You 

Imid-July, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed the first of 66 new Divvy stations and the addition of thousands of ebikes that will expand the bike sharing network by almost 60 square miles through Chicago’s Far South Side, including the 19th Ward. Installation of local stations will begin in mid-August.  

City officials were joined by community stakeholders and transportation advocates for the installation of the first new station at 83rd and Stewart Avenue in the 21st Ward. The new station locations are the product of extensive community consultation with local aldermen and advocates.  

BAPA has actively represented the Beverly/Morgan Park community at a series of meetings and conversations about Divvy expansion to the neighborhood. In 2017, BAPA collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to bring DIVVY to the community, and BAPA also supported the very successful bike sharing pilot program in the community two summers ago.  

Neighborhood residents have been asking for Divvy bikes since the bike sharing program first came to Chicago in 2013,” said BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero. “The installation of local Divvy stations is a perfect addition to BAPA’s new Bike Beverly initiative promoting a more bike-friendly, less vehicle-dependent community.  

In the 19th Ward, 11 Divvy stations are planned as part of the Phase 1 expansion, with locations near Metra train stations, parks and other busy areas. E-stations, which provide e-bike charging, are planned in North Beverly and Mount Greenwood. The new ebikes will make cycling easier with pedal-assist technology and they can be parked at Divvy stations and at public bike racks using a built-in cable lock. 

The stations in the original system and in the expansion are targeted around transit stops and stations to increase neighborhood connectivity and increasing the reach of public transportation. Far South Side community feedback showed great interest in Divvy as a health and recreation resource, influencing planners to focus on parks and trails as well.  

The annual Divvy membership costs $99 and allows an unlimited number of rides of 45 minutes or less. The Divvy for Everyone program provides heavily discounted, $5 annual memberships for qualifying Chicagoans, including those without a credit or debit cards. 

The expansion is the first phase of a program that will bring Divvy to every Chicago neighborhood by 2021. Find more info and membership info at