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

The Amazing Value of  ‘Free’ 

By Kristin Boza 

Beverly Free Box is a Facebook community of 3,000 neighbors who give away items no longer needed to anyone willing to swing by and grab it from their porch.  

This explanation is almost too simple. What really happened since the group began three years ago is an explosion of goodwill, sharing, building connections, and saving items from the landfill. 

“Frau Rau, the Facebook moniker used by the group’s founder, modeled Beverly Free Box after a successful group in her previous North Side community. “It’s just really cool that it’s taken root, grown tons, and has become a regular positive community-enhancing part of so many people’s lives,” she said.  

Maureen Rose is the current admin of the group. “I love Beverly Free Box for so many different reasons,” she said. “I love the sense of community and the camaraderie between members. I love that items are being recycled, reused, and upcycled. Watching as neighbors help neighbors is powerful and moving, especially during Covid. The generosity in our community is unbelievable!” 

There is nearly no limit on items available at any given moment on Free Box. From outgrown kids’ clothing to furniture to electronics to food, group members simply take a photo of the item, post their cross-streets, and then wait (seriously, just minutes) for the first person to claim it. Claimers must privatemessage the giver within a couple of hours to arrange porch pick-up. And the transaction is complete.  

But Beverly Free Box is about a lot more than “things.” It has been known to save the day for many neighbors 

Lizzie Duszynski’s 6-year-old daughter decided two days before Halloween that her costume had to be a firebird. “My kid has big ideas, but with no supplies (and we are not going inside shops these days), I put out a call on Beverly Free Box to see if anyone had any bits of fabric they could share,” Duszynski said. “Within minutes, strangers from around the neighborhood left bags of fabric, feathers, fabric glue, and even a poufy dress out on their porches for me to collect. I want to cry just thinking about how kind that was! I know it seems like such a small thing, but during this season where all my husband and I are doing is saying ‘no’, it felt so good to actually say yes to something. I was so touched by the kindness of strangers and this story is just a tiny sliver of the sense of community thriving in this little Facebook group. 

Some Free Box members use the group to spread kindness and support local businesses. Nancy McGourty was able to furnish two apartments for her adult children by claiming items on Free Box, and she often purchases growlers of beer from Horse Thief Hollow and Open Outcry to raffle off in the group. Raffles are also used for the most popular items when there’s dozens of people interested; each person responds with a number and the original poster sets a deadline to randomly choose the winner. 

But, even small things are given away. Mary Lawlor shared that one time someone posted a bottle of lime juice they were giving away. Lawlor was second in line, and mentioned she just needed two tablespoons for a recipe. “The first claimant messaged me and not only gave me what I needed, but delivered it! This is an awesome group of people, and it’s even like group therapy for me. I see that others have missed a deadline to return an item to the store so they post it on Free Box; seeing this has helped me realize I need to accept my own mistakes and move on,” she said.  

Furniture is notoriously hard to get rid of — before Free Box, that is. Christina Badnaruk was able to snag a beautiful dining room table. “I felt like I won the lottery! When I set the table up in my dining room, I started to tear up. I have always wanted a nice dining room table and chairs. This group is a community of amazing people built on trust and the ‘give and take’ system. I have never seen or been a part of anything like it!” she said.  

Sometimes, Free Boxers post “curb alerts” when see a piece of furniture or pile of used toys waiting for the trash pick-up. They’ll take a photo, post the cross streets, and alert others who may want to head over before the garbage trucks arrive. Julianne Gorny is a local contact for furniture that is not claimed on Free Box and she works to coordinate donations to a charitable organization. “It feels good in this time of COVID to be able to reach out beyond our homes and families and help someone out,” she said. “The generosity and willingness to help has been a great benefit.” 

Meosha Thomas is always on the lookout for discarded furniture. She uses it to help train people at her non-profit organization, One Savvy Veteranrevitalizing the pieces at her art studio on 79th Street. “I use the furniture to teach those seeking employment a new skill so that entrepreneurship can be an option for them,” she said. “I donate furniture items that I have repurposed to women veterans in need so they have a cool and functional art piece.” 

As much fun as the group members have, there are sometimes requests for those in need as well. One anonymous member said that she reached out to the group when her sister-in-law left a domestic violence situation. “She boarded a train with nothing but the clothes on her and her two tiny children’s backs. Several people stepped up offering packnplays, toys, clothes, and shoes. The community of givers, especially in times like now, gives me hope in the future of our world.”  

Join Beverly Free Box and see what this community can do; search for it on Facebook.  

Operation Remembrance Continues at Mount Greenwood Cemetery  

 

Four new grave markers for Union Army veterans of the U. S. Civil War were recently installed at Mount Greenwood Cemetery, 2900 W. 111th St., bringing the number of Civil War markers at the cemetery to over 100. The markers were obtained through the cemetery’s Operation Remembrance initiative, started in 2007 to identify and mark graves of veterans of U.S. military service. 

The Civil War veterans were identified through the research efforts of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), the fraternal organization for male descendants of members of the Union forces.  

The markers were supplied by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran buried in any cemetery around the world. Family members, or other representatives of the veteran including cemetery officials from the burial location, may apply for the marker.  

Paula Everett, president of Mount Greenwood Cemetery Association, said Operation Remembrance was begun “to honor and acknowledge the veterans who have served our country by making sure these forgotten heroes had their graves marked so they could be recognized by future generations.”  

It is estimated that there are more than 350 Civil War veterans buried in Mount Greenwood Cemetery, many in unmarked graves. Their service records often were not indicated on their burial records. SUVCW and Mount Greenwood Cemetery have worked together for several years to identify the veterans and obtain markers for their graves. In July, SUVCW researcher David Bailey contacted the cemetery with newly identified veterans, leading to the four new markers. Bailey commended Mount Greenwood Cemetery for its efforts.  

 “Statues of generals are often displayed, but individual soldiers are also important. Mount Greenwood Cemetery has worked for years to recognize the veterans buried there,” said Bailey.   

 

 

Neighborhood Notes: Community Events for December 

 

LSC Meetings. Call the school or visit their website for information on in-person or virtual LSC meetings. John H. Vanderpoel Humanities Academy LSC, Tues., Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m., 773-535-2690, VHAElementary.org; Kellogg School LSC, Thurs., Dec. 3 and Jan. 7, 6 p.m., 773-535-2590, Kellogg.CPS.Edu; Barnard Elementary School LSC, Mon., Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m., 773-535-2625, Barnard.CPS.edu; Morgan Park High School LSC, Wed., Dec. 16, 6 p.m., 773-535-2550, MorganParkCPS.org. 

Free Stores for Neighbors in Need. People in need of personal hygiene and first aid items, food supplies and connections to other resources are welcome at the community Free Stores. Hygiene and first aid products are available on the first and third Wednesdays, (Dec. 2 and 16), 4:30 to 6 p.m., BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr. Emergency food distributions are Wednesdays, 4 to 6 p.m. Contact 19th Ward Mutual Aid for location. The free stores are hosted by 19th Ward Mutual Aid, Turpin Cares and BAPA. 

Help Feed Hungry Neighbors. Support emergency food assistance for area neighbors by donating to the Maple/Morgan Park Food Pantry. Mail donations to the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago 60643.  

Document Shredding. Document shredding for 19th Ward residents is set for Sat., Dec. 5, 9 to 11 a.m., Crosswinds Church, 10835 S. Pulaski. Free; open for 19th Ward residents only. Only loose documents with staples and binders removed can be accepted.  

Castle Christmas Tree Sale. Just 100 Fraser Firs will be on sale in the parking lot at the Givins Beverly Castle, Beverly Unitarian Church, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., on the weekends of Dec. 5 and 6 and Dec. 12 and 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. New this year: order your tree online at www.beverlyunitarian.org; free delivery to homes in 60643. 

St. John Fisher parish is holding a Holiday Grand Raffle tickets are $100 each, available at 773-445-6565, www.sjfschool.net and www.stjohnfisherparish.net. The drawing will be held Dec. 6 following 11 a.m. mass for 1st prize, $25,000, 2nd prizes, $5000 and 3rd prize, $2000. 

Beverly/Morgan Park Coloring Books. Color Me Beverly II and Color Me Morgan Park, coloring books featuring local scenes and familiar buildings illustrated by Beverly/Morgan Park artist Judie Anderson and accompanied by text from Carol Flynn of the Ridge Historical Society, make wonderful holiday gifts. The books appeal to adults and children alike. They are unique collectors’ items that also offer fun-time activity. They easy to mail to friends and family who have moved away and are nostalgic for the old neighborhood. Books retails for $10 each and are available at Bookie’s, 10324 S. Western,, and Turkey gift shop, 9913 S. Walden Parkway, or by contacting Carol Flynn, cflynn2013@yahoo.com. 

Toys for Tots Collection. Our House Wealth Advisors, 3838 W. 111th St., #110, is partnering with neighborhood leaders and businesses to support the Marine Toys for Tots charity drive through Dec. 9. Donations of unwrapped toys – NO stuffed animals – are appreciated; drop off at Our House Wealth Advisors. Businesses are invited to learn more about becoming a collection site by contacting Tony Michalek, 312-819-4200 or tony@ourhousewealth.com 

Hats (and Scarfs) for the Homeless. Morgan Park United Methodist Church invites the community to join in knitting or crocheting hats and scarfs to be given to homeless shelters as part of church’s Advent Outreach Program.  Items may be dropped off at the church, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., Thurs., Dec. 10 and Fri., Dec. 11, 12 to 5 p.m., and Sat., Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Info morganparkumc@wowway.com or 773-238-2600. 

Donate Blood. 19th Ward Blood Drive, Sat., Dec. 12, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Brother Rice High School, north gym, 10001 S. Pulaski. Appointments required; use code CS01 at wwwsave3lives.org or 800-280-4102. Bring photo ID to appointment. 

Take-Out Tuesdays. Take-Out Tuesdays is a great way to support neighborhood restaurants and have a chance to win a $20 Bucks Stop Here gift card. Participation is easy: Order take-out or delivery food from a 19th Ward restaurant on Tuesdays through Dec. 15, post a picture of your meal on social media tagging Matt O’Shea and the restaurant from which you ordered. Posts will be entered in the drawing and winners will be pulled every Friday.  

Super Raffle. Businesses in the 19th Ward will benefit from proceeds from the new Super Raffle, and people who buy tickets have a chance to win a new Ford Escape S or $15,000 in cash. Raffle tickets are $10 each. The 2nd prize is $5000 and free pizza for a year from S&T Provisions, and 3rd, 4th and 5th prize winners will each receive $100 gift cards for each of 39 participating businesses. Buy raffle tickets www.the19thward.com through Dec. 20. Drawing is Dec. 22. Info kelly@the19thward.com. 

 

Holidays at the BAC 

A lot has changed this year, but one thing is for sure: The Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., offers ways to have some holiday fun.  

Santa Sleighs the Holidays is socially-distant, drive-thru visit with Santa and his elves Sat., Dec. 12 and Sat., Dec. 19, 5 to 8 p.m. Register in advance for a limited number of spots to receive a Letter to Santa template and details about the event. Kids can tell Santa whether they’ve been naughty or nice from the safety of the car. Each family will receive a photo of the encounter and each child will receive a special surprise from Santa. $10 per car. (If your family is experiencing financial impact due to COVID-19, contact Carly Bishop, Artistic Director, carly@beverlyartcenter.org, for information.) The Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association is the BAC’s partner for this holiday event.  

Holly Jolly Painting Party | Hybrid: In Person or Online | Sat, Dec, 21 | 7-10PM | Adults 21+ | $45($40) 

Paint a holiday themed masterpiece using acrylic paint on canvas and receive step by step guidance from a professional Teaching Artist while socially-distanced and wearing a mask (online option) at the Holly Jolly Painting Party, Sat., Dec. 21, 7 to 10 p.m.  Ages 21 and up. $45 per person. All supplies provided; online participants can pick up supply kits from the BAC Wed., Dec. 9.)  

December Mini-Mester | School of Fine Arts Workshops | Nov 30 – Dec 20 

Looking for a creative outlet to break up the monotony or interested in “dipping your toes” in a new art form? Join the BAC School of Fine Arts Teaching Artists for mini-mester workshops during December. The mini-mester, offered in-person, online or hybrid, giives students the opportunity to try something new for just three classes. Check workshop details at www.beverlyartcenter.org.  

Winter Break Camp
Monday – Wednesday, December 21-23 AND Monday – Wednesday, December 28-30 | $270($243)
Kids age 5 to 12 can learn about winter holidays and traditions from all over the world while creating gifts for friends and family, making tasty winter-themed creations, and enjoying songs and theatre along the way at the Winter Break Camp, Dec. 21 through 23 and 28 through 30, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pre and after care available.  

Remnants & Remains, an exhibit of works by Elaine Miller, continues through Dec. 8 in the Simmerling Gallery, to 8 p.m. weekdays, and 12 to 4 p.m. weekends Free.  Miller is scenic artist painting who exhibits nationally. She is a recent recipient of business and City of Chicago grants towards a billboard project promoting the urban forest through a series of paintings. 

Toys for Tots Donations Needed More Than Ever 

By Kristin Boza 

So much is needed by so many people this yearFor those who are able to donate a little something extra, Santa and his elves could use a boost. 

The Marine Toys for Tots collection, which was started in 1947 by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, is taking place through Weds., Dec. 9 at local businesses. The local Toys for Tots drive is organized by Our House Wealth Advisors and its CEO and Financial Advisor Robin House and her husband and COO of the company Tony Michalek.   

The couple has been coordinating this effort since 2012 and has collected thousands of toys for the driveLast year, 65 19th Ward businesses participated and nearly 900 toys were collected, according to Michalek.  

“Business owners want to give back to their community, especially during tough times,” Michalek said. “The best part of Toys for Tots is interacting with them when delivering the boxes and seeing their passion to help families have a better holiday season. No matter how many toys we collect, they always apologize and wish there were more to give. We are humbled by their inherent outpouring of goodwill.” 

Once Michalek and House collect all of the donations, they sort them to ensure the donation guidelines are followed. Any toys that are used and all stuffed animals are donated to another organization. Then, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve delivers the toys to families. 

“Their ability to distribute is amazing and each region competes with the others on who collects the most toys,” Michalek said. “Robin and I enjoy hearing the stories during the final push in early December.” 

Due to COVID-19, many families are in need of assistance. Due to restrictions on businesses and a lack of the usual foot traffic in shops, there is concern about how many toys will be collected this year.  

“Since we are seeing the business participation at 50% of normal, we obviously expect the amount of toys collected to be lower this year,” Michalek said. “Our House Wealth Advisors also volunteers for the 19th Ward Mutual Aid, and the amount of families picking up [emergency] food and other household items are growing rapidly.” 

There are two important rules about giving to Toys for Tots. First, please do not wrap the toys and second, please do not donate stuffed animals or used toys.  

Businesses can learn more about being a collection site by contacting Tony Michalek, 312-819-4200 or tony@ourhousewealth.comPeople who want to donate can drop off or have items shipped directly to Our House Wealth, 3838 W. 111th St., #110, Chicago IL 60655 

Winter Pandemograms 

 

The Beverly Area Art Alliance (The Alliance) hosts. Winter Pandemograms, a new series of public art projects displayed at local businesses. Fostering the connection between artists and community members, the Pandemograms also support small businesses. 

Look for these new Pandemogramsnow in the process of being installed  

Western Avenue: “Stay Active,” a yarn bomb by fiber artist Linda Beierle Bullen, Sports & Ortho; “Psychedelic Solstice” window painting by Cathy Sorich, Horse Thief Hollow; “This Too Shall Pass” by street artist Won Kim, Bookies,; painting by Matthew Dicks, Running Excels; and murals by  Paul Branton, Phil Cottom and  Brendan McAlinden, Nicky’s on 105th.  

99th and Walden Parkway: “Daisy,” mixed media installation by Dan McCabe, Tranquility;  “Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows” and “Circles of Life” wreath art installation by Robin Power, Turkey; paintings by Judie Anderson, Oak & Bloom; and “We’re All Connected- Love To Keep Me Warm,” collaborative installation led by Dawn LiddicoattColor Me Beauty Bar 

Info: Facebook, Instagram @bev_artalliance and www.BeverlyArts.org 

Blue House Continues After-School Programming During the Pandemic 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 
BAPA School Liaison 

The Catholic Youth Ministry Center at Morgan Park High School (CYMC) or Blue House, 1825 W. Monterey Ave., continues to serve Morgan Park High School students during the pandemic, despite the challenges of having to conduct their work remotely.   

The Blue House, known for myriad afterschool guidance and student support services, offers educational workshops, career explorations, conflict resolution training, reflection circles, and leadership programming, according to CYMC Executive Director Peggy Goddard. 

Last summer, thanks to a generous donation from the Sisters of Mercy, the Blue House was able to offer summer jobs to three students. Goddard laughed as she remembered one student’s reaction. “We had our summer workers doing upkeep around the Blue House, and one guy told me he’d never hung curtains before. I laughed and told him the skill might come in handy later in life when he married.” 

Due to restrictions posed by the pandemic, the Blue House is offering its programming via Zoom, which includes activities to edify, like making a pumpkin pie, and opportunities to reflect and share. On a weekly basis, the Blue House interacts with approximately 10 to 15 students online. 

“I know after remote learning all-day you’d think the kids would be hesitant to participate, but some appreciate the opportunity to share and relax without pressure or expectations,” Goddard said. 

Goddard is particularly proud of a partnership with the Chicago Police Department 22nd District, that opened communications between Chicago police and youth.  Goddard remembered an officer who was hesitant to interact at the start of the program but who later became an ardent supporter, volunteering to work with Blue House participants beyond what was required.  

“I saw a change in how the kids viewed the police and how the police saw and interacted with the kids,” she said.  

Goddard is also pleased with leadership activities that allow students to plan and execute some Blue House programming.  

Though pandemic has depressed numbers, the need for services are strong. Goddard remembered a student who had been suspended from school for breaking a major rule. 

She intervened and counseled the student on making better choices so as not to revisit the circumstances that led to his suspension. 

“Years later, this kid visited and asked, ‘Do you remember when you told me that I had to take a break?’ He took the break I suggested, and that one action changed his path. He returned to school. His grades improved, and he joined the basketball team. This is what we do at the Blue House,” Goddard said, “We help kids make better decisions that hopefully change their trajectory if they are on the wrong path.” 

Blue House participants give of themselves as much as they receive, Goddard saidParticipants have made fleece blankets for the single mothers of newborn babies. Annually, they conduct a coat drive in November and a food drive in December.   

Goddard said, the pandemic may have stopped in person activities, but the needs for coats in the winter and food is still prevalentDonors can drop off coats at the Blue House, just inside the door, through Nov. 25. Food donations can be dropped off until Dec23. 

The Blue House has served Morgan Park High School students since 1979. For more information, visit cymcatmphs.org. 

 

 

Divvy is Here!   What You Need to Know to About the Bike-Share Program’s Expansion into Beverly 

By Cathriona Fey 
BAPA Community Outreach & Improvement 

You may have noticed the new Divvy bike stations recently installed throughout the neighborhood. Primarily located near Metra stations, residents can now access these shared bikes as an alternative to drivingto connect to public transit or to simply take in the neighborhood and get some exercise.  

Divvy is a public-private partnership between the Chicago Department of Transportation and Lyft. In April 2019, the city council approved an amendment to the contract with Lyft to expand Divvy citywide to all 50 wards, including the 19th WardAlong with the expansion into new areas, Divvy now includes new electric assist bikes (ebikes) giving riders the option to choose a classic pedal bike or upgrade to an ebike. The new Divvy stations will be in service year-round, so that bike share can be a truly integral part of the Beverly/Morgan Park transportation network.  

Curious to try out Divvy? BAPA has compiled a list of “Things to Know” to make your Divvy experience seamless and enjoyable.  

Find a Bike: Local Divvy bike docking stations can be found at the 91st Street & Prospect Square (near the 91st Street Metra Station), 100th Street & Walden Parkway (near the 99th Street Metra Station), 107th Street & Hale Avenue (near the 107th Street Metra Station) and 111th Street & Western Avenue (by the Beverly Arts Center)Ebikes can be found at docking stations or locked to public bike racks, light posts or signs in the community. Use the Divvy app or go to https://member.divvybikes.com/map/ to locate available ebikes 

Pricing: Beverly/Morgan Park is in Zone 2 of the Divvy pricing model due to our area’s lower station density. Non-member Zone 2 costs $3 for a single 30-minute ride with a 15 cent per minute overage charge or $15 for a day pass.  

Membership: Divvy memberships are $99 a year or $5 a year for qualified residents through the Divvy 4 Everyone program. Annual memberships allow for unlimited 45minute rides, with a 15 cents per minute overage charge.  

Parking: Classic pedal bikes are parked at Divvy docking stations only. Ebikes can be parked at Divvy docking stations or Divvy E-stations, or locked to any public bike rack, light pole or sign post. Outofstation parking fees are waived for Zone 2 riders. However, parking outside of the Divvy service area or improper parking may incur a $25 fee. 

Divvy App: The Divvy app is the best way to access the system, pay and get the most of the e-bikes. The app provides notifications to your phone that track the bike’s battery power and distance remaining. 

Promo: For a limited time, CDOT will offer Divvy members a $5 credit toward up to 30 minutes of ebike riding or other usage fees. This credit will automatically be applied to Chicago residents’ accounts and expires after 30 days. New members who sign up before Dec 31 will also receive the credit. 

BAPA encourages helmet use and safe biking while riding in the community. Still have questions? Interested in riding your first Divvy bike? Go to www.divvybikes.com for more information.  

 

 

‘Nice Chicks Making Masks’ Donates 10,000+ Masks to Underserved Communities 

By Kristin Boza 

Remember the beginning of the pandemic? The question “what can I do to help? permeated local Facebook groups. One group that emerged with the purpose of filling a need is Nice Chicks Making Masks. It began when one woman asked for fabric and elastic supply donations in the popular Beverly Free Box Facebook group. When she experienced some pushback, she declared, “Look, I’m just a nice chick with a sewing machine that wants to help people.” And soon, a movement that now includes approximately 100 nice chicks was born. 

Lauren Skerrett, one of the founding members, said the group started early in the pandemic, before masks were widely known to be essential for everyone out in public. “People in the group said they were receiving requests from first responders asking for help with masks. Initially, we provided masks for free to first responders who were dealing with the pandemic without any PPE, and our masks were better than nothing,” she said.  

Skerrett herself has made close to 2,000 masks since March, and she can complete about 10 masks in an hour. By the end of October, more than 10,000 masks have been donated to local police and fire departments, hospitals, the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, Mothers Against Senseless Killings, Mercy Home, Misericoridathe Free Store (hosted by 19th Ward Mutual Aid, Turpin Cares, and BAPA) and other organizations that aid underserved populations. 

No money is accepted for the masks, and the Nice Chicks who are sewing use their own supplies with additional support from friends or the Beverly Free Box group. They make masks in four sizes: toddler, kid, teen/women, and men to ensure a good fit.  

Skerrett makes sure to buy kid-friendly fabrics and other fashionable patterns. “This is one way to show that this mask is made with love; someone loves you and cares about you even if they don’t know who you are,” she said. 

“This has been a shining light during the pandemic. The Nice Chicks are seriously some of the nicest people I have ever met. It’s really heartwarming to know that there are so many people in the neighborhood who want to help other people,” Skerrett said. 
 

St. Walter School Welcomes New Principal 

By Kristin Boza 

Over the summer, St. Walter Catholic School, 11741 S. Western, welcomed its new principal, Veronica CashEducation is Cash’s second career. After earning a BA in Graphic Arts from Eastern Illinois University she felt called to the field of teaching. As principal of St. Walter, Cash is looking forward to ensuring the students stay strong academically in addition to keeping them safe during the pandemic.  

Cash earned a MA in Teaching from Concordia University Chicago and an additional MA in Administration from Loyola University Chicago. She taught 3rd grade at her childhood Catholic elementary school, St. Edmund in Oak Park, before pursuing education leadership opportunities. Her previous positions at Catholic schools throughout Chicagoland ultimately led her to St. Walter. 

“I felt like I had a new calling to grow some more professionally and interviewed at a few south side Catholic schools,” Cash said. “I am really excited to be here at St. Walter; the student community is amazing and I’m excited to learn more about the neighborhoods around our school.” 

The main priority right now, as St. Walter is offering in-person instruction, is to keep the students safe and healthy. Cash and her team scoured the reopening framework from the Archdiocese of Chicago to assemble their own comprehensive health and safety plan and team.  

“We went through each step set up by the Archdiocese and made sure we communicated that with our school community,” she said. “Now that we’re open, we are making sure we adhere to the rules in the framework. Our children have been great about wearing masks and following the protocol, and we’re continuing to ensure we keep ourselves as safe as we can.” 

Some students declined to return to in-person learning, so the teachers are balancing their remote students with their in-person class. This is achieved through livestreaming the instruction during the day.  

“Our teachers are getting really comfortable with this form of teaching and finding new ways to implement Google Classroom with both in-person and remote learners,” Cash said. “In a way, this opportunity is exciting because we’re all thinking a little differently to make things happen and trying new things that we may not have considered before the pandemic.” 

Growing up in Oak Park, Cash feels a similar vibe in Beverly/Morgan Park as in her hometown. “I’ve been very happy here, and I think it says a lot about St. Walter that three of our teachers are alumni of the school! That’s definitely a testament to the school and community,” she said.  

St. Walter Catholic School still has openings for in-person learning in preschool through 8th grade. Call 773-445-8850 to learn more.