By Mary Jo Viero, BAPA Executive Director
I have to admit it. A few weeks ago, I was in a panic. Along with the rest of the world, BAPA’s “normal” was anything but. BAPA’s regular revenue streams were completely shut off: The city denied the permit for the rescheduled Ridge Run/Memorial Day Parade – too big of an event for Chicago’s COVID-19 guidelines. The racing company that puts on the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic canceled the entire racing series – no Bikes & Brews Festival. My first year as BAPA Executive Director, and everything I knew about doing the job had changed . . .
As I was trying to work out how BAPA could fill in the gaps of time and money left by the suspended events, helping hands and open hearts kept arriving at our doorstep. It was a real wake-up call: I am not in this alone! My community is with me and wants to help. And, believe me, BAPA couldn’t do it without all of you!
Unexpected donations boosted the bank balance and filled us with gratitude. Special thanks to the generosity of County Fair, Weldbend Corp., Mike Haggerty Buick-GMC-Volkswagen and the Clare Foundation, not to mention the wonderful neighbors who sent in a check in addition to their annual membership just to help us through.
BAPA has been able to reach out to neighbors in need of food and personal care assistance through the new 19th Ward Mutual Aid group and established community partners Turpin Cares, Maple Morgan Park Community Food Pantry and the Beverly Area Arts Alliance. It has been great to work beside the volunteers at the weekly Free Store in the BAPA Community Room, providing an essential service to people who have been affected by job loss, illness and other pandemic-related problems.
On the lighter side, the BAPA staff took advantage of the time usually reserved for events and developed outstanding new programs that are keeping people’s spirits up. The Friday Night Live concert series was designed to shine a light on our local musicians unable to work and give them an opportunity to play. It brought local musicians and neighbors safely into people’s homes through Facebook live streaming with the added bonus of a virtual tip jar to help the bands. The concerts were so successful, BAPA is helping other groups and residents plan and present porch concerts throughout the summer and fall.
Local experts shared great information through outstanding business-to-business digital workshops related to Marketing on Social Media and hosted by BAPA. The retooled History Mystery Bike Adventure is giving people who are missing BAPA’s events a chance to bike through the all areas of the neighborhood and discover beautiful homes and businesses they may not have noticed before while they compete for prizes every month. We are also launching our Bike Beverly campaign with a map available online at bapa.org as well as an online merchandise store.
After years of thinking about the idea, the extra time gave us the opportunity to start the BAPA Teen Service Corps. The program is designed to help teens earn community service hours for school through neighborhood projects that give them experience and references while helping their community. We receive so many calls from teens looking for ways to stay busy this summer, and the Teen Service Corps is the answer. A new generation of volunteers is now stepping into the role of neighbors helping neighbors. You can see them in action on Weeding Wednesdays!
Villager advertisers, event sponsors, BAPA members and donors, volunteers. The people participating in the History Mystery Bike Adventures, business workshops and porch concerts. The people reading The Villager. The people who are calling on BAPA for help and the people who are responding so BAPA can continue to answer those calls.
We’re a community. We’re in this together. And we couldn’t do it without you.