By Kristin Boza
This year BAPA’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour takes place on Sun., May 15, 12 to 5 p.m. The Home Tour is definitely a labor of love for those involved in the planning and presentation, and it is one of the most buzzworthy events that showcases our beautiful neighborhood to those who aren’t as familiar with the grand architecture of Beverly/Morgan Park.
Volunteers are integral to the Home Tour’s success! Home Tour volunteers essentially act as community greeters to welcome people to Beverly/Morgan Park; these important community ambassadors are putting BAPA’s “Love Where You Live” motto into action. Volunteers direct traffic, greet people, and answer questions about the homes and community. They help with the house experiences and tastings, at tour check-in tables, and as essential collaborators on the planning committee.
As a thank you for their hard work, volunteers get free tickets to enjoy the Home Tour on their off shift. Shifts are 2.5 hours long, either morning or afternoon.
Kathy Sanders is the Home Tour Volunteer Coordinator and has been integral to the planning committee for the past 13 years. Prior to that, she was BAPA’s Marketing Director from 1991-1995.
“I just love working with everyone on the Home Tour committee and staying connected to BAPA. I know the importance of the work BAPA does,” she said. “Neighbors really enjoy volunteering for the Home Tour. I’ve had residents, and a number of people outside of the neighborhood, volunteer for years. I think they do it to do something nice for the neighborhood and civic pride, but many also make a day of it with friends and family.”
Sanders makes a point to pair friends and groups together so that they are in the same home for their shift. “Then, they can venture out together before or after their shift to view the other homes. It’s really an enjoyable day!” she said.
Kathy Van Etten and Beth McGlynn — Mother and Daughter Volunteers
For more than 30 years, Kathy Van Etten has volunteered for the Home Tour, and last e yar she stepped up to help Kathy Sanders coordinate the volunteers.
Van Etten’s role over the last few years is as a House Captain. House Captains coordinate all of the house volunteers and act as a liaison between the volunteers and the Home Tour committee.
Van Etten’s daughter, Beth McGlynn, has been an active Home Tour volunteer for the last 10 years and recruited many of her friends to take part in the fun as well.
“We do it year after year because we enjoy being a part of such a great community event along with being able to showcase some of the amazing houses in the neighborhood,” McGlynn said. “Our favorite part of volunteering is meeting the different people in the neighborhood along with being able to learn the history of the many homes we see that day.”
House Captains are responsible sharing information with house volunteers about the house, including interior design, history architecture. They also are in charge of preparing the volunteers for their expected duties.
“I decided to become a House Captain and take on those additional responsibilities because I just really enjoy being a part of the Home Tour,” Van Etten said. “Being a part of the Home Tour gives you the opportunity to enjoy a day out with friends along with giving back to the community we love living in.”
Debbie Campbell — Longtime House Captain
Debbie Campbell began her Home Tour volunteer journey as a “regular” volunteer, but took on the additional responsibilities of House Captain for the past several years.
“I volunteer because it is a fabulous day to showcase our wonderful neighborhood, and I am glad to be a part of that. I jokingly say that I am a volunteer now simply because my friends say “aye aye, Captain” for a solid day!” she said. “I recruit my friends to help me and we make a day out of it. We finish the day at Pizzeria Depot and enjoy a nice dinner and some wine afterwards.”
As an ICU nurse, Campbell says she’s great at solving problems and engaging in crowd control, which are some duties that are applicable to the House Captain role.
“As Captain, we tour the home ahead of time and identify any potential issues with traffic flow and safety, and we learn key points of interest about the home that will be shared during the day,” she said. “We work with the volunteers and the day would not be a success without them!”
Having fun is the highlight of the day for Campbell, and having many laughs while helping with a cool neighborhood event makes it even better. “I remember a couple years ago, the home I was assigned had a steep incline in the driveway. As guests reached the home, we would say ‘Congrats, you passed your stress test!’,” she said.
“More special than the wonderful houses I have seen is the people I have met along the way,” Campbell said. “I think anyone interested in volunteering should consider it, because the few hours of work is nothing compared to the personal rewards.”
Katie and Tom Lynch — Wife and Husband Team
Katie and Tom Lynch were recruited by their neighbor, Kathy Sanders, five years ago to volunteer for the Home Tour. Not only did they want to help out a neighbor, they thought it would be a fun time.
“It is a wonderful to get a chance to see the homes in our neighborhood up close and personal,” Katie said. “There is an amazing variety of homes, interior decorating, personal touches, and gardens. Plus, you get to see neighbors and friends and meet new people.”
Katie said that new volunteers shouldn’t worry about wondering what to say or do, as there is an easy script to follow, similar to what museum volunteers tell visitors.
“Part of the job is to keep people on the designated path so that the home is protected. People like to talk about what they are seeing, and we are usually given a few interesting facts that the homeowners may want people to know. Visitors also sometimes have their own contributions to the history. We also make sure that a room or portion of the house that is closed off to the public is respected.”
“Working a live event is always interesting and each time is a little different. We love learning about the history of the homes; there is so much fascinating history and interesting homeowners in Beverly/Morgan Park,” she said. “One time, we worked at the Frank Lloyd Wright house on our block. That was especially fun to work as we had seen the house get upgraded throughout the years and the finished product is beautiful. Another time, we worked on a fireman’s house and he created a super fun yard for entertaining long before creating outdoor spaces was popular.”
Katie and Tom encourage everyone to consider volunteering, since the job is relatively easy and it doesn’t take a lot of time. “It’s also a great opportunity to help BAPA raise funds for their philanthropic projects. All around, it’s a win-win!,” Katie said.
Interested in becoming a Home Tour volunteer? Contact BAPA at firstname.lastname@example.org with Home Tour in the subject line to become a part of this amazing team.