By Mary Jo Viero

January 15 marked my one year anniversary as a staff member at BAPA. When I think about what happened over the last year, I am overwhelmed. I have met so many nice people, worked with business owners that I now know by name, experienced all of the events that BAPA hosted and witnessed the incredible community spirit of Beverly/Morgan Park.

One of the best aspects of being BAPA’s community organizer is that I am constantly meeting new people. It’s exciting, fun and interesting. One of my tasks is to revitalize our civic and homeowner associations. These are the smaller groups within the larger BAPA service area. They organize and work within their boundaries to formally or informally try to improve the quality of life in their area. They build relationships with their neighbors, create a unified voice, work together on projects and problem-solve. Over the course of the year I realized how important these groups are to our larger community. Each area has its own unique personality and a unique set of priorities and concerns. I met with the amazing and dedicated people who work with the BIA (Beverly Improvement Association), SWMPCA (Southwest Morgan Park Civic Association), WBCA (West Beverly Civic Association), BRHA (Beverly Ridge Homeowners Association), VIA (Vanderpoel Improvement Association), EBA (East Beverly Association) and CPCA (Crescent Park Civic Association). These are vibrant community organizations that host regular meetings and events, and work hard to improve their neighborhood.

I tried but had a hard time getting neighbors involved from SWBIA (Southwest Beverly Improvement Association), CAMP (Civic Association for Morgan Park), KPHA (Kennedy Park Homeowners Association), and the OMPCA (Old Morgan Park Civic Association) areas. I hope if you live in one of these areas, you will call me to ask how to get involved.

The more vibrant and effective our associations are, the more vibrant and effective our entire community will be. BAPA serves as the umbrella to all of these organizations. I want to try to get them talking, and sharing ideas, discussing their challenges and their successes. Most of all, I want these groups to empower themselves and each other.

Our first meeting for 2017 for all of the civic associations was in January. Even though it was pouring rain, amazing people from all corners of our community showed up. One of our main topics of discussion was how we can bring more of our neighbors to the table. My feeling is that we all have something that we are passionate about. If we can engage people by offering ways to tap into those passions, we will all be better. If someone loves to garden or loves trees, they can get involved with tree grants or weeding Wednesdays. If someone is concerned about safety, they can attend their CAPS meetings and reach out to BAPA to help find solutions. For some, being social and planning activities makes them happy. There are endless opportunities to be involved with community events.

The point is, we need you. We need all of you.

You don’t have to come to every meeting, but if you can give a few hours of your time and exercise your passion, it will benefit you and the entire community.

I know that for me, the more I get involved the more I love where I live.

For more information, contact me at 773-233-3100, mjviero@bapa.org.

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