BAPA residential member profiles

BAPA Welcomes New Director of Economic Development

By Kristin Boza 

Anna Fratto is the latest addition to the BAPA team in the newly created role of Director of Economic Development. Beverly/Morgan Park current and potential small business owners have a dedicated resource to assist them with their opportunities and needs.  

Fratto began working for BAPA in November, just in time to assist in BAPA’s Holiday Cookie Crawl and the matching grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust. She previously worked as the executive director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and as the public affairs and community relations coordinator for CITGO Petroleum Corporation.  

Fratto’s work in both the non-profit and corporate industries gives her the knowledge to assist local small business owners with strengthening their businesses and to advocate for small business recruitment.  

Her depth of experience in developing and implementing marketing and fundraising campaigns and coordinating special events is a perfect complement to BAPA’s goals. Within her corporate experience, Fratto learned to manage volunteers, develop communication strategies, and foster relationships with schools and government organizations. 

“I was so excited to see the tremendous support from the community for the Cookie Crawl and to see the generosity of residents and businesses to help us reach and surpass our goal through the Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust matching grant program at the end of the year,” Fratto said. “I look forward to growing the community and business participation in our events and building support for BAPA. By engaging more businesses in BAPA, we can work hand-in-hand to ultimately make them more successful and bring some new ideas to the table.” 

To connect with Fratto, email her at afratto@bapa.org. 

 

Rebeca Huffman: Dedicated to Helping Chicago’s Kids

By Kristin Boza 

City Year Chicago is making a big impact in the lives of nearly 15,000 Chicago Public School students on the south and west sides. City Year Chicago Executive Director Rebeca Nieves Huffman is a Beverly/Morgan Park resident who volunteered through the program from 1998 to 1999, and she now dedicates her career to helping other children reach their full potential and eventually make an impact in their communities.  

The program is part of an initiative that pairs AmeriCorps volunteers with elementary and high school students in 29 cities across the United States to address the risks and long-lasting effects of student drop-out rates. As executive director of the Chicago program, Huffman is responsible for raising the resources necessary to run the programs and to be the face and voice for the city’s youth. 

“I consider it such a privilege that I’m the first in my family to graduate from college. Growing up in Humboldt Park, which is very similar to Beverly, I grew up with people that thought the same way, went to the same church, and spoke the same language. It’s great to lead a team that looks like the United Nations; we have different belief systems and educational levels and backgrounds, but we are all role models for our students,” Huffman said. “My role is to raise money, be a voice for our youth, and help our students meet academic goals while also being there for them socially and emotionally.” 

Huffman and her husband Craig moved to Beverly/Morgan Park in 2008, and were drawn here because of the strong sense of community, great schools and safe atmosphere. “When we were looking at houses in Beverly, we almost felt like we were in the suburbs with the sprawling yards and family feel,” she said. “I remember hearing about how safe it is here and it was great to know that my kids would be able to ride their bikes in front of the house. There’s a great community of neighbors here; if we see something ‘off’ or great about the kids, we let each other know. It feels like a village is coming together to raise them.” 

With a son at Sutherland Elementary School and a daughter at St. Barnabas School, Huffman is entrenched in the variety of educational opportunities available here. “Schools are a reflection of the value of the community. I have two kids with completely different educational needs, and it’s great that they can be met at these two separate learning environments,” she said. 

City Year Chicago is always looking for donations of money or time to help reach as many CPS students as possible. In April, the organization will hold its annual Ripples of Hope gala, which accounts for a quarter of their private revenue dollars. To find out more about City Year Chicago or make a donation, visit  CityYear.org/Chicago. 

BAPA Board Profile: Maureen Gainer Reilly

By Kristin Boza

Meet Maureen Gainer Reilly, BAPA board president. Gainer Reilly has served on the board for three years, the past two as president. Her role at BAPA is to work to promote the Beverly/Morgan Park community to residents throughout the city, while also connecting neighbors and acting as an advisor to BAPA staff.

Gainer Reilly spent the early part of her career in a variety of non-profit and social service organizations. In 2003, she started her own consulting firm, GO Consulting, which provides services in Project Management and Process Improvement. “My work enables me to assist BAPA and its small but mighty staff as they work to constantly improve the organization,” she said.

A native Beverly/Morgan Park resident and part of a family that routinely supported BAPA, she, like many, moved away from the area for a while. However, again like many in the neighborhood, she knew she would make her way back once she started her family. “I am part of BAPA because my hope is that my children will be drawn back to live a couple blocks from us after they have traveled the world. I share my time with BAPA because I also hope that people from all over the city will be drawn here, bringing their ideas, energy, and fresh perspective,” Gainer Reilly said. “People are drawn here because we have incredible talent in this neighborhood in so many groups, alliances, and businesses that are collaborating to bring art, culture, beauty, and amenities to our streets.”

The excitement and commitment to the cause of creating a vibrant and whole community is what drives Gainer Reilly. “BAPA events that connect neighbors and build community feed the programs that support our schools, preserve our historic homes, beautify our streets, and keep our neighborhood vibrant,” she said. “The Richard Driehaus Charitable Trust is known to support only organizations that have a track record of success, strong leadership, and efficient management. The response to our recent Dreihaus campaign was overwhelming! People believe in the mission and the show of financial support is humbling and motivating to our staff and Board of Directors.”

Connect with BAPA in 2019; come to an event, read about neighbors in The Villager, volunteer, call the office for a quality trade referral, plant a tree with us, and help us make you Love Where You Live.

 

Know Your Neighbors: Photographer’s Work on Exhibit at Cultural Center

By Abby Johnson

Cecil McDonald, Jr. fell in love with photography in college. He was in his final year of undergraduate school studying Fashion Merchandising when he signed up for an introductory class as an elective to pass the time. He’s been hooked ever since.

McDonald, a resident of Beverly/Morgan Park for more than two decades, now works as an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, the same school from which he received an MFA in Photography. His work has been showcased both nationally and internationally in galleries in Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, New York and Haarlem, Netherlands.

Last year, McDonald released “In the Company of Black,” a book of photographs featuring African-American subjects whom he describes as “extraordinarily ordinary”— educators, artists, administrators, business owners, teachers and students.

“Cecil McDonald Jr.: In the Company of Black,” photographs from the book, will be on exhibit Jan. 19 to Apr. 14, Chicago Cultural Center 78 E. Washington St. Admission is free.

“These people are an important part of society’s framework,” McDonald said. “They need to be seen!”

The 144-page book began as a small project in 2007 when McDonald started to photograph his friends and family in attempt to showcase the difference between his fellow African-Americans and the African-American lifestyles portrayed to society.

“We are fed images of two types of black people: the megastar athlete and the poor man who can’t support his family,” McDonald said. “In reality, most people don’t fit into either of these categories.”

Soon, McDonald began taking photographs of strangers, too. But it wasn’t until several years later, while completing the Artist-In-Residency program at Light Work in Syracuse, NY, that McDonald was hit with the idea to create a book.

“I saw other residents trying to turn their work into books,” he said. “So I thought ‘hey I should try that, too’”.

McDonald presented the idea to his former teaching assistant Matt Austin of Candor Arts, an independent art book publisher based in Chicago.

“He said ‘let’s do it, let’s try it,’” McDonald said. “So we did, and the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.”

The book features an introduction written by Tempestt Hazel, a former student of McDonald, and was nominated for the 2017 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award. Last month, a selected portion of the photographs featured in McDonald’s book were on display at Illinois State University Galleries. The same exhibition will be showcased at the Chicago Cultural Center in January.

For McDonald, the photographs are the most important part of his recent journey. They tell a story that challenges the roles designated to African-Americans by our cultural landscape, he said. While McDonald is humbled by the success of his book release, he believes it’s the photographs themselves that have the potential to make the biggest impact.

In fact, McDonald hopes the photographs never return to Chicago. Why? Because the whole world needs to observe them, to understand their symbolism.

“These images need to be seen,” he said. “Everywhere.”

 

New Neighbors: Why We Moved to Beverly/Morgan Park

Matt and Julie Gandurski

The Gandurskis bought their house in West Beverly a little over a year ago, and are finding it a great spot for their young children, Benny, 2, and Ellie, 3 months. Matt, a musician, music talent buyer, and bartender for Lagunitas Brewery’s Chicago Taproom, grew up at 104th and Leavitt and Julie, a teacher in Chicago Public Schools, grew up in Orland. Why did they choose Beverly/Morgan Park when it was time to buy a home?

“We have family and friends here,” Matt said. “Beverly was an easy choice when it came to price, and it’s such a beautiful neighborhood. Our house is right next to Mt. Greenwood Cemetery so we’re practically surrounded by nature. It doesn’t feel like we’re in the city at all.”

What’s the couple’s favorite aspect of life in Village in the City? “Friendly neighbors,” Matt said. “It sounds cliche, but it’s great to live in a place where you know all of your neighbors’ names and everyone looks out for one another.”

BAPA Board Profile: Thomas Chomicz

Thomas Chomicz got involved with the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) through former BAPA board member Steve Murphy. The two served together on the Smith Senior Living board of directors, and Murphy believed Chomicz’s skills and knowledge of the neighborhood were a good fit for the Beverly/Morgan Park umbrella civic organization.  

“He said I could be helpful,” Chomicz recalled, and certainly that is an understatement of the value he has brought to BAPA and our community.  

With his professional experience and commitment to the work of the organization, Chomicz has helped BAPA make important improvements in programming, reporting and governance.  

Chomicz is a retired attorney and CPA. Over the course of his legal and accounting career he has served on the boards of many not-for-profit organizations. He has been on the Smith Senior Living board for 30 years, serving as director and officer as well as on committees. For the Saint Xavier University board he served as a director for nine years and as chair for four years. He was a director for the Retirement Research Foundation, and a director and officer for The Stenning, a charitable foundation.  

BAPA has benefited greatly from this diverse, high level board experience. In 2014, Chomicz rewrote BAPA’s bylaws. He also enhanced the financial reporting to the board of directors and consistently provided thoughtful and informed leadership to guide BAPA in its work.  

In his six years of service to BAPA, Chomicz has served on the organization’s development, safety and nominating committees, as well as the executive committee. He is currently vice president of the board.  

Chomicz will be retiring from the BAPA board in 2019. He encourages community residents to get involved in BAPA and use their skills to advance the organization as members, volunteers and on committees.  

“BAPA is a quality community organization that highlights the positives, achievements and outstanding reputation of the Beverly/Morgan Park community,” he said, adding that BAPA has a positive effect on local issues including housing, education, safety and community development.  

Chomicz and his late wife Eunice moved to Beverly/Morgan Park in 1972 and raised six children here.  

For more information on how to get involved with BAPA, contact BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood, 773-233-3100 or sfloood@bapa.org.

Face to Face Caring: Connection is ‘Guiding Star’ for Local Charity

By Grace Kuikman 

Neighborhood residents Greg Owen-Boger and Dale Ludwig are principals of Turpin Communications, a small company based in East Beverly that provides business consulting for meetings, presentations and sales. Their company’s Turpin Cares charity, which provides food, hygiene items and hand-knit scarves and hats to homeless people, was created in response to a “moment of truth” in late 2016 when a new business contact made a simple request, “Tell me about the Turpin culture.” 

“We were a little taken aback,” Ludwig said. “And then we thought, ‘Y’know, why not do the work to define who we are.”  The successful company, which had been in business for more than 20 years by then, tasked its employees to share their thoughts on what the company should stand for. 

Owen-Boger’s and Ludwig’s shared personal commitments to diversity, fairness and honesty already were reflected in company practices, but what about the world beyond client meetings and office walls?  

Ideas for Turpin Cares began percolating. 

Owen-Boger and his friend Olive Rogers, an employee at the Starbucks on 103rd and Longwood, had been knitting hats and scarves and giving them to people on the street who, as Owen-Boger said, “looked like they needed them.”   

Why not take this small gesture of warmth a little farther?  

Owen-Boger and Ludwig enlisted some help and assembled about 25 care packages filled with food, first aid and hygiene products and, of course, hand-knit hats and scarves. Owen-Boger and Ludwig kept the packages in their cars and gave them to homeless people who they saw on the street. Frequently, the connection lasted only long enough to stop the car, jump out, and hand over the package with a heartfelt wish, but the looks of gratitude they saw in people’s eyes were enough to convince the business partners that they needed to do more. 

Owen-Boger has a family member who has grappled with homelessness. That connection coupled with the realization that homeless people need help all year round compelled the decision to expand Turpin Cares outreach to quarterly donations and to ask employees and their extended network of committed “friendlies” to support the cause with donations of goods and assistance in creating care packages that provide much-needed items for people with such limited resources.  

In its few short years of existence, Turpin Cares has steadily increased the number of people served. In 2017 they formed a partnership with Almost Home, a not-for-profit organization based in the south suburbs that provides “boots on the ground” assistance to the homeless primarily in south side communities. Almost Home has taken a lead role in distributing the Turpin Cares packages through shelters, handing them out one-by-one to recipients.  

“The people connection – that’s my guiding star,” Owen-Boger said.  

Owen-Boger and Ludwig still carry packages in their cars and maintain the face-to-face connection of giving them away, and in 2019, Turpin Cares will expand to offer services at least once a month.  

Turpin Cares is in the midst of the holiday collection. Anyone can help! The Starbucks at 103rd and Longwood Drive has ornaments that list specific items needed for care packages. Take an ornament, purchase the merchandise, then return it to the Starbucks by Dec. 24. Knitters are also welcome to donate handmade hats and scarves.  

For more information, visit www.turpincommunications.com and look for Turpin Cares.

BAPA Member Profiles

Bill & Aileen Halvorsen “We bought our house in Beverly/Morgan Park in 2005 and have benefited from BAPA ever since, starting with the new neighbor packet that BAPA sent us when we moved in. We’ve attended so many fun BAPA-sponsored events over the years — Ridge Run, Beverly Cycling Classic, the pub crawl — and are very appreciative that BAPA lets local organizations like the Beverly Area Arts Alliance and Words by Friends use their Community Room as a gathering place. Supporting BAPA through annual membership and volunteering is an easy decision because of the hard-working, creative staff that are constantly trying to improve quality of life in our neighborhood.”  

 

Marlon Eastmond & Shirley Blazejczyk, Blazin’ Cycle Spin Studio “We proudly joined BAPA because we love our neighborhood and want to improve it, benefit the community and have a connection with the other businesses. We live in Beverly, we work in Beverly and we spin in Beverly. As business owners it is essential that we participate, network and provide assistance to each other. We have seen positive results from our BAPA membership, our business.”

 

 

 

 

Maureen and Tom Gavin  “We give because BAPA is such an integral part of this fantastic neighborhood. We give because we want to nurture the spirit of generosity in those around us. We give because we feel the responsibility to an organization that exists for us.”  

 

 

 

 

Sara and Pat McGann “BAPA helps our beloved neighborhood consistently thrive and evolve. BAPA guarantees that our residents enjoy a dynamic, safe, welcoming and kind environment in our great city. Through their insightful communications, BAPA ensures that every resident has an opportunity to celebrate local achievements and accolades, mourn our losses, stay up to par on current local happenings and engage in thoughtful discussion about issues that affect our community. As lifelong South Siders, we returned ‘home’ because, after years of living out-of-state and elsewhere in Chicago, we fully realized that there is no better community to raise our children and live fulfilling lives as adults. Anyone who visits our neighborhood would be impressed by our warm residents, committed politicians, attractive public landscape, beautiful homes, robust school offerings and vibrant local shops. BAPA is essential for this neighborhood’s preservation and growth, and we are so thankful that the staff and board invest their time and brilliance into this outstanding community.”  

 

 

Joshua Mercer, Allstate Insurance “I think it’s important to support BAPA as a member because whether it be education, business, or safety they are champions for the Beverly community. As a Beverly native, parent and business owner it is important to be a part of a well-established network that can help me navigate through life and build relationships.” 

 

 

 

 

Carol Macola “BAPA brings the community together through so many diverse and fun events throughout the year. With the Home Tour, I see unique houses and get great ideas for decorating, remodeling, and landscaping for my own ‘this old house.’  In years past, I challenged myself in the Ridge Run, enjoying the camaraderie of the event. Now I work with other BAPA volunteers on the Memorial Day Parade that follows the Run, remembering the lives of those from our area that gave their lives in service to our country. I am so proud of those participants in the parade that help to honor this day. At Bikes and Brews, I meet friends and neighbors.  These BAPA events and the others throughout the year showcase our community’s charm and enthusiastic lifestyles. BAPA reflects the caring that has made Beverly/Morgan Park a community that encourages long term commitment. Being a BAPA member exemplifies my own commitment to our community. I love where I live, and I am proud to be a BAPA member.” 

 

Robin Harmon, RMH Design “Great communities are built on the people who live in them, and our neighbors who work at BAPA do a good job of making this a great community. BAPA’s events keep people coming together for activities then staying involved in the neighborhood. BAPA helps small business owners grow their businesses, and makes sure everyone knows each other, connecting business owners with homeowners. BAPA creates a community feel that just does not happen in other neighborhoods. BAPA is awesome.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheila Gainer “Growing up in Beverly/Morgan Park there was always a thought in the back of my mind that I would come back to here to raise my own family. We’ve been back for five months, and in some ways, it feels like I never left. What made this such a great place to grow up is also what makes it such a great place to live as an adult: the people you have chosen to live around care about you and your family and care about the neighborhood we all call home. That feeling is personified in BAPA. As the daughter of a former BAPA board president and the sister of the current board president, I know first-hand how much time and dedication it takes to make a neighborhood successful, and how much BAPA is behind so many of the things we love. Being a member seems like the least I can do!”         

 

 

 

 

Shirley Conley “I’m proud to support BAPA’s work in our neighborhood. The three areas most important to me are 1. The family oriented events like the Ridge Run, the adult events like the fun Sip and Shop, and Tech Tuesdays for seniors like me. 2. The references for reliable contractors and other service providers. 3. The BAPA Card – when I’m thinking about going outside the community to shop, it reminds me to support local businesses.”

David Daruszka: Player with Railroads

By Abby Johnson

Trains are a common topic in Chicago, but how often are railroads given credit for their role in the city’s history?  

Self-declared railroad history buff and Beverly/Morgan Park resident David Daruszka says not often enough. Daruszka is a retired locomotive engineer for Metra and the Vice President of the Blackhawk Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The advocacy work of this club paid off earlier this year when Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an official Proclamation declaring November “Chicago Railroad History Month.” The purpose? To bring public recognition to the history of railroads in the city. 

“Most people don’t know how integral the railroads were in making Chicago such a bustling city,” Daruszka said. “We think it’s important that people are made aware of the role these railroads played. And still do play.” 

The timing of this proclamation is no coincidence: Nov. 20 marks the 170th anniversary of the day the diminutive locomotive “Pioneer” carried dignitaries to a location 10 miles west of the city, returning with a load of grain sacks. This occurrence rapidly led to the construction of hundreds of miles of tracks across Chicago, making railroads a major factor in the growth of the city and its influence in the nation’s commercial life and social landscape. 

In fact, the birth and subsequent growth of the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood was largely due to the building of these railroads. Life outside of Chicago proper was appealing, and it was made possible thanks to the daily commuter trains that brought men to and from work downtown. 

“This neighborhood would not be here today if it weren’t for the railroad,” Daruszka said. “So many people live here and ride the train every day, but they have no idea how important these trains actually are.” 

In 1948, the Chicago Railroad Fair was held in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Pioneer’s inaugural journey and featured along Lake Michigan exhibitions of trains and equipment from many of the nation’s railroads. Recreating a similar extravaganza in 2023 is one of the reasons Daruszka and his group petitioned for Emanuel’s declaration. 

“Our goal is to spread the word to various community groups, museums and historical societies throughout Chicago,” he said. “Hopefully this will become a sustaining effort that leads to a gala celebration of the railroad’s 175th anniversary.” 

Trains are important from more than a historical perspective, Daruszka said. He believes trains are also the way of the future. As traffic becomes ever more frequent, transportation by way of automobile becomes less and less efficient. 

Daruszka is already on board with this form of travel. Just last month, he took an 11-hour Amtrak ride to visit his mother in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. Aside from the lack of leg room in Coach, the trip went well, he said. Because Daruszka likes traveling by train. And considering his passion for the railways, you could say he has yet to disembark.  

 

For more information regarding the Chicago Railroad History Month initiative, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/180216025919974/ 

 

 

 

 

BAPA Board Member Profile: Craig Huffman

By Grace Kuikman

Craig Huffman, a BAPA Board member since 2016, moved to Beverly/Morgan Park from Hyde Park in 2008. Huffman and his wife, Rebeca, learned about the neighborhood when visiting friends. “I fell in love with the community,” Huffman said, citing the mix of small town feel and big city appeal that has drawn so many people to the Village in the City.

Soon after the Huffmans settled in their East Beverly home they joined BAPA. Supporting your neighborhood organization is, “the right thing to do,” Huffman said. Even though he didn’t know a lot about BAPA’s work when he first came to the community, he has since learned how much BAPA does to preserve and protect our community. When he got the call inviting him to consider serving on the BAPA Board, he said yes,

The expertise Huffman brings to BAPA includes wide experience in board governance and management including not-for-profits, financial analysis, and facilities maintenance – especially helpful as BAPA owns an old building.

A managing partner and co-founder of Ascendance Partners, a commercial real estate investment firm, Huffman brings exceptional insight and experience in this field to BAPA’s board. Ascendance Partners was established in 2006 with a focus on commercial real estate investments that target industrial, retail and office opportunities throughout metropolitan Chicago.

In addition to his commitment to BAPA, Huffman serves on a number of other boards including the Healthy Communities Foundation, a public policy organization that works for prison reform, and an organization that helps ensure that children from low families have access to higher education.

Huffman’s reputation for hard work and deep insights about Chicago communities were certainly factors to him being appointed to the diverse committee of Chicago business and community leaders invited by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help make the case for moving Amazon HQ2 to Chicago.

In that capacity, Huffman has participated in briefing sessions and opportunities to advocate for Chicago as the best place for Amazon to locate.

Huffman called Amazon a “major player in commerce” citing its enormous span of influence, from affluent communities to poor ones. “Amazon is redefining what many of us know as conventional retail,” he said. Finalists cities should be announced soon, and the selection may be made by the end of this year. Huffman said he’s “hopeful” that Chicago will be selected but adds “We’ve got some tough competition.”  “I think Chicago is the best city in the world, but people in other cities feel the same way,” he said.

Huffman’s experience and perspective gained in his career, in board work and as an active member of the community help shape the programs and goals of BAPA.

“Beverly/Morgan Park is a great community because of the level of the people who are here, and BAPA is a reflection of that,” he said. He encourages neighbors to actively support BAPA. “The more people getting involved in BAPA, the more we’re invested in making sure Beverly/Morgan Park remains a great community.”

The Huffmans have two children, Sofia, 11, a student at St. Barnabas School, and Solomon, 9, a student at Sutherland School.

For more information about supporting BAPA, call BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood, 773-233-3100, or visit www.bapa.org.