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

The Great Connections presents Reason and Power

The Great Connections presents Reason and Power, a week-long seminar for people age 16 to 24 who want to hone their reasoning, learn writing from a professional and connect with passionate and principled young people from around the world, Sat., Jan. 4 through Sat., Jan. 11, The Great Connections, 11107 S. Longwood Dr., 2nd floor. The Great Connections helps young people gain the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in education and careers. A limited number of scholarships are available for the seminar. Info: or 773-677-6418.  

Chicago Residential Shared Cost Sidewalk Program will begin taking applications Tues., Jan. 7, 6 a.m. Applications are first come, first served. Info/applications: call 311 or visit  

Bethany Union Church, 1750 W. 103rd St., has announced that they received a 2019 Best of Chicago Award in the Community Churches category from the Chicago Award Program. Each year, the program recognizes companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in community and business categories. Winners are places that help to make Chicago a great place to live, work and play.  

A free open forum discussion for caregivers and families of dependent older adults who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will be held Tues., Jan. 7, 6:30 p.m., Smith Village,  2320 W. 113th Pl. Diane Morgan, Smith Village social service director of long-term care, will facilitate the exchange of ideas and questions meant to help caregivers navigate the sometime rough waters of caring for or visiting adults with either dementia or Alzheimer’s. Reservations: 773-474-7300 or 

Early Education Information Night for grades pre-K through 1 will be held, Thurs., Jan. 9, 6 p.m., Morgan Park Academy, 253 W. 111th St. Families interested in learning more about MPA are encouraged to attend. Info: 773-881-6700.  

The Ostrega-Uhl Project will present a recital of Mozart and Musicals Sat., Jan. 11, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Beverly Branch Library, 1962 W. 95th St. The recital will feature Mozart’s famous Piano Quartet in G as well as string quartet arrangements of his famous operas from the 18th century, and string quartet arrangements of works from musicals of the 20th century, including selections from “The Sound of Music,” “Phantom of the Opera and West Side Story.” Performers include Brian Osrega, violin; Stephen Uhl, piano; and guest artists Don Galat, violin; Emma Strohbusch, viola; and Brian Gaoma, cello. Free and open to the public. Info: 312-747-9673. 

As part of their monthly wellness seminar series, Beverly Therapists presents “For Couples: Shifting Communication Patterns,” Sat., Jan 11, 3 to 5 p.m., 10725 S. Western. Kanosha Leonard, LCPC will lead participants in an open discussion about communication in their relationships, define primary and secondary emotions, and learn an emotionally-focused approach to communication. $10 per person. Registration required: 

The Beverly Morgan Park Community Choir is recruiting new members for the 2020 season. Music pick-up is Sun., Jan. 12, 3:15 to 5:15 p.m., Immanuel United Church of Christ, 9815 S. Campbell. Rehearsals begin the following week, and the 10-week season culminates with a concert Sun., Mar. 29. Now in its 21st season, the choir was founded by the Beverly Morgan Park Community of Churches and is composed of about 60 singers. No audition is required; male voices especially welcome. Info: or 

Longwood Writers Guild, a critique group for creative writers, will meet Mon., Jan. 13, 7 p.m., BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr. Bring a piece in progress to read for productive input, or write from a prompt. For more information or to get the prompt, email 

The new Rotary Club of Beverly/Morgan Park, Mt Greenwood will meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, and invites interested people to attend and learn more. The Jan. 14 and 28 meetings will be held at 6:15 p.m., BAPA Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr.  

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service  at the Dan Ryan Woods will be held Mon., Jan. 20,  12. To 3 p.m. Volunteers age 10 and up will meet at the visitor center, 87th and Western, and help on stewardship projects such as removing invasive plant species from the woodland habitat, as well as outdoor and indoor activities to make the day fun. Community groups, school groups, families and individuals are encouraged to participate. If weather permits, there will be snowshoes for people to try out, a fire outside to warm up with and hot chocolate.  Groups of 5 or more people  are asaked to register in advance, and waivers need to be signed, so minors must be accompanied with a group or their guardians.  Info: 

Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., is offering Winter Days Off School Arts Camps on days when CPS schools are closed: Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20; End of Quarter 2 day, Jan. 31; and President’s Day, Feb. 17. Camps are open to children age 5 through 12, and activities include workshops in dance, music, theater and visual arts. Each camp is $42 per child ($38 for BAC members), with pre-camp and after care offered for additional fees. Info: 773-445-3838 or 

The League of Women Voters of Chicago-Far Southwest Side Group will meet Wed., Jan. 22, 7 p.m., 9904 S. Damen Ave., to discuss the Chicago City Budget.  The League is a non-partisan organization that provides informal discussion of current political, social and economic issues.  Public welcome.  Info: 312-939-5949, 773-233-1420 or 

Mother McAuley High School senior Kathryn Alvarez has been awarded a Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship. Alvarez is a graduate of St. John Fisher elementary school and caddie at Ridge Country Club.  At McAuley she is enrolled in honors and AP classes, and participates in the National Honors Society, Science National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor SocietyThe Chick Evans Scholarship Foundation, sponsored by the Western Golf Association, has awarded nearly 11,000 scholarships for full tuition and housing college scholarships to hardworking caddies with limited financial means since 1930.  

Congratulations to Tommy Harris of Beverly/Morgan Park, who was awarded a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Bungalow Award for landscape design. His award-winning yard and gardens can be viewed on CBA’s website, The annual Awards were created in 2005 by the Chicago Bungalow Association, with the generous support of The Driehaus Foundation. The Driehaus Awards honor the creativity and efforts of homeowners for the work they’ve done in interior and exterior renovations, restoration, and landscape design.  

Congratulations to Brother Rice High School class of 2020 students and Beverly/Morgan Park residents who have been recognized as Illinois State Scholars. The scholars and their elementary schools are Henry J. Barsch (St. Barnabas), John R. Dolan (St. Barnabas), John M. Eastman (St. John Fisher), Ryan J. Kopale (St. John Fisher), Michael P. Nelligan (St. John Fisher), and Jeremy J. Zemgulys (Sutherland). 





By Caroline Connors 

A community-led initiative to revitalize the Western Avenue business district in Beverly/Morgan Park is underway following a community meeting hosted by the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association (MPBHBA) in fall. 

The meeting, which was held in the community hall at Smith Village, 2320 W. 113th Pl., unveiled the results of an online survey that asked people about their current perceptions of the Western Avenue business district as well as their shopping habits and the types of businesses they would like to see there. UrbanMain, a program of the National Main Street Center that is working with the MPBHBA on the Western Avenue initiative, conducted the survey, which drew more than 900 responses. 

In her presentation, UrbanMain Director Dionne Baux said many survey respondents expressed their desire for more ethnic restaurants, family-friendly entertainment and better walkability on Western Avenue. A lack of retail, a lack of commercial investment and parking are the top three challenges in the district, according to the survey, as well as safety issues resulting from heavy, high-speed vehicular traffic and walkways in need of repair. 

Together with a team of volunteers, the MPBHBA and UrbanMain will use the information from the survey to help design a “future visioning of an ideal corridor setting” on Western Avenue that includes a framework for the business mix, public areas and activities/events. The design process includes a training session on UrbanMain’s approach to business district revitalization and a workplan development session to identify projects, priorities, budgets and timelines. 

The UrbanMain business district revitalization program is designed to help restore economic vitality and promote the quality of life for residents in older, urban neighborhood commercial districts. In addition to Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Orlando and Washington, D.C., are among the U.S. cities participating in business district revitalization programs with UrbanMain. 

For nearly 40 years, the MPBHBA has worked to support small businesses and strengthen the economy of the commercial corridors in Beverly/Morgan Park. In its partnership with UrbanMain, the MPBHBA will focus on strengthening the Western Avenue corridor’s role as an economic engine for the community. 

Email with questions or to volunteer for the Western Avenue revitalization project. Survey results and additional information on the MPBHBA can be found at  



Gear Up for Winter Running 

Gear Up for Winter Running 

The Ridge Run is six months away, but that doesn’t mean you should spend the winter hibernating.  

Bev Lynch, owner of Running Excels, 10328 S. Western, encourages people to keep up with a running schedule so they don’t lose strength, pace and fitness.  

Winter weather does pose some challenges for runners and walkers. Lynch offers the following tips for braving the cold, snow and ice.  

General Safety 

Run with a buddy or a group. Having someone waiting for you keeps you motivated to maintain a running schedule, and it’s more fun and safer when you’re not running alone.  

Keep it light. If possible, run during daylight hours. If not, make sure to wear reflective clothing or accessories in the dark, and bright clothing when it’s snowy. Run against the traffic so you can see vehicles coming toward you, day or night.  

Keep drinking. Hydration is just important in the winter as it is in the summer.  

Warm up. The colder the weather, the longer it will take your muscles to warm up. Before you start running, walk for at least five minutes.  

Adjust your stride. To reduce the chance of slipping on snow and ice, shorten your strides and keep your feet closer to the ground.  

Add traction. You get more traction running on fresh snow, but around here, snow gets packed down and icy pretty fast. Consider running in trail shoes or using traction accessories. 

Take it inside. When the weather gets too cold, train indoors. Treadmills, spinning bikes and indoor running tracks are excellent optionsWinter is a good time to add in disciplines like weight training and yoga that enhance strength and flexibility. Check into local fitness places for a variety of options.  

Dress for the Weather 

Better a little cold than too hot. The general rule is to dress for 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the temperature (make sure to factor in wind chill!). Consider that the longer the run, the faster the pace and the larger your body mass, the warmer you’ll get 

Layer. You want to be warm enough but not too sweaty. Choose clothing and accessories that can be unzipped, adjusted or removed, if needed. Runner’s World magazine offers this as a guide: 

30–39 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves and headband 

20–29 degrees: two shirts layered (i.e. long sleeve shirt and jacket), running tights, gloves and headband or hat. 

10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or hat, and wind proof jacket and pants. 

0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, wind proof breaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask or neck gaiter to cover face. 

Fabric matters. Choose tech fabrics or merino wool for layers closest to your skin and for socks to reduce moisture. Avoid cotton – it holds moisture, which can make you cold and more vulnerable to hypothermia.  

Running Excels sells winter running gear, accessories, shoes and more. They also organize free training groups and other runner activities. Info: Hours:  Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sun., 12 to 5 p.m.  

Neighbor Represents at Illinois High School Theatre Festival 

By Kristin Boza 

The 45th Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival, presented by the Illinois Theatre Association, takes place on Jan. 9 to 11 at Illinois State University; theatre students from around the state will perform Elton John’s AIDA in the largest and oldest non-competitive high school theatre festival in the country. Three Mother McAuley High School students earned spots on the cast and crew, and the vocal director of the entire production is Beverly/Morgan Park resident Carolyn Brady. More than 4,000 students, teachers, university representatives, exhibitors, and volunteers will participate. 

Brady’s extensive musical career includes being in the All State Cast as a senior in high school. Now, she is the Music Director for the Saint Ignatius College Prep Harlequins and is on the voice faculty of the Theatre Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, along with private voice coaching to professionals and students.  

“Hundreds of high school students from across the state audition to be part of the cast; ultimately, 40 are cast, 40 are crew members, and others are selected for the student orchestra,” she said. “We rehearse one weekend a month from Aug. to Dec., and the show is put together, built, rehearsed, and designed during that time. Teachers and theatre professionals from across the state are selected to serve as part of the production team, and they lead the best students in the state to put together a top-level professional production.” 

McAuley students Mary Helen Hennessy (Beverly/Morgan Park), Marguerite Reed (Palos) and Molly May (Mount Greenwood) were chosen for the production.  

“I feel honored to be a part of such a big production and such a talented company of students and faculty. I was extremely thrilled to find out that I had been cast,” Hennessy said. “The rehearsal process has been a wonderful experience. I have always loved to perform and to do so with people who share the same passion means so much to me. I am very excited to perform for my friends and family because we have been working so hard over the past few months, and I can’t wait for people to see everything we’ve been doing.” 

Aside from gaining valuable stage experience at a prestigious festival, students will stay on campus and attend numerous workshops, like stage combat, stage/special effects makeup, monologue coaching, and more.  

“I am thrilled to serve in my current capacity,” Brady said. “I love helping these amazing young people shine and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.” 

Beverly Morgan Park Community Choir Welcomes New Director 

By Kristin Boza 

Larry Deweese has been named as the new Musical Director for the Beverly Morgan Park Community Choir, currently entering its 21st season. This spring season’s theme is “A New Vision,” which applies to both the new decade and their new leadership. 

Deweese studied music at Millikin University, including choral conducting under the world-renowned choral director Dr. Brad Holmes. He spent 21 years educating elementary and middle school children, with 12 of those years devoted to music education; he currently is the K-3 elementary music teacher in Peotone, Ill. 

“I’ve had many years of experience as a church music director in a variety of denominations,” Deweese said. “I am currently the Minister of Music at the Presbyterian Church in Orland Park, where I’ve led the music ministry for over 13 years.” 

A resident of Willowbrook, engaging with the Beverly/Morgan Park community is new to Deweese. “I am encouraged by the diversity that I find when I am in the area; my taste in choral music is diverse, and I believe that performing diverse music reaches each and every listener, while expanding their musical palettes to new genres,” he said. “It’s like going to a buffet; there’s always something you’ll love, maybe even something that will evoke memories of the past. There are also new dishes to try, and many other dishes will satisfy you!” 

Joining the Beverly Morgan Park Community Choir does not require an audition and membership is open to anyone in the community. The choir usually boasts 50 members that represent 25 churches in the area. The first choir meeting for music pick-up and intriductions to Deweese is Sun., Jan. 12, 3:15 to 5 p.m.Immanuel United Church of Christ, 9815 S. Campbell Ave. Rehearsals will be each Sun., Jan. 19 through Mar. 223:15 to 5:15 p.m. at Immanuel UCC. The spring concert will be held on Sun., Mar. 29, 4 p.m. at St. Cajetan Church, 2445 W. 112th St. 

The community is encouraged to come out and join the choir or attend the concert. For more information on becoming a member, visit 

Chicago Railroad History Posters Available 

Chicago Railroad History Posters Available 

The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society, a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, is selling the poster by Mitch Markovitz celebrating Chicago Railroad History Month and the rich history of Chicago’s railroads. The celebration of October as the month honoring the relationship between the city and the railroads began two years ago, and a larger celebration in 2023, the 175th anniversary of the first train to operate out of Chicago, is being planned. 

The 20×30 inch poster illustrates a number of iconic images of the city’s railroad history. This includes the streamlined diesel Zephyr passenger train, a steam powered freight and the observation car of a Chicago & Alton passenger train. The classic background of the Chicago skyline includes the long lost Union Station Concourse and Grand Central Station. South Shore and Illinois Central electric trains complete the scene. Markovitz’s art includes book covers, illustrations and posters for a number of clients that including railroads. The poster evokes his knowledge and passion for railroads and their history. 

The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society, celebrating its 50th anniversary, has been involved in various aspects of railroad preservation and historical research. They have funded a number of preservation projects and consulted with a variety of groups on local preservation efforts.  

The posters retail for $35 plus shipping and handling. Limited edition, hand-run premium prints signed by the artist are available at prices up to $250. Purchase posters and learn more at www.blackhawkhistoricalsociety.orgMore information on Chicago Railroad History Month can be found at or by contacting David Daruszka, 773-233-8788. 

Christmas Block  

Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, the yards on 99th and Campbell are transformed into a wonderland of cartoon characters, Christmas scenes and reminders of the meaning of the holidays. The elaborate display began in the yard of Matt Doherty and, year by year, has expanded into the yards of neighbors creating the most-viewed Christmas display in our neighborhood, and, surely, an annual destination for many other area families. Kids who grew up visiting Campbell Avenue each year are bringing their own children. 

Doherty may be the mastermind of the Christmas block, but, just like at Santa’s workshop, it takes a team of elves to bring his vision to reality. Doherty’s helpers include his wife, Sherry Doherty; his brothers, Michael and  Marty Doherty; and his friends, Nora Collins, Stacy and Kim Kouzios and Cathy Sorich. New pieces must be crafted and painted, and some of the older pieces touched up, and it all has to be installed for the season.  

New this year is a thank you to people in the U.S. armed forces who are on active duty overseas, an interactive toyland and a display based on Frank Capra’s classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  

Children are invited to mail their letters to Santa at the special mail box; remember to include your address so Santa can send a reply!  

Word about Doherty’s holiday cheer is spreading! This year, he is setting up displays at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.  


Sweet Surprises at BAPA’s Holiday Cookie Crawl 

Sweet Surprises at BAPA’s Holiday Cookie Crawl 

Everyone’s smiling when they arrive at BAPA’s annual Holiday Cookie Crawl. What’s not to love about visiting neighborhood businesses and getting a sweet surprise at every stop! The 4th Annual Holiday Cookie Crawl will be held Sat., Dec. 14, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and at the time The Villager went to press, tins were available for purchase. Tins sales are online only at The cost is $25 each, limit two. 

The Crawl begins at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., where participants will check in between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and receive their first two treats, one from the Misericordia pop-up and one from BAPA.  Cookie Crawl sponsors are Desmond & Ahern LTD., certified accountants and consultants, and County Fair Foods.  

This year’s event features more participating businesses, so tins are bigger to accommodate 17 treats. Cookie flavors include gingerbread men, eggnog snowmen, oatmeal with white chocolate, double chocolate with peppermint, red velvet, amaretti, pumpkin spice and more. Bakers and treat makers are Misericordia, Sweet Freaks, Laine’s Bake Shop, Home Run Inn, Smith Village, County Fair Foods, Beverly Bakery, Barraco’s, Alvin Green and Mr. Mike’s.  

Each of the cookie stops is located along Western Avenue. I It takes 4960 cookies to fill the 300 tins available for the crawl!  

In addition to collecting cookies, families can enjoy holiday music by the Chicago Children’s Choir at the Beverly Arts Center, visits with Santa at Beverly Bank, 10258 S. Western, 2 to 5 p.m., and special fun at other businesses. 

BAPA’s Holiday Cookie Crawl supports local businesses and encourages are residents to shop locally. 




Benefits of Love 

By Kristin Boza 


In our community, we step up to help others in need. From providing aid abroad to helping little ones close to home, Beverly/Morgan Park residents give their time, talent, goods and money to boost up those who are facing a crisis. So many opportunities exist to get involved, especially during the holiday season. Here is a sampling of some local people and businesses organizing benefits of love. 

Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry 

Karen Overstreet, director of the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, is driven by the mission to feed the hungry in our community. Since the food pantry opened in 1983, 1,200 hungry and disadvantaged Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors are assisted each year. The food pantry relies on donations from area residents, schools, organization, and businesses to donate money and/or food items to keep the pantry stocked. “The generosity of the neighborhood provides emergency food assistance to help our neighbors prepare a full holiday meal in their homes. This gives them hope,” said Overstreet.  

To make a donation, call the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, 773-239-3013 or email Karen Overstreet at Checks can be sent to Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, 11130 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago IL 60643.  

Breast Cancer Research and Awareness 

Everything’s Relative, 10548 S. Western, is an outspoken supporter of both breast cancer research/awareness and domestic violence awareness. Owner Joan Each Rowan is especially close to the annual Ginger Rugai Y-Me Softball Tournament, which takes place each August and is entering its 26th year in 2020. “Ginger Rugai is a friend of mine, and when she went through her battle with breast cancer, it affected many of us. At that time, the only awareness most of us had of breast cancer was that it was a death sentence! Ginger went through a lot with her own terror and treatments, and women all over were realizing that there was no or very little money for research,” Each Rowan said. “Now that the statistics for survival of breast cancer are the complete opposite of what they were 25 years ago, and I think the Y-Me organization was part of making that difference.” 

Each Rowan’s activism became personal when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. “I knew I would be okay because years ago at the Y-Me tournament, I was given information on the importance of routine mammograms and self-exams,” she said. “Also, we are women taking care of women! We march, we play softball, and we try to change things for the better; I’m so proud to be associated with these wonderful women of our community.” 

Aside from supporting the Y-Me organization, Each Rowan and Everything’s Relative hold a food drive every November and will once again hold a toy drive for the 20th Annual Kevin Dowling Christmas is for Kids event this month. Stop by the salon to drop off an unwrapped new toy for a child in need. 

Connections for Abused Women and Their Children 

Founded in 1977, Connections for Abused Women and Their Children is headquartered in Humboldt Park. Franconello’s10222 S. Western, displays a collection box for restaurant patrons to drop off necessary items to help these families in distress. “This collection is great because I think we all have these simple things laying around the house — the shirt with the tags still on it that we never wore, an extra bottle of shampoo — and there’s nothing easier than dropping it off at Franconello’s then stopping in for happy hour,” said Franconello’s manager Marcia McGann-Hatzell. “When I first heard about this organization, I was shocked to see that there weren’t any drop-off locations on the South Side, so I asked our owner, Frank Ruffolo, if we could be a donation site and without hesitation he said yes. Domestic violence and abuse somehow sadly affects all of us in one way or another.” 

Donations of new toiletries, clothing, toys, art supplies, self-care supplies and household items (including small appliances) are accepted. The Ruffolo family is donating various spices, as requested by the organization for use in their shelter. Stop in during business hours to drop off your donation: Mon. – Fri., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sat., 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sun., 12 to 9 p.m. 

Sueños Sin Fronteras 

Beverly Therapists, 10725 S. Western, with support from the Beverly Unitarian Church, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., is responding to the short- and long-term needs of asylum-seeking families at the Texas-Mexico border for the Sueños Sin Fronteras (SSF)  program. Travel size toiletries, brushes/combs, soap bars, diaper rash cream, new underwear (all sizes), socks (all sizes), feminine hygiene products, and quart-size Ziploc bags are being collected. “SSF’s mission and values align with ours at Beverly Therapists in supporting individuals in their journey to be surrounded by a community to be their best selves in all aspects,” said Beverly Therapist partner/founder Jennifer Lara. “Transitions are challenging and having a community that supports women and children to reduce the long-term effects of stress and trauma is a cause we feel connected to. We are so grateful to the community of Beverly and the surrounding areas that have joined us in this effort; it is powerful to know that we are a part of a larger movement that believes in community.” 

Contact Lara, 773-251-8016 or to coordinate a drop-off. The organization is also accepting monetary donations at Venmo @suenossinfronteras. 

Turpin Cares 

For the third year in a row, Turpin Cares has set up a donation site at Starbucks, 103rd and Longwood Diver. Turpin Cares is a non-profit organization that collects and distributes food, comfort items and hygiene products to local shelters, other non-profits and individuals on the street, and it is sponsored in part by Turpin Communication, a neighborhood-based business. Through Dec. 24, people can stop into the Starbucks and choose an ornament from the Christmas tree that includes a wish list; then, bring the items back to the location and Turpin Cares will distribute the items. “In 2016, I had countless conversations about how our world felt more divided than ever. I knew I wanted to be on the caring, loving, inclusive side of the equation. Turpin Cares was an unofficial entity at the time, and when I looked around at ways we could make our corner of the world a little better, working harder to help the less fortunate seemed like the right thing to do,” said Turpin Communications vice president Greg Owen-Boger. “We now have a small group made up of Beverly locals who work together to make the magic happen.”  

“We started this non-profit with the hopes of helping a few,” said Dale Ludwig, Turpin Cares board president. “Through these holiday donations, we’ve been able to support countless individuals and families. We can’t thank people enough.” 

Raising Money for a Child Diagnosed with Cancer 

Within three days of a GoFundMe account opening up for Beverly/Morgan Park resident two-year-old Finley Bracken, the community rallied and raised $40,000 to help the family as they navigate this scary diagnosis (to date, nearly $65,000 has been raised). Finley was diagnosed with neuroblastoma; as the youngest child in the Bracken family, her older sisters are always singing and performing for her to put a smile on her face, according to the GoFundMe sponsors who wish to remain anonymous. “Finley’s father, Dan Bracken, is a paramedic on the Chicago Fire Department in addition to serving as Assistant Chief on the Posen Fire Department; he’s one of those guys who would do anything to help another in need. Finley’s mom, Lacey Bracken, is one of the strongest women around and takes on life’s hardest days with a smile on her face,” said the family friend.  

The Brackens attend St. Cajetan Church, which is another community that instantly stepped up to help. “They embraced the family with prayer services and by initiating a food train and fundraising support — all in an effort to let the Brackens know how much they are loved in their neighborhood,” said the family friend. “The family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by the community. The prayers are working, so please keep Finely and the entire Bracken family in your prayers.” 

To donate, visit  

Other Donating Opportunities 

The 20th annual Kevin Dowling Christmas is For Kids Toy Drive will be held Sat., Dec. 7, 2 to 7 p.m., 115 Bourbon St., 3359 W. 115th St. Admission is unwrapped new toys or monetary donation. Toys will be donated to children at area hospitals, Info: Jim McKeever, 773-972-6264 or 

The 19th Ward is collecting gently used adult and children’s clothing, jewelry and handbags in good condition through Dec. 15; items will be donated to WINGS resale shop and benefit services to families touched by domestic violence, including through the WINGS program and A New Direction. Drop off items at 10400 S. Western, Mon.-Fri., 9a.m. to 5 p.m., or 3207 W. 111th St., Mon-Fri., 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Info: 

The Advent Outreach Program at Morgan Park United Methodist Church, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., invites the community to join in knitting or crocheting hats and scarfs to be given as Christmas donations to homeless shelters. With the help of the community, the program gave 53 hats and 36 scarfs to homeless people last year. Items can be dropped off at the church. The program runs through Dec. 7. Details: 

Santa Sightings and Holiday Happenings

December is a busy month in Beverly/Morgan Park. Here’s a list of events from Christmas tree sales to breakfast with Santa to holiday markets.  


Forty artists will offer high quality artisanal items, from jewelry and knitted items to photography and ceramics at the 5th annual Uprising Holiday Market, Sun., Dec. 1, 12 to 5 p.m., Olivia’s Garden, 10730 S. Western. Find the perfect holiday gift or gift to self. Enjoy live music, raffled gift basket, dining options, and festive cocktail creations by Steering Cocktails. Not your momma’s craft fair! $5 donation requested to support the Beverly Area Arts Alliance. 

Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, 2017 W. 110th Pl., presents its annual professional performance of Handel’s “Messiah” Sun., Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. Singers from throughout the community with join the church choir and the Classic Act Ensemble and Chatham Choral Ensemble in the performance which will be conducted by Maestro Charles T. Hayes. The concert will feature Monica Perdue as Soprano, Allison Selby Cook as Alto, Jeffery Burish as Tenor, and Arthur D. Griffin, Jr. as Bass. An orchestra coordinated by David Howard will accompany the musical masterpiece. Tickets are available in advance at or 773-779-3355, $20/adults or $15/seniors and students; children under age 10 free.  

Bethany Union Church, 1750 W. 103rd St., church organized governed and supported by a community of believers who come from many backgrounds and traditions, invites neighbors to join them this month for Advent Sunday services 10:30 a.m., including the annual Build-a-Manger service and Caroling on the Corner on Dec. 22; and the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, Dec. 24, 9 p.m. Info: 773-779-0123 or  

The Lutherans have a history of singing hymn and drinking beer. According to legend, Martin Luther, the 16th century Reformer, set some of his hymns to the familiar tunes of drinking songs popular in the tavernsHymns will be returned to the tavern as Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church hosts its second Beer & Hymns, Mon., Dec. 2, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Open Outcry Brewing Co., 10934 S. Western. All are welcome for an evening of fellowship and singing a variety of hymns and holiday songs led by Bethlehem organist David Ritter. Song sheets will be available. Open Outcry serves beverages and food, and is familyfriendlyLocated at 9401 S. Oakley Ave., the church invites area residents to join them this month for Advent Sunday Worship at 9:30 a.m.; Wednesday evening Advent Contemplative Services and Bible study; the Do It Yourself Nativity, Dec. 22, 9:30 a.m.; Christmas Eve services at 3 and 10 p.m.; and Christmas Carol Worship, Dec. 29, 9:30 a.m. Info: 773-445-7558 or  

Chicago Kids Company presents “Mrs. Claus: A Holiday Musical,” selected weekdays 10:30 a.m. and noon; and Sat. Dec. 14 and 21 and Sun., Dec. 22, 1 p.m., Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Geared to younger children, this one-hour musical gets the audience involved in helping Mrs. Claus and the elves help to save Christmas. $14 to $18, and group rates available. Tickets/info: or 773-205-9600.  

Visit participating businesses between Sacramento and Pulaski for the Mount Greenwood Holiday Stroll, Fri., Dec. 6, 4 to 7 p.m. Enjoy music, special characters, raffles and holiday sales.  

Vendors will be selling a wide variety of items for holiday giving, holiday decorating, as well as candy, home décor, fabric items, candles, ceramic pieces, jewelry and more at the 3rd annual Christkindl Market, Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Olivia’s Garden, 10730 S. Western. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., children can enjoy visits with Santa (with photos by Maplewood Photography), face painting and cookie decorating.  

A holiday tradition that spans generations, Santa will visit the Givins Beverly Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., Sat., Dec. 7, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to enjoy breakfast with families and hear Christmas wishes from the kids. $5 per personThis event is hosted by Beverly Unitarian Church.  

Volunteers will be selling 100 beautiful Fraser fir Christmas tree sales at the Castle on two weekends: Dec. 7 and 8 and Dec. 14 and 15, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (open earlier on Dec. 7 during Breakfast with Santa) in the church parking lot, 10244 S. Longwood Dr. Don’t wait until the last minute! They expect to sell out! 

The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus performs the holiday extravaganza, “Holidisco,” Sun., Dec. 8, 3 p.m., Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. The performance will bring disco renditions of beloved holiday favorites to the stage with tantalizing glitz and glamour. The show features eight dance numbers, five solos, and over 150 singers performing homages to Gloria Gaynor, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Kool and the Gang, and even a Handel Disco Messiah. “It’s an all-ages show. Tickets are $28 at the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus website, Seating is general admission and on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The businesses at 99th and Walden Parkway invite shoppers and revelers to the Walden Holiday Market, Thurs., Dec. 12, 6 to 9 p.m. Get into the holiday spirit with shopping, musiccraft cocktails and more 

“Elf the Musical Jr.” will be performed Dec. 12 through 15 in the Beverly Arts Center Baffes Theatre, 2407 W. 111th St. Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole where he is raised as an elfWhen his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth that he is humanBuddy embarks on a journey to discover his true identity and bring the true meaning of Christmas to New York City. The show is performed by BAC theatre students. Thurs., Fri. and Sat. curtain time of 7 p.m., and the Sunday matinee starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 ($10 for BAC members) at 773-445-3838, or www. or at the BAC. 

Open Outcry Brewing, 10934 S. Western, and The Christmas Tree-O presents Vince Guaraldi’s timeless, A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Thurs., Dec. 19, 8:30 p.m. All 11 tracks of the 1965 classic will be performed by The Christmas Tree-O. No cover. Seating is first come, first served, and limited.  

Christmas Jazz Concert with the Lowdown Brass Band will be performed at Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, 2017 W. 110th Pl., Fri., Dec. 22, 7 p.m. Free for all ages, the community is invited join in the carol singing accompanied by Lowdown Brass. The nationally recognized band combines stellar vocal harmonies, adventurous improvisation, movement and grooves to create an infectious sound that has something for every listener. Their Christmas album, very much in the style of New Orleans, features original arrangements of Christmas classics. Free will donations accepted.