By Kristin Boza
Rodgers Harmon, Jr. is one of our Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors you can thank for making the neighborhood look great. Harmon moved to the area two years ago and has made a point to beautify the neighborhood every time he sets foot outside, including regular volunteering at BAPA’s Weeding Wednesdays.
“My major interest here is to help keep Beverly/Morgan Park beautiful and a safe place to raise our families, but of course it takes a village,” Harmon said. “What I like best about living here is the diversity, thriving businesses, and the friendliness of the residents. My family and I enjoy the community activities, bike paths, and peace of mind.”
Harmon aims to be a big part of every community he lives in through volunteering his time and talents to ensuring the community is well-kept and safe.
Harmon was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago, and says he couldn’t imagine living on the South Side until he met his late wife, Arnita L. Russell Harmon. “When I met the love of my life, we moved to Auburn Gresham, in the 21st Ward. The 21st Ward Office immediately took notice of the pride I took in my community,” he said. Harmon only worked two jobs in his life: the first was with his cousin’s restaurant until he found employment as a rail inspector with the CTA in 1979, where he worked until his retirement in Dec. 2011.
Harmon has two children: Jionna (23), graduating this month from Oklahoma State University with a Masters in Forensic Science and a Certificate in Forensic Psychology, and Russell (12), a 7th grader at Vanderpoel Humanities Academy. Harmon is an avid volunteer at Vanderpoel, which earned him the Volunteer of the Year Award for six consecutive years.
Picking up neighborhood trash is one of Harmon’s passions. “I pick up garbage every day and everywhere I go while walking,” he said. “I enjoy the beauty of the end results and I enjoy meeting new people along the way.”
One day, Harmon saw a group cleaning up Barnard Park, and he headed over to introduce himself and find out what they were doing. It was a group with BAPA’s Weeding Wednesdays initiative, and Harmon immediately requested to be a part of the group.
Besides volunteering, Harmon and his family enjoy riding bikes and walking through the neighborhood and attending BAPA’s Porch Concerts. Harmon likes water aerobics and yoga through Ridge Park, and the family loves grabbing a bite from Milano’s, Janson’s, Calabria Imports, and Ohana Ice and Treats.
If you want to be a part of BAPA’s Weeding Wednesdays and meet Harmon and others working to beautify the community, contact Mary Jo Viero, firstname.lastname@example.org.