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

Winter Reading: Top Picks for Black History Month

By Kristin Boza 

The foundation for African American History Month, also known as Black History Month, was laid by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland in 1915 when they started the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. This organization sought to ensure that the stories of African Americans were taught and celebrated, as both men were frustrated by the lack of information about the societal contributions of African Americans. 

In the spirit of Woodson and Moorland, and all who came after them, Keith Lewis and his staff at Bookie’s and Arlene F. Gottardo and Jessica Black, children’s services librarians at the Chicago Public Library Beverly Branch, provided a list of their favorite and most important books for kids, teens, and adults to enjoy and learn from this month and throughout the year. 

For Adults 

“Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side” by Eve Ewing. “An important analysis and commentary about an important subject.” – Bookie’s 

“The Conjure Woman” by Charles Waddell Chesnutt. “Truly a collection of short stories tied together by an external narrative. The stories are written in southern African American dialect, bound together by the story of a white couple who purchases a vineyard in the post-bellum south.” – Bookie’s 

“Kindred” by Octavia Butler. “A favorite of my high school English students, this is a time travel story about a modern black woman who is repeatedly thrown back in time to the antebellum south.” -Bookie’s 

“Vessel” by Parneshia Jones. “A wonderful voice in Chicago poetry. Jones’ poems are reflective and observational, personal and hilarious and dark in equal measure.” – Bookie’s. (Jones is the guest for the Second Sunday Book Club, Feb. 10, 2 p.m., Open Outcry, 10924 S. Western.)  

“Revise the Psalm.” “An anthology of poetry, essays, and stories celebrating the works of Gwendolyn Brooks. There’s something in this collection for everyone.” – Bookie’s 

For Young Adults 

“Akata Witch” and “Akata Warrior” by Nnedi Okorafor. “A young adult fantasy series with a West African, albino protagonist who discovers that she is magical. These books are written by a local author who has also written ‘Black Panther’ comics for Marvel.” – Bookie’s 

“Hidden Human Computers – The Black Women of NASA” by Sue Bradford Edwards and Duchess Harris, JD, PhD.  A look at the female mathematicians at NASA, and also the valuable back story of the history of human computers dating back to 1758. – Beverly Branch Library 

“How Dare the Sun Rise. Memoirs of a War Child” by Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta. Sandra’s first person account of her survival of a massacre in the Republic of Congo and her family’s move to New York. – Beverly Branch Library. 

“First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson” by Simon Schwartz. A graphic novel about Matthew Henson, an Arctic explorer. – Beverly Branch Library 

For Kids 

“So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom” by Gary D. Schmidt. “Beautifully-written about a great woman, but the highlight is the illustrations by African American artist, Daniel Minter.” – Bookie’s 

“This is the Rope” by Jacqueline Woodson. A rope passed down through generations tells the story of a family’s journey north during the Great Migration. – Beverly Branch Library 

“Major Taylor Champion Cyclist” by Lesa Cline-Ransome. “The Major Taylor Trail is nearby, but not enough people know the story of ‘the world’s fastest man,’ a cyclist who excelled in the sport despite having to leave the country to race.” – Bookie’s 

“My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Christine King Farris. Students in 2nd to 4th grade will learn about Dr. King’s early life from his sister’s perspective. – Beverly Branch Library 

“The Book Itch” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. A story set in the 1930s about a bookstore owner who helped people stand up for what they believed in. – Beverly Branch Library 

“What Color is My World? The Lost History of African American Inventors” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld. A story told through the eyes of twins Herbie and Ella as they learn more about famous, yet lesser-known, African American inventors. – Beverly Branch Library 


Castle Keepers Unveil Castle Restoration Campaign to Save Our Community Landmark

By Grace Kuikman 

Imagine driving down Longwood Drive at 103rd Street, and looking up to see, not the iconic Givins Castle on the corner, but a boxy, blah building that could be in anyone’s neighborhood.  

It seems unthinkable, but in reality, the fragile limestone with which the castle was built in 1886 has suffered from more than 130 years of Chicago winters. The distinctive crenellated turrets need to be restored, and that will require a variety of historic restoration specialists and approximately $800,000.  

A task force of a dozen people from Beverly Unitarian Church, owners of the castle since 1942, and the community are reaching out to the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood, the City of Chicago and even federal historic preservation agencies for help in restoring this unique and historically important building.  

Early last year, the castle underwent an extensive assessment of the building’s condition by a professional engineering and architecture team. Results revealed cracks and decomposition in the turrets and roof structures. The task force of Castle Keepers invested $25,000 in stabilizing the turrets, but that’s a temporary fix.  

When the extent of the damage and daunting amount of funding it will take to rebuild the turrets and save the castle were revealed, the Beverly Unitarian congregation needed to make a difficult decision. For nearly 80 years church members have lovingly maintained the hilltop castle and property, including interior restorations in the 1980s and 1990s. How could a congregation of fewer than 100 members undertake a project that could cost up to $1 million?  

True to their heritage as our community’s Castle Keepers, they decided to forge ahead. 

Members of Beverly Unitarian Church have pledged $400,000 to the project. “With that wonderful vote of confidence we are moving into the external phase of fundraising to reach our $800,000 goal,” wrote Jean Hardy Robinson, a member of the restoration task force. 

Work to restore the castle from the roofline up needs to begin in spring. 

Last year, the castle restoration fund was set up to accept donations that will go directly into helping to pay for the critical repair work. The funds are completely separate from church funds, so donors can be confident that 100 percent of their tax-deductible gifts will help save the beloved neighborhood landmark.  

Robinson and other members of the castle task force have been researching all angles of this vitally important campaign and volunteering expert experience in areas from project management to fundraising. Spreading the word is an intrinsic part of the plan. 

People are available tor presentations on the Castle history and the restoration project for community groups as well as guided tours of the Castle for people interested in learning more about the project.  

Friends of the Castle are coming up with creative ideas on how to help. Errol Magidson, author of “Chicago’s Only Castle,” a rich history of the Givins Castle illustrated with dozens of photos, is donating proceeds from the sale of the book to the restoration fund. Books are available at Bookies, 10324 S. Western.  

The castle task force is now reaching out for major donations as well as all levels of contributions. People are invited to make donations online at or to call 773-233-7080 for more information.  

Castle Series Presents Concerts, Storytelling

The Castle Concert Series—aimed at raising money for maintenance and restoration of the historic Givins Castle located at 103rd and Longwood Drive—continues with three February engagements in two different venues. 

Eddie Holstein blends folk, blues and guitar with history and his special brand of humor Sat., Feb. 2, Heritage Gallery, 1907 W. 103rd St. A favorite of Chicago audiences for more than 40 years, Holstein grew up on the South Side and got his start at the legendary folk music bar, the Earl of Old Town. 

Kathleen Keane, a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist, Irish singer, songwriter and composer, performs Sat., Feb. 16, Givins Beverly Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr. Keane’s virtuosic tin-whistling and fiddle-playing earned her musical appearances in hit movies, including “The Road to Perdition,” “Backdraft” and “Titanic.” A performer with Gaelic Storm, she is considered by many one of the world’s finest Celtic fiddlers. 

Beverly/Morgan Park resident David Boyle shares impromptu personal stories to correspond with drawings created by Elgin-based artist Chris Palm Sat., Feb. 23 at the Givins Castle. The show is called “To Be Determined” because Boyle won’t know which stories he’ll tell until the audience decides which drawings they prefer. This show won the Audience Favorite Award at the 2017 Elgin Fringe Festival. 

Thanks to a generous gift from Beverly/Morgan Park resident Dean Miller on behalf of his late wife, Martha Swift, the historic Givins Castle and Heritage Gallery serve as venues for the concert series through May. Swift grew up in the community and once headed the language department at Morgan Park Academy.  

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performances begin at 7 p.m. A $20 donation is suggested with proceeds going toward maintenance of the Givins Castle. For more information, call John Devens, 773-719-7059. 

Raise a Pint on the Rooftop

Go above the crowd for eats, beats, brews and an exclusive birds-eye view of the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade at O’Brews and Views, BAPA’s rooftop parade viewing  party, Sun., Mar. 17, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Open Outcry Brewing Co., 10934 S. Western.

Join us for live Irish music by Bohola, food, 2 complimentary drinks plus drink specials, and the best views along the parade route. 21 and over only. Tickets $75 for BAPA members or $85 for non-members and available starting Feb. 1 at

COMPASS – Jeni Nelson Real Estate is our sponsor.

You Are My Neighbor Explores Boundless Compassion

The Southside Catholic Peace and Justice Committee, in coordination with local organizations and faith groups, is excited to announce the next You Are My Neighbor event, “Disrupting Violence.” Coordinators of the event invite area residents to a series of film screenings, pop-up book clubs and discussions in February and March that will culminate in a presentation by Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. along with local Chicagoans working on anti-violence initiatives.   

Fr. Boyle is the author of the New York Times-bestseller “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion” and founder of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention program in the world. The event is Thurs., Apr. 11, 7 p.m., St. Barnabas Church, 10134 S. Longwood Dr. All are welcome. 

Father Boyle will share talk about his experiences in the poor and violence-prone neighborhoods where he began his ministry 30 years ago which led to founding Homeboy Industries. With Father Boyle as its leader, Homeboy Industries has grown from a small community effort to a $20 million organization that provides opportunities for young people in poor and isolated neighborhoods to change the direction of their lives through resources that “disrupt” the effects of past violence and trauma. 

Film Screenings 

Screenings of “G-Dog,” the 2012 documentary about Father Boyle directed by Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock, are scheduled for Sun., Feb. 24, 3 p.m., St. Barnabas Church Hall, 10134 S Longwood Dr., and Wed., Mar. 13, 7 p.m., Christ the King, Gleeson Center, 9235 S Hamilton. The entertaining and inspiring film tells the story of how Fr. Boyle – a Jesuit priest also known as G-Dog – became an expert on gangs and “disrupting” violence. 

Book Clubs 

Pop book clubs will meet to discuss Fr. Boyle’s “Tattoos on the Heart,” which was named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly and received the PEN Center USA 2011 Creative Nonfiction Award. Discussions are open to all and will be held at: BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr., led by Rev. Ben Heimach-Snipes, pastor of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, Wed., Feb. 27, 10 a.m.; Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 9401 S. Oakley, led by Pastor Jennie English-Dumont (Bethlehem) and Father Bill Malloy (St. Barnabas), Sun., Mar. 10, 3 p.m.; Beverly Yoga Center, 1917 W. 103rd St., with Carly Carney, Sun., Mar, 31, 3:30 p.m., and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, 5114 S. Elizabeth St.(date will be shared in the March Villager). Copies of the book as well as study guide for personal book clubs are available at Bookies, 10324 S. Western. 

Discussion Series 

Bethlehem Lutheran Church will explore the theme “Boundless” at midweek Lenten series Wednesdays, Mar. 6 through Apr. 10, 7 p.m., discussing boundless compassion, boundless hope, and boundless worth through dramatic presentations, worship and small group studies. 

In his presentation in April, area residents will hear Fr. Boyle tell stories of trauma and hope, and how a community built on the virtues of boundless love and radical kinship encourages us all to embrace the humanity and dignity of all of our neighbors, no matter how we differ by race, income, class and experience. 

You Are My Neighbor events are sponsored by Southside Catholic Peace and Justice and local church and community organizations.  



Workout Builds Awareness and Support for Victims of Domestic Violence

A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park’s Board President Jessica McCarihan has been with the agency since its beginning in 2011.  She has been asked hundreds of questions over the years, but the ones that surprise her the most are from people who can’t believe that domestic violence occurs in our community.    

“I try to explain that domestic violence is not selective, it affects every community, regardless of socioeconomic status, geographical region, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, ability, age or sexual orientation,” McCarihan said. “I also feel it is important to share statistics, especially the statistic that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.  We still have more work to do to educate people about domestic abuse.” 

On Sat., Feb. 9, McCarihan and the staff and the Board of the agency will be taking their message and mission to the 8th Annual Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence Benefit Day (WOWO) organized by the Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club.  From 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 23 neighborhood fitness facilities will be offering a workout class with all proceeds going to AND.  Each class will begin with a short presentation about AND, domestic violence and how victims in the community can find help.   

“Outreach is one of the most important purposes of WOWO.  When we have a chance to speak to a group of people at events like WOWO classes, we almost always find that we get a few phone calls afterward,” said McCarihan.  “One year we actually had a victim walk into a WOWO site and ask the instructor to call AND for her because she didn’t have any safe way to contact us.  They called and she got help because the instructor knew where to find it.  We want everyone in our community to be as well-educated as this instructor so more victims can benefit from our services.” 

To participate in WOWO, community members can register online at  and find a full schedule of participating facilities with class descriptions and times.  The suggested donation is $25.  Registrations are also accepted the day of the event at local facilities, however some facilities are limiting the number of participants due to space considerations.  Check the WOWO schedule on the AND website or Facebook page for further information about space limitations.     

AND is a local nonprofit that provides advocacy, support counseling and education to victims of domestic abuse at no charge.   For more information about their services, visit 

Pancake Breakfast Raises Funds for Vests for Police

Ald. Matthew O’Shea will host the 5th annual pancake breakfast benefiting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s “Get Behind the Vest” initiative Sun., Feb. 24, 8 a.m. to noon, St. John Fisher School, 10200 S. Washtenaw Ave.  

Admission is $5 per person or $25 for families. Funds will be used to help replace bullet proof vests for Chicago Police officers. 

In addition to the pancake breakfast, Ald. O’Shea will be working with local schools to organize “dress down days” and other student-based fundraisers to raise additional funds for bullet proof vests. Since 2015, Ald. O’Shea has raised over $117,000 for the Get Behind the Vest initiative through the breakfast and school fundraisers in Beverly/Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood.  

“A number of officers from the Chicago Police Department were killed in the line of duty in the last year, and now more than ever, we need to do all that we can to make sure our officers are given the tools they need to return home to their families at the end of their shifts,” said Ald.O’Shea. “The 19th Ward is home to hundreds of active and retired Chicago Police officers, and we understand the danger these men and women of the Chicago Police Department face each day. Through the tremendous support of the community, schools, and local businesses such as Original Pancake House – Beverly and Kean Gas Station, we want to help in protecting those who protect us.” 

Bullet proof vests need to be replaced every five years, at a cost to police officers of about $500. Over the past five years, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has replaced 8,000 outdated bullet proof vests. To date, 44 Chicago Police officers’ lives have been saved by bullet proof vests. Last year, 149 officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide, with 52 of those lives being taken by gunfire.  

Ald. O’Shea sits on the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Advisory Board and the Chicago Police Chaplains Ministry Board of Directors.  

The pancake breakfast is supported and co-hosted by the Original Pancake House – Beverly. All pancake batter, condiments and cooking supplies will be donated by the Harrigan Family, who have operated the Original Pancake House for more than 50 years. Additional sponsors include the 19th Ward Youth Foundation, Beverly Area Planning Association, Sen. Bill Cunningham, State Rep.Fran Hurley, Saint John Fisher Parish and Officer Mullens Apple Sauce.  

For more information on the breakfast, call 773-238-8766. For more information on the vest initiative, visit 


Cheers to 95 Years for St. Barnabas Church

By Erin Shea Smith 

At five o’clock Christmas morning 1924, Father Timothy Hurley celebrated the first Mass of St. Barnabas Church. Now, 95 years later, the church is gathering to honor and commemorate those who devoted their time, talent and treasure to the Catholic community. 

The Cheers to 95 Year Gala, taking place Sat., Feb. 9, 6 p.m. to midnight at the Bridgeport Art Center, will benefit the “Imagine. Innovate. Inspire.” Capital Campaign efforts as St. Barnabas moves forward into its second century of service. The evening will include dinner, drinks and dancing, and feature music from Maggie Speaks.  

A highlight of the event will be the announcement of the winner of free tuition for one student for the 2019-2020 school year. Tickets are $100 each and are available now. 

St. Barnabas has three phases planned for “Imagine, Innovate, Inspire,” which will continue into 2030 and cost about $17 million for improvements throughout the campus. The project is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign, which has a goal of $350 million. Several parishes are part of that effort, which calls for donations to be used for parish improvements and archdiocesan needs. 

In addition to raising money for the campaign, the Gala will feature an auction and raffle, which will include items such as Chicago sporting events, a Lake Michigan sailboat ride, a stay at a mountain home in Lake Tahoe, an in-home dinner party with an executive chef and more.  

In the years leading up to the first Mass at St. Barnabas, Fr. Hurley was prevented from breaking ground on the site chosen for the new church. Neighborhood residents had successfully petitioned the city to turn the land into a park, now known as Hurley Park. Undaunted, Hurley authorized the purchase of a parcel of land where the current church sits. 

“The people of St. Barnabas are called to renew and nurture our close community of faith and are joyfully challenged to strive to recognize the grace of God at work in our daily lives,” said pastor Fr. Jim Donovan in a letter announcing the event. “We are grateful for the support we’ve received from those working alongside us as a powerful force for good in our neighborhood and city.” 

Gala tickets are $150 a person, as well as $75 for Young Alum (after 9 p.m. for drinks and dancing) and $75 for St. Barnabas staff. Sponsorships and tables are still available. Cocktail attire is required.  

To purchase tickets and learn more about the event, visit, email, or call Anita Snow, 773-559-5651. 

Thank You Neighbors

Once again, our generous Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors have come through to support BAPA and our community. Donations reached, then exceeded, the $25,000 challenge for a matching grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust.

“The tremendous response from our community is so gratifying,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “Our mail box and inbox were filled with not just donations, but messages wishing BAPA success and thanking us for our work.”

Originally offered as a Giving Tuesday challenge, the grant deadline was extended to Dec. 31. “So many neighbors stepped up to the challenge right away in November, but the early deadline caught us a little short,” Flood explained. “The extension brought about a great response! The Driehaus Trust will double the value of contributions from our community and greatly enhance BAPA’s 2019 programs.”

This generous matching grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust enables BAPA to expand its grassroots work in the community. In 2019, BAPA will be taking a special focus on protecting and promoting our historic neighborhood, beautifying important community spaces, attracting new, exciting business investments, strengthening local schools, creating initiatives to welcome new homeowners to the community, refreshing our mission-based special events to become even better at serving our community, but also in attracting new visitors to experience our Village in the City, and developing strategies to help our neighbors age safely and happily in the homes they love.

BAPA relies on financial support from neighbors who understand our mission to keep Beverly/Morgan Park strong and beautiful. When our neighbors support BAPA with such generosity, it affirms the important role BAPA plays in our community.

BAPA leaders and staff look forward to 2019 and exciting new opportunities to serve our neighbors.

Everyone who supported BAPA with membership donations in 2018 will be recognized in the February issue of The Villager. All donations are greatly appreciated!

Schools: Sutherland Elementary Wins Grant

By Kristin Boza

Kids’ lives revolve around whatever is going on at their school. Knowing that schools bring together communities, Sutherland Elementary School principal Meg Burns sought and earned a grant worth $120,000 annually for five years through the Community Schools Initiative (CSI).

CSI is comprised of corporate and philanthropic leaders who support school-community partnerships via Chicago Public Schools. These partnerships seek to develop relationships between public schools and third-party groups dedicated to youth, art, and social service to strengthen neighborhoods.

At Sutherland, the grant is being used to fund an assortment of after school programming with the goal of serving the children and families within its attendance area.

“The grant gives us a lot of latitude to reestablish relationships with community entities such as the Beverly Arts Center,” Burns said. The BAC is bringing in teaching artists to work with Sutherland students in after school programs. Burns is especially looking forward to bringing back a theater program to Sutherland, culminating in a spring play production.

The grant also supports the resurrection of the Sutherland choir, as well as 40 additional programs including tutoring, chess club, scrapbooking club, dance classes, creative drama classes, art classes and coding classes.

“There’s really something for every child,” Burns said. Of the 600 students currently enrolled at Sutherland, 300 of them are participating in after school programs (excluding sports) that run Monday through Friday.

“The grant also enables us to employ a resource coordinator who is in charge of maintaining our relationships within the community,” Burns said. “The resource coordinator looks at ways our students can tap into local events or service opportunities, as well as working closely with BAPA, business organizations, and local businesses to bring resources into the school.”

Burns firmly believes that the school is not just a building; rather, it is the heart of the community. “When a child is looking forward to dancing with their classmates after school or engaging in a chess tournament or programming a drone, they’re excited to get through the school day and have fun after class,” she said. “The programs also provide opportunities for our teachers to really develop some meaningful bonds with our students. The school is an alive and exciting place that is enriches our students and community.”