BAPA residential member profiles

Tween Filmmaker Produces Talk Show to Inspire Others 

By Kristin Boza 

Avery Kelley, a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and Keller Regional Gifted School 7th grader, already has an impressive resume. As a writer, director, producer, and filmmaker, Kelley hosts the weekly Tweendom Talk Show on YouTube, where she connects with others across the city who are doing great things in their communities.  

“I first got the idea for the Tweendom Talk Show in February. As a filmmaker, my mind is gearing all the time and I’m always thinking of new ideas,” Kelley said. “My mom and I talked about doing a talk show for kids by kids. Covid threw a wrench in our plans for an in-person talk show, but we thought to still make this happen to get my mind and the viewers’ minds off of all the crazy things going on and bring some positivity into their homes every Friday.” 

As a tween herself, Kelley knows what kids need and want to hear about their insecurities, bullying, or coping in a pandemic. She also highlights the positive impacts other kids are making.  

“To find guests, I go on social media to do some research or I get ideas from my family and friends,” she said. “I also like to see what kids are into nowadays and I want to make sure I’m covering things that other people are interested in. It takes a lot of planning, research, and strategic thinking to get the show out each week.” 

One of Keley’s favorite episodes included a panel of tweens and teens, and doctor who discussed their different experiences with 2020 and having to stay socially distanced. Another favorite episode was an interview with Kayli Joy Cooper, the 16-year-old founder of Girl Well, a non-profit organization that serves under-sheltered teenage girls by providing them with self-care kits. 

Many kids create videos on YouTube and other platforms; Kelley advises that they take the time to plan to ensure that the content is interesting and engaging. “It takes time and commitment to think of ways to keep the audience interested and make them want to come back each week,” she said. “Be creative, use your imagination, and make sure you are doing what you love.” 

Kelley credits her family, friends, and teachers for guiding and supporting her with the talk show as well as other academic and extracurricular activities. “I’m grateful for the support from the community,” she said. “Friends and family are important in my life and to know they all support me means the world to me.”  

The Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood has been a steady influence in Kelley’s life. She enjoys hanging out at Starbucks, Top Notch, Ohana Ice and Treats, and Crescent Park (in ordinary times). BAPA’s History Mystery Bike Tour, which she covered in one episode of her show, the Memorial Day Parade, and the Breast Cancer Walk are other favorites.  

Up next in Kelley’s productive life is hearing back from negotiations on a distribution deal for her short film, “Back Row.” This is her second film; the first, the documentary “Soul Train, Soul Change” earned Kelley top honors at the National History Day National Contest and was featured online through the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It can be viewed at Kelley’s website, InspiredMelanin.com.  

Don’t miss rising star Avery Kelley; check out Tweendom Talk Show on YouTube. 

 

 

New Neighbors: Chas and Liz Pall 

 By Kristin Boza 

Meet the Pall family: Chas, Liz, baby Jack, and rescue pup Lucy. The couple moved to Beverly/Morgan Park from River North in December 2019. Although they can’t recall exactly how they started house hunting in our community, Chas does have a distant family connection as his grandfather owned the old St. Cajetan rectory on Artesian from the 1960s through the 1980s. 

“We loved the area and were lucky enough to find a house that we loved pretty quickly,” Chas said. “We wanted space for our new arrival, Jack. We looked all over the city, from River North to Roscoe Village, Lincoln Park to Hyde Park, but we really liked everything about the Beverly area.” 

Chas, a territory manager for a medical device company, and Liz, an attorney at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, enjoy numerous outdoor activities, although having a new baby has hampered their interests a bit. Liz enjoys playing tennis and Chas likes running, cycling and golf. They look forward to becoming members at local athletic clubs, specifically the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.  

While the family hasn’t had much of a chance to get involved in the community yet, they did attend BAPA’s New Neighbor meet over the summer and greet and the Garden Walk in September.  

“We do get out to walk several miles a day with Jack and Lucy. We love looking at the beautiful architecture; every house is different than the next,” Chas said. 

The family has regularly eaten at or taken out from Horse Thief Hollow, Open Outcry, and Unidad. Chas says he loves County Fair, specifically their cinnamon raisin bread, and they patronize Two Mile Coffee Bar every Saturday for a great brew. 

“Everyone here is very friendly and we have wonderful neighbors, most of whom we’ve been able to meet despite the pandemic,” Chas said.  

New Neighbors: Galmore Family  

 

New neighbors Paris and Kanisha Galmore, along with 11-year-old Cameron and 10-month-old McKenzie, decided to make Beverly/Morgan Park their new home in Aug. 2019. Previously, the family lived in Oakbrook, but decided to move after Paris’ sister and her husband moved to Beverly/Morgan Park.   

“After coming to visit my sister a few times and taking several hour-long walks, we were convinced that Beverly was the community for us to purchase a home,” Paris said. “The thing we enjoy most is seeing families enjoy outdoor activities and the beauty of all the hills in Beverly.”  

Paris, a Northern Illinois University graduate with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering Technology, has worked in the occupational safety industry for the last 15 years in various industries like manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare. Kanisha, a Northern Illinois University graduate with a B.A. in Journalism, has made a career at the Cook County Circuit Court.   

For fun, Paris loves cars and golf, while Kanisha craves a good cup of tea and expresses her creativity through her interior design hobby. Cameron attends Sutherland Elementary School and enjoys the activities at Ridge Park, while baby McKenzie loves the long walks the family takes.  

As recent BAPA members, the Galmores are excited to one day get back out to BAPA-sponsored events and further explore their new neighborhood. “We really enjoy Ridge Park and Cameron enjoys the activities there. My favorite thing has been the Italian beef at Janson’s – simply amazing!” Paris said.   

 

New Neighbors Enter the Art Scene

By Kristin Boza 

Dance and art are passions of new neighbors Megan Wright and Nate Otto.  

Wright grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park and built a dance and art career on the foundation she learned at the Beverly Arts Center.  

Otto, who grew up between Deerfield and Michigan, is a talented artist seeking to leave his mark in Beverly/Morgan Park. Along with their toddler son, Oscar, and pup, Rizby, the Otto/Wright family is excited to explore and create in our community. 

The family moved to their new home from Ukrainian Village in March — right at the start of the global pandemic. Subsequent shelter-in-place orders definitely put a damper on the couple’s enjoying the restaurants and shops. However, they have spent a lot of time biking and exploring in and around the Dan Ryan Woods, and they’re looking forward to attending as many community events as possible in 2021.  

“We like to go on bike rides to explore the neighborhood; it really is a beautiful place. It’s nice to have a house and a yard during these strange times,” Otto said. As an artist, Otto enjoys working from home in his basement studio, although he still plans to resume work at his Wicker Park studio in the future. 

Wright grew up here and moved back to be closer to her parents; the large lots satisfied her longing for a yard, and she appreciates the neighborhood’s diversity, architecture and beautiful trees. She is currently on the faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts, Ballet Chicago and the Beverly Arts Center, and independently offers classes for adults via Remote Ballet. Wright holds a B.A. in psychology from DePaul University, and danced professionally after high school.  

“The Beverly Arts Center gave me my start and I’ve loved coming full circle to teach there. It’s such a gem of a place. We held our wedding reception there in 2012, and it feels nice to give back. I feel great knowing that a lot of my students moved on to teach at the BAC; it’s been a huge part of their lives and many others,” Wright said. 

Otto has been an artist his entire life, turning it into a full-time career eight years ago and selling his pieces through galleries or directly to customers via Instagram @ottonate. A graduate of Columbia College, Otto is known for drawing and painting in his own unique style. His latest passion is creating murals, having completed approximately 40 over the last five years in offices and various outdoor spaces. He hopes to create a mural in Beverly/Morgan Park. 

“Since we moved here at such a strange time, we haven’t engaged as much with the neighborhood as we would in normal times. This is the first time in my adult life living in a place where you know the neighbors. I’m used to being somewhat anonymous,” Otto said. “We are probably mysterious to our neighbors, but hopefully someday the world will return to normal and we will get to know the people on our block.” 

“We’re looking forward to really being a part of a new community, but also keeping our roots and friends in our previous community,” Wright said. “Coming back here is familiar, but also brand new in a lot of ways. Beverly seems to be growing in diversity and small businesses, and we can’t wait to explore them all soon.” 

 

Business Spotlight: A Hopping Place for Families

By Brittany Wiley

Michelle Bryant-Smith and her husband Maurice Smith opened Little Hoppers Play Café, 2670 W 111th St., in August.  It’s an interactive and creative boutique style play space for kids age seven and under and a café for families.

The idea for the Play Café was birthed out of Bryant-Smith’s frustration as a new mom and the lack of family-focused offerings on the South Side.   Most of the classes and activities that she found were located on the North Side or in the suburbs.  After spending so much time in traffic, she “set out on a mission to find infant and kid activities on the South Side.” The lack of choices was disappointing, so she set out to create something herself.

The open play space features playsets that are engineered to help with cognitive, developmental, and social advancement for infants and toddlers.  Children age two years and over get to participate in active play that allows them to use their imaginations, practice their social skills, and move their bodies.

Parents can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in the café, where they can choose from a variety of refreshments.  They can sip on coffee roasted in Chicago from a local vendor, which is female owned.  Or you can choose a smoothie, snacks or ice cream.

Bryant-Smith is focused on creating an “environment of community, fun, learning, compassion, and warmth.”

It will be more than just a play space, but also a haven for parents. Bryant-Smith struggled with infertility and got through a difficult time in her life by “joining a community of women with a wealth of information and resources.”  She wants Little Hoppers to be that community for other parents. They will provide parent-child classes, yoga, STEM, and more to reinforce this mission.

Little Hoppers is intent on keeping their patrons safe.  Cleaning and sanitizing will occur multiple times a day by staff and weekly by a professional.  Between 12 and 1 p.m., they will close to disinfect all surfaces.  They will limit the patrons and masks are required for everyone over the age of 2.  Customers can also pre-book and pay online to limit interaction.

Bryant-Smith and Smith are dedicated to our community and families.  They want to “create a convenient, inclusive, fun environment” and a safe space.  And they have worked long and hard to make their vision a reality.

Visit Little Hoppers, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Learn more online at thelittlehoppers.com and follow their journey on social media @thelittlehoppers on Instagram or on Facebook at facebook.com/thelittlehoppersplaycafe.

Beauty and Community: BAPA Hosts the Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk

It almost seems ironic that the blessings of a warm and rainy spring and the need to be productive during the isolation of a global pandemic were a winning combination for Beverly/Morgan Park’s gardens. Inspired by the exceptional beauty of our community and the need for our close-knit community to come together safely, BAPA is hosting its first Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk on Sun., Sept. 13, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Due to the restrictions enforced by Covid-19, BAPA’s Ridge Run/Memorial Day Parade, Home Tour and Beverly Hills Cycling Classic were cancelled. This new offering will be BAPA’s only community-wide special event for 2020.

From the time the event was announced, community residents have been coming forward to offer their gardens, volunteer to help and purchase tickets. So many gardeners invited us to come see their yards, it was very hard to choose the ten private gardens that will be featured this year! Planners have included several don’t miss points of interest in public spaces, and are already looking ahead to Garden Walk #2 next summer.

This year’s Garden Walk will begin with check-in at the Edna White Community Garden where people are welcome to walk among the beautiful plantings while enjoying music and merchandise from Home Grown vendors.

Masks will be required at all Garden Walk locations. Visitors will be expected to follow the rules of social distancing and adhere to the map in order avoid overcrowding at gardens.

Featured locations range between 89th and 117th Streets, West Beverly to East Beverly, and many points in between. Each stop is distinctive for its style, variety of plantings, and beauty. Three are award winners in the Chicago Bungalow Association’s annual garden contest, and all of them are uniquely beautiful. No matter whether you’re going home to a sunny or shady yard, a mature garden or a freshly dug flower bed, you’ll be inspired by the hard work, creative vision and delight shared by the gardeners.

Among the locations are:

  • A sunny yard where seating areas and paved pathways offer endless ways to enjoy an eclectic variety of colorful and lush shrubs, trees and plants, many of which were purchased on clearance and nursed back to life.
  • A winner of this year’s Chicago Bungalow Association Garden Contest for the front yard where there is a mix of perennials and annuals anchored by evergreens and a shady back yard where lawn was replaced with garden beds separated by curving pathways and seating areas, and an unusual water feature.
  • A serene garden of native plants and prairie style garden fixtures and ornaments, including a stunning pond.
  • Side-by-side yards (one of which earned a Chicago Bungalow Association garden contest award!) where sisters have taken down the fences and joined efforts to create a showcase of flowers, vegetables and herbs as well as beautiful spaces for entertaining and places for the kids to play.
  • A true garden hideaway which surely what they had in mind when Urbs in Horto was chosen as Chicago’s city motto! A cozy yet expansive yard that features a small stage for live music, serpentine garden spaces and a perfectly manicured putting green.
  • A welcoming multi-tiered oasis filled with fabulous plantings and appealing decorations that just three years ago was a concrete jungle. Wait until you see the “before” photos!
  • An expansive yard filled with abundant and colorful interest throughout the blooming season, including whimsical fairy gardens, a dramatic front garden, and an elegant elevated patio.
  • A lovely space situated next to the Dan Ryan Woods that features a meditation pond with sand and ceramic fish, a garden of kitchen herbs, and an array of shade-loving perennials and potted plants that create an ever-changing garden experience?
  • A sprawling double lot with garden spaces that have evolved over 20 years, incorporating quiet seating areas, flower beds bursting with color and texture, and built elements for form and beauty.
  • A lovely garden filled from early spring through fall with outstanding flowers and plants lovingly tended by a group of volunteer garden experts.

Points of Interest to be showcased on the Garden Walk include three school gardens where students and community volunteers create magical outdoor education; a peaceful baptismal garden behind a church; and selected residential front yard gardens that are simply not to be missed.

Garden Walk sponsors include OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Beverly Bank & Trust, Southtown Health Foods, The Beverly Review, Chicago Bungalow Association, and County Fair Foods. Garden Walk partners are Steuber Florist & Greeenhouses, City Grange, The Blossom Boys, Edna White Garden and Oak & Bloom.

Garden Walk tickets are $20 in advance at www.bapa.org and $25 on the day of the event.

For information on becoming a Garden Walk sponsor or volunteer, call 773-233-3100 or email bapa@bapa.org.

New Neighbors: Megan Wright and Nate Otto

By Kristin Boza

Dance and art are passions of new neighbors Megan Wright and Nate Otto.

Wright grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park and built a dance and art career on the foundation she learned at the Beverly Arts Center.

Otto, who grew up between Deerfield and Michigan, is a talented artist seeking to leave his mark in Beverly/Morgan Park. Along with their toddler son, Oscar, and pup, Rizby, the Otto/Wright family is excited to explore and create in our community.

The family moved to their new home from Ukrainian Village in March — right at the start of the global pandemic. Subsequent shelter-in-place orders definitely put a damper on the couple’s enjoying the restaurants and shops. However, they have spent a lot of time biking and exploring in and around the Dan Ryan Woods, and they’re looking forward to attending as many community events as possible in 2021.

“We like to go on bike rides to explore the neighborhood; it really is a beautiful place. It’s nice to have a house and a yard during these strange times,” Otto said. As an artist, Otto enjoys working from home in his basement studio, although he still plans to resume work at his Wicker Park studio in the future.

Wright grew up here and moved back to be closer to her parents; the large lots satisfied her longing for a yard, and she appreciates the neighborhood’s diversity, architecture and beautiful trees. She is currently on the faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts, Ballet Chicago and the Beverly Arts Center, and independently offers classes for adults via Remote Ballet. Wright holds a B.A. in psychology from DePaul University, and danced professionally after high school.

“The Beverly Arts Center gave me my start and I’ve loved coming full circle to teach there. It’s such a gem of a place. We held our wedding reception there in 2012, and it feels nice to give back. I feel great knowing that a lot of my students moved on to teach at the BAC; it’s been a huge part of their lives and many others’,” Wright said.

Otto has been an artist his entire life, turning it into a full-time career eight years ago and selling his pieces through galleries or directly to customers via Instagram @ottonate. A graduate of Columbia College, Otto is known for drawing and painting in his own unique style. His latest passion is creating murals, having completed approximately 40 over the last five years in offices and various outdoor spaces. He hopes to create a mural in Beverly/Morgan Park.

“Since we moved here at such a strange time, we haven’t engaged as much with the neighborhood as we would in normal times. This is the first time in my adult life living in a place where you know the neighbors. I’m used to being somewhat anonymous,” Otto said. “We are probably mysterious to our neighbors, but hopefully someday the world will return to normal and we will get to know the people on our block.”

“We’re looking forward to really being a part of a new community, but also keeping our roots and friends in our previous community,” Wright said. “Coming back here is familiar, but also brand new in a lot of ways. Beverly seems to be growing in diversity and small businesses, and we can’t wait to explore them all soon.”

 

New Neighbors: Nikki and Pat Donnelly 

By Kristin Boza 

Since moving into their North Beverly home in February 2019, Nikki and Pat Donnelly have become entrenched in all that Beverly/Morgan Park has to offer.  

Before moving to our community, the Donnellys, along with their daughters Kate, Jane and Mary, lived in Oak Lawn. Kate and Jane attended Nikki’s alma mater, St. Linus School.  

“A few factors contributed to our decision to move to the Beverly area,” Nikki said. “First, we outgrew our home in Oak Lawn and needed more space. Also, my sister-in-law, Shelly Cunningham, a long-time Beverly resident, encouraged us to look for a home in Christ the King parish. We ended up moving in three doors down from her, so we are not sure if she knew what she was getting herself into!” 

Kate and Jane are entering 4th and 2nd grade, respectively, at Christ the King School, while Mary will attend preschool at Barbara Vick Early Childhood Center.  

Nikki is a high school special education teacher at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) in the cluster program. “My students truly bring joy each and every day. It is a wonderful school community that I am lucky to be a part of,” Nikki said. Pat works for the City of Chicago as a Local 399 building engineer at O’Hare International Airport. 

The family is heavily involved in parish and neighborhood events and activities. Nikki assisted at the Thanksgiving dinner held at CHSAS, ensuring students of all abilities were included in the event. The family has attended the Beverly Hills Turkey Trot 5K Run and Family, and they attend as many school and parish activities as they can.  

Nikki is a regular at Treadfit, and her daughters love visiting Original Rainbow Cone.  

“Some of our favorite events have been the 91st and Hoyne Block Party, the BAPA Cookie Crawl, and Trivia Night at Christ the King,” Nikki said. Another memorable event was an author meet-and-greet with Mary Pat Kelly, author of Galway Bay,” at a neighbor’s house. Once the pandemic subsides, the family plans to get out even more in the community, specifically sitting down for a coffee at Two Mile Coffee Bar. 

When the Donnellys are not hanging out at home or biking through the neighborhood, they enjoy kayaking in Wisconsin and spending the summer at their home in Fontana on Geneva Lake. “We love to travel to Sanibel Island in Florida; however, this summer we are looking forward to traveling to Mackinac Island. Recently, we installed a bike rack on our car to explore new trails outside of the neighborhood and while we’re on vacation,” Nikki said.  

“Our absolute favorite part about living in Beverly is our neighbors and the sense of community throughout the area,” Nikki said. “Immediately upon arrival, our neighbors graciously welcomed our entire family. We love our new neighbors and neighborhood and are looking forward to many years in Beverly!” 

Former Resident Attributes Academic, Work Success to Great Education, Beverly Area Schools 

By Kevin Rouser and Tina Jenkins Bell 

Kelly K. Rouser recently graduated from California College of the Arts (CCA) with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Industrial Design. This degree was the latest in a list of successful educational and workrelated pursuits, including a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and continuing education courses at the School of the Art Institute where she discovered a fascination for making product prototypes.  

At 23, Rouser also acquired two U.S. Design patents. More recently, she developed a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) product she believes will break the stereotypical belief that girls and minorities can’t do math and banish young children’s fear of STEM subjects. 

Rouser attributes her stance as a lifelong learner and her academic and work success to the education she received at Beverly/Morgan Park schools. 

Rouser’s foundational start in education began as a three-year-old student at Beverly Montessori School. There, the Montessori environment fostered self-starting skills, independence, and a curiosity for learning. Rouser fondly recalls being in the “Fireplace Room” under the excellent guidance of her teachers and building the “Pink Tower, learning mathematical concepts in the “Base 10 Beads,” and gathering on the large rug for story time, and working collaboratively with her classmates. 

After graduating from kindergarten at Beverly Montessori School in 1995, Rouser attended the Montessori program at Clissold School where teachers and their teaching assistants shaped and molded her love of learning. Clissold is one of five Chicago Public School Montessori programs and one of two on Chicago’s south side.   

“I was not principal when Kelly attended Clissold, but I am very happy to hear that she epitomizes the core Montessori approach to teach students how to learn, not just what to learn,” said Clissold Principal JaMonica Marion. “I’d love to hear more stories from Clissold alumni who attended our Montessori program. 

“My Montessori education during my formative years was an integral part of my current success, as I learned how to make visual-tactile connections to all of my school subjects. In each of my Montessori classrooms, from preschool through 6th grade, I learned how to play while learning, how to ask questions, how to collaborate with my fellow classmates, how to express myself through art, how to be curious about the world, and how to problem solve. I use all of these skillsets today, when I invent ideas, and when I bring them to life via 3D modeling and 3D printing, said Rouser. She also credits her early exposure to art to her Clissold art teacher, Katherine Kampf and Ethel Wirtshafter at the Vanderpoel Art Association as well as a fortuitous encounter with a Beverly/Morgan Park resident. 

While Rouser was a senior Whitney Young High School, she made a connection while teaching an art class at Smith Village where she met Thomas Miller (deceased).  

“I had the opportunity to get to know Tom . . . He had an amazing and inspiring career as a visual artist and was one of the first professional African American graphic designers in this country . . . Tom’s influence and encouragement was one of the main reasons I decided to pursue a career and life-long calling as an artist, mentor and designer,” Rouser said, adding that she promised Miller she would persevere and give a career in art her “best shot.”  

Rouser believes her success can be emulated if not surpassed and advises students today to persevere.”  

“Do not give up. Study what interests you, but do not be afraid to take a class in a subject that is entirely unfamiliar

History and Community Make Beverly/Morgan Park Attractive to NewcomersHistory and Community Make Beverly/Morgan Park Attractive to Newcomers

  
By Kristin Boza 

Historical homes, family-centered living, and a strong community are the attributes Zachery and Brian Wilson-Race apply to Beverly/Morgan Park. The former north siders made the move to the North Beverly community in 2017 after perusing local homes online making a few weekend trips to scout out the potential, with their son, Wayne, happily strapped in his stroller and enjoying the view.  

“After spending time here, it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the community,” Zachery saidBeverly checked our two big boxes: we wanted a home with a lot of history and warmth in a diverse, family-focused neighborhood.” The family is getting to know the Christ the King parish community, where Wayne will attend preschool in the fall. They’re also regulars at Ridge Country Club and Nicky’s Grillwhere they boast about the vegan menu. 

Zachery spent his career in the fashion industry before Wayne was born; now he is on playground duty and simultaneously consulting for a small children’s clothing line based in Brooklyn. He also volunteers with The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth, and he works on cultivating the family garden. Brian has spent most of his career in the hospitality industry, working with hotels and independent restaurants. He is currently the Senior Director of Operations for a chain of gaming cafes. On the weekends, he takes charge in most of the couple’s home improvement projects. 

“We love how welcoming the community has been, and all of our new friends and neighbors,” Zachery said. “Knowing Wayne has a group of close friends as he grows up means everything to us. Once things get back to normal, we’re very excited to check out City Grange’s new location and continue exploring the restaurants in the neighborhood.”