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

Flag Day Event at RHS 

Flag Day Event at RHS 

The Ridge Historical Society (RHS), 10621 S. Seeley, will be the location for a Flag Day celebration to remember the late Carl Spencer Fri., June 14, 7 p.m. Hostess is Elaine Spencer, Carl’s widow and the current president of RHS, will serve Hors d’oeuvres and wine and beer and non-alcoholic beverages 

A donation of $25 is suggested and proceeds will benefit RHS. Reservations are required; call 773-881-1675 or email 

Carl Spencer was born on Flag Day 100 years ago. He was well-known in the community for his positive outlook and great stories. Spencer was a longtime community resident and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a strong supporter of RHS, serving on the Board for many years, as well as a member of Kiwanis and American Legion.  

Spencer was probably best known as an avid bicycle rider and racer, and for his crosscountry bike ride honoring the Marine Corps. On permanent display at RHS are one of Spencer’s racing bikes and other memorabilia. He died in 2010. Videos and pictures of Spencer will be on display during the Flag Day event and guests are invited to share their memories about Spencer. For more information, visit the Ridge Historical Society Facebook page.  

Art Fair & Festival Returns to Ridge Park this Summer 

More than 40 artists will be exhibiting and selling original works at the 2nd annual Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival Sat., June 22, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Ridge Park Cultural Center, 9625 S. Longwood Dr. The event is being planned and presented by the Ridge Park Advisory Council (RPAC) and John H. Vanderpoel Art Association along with the Chicago Park District. 

highlight of cultural opportunities in the community, the Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival will feature work across a wide variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, photographs, jewelry, art glass, leatherwork and more.  

The art fair debut last year was a resounding success, with more than 1000 visitors and a host of activities. This year’s festivities will be expanded to include more live music, more kid-friendly options and more food trucks including Misiericordia Hearts and Flour, Calabria and Pollo LocuasChildren’s and adult beverages will be available.  

Performing music are inspirational singer Gincy Hartin, a local jazz ensemble and the Over the Side Band, a popular cover band.  

New this year are limited edition tote bags featuring a beautiful water color of Ridge Park by famed artist Judie Anderson. Anderson will be will be on hand to sign the bags also and she has donated the original artwork to be auctioned off at the art fair.  

For the kids there will be two bounce houses (one will be just for the little ones)and Twistcity with two amazing shows, one with giant bubbles and the other with balloon twisting.   

As a Chicago Park District cultural center, Ridge Park offers rich and dynamic programming that will be highlighted throughout the art fair and festival. The John H. Vanderpoel Museum Gallery is located in the fieldhouse through the Chicago Park District’s Arts Partners in Residency Program, which unites artists and communities in Chicago’s parks. The gallery hosts a world-class collection of Impressionist paintings and other late 19th and early 20th century paintings and works on paper. Ridge Park Art Fair attendees will have the opportunity to take guided tours of the Vanderpoel Museum, as well as of the park facilities and ceramics studio. 

Information about the Ridge Park Art Fair & Festival is available at For more information, contact Irene Testa,, or Mary Jo Viero, 


The Return of Live Music Mondays at BAC

By Talie Leeb 

Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 S. Western, will reprise the annual summer favorite, Live Music Mondays, kicking off June 3 with one of the hottest blues groups around, The Smiley Tillmon Band. The free outdoor concert series takes place in the BAC courtyard and will feature the talents of both local Chicago favorites and visiting artists from further afield.  

Every Monday, after the return-of-the work week slog, Beverly/ Morgan Park residents are invited over to the BAC’s back yard to kick-back for a music-filled evening. BYOLC (bring your own lawn chair), full-bar and free parking provided! 

6/3 Fronted by Chicago Blues Hall of Famer Smiley Tillmon, the popular classic blues group is sure to start off Music Monday’s on the right note! 

6/10 Holden and Company. Described as soulful, soothing and uplifting, Holden and Company are back after their turn as a crowd favorite last summer. 

6/17 Man CrushBluegrass music.  

6/24 Steve Haberichter and Friends. Bluegrass musician and mandolin phenom, Steve Haberichter and his band bring a melodic combination of bluegrass, folk and rock to the BAC. 

7/1 John and Julia Devens. Husband and wife duo John and Julia Devens are no strangers to the neighborhood, performing their contemporary take traditional Irish folk music.  

7/8 Return 2 Soul. This dream team of vocalists, brass, drums and bass prides itself on bringing together a group of outstanding musicians capable of performing all styles of music – R & B, soul, blues, gospel, jazz, pop, reggae, hip-hop and Motown 

7/15 Far Too Close. “A band to enjoy an Irish whiskey,” Far Too Close is the intersection of bluegrass, fast driving traditional Irish folk and old-time string band, all hailing from the South Side of Chicago. 

7/22 The McGinniss Brothers Band. Local brothers Luke and Liam McGinniss have been combining elements of classic rock and traditional Irish folk since they were kids. They have been hometown favorites since they started performing in 2015, and now they’re bringing their unique sound back to the neighborhood.  

7/29 Caliente Old School. Caliente makes their return to BAC’s summer Monday lineup with the soulful sounds of old school jazz, rock, Motown and so much more, all with a Latin groove twist. 

8/5 City Lights Orchestra. A Chicagoland classic, the City Lights Orchestra has been entertaining audiences with their unique renditions of everything from the Beatles, to the Big Band Era to Sinatra, to Motown, since 1974.  

8/12 Forest Sun. Stopping in Chicago on his way to Nashville, California singer-songwriter Forest Sun performs Americana folk music, steeped in the musical traditions of the gospel, reggae, country, soul, jazz and funk he grew up with. 
On select dates food trucks will be serving during the performances. Space for seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Suggested $5 donation will help the BAC keep providing great music and art programs in Beverly/Morgan Park. 


Three MPHS Students Admitted to U of C Collegiate Scholars Program 

By Kristin Boza 

Since 2003, the University of Chicago has hosted the Chicago Public School students in the Collegiate Scholars Program, a competitive three-year program designed to prepare students in grades 10-12 for admittance and achievement at the top colleges in the country. Only 50 spots are open for each new class; three of those spots have been earned by Morgan Park High School (MPHS) students Devan King, Caval Spearman and Erica Taylor. The students begin their Collegiate Scholars journey this summer, and will have the opportunity to take college courses, go on trips around Chicago, and participate in SAT prep classes, among many other unique academic and social opportunities.  

According to U of C, 100% of program graduates earn a four-year college degree, with 70% of them attending highly selective universities. “Collegiate Scholars is an opportunity for students to broaden their academic horizons,” said Dr. Femi Skanes, MPHS principal. “We want to ensure that our students are connected to a variety of academic programs that enhance their ability to compete at Morgan Park and in the next phase of their academic pursuits. We are honored to have three of our top-performing students in this prestigious program. All three students are absolutely wonderful students who represent Morgan Park High School well.” 

MPHS Assistant Principal Kai Erguhart and Dr. Skanes helped eligible students apply, according to Carisa Parker, MPHS parent and LSC Chair. Parker’s daughter and Skanes’ son are two of the three MPHS students accepted into the program.  

“There was an essay portion in the application where students had to talk about how they overcame obstacles, how they see themselves as a leader in their community, and what they hope to gain from this experience,” Parker said. “Ms. Erguhart and Dr. Skanes made sure the students were on task and they even took personal time to give them some interview skills to increase their confidence. I am so proud of these three students and know that they will not only make the Morgan Park community proud, but also be future leaders who help make a difference in society.” 

Students begin the program during the summer after their freshman year of high school. Two of the MPHS students were available for comments for this article. 

 Erica Taylor, from Washington Heights, is looking forward to interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. “For the next three years, I hope to improve my test-taking skills, grow as a leader, and participate in fun and interesting activities around the city,” she said. “After high school, I aspire to go to the university of my choice and attend a medical program, after which I will become a pediatrician or a gynecologist working in my community to help women and children.”  

Taylor credits her mom, Carisa Parker, to pushing her and giving her the necessary tools to be successful. “I would also like to thank the new administration who cares about our school’s students for pushing me to sign up for this program and preparing me for each step in the process.” 

Beverly/Morgan Park resident Caval Spearman, Jr., son of Dr. Skanes, is looking forward to taking advanced classes and gaining experience to prepare for college. “I hope to gain more maturity, more knowledge to be prepared for college, experiences that will guide me to the next level, and gain a bond with friends that can last a long time. After high school, I aspire to go to the University of California and major in Mass Communications,” Spearman said. “[I’m thankful] for the love and support of my family and teachers at Morgan Park throughout this journey.” 


Downsizing is Workshop Topic at Mercy Circle Open House 

Downsizing is Workshop Topic at Mercy Circle Open House 

Ric Roemer, president of Creative Home Services, will present “What do I do with all this stuff?” during an open house Sun., June 23,11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Mercy Circle continuing care retirement, 3659 W. 99th St. The workshop will be held at 12 p.m.  

“Picking what to keep, what to sell and what to give away to charity or your family is a challenge before moving for older adults who are downsizing,” said Marge Everett, senior living advisor at Mercy Circle. “That’s why seniors can benefit from using a relocation expert like Ric.” 

Since it opened to the public in 2013, Mercy Circle has referred prospective residents to Creative Home Services, an Orland Park-based company that specializes in helping older adults downsize, declutter and prepare their homes for sale. Roemer founded the company 13 years ago, originally to assist real estate agents market their listings. After four years, he niche-focused his efforts to exclusively assisting seniors moving into retirement communities or other down-sized living accommodations. 

His presentation at the Mercy Circle open house will help determine what should stay and what should go using tips like these: 

Take into account the size of the new space; consider the floor plan and cabinet area. 

Think first in terms of “must haves” such as a bed, kitchen table and chairs, couch and lighting. 

Start by sorting items one room or closetduring the process, ask yourself whether you I used or worn that in a year.  

For photos of trips and events, toss pictures without people in them 

For household items and clothing, ask yourself: Would I buy this today?  

For items in basement, garage and storage sheds, ask: Will I be using these when I move?  

Light refreshments will be served, and there is ample parking in Mercy Circle’s lot. Everyone who attends will be able to tour the CCRC’s apartments and amenities. To reserve space at the event or to learn more about moving to Mercy Circle, call Everett at 773-253-3603.  

Live Like John Teens Advocates Head for Washington DC

By Grace Kuikman 

At the end of June, eight area teens will be traveling to Washington D.C. to sit down with legislators and talk about the need for more funding, awareness and advocacy for pediatric brain tumor research and treatment 

Those legislators will be mighty impressed. The teens, members of the Live Like John Service Leadership Institute (LLJSLI), not only know the facts and figures, they are passionate about the true meaning of community service and already gaining valuable experience in taking leadership roles that advance the mission of the Live Like John John McNicholas Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is to push for advancements in care and treatment of pediatric brain tumor patients. 

The LLJSLI was founded four years ago and provides an outstanding opportunity for high school sophomores through seniors to put their passion into action. Currently, 35 teens are serving on the board coming from St. Rita, Brother Rice, St. Ignatius, Fenwick, Jones College Prep, Whitney Young, Mount Carmel, Marist, Mother McAuley and Richards high schools. Students must complete applications and participate in a set of interviews before being accepted into the group. Once they join, they must commit to a robust schedule of monthly meetings and special events that they help to create, plan, promote and present.  

Being a member of the LLGSLI is not about earning service learning hours. According to Amy McNicholas, Live Like John Foundation founder and mother of the late John McNicholas for whom the foundation was created, the aim of the student group is to provide the profound experience of what it means to be of service, to be a leader and to give back to the communityThis challenge reflects the fundamental spirit of Live Like John, founded in 2012 in honor of John McNicholas who, during his struggle with a brain tumor, “lived his life to the fullest and faced his illness with courage and grace” (  

When Mia Rugai (St. Ignatius 2019), Sarah Dunn (Mother McAuley 2019), Liam Guest (Mount Carmel 2020), Sean O’Keefe (Jones 2020), Grace Clancy (St. Ignatius 2021), Grace Gorman (Mother McAuley 2019), Thomas Stanton (Whitney Young 2020) and Brigid Ross (St. Ignatius 2021) arrive in Washington DC later this month, their experience in the LLJSLI group will have prepared them to be articulate, passionate, informed and confident advocates as they ask legislators to support the Live Like John demand for “better care, better cure.” 

Among the impactful pieces in the LLJSLI arsenal of information is “A Look at the Numbers,” a short video developed and produced by the students that shares some compelling statistics our legislators should know: Every day 13 children are diagnosed with brain cancer, and 72% of them are under age 15; 1 in 5 children with cancer will die; 5 times more funding goes to adult cancer research than pediatric cancer research; and of the entire National Institute of Health research budget for all childhood cancers, only 4% is earmarked for brain cancer.  

LLJSLI was founded to provide opportunities for motivated students to work with a successful foundation board on programs that support a worthwhile cause. The students develop creative ways to support the work of the Live Like John board, assisting in the foundation’s mission-based activities. LLJSLI meetings follow Roberts Rules of Order, feature guest speakers and mentors representing fields from medicine to law, military to journalism,  and require an impressive level of commitment from the busy high schoolers. The students work on Live Like John awareness and fundraising events such as the Beverly Hills Turkey Trot in the fall, Go Gray in May awareness campaign in the spring, and the Live Like John softball tournament coming up on June 15. According to Amy McNicholas, when the students go o to college and careers, the skills and discipline they learn as members of the LLJSLI have them well prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders.  

Applications for the 2019-2020 LLJSLI are closed, but information about the program, upcoming events, the Live Like John Foundation, and how to support its work is available at  




Little Company of Mary Hospital and Crisis Center of South Suburbia team to combat domestic violence

Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers partners with the Crisis Center of South Suburbia to provide screenings, referrals, education and support to patients and staff related to Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Abuse. It is so important for parents to be aware of the potential for unhealthy relationships as their teens enter into the world of dating.  Here is a brief article from the National Domestic Violence Hotline Project Love is Respect to guide parents in “Helping Your Teen Through an Unhealthy Relationship”. 


As a parent, the scariest thing you can imagine is your child getting hurt. Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that among women and men who have experienced intimate partner violence, 26% of women and 15% of men first experienced violence by a partner before they turned 18. 


One thing we can do to help protect our children is take steps to teach them about building safe, respectful relationships. Start by talking to your teens about what healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships look like and how to know when something isn’t right. The signs of abuse can be subtle and teens might not recognize behaviors as unhealthy or abusive, so help them understand the warning signs. At home, you can model healthy behaviors in your own relationships and call out unhealthy and abusive behavior in relationships on TV. Lastly, remind your teens of their self-worth and value as their own, independent person. 


What should you do if you suspect your teen is in an abusive relationship? You might feel angry, confused, protective, or scared. Your instinct may be to demand information or jump into the situation to help your child in whatever way you can. While well-intentioned, rushing into action can sometimes backfire and stop the conversation before it begins. Here are some ways you can help your teen if he or she is experiencing abuse. 


Listen and Give Support  

When talking to your teen, be supportive and don’t make accusations. If they do open up to you, it’s important to be a good listener. They may feel ashamed of what’s happening in their relationship. Many teens fear that their parents will overreact, blame them, or be disappointed. Others worry that their parents won’t believe them or understand. If they do come to you to talk, let it be on their terms, and meet them with understanding, not judgment. You might say something like, “It seems like you might be worried about something. Want to tell me about it?” Of course, if your teen is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to an emergency room. 


Accept What Your Child Is Telling You 

It’s important to know that your teen might be experiencing physical or emotional abuse. Emotional abuse includes insulting or attempting to scare your partner in an attempt to wear down their self-worth and isolate them from their support systems. Abusers may tell their partners things like, “Nobody will believe you.” Showing doubt, then, may reinforce that idea and make your teen hesitant to tell you when things are wrong in the future. It might also drive your teen closer to their abuser. Offer your unconditional support and make sure they know you are taking them seriously. 


Show Concern 

Show your teen concern by reminding them of how they deserve to be treated. Try saying things like, “You deserve to be with someone who treats you with respect,” “This is not your fault,” or “I’m worried that you feel scared and unsafe in your relationship.” 


Talk About the Behaviors, Not the Person 

Since people who abuse seek to isolate their partners, your teen may be hearing things like, “Your parents hate me. They’re trying to sabotage our relationship and control your life.” Because of this, it is often more effective to speak to your child about specific behaviors you don’t like, rather than being critical of the abusive partner or the relationship as a whole. For example, instead of saying, “Your partner is controlling,” you could say, “It concerns me that they tell you who you can or can’t text. In a healthy relationship, partners trust(link is external) each other to talk to anyone they want.” Remember that there still may be love in the relationship, and respect your child’s feelings. Talking badly about your child’s partner could discourage your teen from asking for your help in the future. 


Avoid Ultimatums 

Resist the urge to give an ultimatum. For example, “If you don’t break up with them right away, you’re grounded.” For a breakup to be truly successful, your teen must be ready to walk away from the relationship. If you force the decision, they may be tempted to return to their partner because of unresolved feelings. Also, leaving is the most dangerous time for those experiencing abuse. Trust that your teen knows their situation better than you do and will leave when they’re ready. If they’re not ready to leave the relationship, or if they do leave and then get back together many times, it’s still important to be supportive. You can brainstorm ways they can stay safer(link is external) in their relationship. 


Decide on Next Steps Together 

Creating a safety plan can help someone who is experiencing abuse feel prepared for different situations and be more independent when they are ready to leave the relationship. When you’re talking to your teen about a safety plan, know that the decision has to come from your teen. Ask what next steps they would like to take. If they’re uncomfortable discussing this with you, help them find additional support. Suggest that they reach out to a trusted friend, counselor, or advocate, and direct them to free and confidential resources for help. 


As a parent, you play an important role in helping your teen develop healthy relationships and can provide life-saving support if they are in an abusive relationship. 


Here are some resource to obtain more information about domestic violence and to seek help: 

A New Direction 

Archdiocese of Chicago Domestic Violence Ministry 

Crisis Center of South Suburbia 708 429- SAFE;  

National Hotline for Domestic Violence 1-800-799-SAFE or 800.787.3224 TTY 

Illinois Hotline for Domestic Violence 877.863.6338.  

Visit for more information. 


Together, we can make a difference. 


Little Company of Mary Hospital Excels in Patient Safety 

Little Company of Mary Hospital Excels in Patient Safety 

Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers (LCMH) was awarded an A” from the Leapfrog Group’s spring 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. The designation recognizes LCMH’s efforts in protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care. The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization committed to improving health care quality and safety for consumers and purchasers. The Safety Grade assigns grades to hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.  

“Receiving an improved ‘A’ Grade Hospital Safety Score further validates our commitment to the quality and safety of our patients and is a significant milestone on our journey toward High Reliability,” said John Hanlon, MD, MMM, President and CEO of LCMH. “My vision is to keep quality and safety at the forefront of all that we do and continue these efforts, providing high quality care for our patients and community.” 

Developed under the guidance of a national Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. acute-care hospitals twice per year. The Hospital Safety Grade’s  

methodology is peer-reviewed and fully transparent, and the results are free to the public. To see LCMH’s full grade details, and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit and follow The Leapfrog Group on Twitter and Facebook.  

LCMH achieves accolades for quality, provides new medical advances and offers a convenient range of services to the community. For more information, or to see all of LCMH’s recent quality accolades, visit 

‘What Makes You Healthy?’ Display Showcases Works by 3rd Grade Artists 

‘What Makes You Healthy?’ Display Showcases Works by 3rd Grade Artists 

To coincide with National Hospital Week, Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) sponsored an art contest, “What Makes You Healthy,” for third grade students who attend school within LCMH’s primary service area.  

National Hospital Week 2019 celebrated hope and healing, and the hospitals, health systems and women and men who support the health and well-being of their communities through dedication and care from the heart.  

More than 310 entries in the “What Makes You Healthy” came from 14 area elementary schools including Christ the King, Keller Gifted Magnet, St. Cajetan, St. Christina and Vanderpoel Humanities Academy. One winner was selected from each school to have their artwork on display through summer at the hospital, 2800 W. 95th St.  

“Living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey, and we are committed to providing education for all ages to help us all make more informed, healthier life choices,” said Kathleen Kinsella, Chief Operating Officer at LCMH. “The contest is a creative way to initiate important discussions about healthy living, and to enjoy the artistic talents of our local children. We hope the community will visit the hospital to see their great work.”   

Contest submissions ranged from colorful images of fruits and vegetables and various forms of exercise and sports, as well as activities and themes that were specific to the student, such as listening to music, walking their dog, helping the homeless and laughing. 

Art Comes to Life at Gathering d’Arts 

Art Comes to Life at Gathering dArts 

The Beverly Arts Center (BAC) and Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists (CAVA) come together to present a new fundraiser, Gatherings d’Arts, Sat., June 15, 6 p.m. at the BAC, 2407 W. 111th St. A VIP reception will start at 5 p.m. The event will feature the opportunity to interact with artists as they work on pieces that will be auctioned to art lovers that evening. 

Proceeds from Gatherings d’Arts will support the promotion of local artists through the BAC and CAVA, a not-for-profit organization committed to fostering the talents of Chicago-area artists age 50 or older, and to provide scholarships at the BAC.  

Gathering d’Arts attendees will spend the early part of the evening visiting with participating artists as they create, learning more about each artist’s creative process, watching as the works of art come to life and deciding which of the works they would want to take homeAt the end of the evening, guests will enjoy the fun of bidding on the masterpieces they’ve witnessed being created.  

Live music from guitarist Allen Bishop, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres are also being offeredMost of the participating artists specialize in acrylic painting. 

International talent will be on display with Gathering d’Arts painters hailing from Australia, Mexico, France, and right here in Chicago. Artists showcasing their skills at the event include Shefali Khanna, Kurt Mitchell, Lucienne Scanlon, Kathie Huddleston, Marcus Alleyne, Turtel Onli, Susan Flanagan, Patrick Thompson, Erik Sorenson, Jim Pryzdia, Jeremy James, Tia Etu, Sara Peak Convery, Stephanie Bieniek, Margaret Johnson, Christian Thompson, Chava Mancera, Kendall Hill, Amy Roach, Didier Nolet, Nicholas Decker, Karen Duffy, Susan Bennett, Colette Wright Adams, Dorothy Mason, Lily Johnston, Richard Pociask, Vicky Tesmer, Jen N. Jessen Lunt, Kathleen King, Sarah Kayode, Andrew Pace, Sue Wrzesinski, Carole Kaufman, Gloria Nehf, Robin J. Carlson, Rolanda Hudson, Fiona Craig, Joseph Baranski, and Greg Mejia.  

Also participating are members from Project Onward, an organization that supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness, and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers. Project Onward artists showcased at the event will be Elizabeth Barren, Ruby Bradford, Michael Hopkins, Michael Bryant, and Fernando Ramirez. 

Tickets to Gatherings d’Arts are $60 for VIP or $50 general admission. Tickets/info: 773-445-3838 or