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Meet Lillian Thompson, St. Louis BWorks volunteer & Soulard Resident
Thompson, who worked overseas in the corporate sector and then in the Peace Corps before retiring to the Gateway City, quickly became impressed with the activities occurring next door. Before long she got involved as a volunteer herself.
“I value BWorks as a neighbor and wanted to give back because they are great neighbors,” says Thompson, who has now lent her expertise and energy to three full seasons of the Create-A-Book program. “The last session, fall 2017, was the best one yet. We had nine enthusiastic young writers and five committed, talented mentors.”
Just a few weeks ago, Thompson and her fellow volunteers formally celebrated the completion of eight short stories (one was co-authored) by their students – with a book reading and signing event that drew a large crowd of parents, guardians, and families.
“All of the mentors in this fall’s writers’ workshop had amazing credentials and had a lot of fun using them in ways that made the program a success,” says Thompson, who has degrees and a background in drama, communication, and business.
Quick to shout out the other devoted Create-A-Book mentors, she notes Kristin Luther is a journalist and creative writer, while Sarah Shockley works in communications for Purina and has written for Highlights Magazine. Christina Veloso Pope conducted writing workshops in Brazil and now works for the nonprofit Welcoming America, and Karen Landon is an accomplished artist who worked in education for the Department of Veterans Affairs, managing the St. Louis Video Studio until she retired last year.
“She read to me a lot and saw to it that I had the opportunity to participate in a broad range of fine arts programs in my own childhood,” Thompson says. “And her library was an inspiration to me. It was never tidy and never quiet; kids were always in there consulting with her about their research and reading projects.”
That passion, combined with Thompson’s commitment to community development during her time in the Peace Corps and with FEMA, helping communities recover from major disasters, makes her involvement with BWorks only natural.
“I guess I’ll always be doing something involving community development – BWorks is certainly part of that,” she says.
From her perspective as a next-door neighbor to the organization, Thompson sees an organization that, in her words, is “more than a place to pick up new skills and a bike or a computer,” wonderful as those goals and rewards are. There is something deeper happening, too.
“It’s an extremely well-run organization that instills a collaborative culture among the kids and the volunteers,” she says. “The BWorks culture runs across all the programs, and it’s enthusiastic, energized, focused and team-oriented.”
Volunteer Spotlight – Matt Migalla
BWorks. But that’s where he has spent many of his Thursday evenings the past six months – and he’s proven to be a great addition to the team in that short amount of time.
Whether he’s salvaging parts or refurbishing donated bicycles, Matt brings welcome energy and expertise to the tasks at hand, all of which help to support BWorks’ programs for youth.
“I immediately felt comfortable there,” he says about his continued volunteerism with the organization. “There’s great collaboration between the more experienced and the less experienced, and the staff is amazingly talented.”
Matt started lending a hand at BWorks after coming across the organization’s booth at a winter bike expo near his home in southern Illinois. When he heard a staff member say BWorks could always use more volunteers, he jumped at the opportunity to help.
“I really believe in the mission that BWorks has developed over the years,” says Matt, adding that he’s convinced the organization “walks the walk” when it comes to achieving that vision.
At the same time, he sees the opportunity for growth in the level of awareness about BWorks among his neighbors on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.
“Especially in the Metro East here, a lot of people don’t know about BWorks, even though it’s been around for about 30 years,” Matt says.
He’s doing his part to help get the word out and be an ambassador – and is even organizing a bike drive this fall at Cahokia Mounds, the state historic site where he has lived and worked as assistant manager for over three decades.
That drive is set for 9 a.m. to noon October 7. For more information, see the event page.
BookWorks Create-A-Book. Click the title link for each story.
The Unlucky Girls: One day, on the first day of school, Adrianna, Grace, Daniya, and Bria were nervous. They were in the meanest teacher’s class ever. Her name was Ms. Johnson. But Ms. Johnson was not there because she hated polka-dots.
Chapter 1: The Bully A showoff bully named Evan entered a contest using hoverboards in 2030. First he hovered 10 feet above everyone else on the ground, and then he went 13 feet forward. After he did that he asked everyone else (about 554 people): “Can you do better than that?” Everyone said “No,” except a boy named Dawn.
“Oh believe me I know,” said Alex. She was living in Arizona at the time and the weather was hot as usual but she didn‛t want it to get colder. Not after the cold front that came last winter. Alex was speaking to her grandmother who was in New York and they were talking about how cold it got that winter. “Yes Grandma. Yes, I love you too. See you in four weeks.
It was a sunny day, but Pinkus was still inside. He had to clean out his closet. When he was shuffling through his stuff, he saw something with what looked like it had a face. So, he started digging for it. When he got closer he saw it. It was a glowing pumpkin that had a face on it. It could also talk and understand …
The Jungle Book by Tracy Acres
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’
Once upon a time, there was a girl who liked a book because it was very sweet. All of the animals, prey, and predators loved the boy in the book so much. They took care of the boy like he was their son. Even though he wasn’t an animal, they didn’t care. They wanted him around anyway.
The Adventures Of Blue Sushi by Santania Macon
This is the story about how a kingdom that was run amok with chaos and destruction, became the most prominent kingdom in history. It all began in a Chicago garage.
Once upon a time, there was a boy who loved to go on adventures. His name was Cole and he had a little brother named Roman. Cole was the older brother and Roman the younger brother. Cole was 11 years old and Roman was 8 years old. Roman loved to go on adventures with Cole.
There was a boy named Tim. Tim was very nice. He was nice because he helped his mom and dad. He helped his friends too. He also liked to clean. One day he had to go to his friend’s house.
The Shadow Man by Xavia
As me and my sister walked down the street we saw a very mean and upset looking man. Good thing he did not us. “What is he doing? Why is he screaming” said Liz. “It sounds like he is saying the Shadow Man.”
Chapter 1 Bored Forever
Until Millions and millions of years ago turtles had nothing to do. They just sat on the beach doing nothing. But one day a sea turtle popped out of the water and said “Why don’t you come visit us in Turtlelania?”