Meet Lillian Thompson, St. Louis BWorks volunteer & Soulard Resident

Meet Lillian Thompson, St. Louis BWorks volunteer & Soulard Resident

When Lillian Thompson moved into the little house beside St. Louis BWorks a few years ago, the organization gained a really wonderful neighbor ­– and vice versa.

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.

Thompson’s lifelong love of books and art is something that her mother, the first elementary school librarian in Vermont, helped instill in her early on.

“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, Bike Mechanic

Volunteer Spotlight – Matt Migalla

Matt Migalla (pictured at left) is modest about his contributions to the bike shop at St. Louis

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.

Student Stories from the Bee Hive

BookWorks Create-A-Book. Click the title link for each story.

The Unlucky Girls by Adrianna Clemmons

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.

War Dawn by Vipul Bansal

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.

Three Girls By Kamryn Macon

“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.

Pinkus And The Magic Pumpkin By Naomi Griffith

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.

Cole and Roman’s Adventure in Florida by Cole Franks

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.

Bees by Lydia Griffith

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?”



The Adventures of Blue Sushi – Santania Macon

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.

“Andy, dude, cool it on the drums man. I can’t even hear myself play my awesome guitar solo,” said Joe, as he pushed back his long, brown, curly, tangled hair.
“Well it’s not much of a solo if I’m playing with you,” Andy replied, pushing up his glasses.
“OOOOH BURN!”, Patrick exclaimed, his chubby pale face bobbing up and down as he laughed.
“Shut up Patrick. Bruh! I just realized I’m hungry…Taco Bell?” Joe asked.
“TACO BELL!” The guys shouted.
“But, but, do you know what they put in that stuff? They won’t even show you where they get the meat from,” Pete stated, his guyliner applied so thick, it looked like he didn’t have any eyes.
“Oh, quiet,” Andy said. “And chill on the eyeliner, you look like one of those scary black eyed kid demons.” Pete looked insulted. “Eyeliner is for girls, I have guyliner. And anyway I don’t want to get sick.”
“Well it’s a three to one vote,” said Patrick pushing his ashen blonde hair back. “So…”
“TACO BELL!” the three guys yelled again while Pete grumbled and sulked.
“But our name is Blue Sushi, wouldn’t make sense that our official band food be sushi?” Pete pleaded. Joe sighed.
“Pete chill, get some sushi. But you will have to sit on the floor though, and DUDE! ANDY WHY IS YOUR DRUM GLOWING!?!?” Andy looked puzzled. “Glowing? Joe stop making up stories.”

Andy glanced at his drum. “Oh my gosh, it is!” Andy shouted.“Let’s check it out,” Patrick stated.

“Let’s check it out,” Patrick stated.
“Yeah,” Pete agreed. The band slowly, cautiously walked over to the drum. When they got to the drum they peered in. They were immediately sucked into a vortex. Inside it looked like that one scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy was in the tornado and random things were flying by her, but instead of things they saw scenes of important events in history. It was as if they were going back in time.

When they stopped spinning all their faces had a green tinge to them. “Where are we?”, Joe asked. He looked around. There were people dressed in ragged clothes running from some guards that appeared to be torching people’s homes. There was so much smoke it seemed like it was dusk.“I don’t know, Joe” replied Andy; pushing up his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “But, this can’t be safe.”

“I don’t know, Joe” replied Andy; pushing up his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “But, this can’t be safe.”
“I don’t know, Joe” replied Andy; pushing up his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “But, this can’t be safe.”
“Agreed,” Patrick added.
“Ugh, guys we should be getting some help, not just stand here talking. We could be killed at any moment,” Pete stressed.

A bright light appeared. A fairylike woman came out of the night. “Whom are you?” she asked in a wispy voice, “and why are you in this terrible, terrible land?”
Joe spoke up. “Um, lady we didn’t want to be here.”

“Yeah!” Andy piped up. “My drum started glowing, and sucked us here.” The woman shrieked, “You are the chosen ones!”
“What?” Patrick asked.
“The prophecy states:

By villain’s hand we shall fall
Where are the heroes that will save us all
To our land they shall come
Only by a glowing drum”

“That’s us!”, Pete exclaimed.
“But, we’re only teenagers!”, Joe said.
“Teenage heroes,” she corrected. “My name is Irriedessa. What are your names?”
“I’m Andy,” he said pushing up his glasses.
“Patrick,” Patrick said, pushing back his hair.
“Pete.” Pete grumbled.
“And I’m,” Joe said blowing his hair out of his face, “Joe.” he finished.
“Oh, what fun names!” Iridessa clapped. “But, where is your steed?” she asked the band.
“Steed?” Andy questioned.
“Oh dear.” she sulked, then brightened. “Oh, I know!” She gave a long whistle and a low deep growl emitting from the sky. Then a phoenix landed, its flaming tail lighting up the dark sky.
“This is soooo cool!” Patrick exclaimed.
“Yeah, it’s alright”, Pete said, trying to act he wasn’t impressed, and doing a horrible job at it.
“He was just hatched last week,” Iridessa informed them.
“What’s his name?” Joe asked
“That’s for you to decide.” Iridessa replied.
“How about Youngblood?” Andy asked. The rest of the band murmured in agreement.
“Okay, then it’s settled, the phoenix’s name is now Youngblood. It sounds so warrior like. I just can’t believe that I am talking to the savior of Mytholica.” Iridessa gushed.
“Iridessa, why are you treating us like we’re so amazing? We’re just a band called Blue Sushi, we’re just nobodies from Chicago, who practice in our friend Joe’s garage.” Patrick explained.
Iridessa’s smile faltered a little, “But you are the true kings of Mytholica.” Pete stepped up, “You guys, I think we are the true kings, why else would we be in this strange land? And it’s kinda cool to own a phoenix, and to rule over a kingdom.”
“Oh Pete!” Iridessa gushed, “What happened, weren’t you angry?” Pete sighed.
“It’s just that… I walk around like everything is fine, but deep down… inside my shoe… my sock is sliding off.”
“Ugh, Pete you drama queen,”Joe complained.

Pete just shrugged. “I’m an emotional dude,” he simply stated. The crew groaned.

“Okay Irridessa, where do we start?” asked Patrick.
“You will go to The Land Of No Return. There you will have to fight Twenty One Pilots.”
“Pilots?”Andy asked.
“Pilots.” Irridessa confirmed, she then continued, “You have to pass through a panic at the disco” Pete looked befuddled. “A panic? At the disco!”
“You guys have discos here?” asked Joe.
“More or less.” Irridess replied. “Then you have to defeat the black veiled brides”
“We have to fight women?” Patrick wondered aloud.
“Do you want your heart to be eaten?” Iridessa challenged.
“No.” Patrick replied meekly.
“Then fight them.” Iridessa said, with hatred for the brides. “Also, be careful if you go the wrong way you could fall in reverse, but that’s only if you let the Riddler give you the wrong instructions. Do not trust him. If you go in the right way, you will be faced with the evil dictator of Mytholica, Melody “The Mad Hatter” Gonzalez.” Irridessa finished up her instructions.
“Psh,” Joe scoffed “How bad can this Mad Hatter be?”

Irridessa was mad. “Mad Hatter should not be trifled with. You have seen what she has done to this place. Just imagine what she’ll do to yours!” Iridessa shrieked, her voice full of rage.

“Ours?” Andy asked, pushing up his glasses.
“Oh yes, yours. She has almost demolished our land and now she has her sights set on yours.”
“Oh,” Joe mumbled, as he twirled a strand of his knotted hair.
“Get a move on!” Irridessa barked. The band boarded Youngblood and flew over to the Land Of No Return.As they were flying they chatted adamantly, because they were a bundle of nerves. When they finally reached the Land Of No Return, they looked down and saw two guys. One of them had a red beanie on and the other guy had bright blue hair. “Heed,” Joe commanded to Youngblood. They landed in front of the two men.

As they were flying they chatted adamantly, because they were a bundle of nerves. When they finally reached the Land Of No Return, they looked down and saw two guys. One of them had a red beanie on and the other guy had bright blue hair. “Heed,” Joe commanded to Youngblood. They landed in front of the two men.

“Hey, could you give us a little information about the Twenty One Pilots that we have to look out for?” asked Andy.
The man with the bright blue hair spoke up first, “I’m Jishwa.”
“And I’m Tyjo,” the man with the red beanie added. Then they said together, “And we’re Twenty One Pilots.”
“I thought there were twenty one of you.” Patrick said in confusion.
“You are in our territory.” Jiswa said in a threatening voice.
“So we must destroy you.” said Tyjo. Jishwa lunged for Pete.
“Woah!” Pete exclaimed in fear.
“Check your pockets” Joe called out to them.
“Awesome!” Andy shouted as he pulled out a celestial bronze sword. Andy started to slash at Tyjo, who was going for Patrick.

Patrick exclaimed as he pulled out a bow with celestial bronze tipped arrows. Pete gasped in surprise as he pulled out a celestial bronze dagger, then he started to slash at Jishwa. “Aaarrrrggghhh!” Joe cried as he threw his Stygian Iron javelin at Tyjo. The javelin hit Tyjo in the middle of his back, and he then disintegrated into black smoke. Jishwa was outraged. “You killed my bro!” he bellowed. He then turned on Joe. Joe was weaponless, his javelin far away from him. Andy charged at Jishwa, plunging his sword in the small of Jishwa’s back. Jishwa shrieked in pain and turned into a black mist.The boys, sweaty and tired, collapsed in exhaustion. Finally, when Patrick awoke, it was dawn.

The boys, sweaty and tired, collapsed in exhaustion. Finally, when Patrick awoke, it was dawn.

“Dudes wake up!” Patrick yelled as he shook Pete.
“Five more minutes,” Pete mumbled as he rolled over.
“No Dude, get up.” Joe said, shaking Pete harder.
“Where to next?” asked Andy.
“A panic at a disco.” replied Patrick helpfully.
“Cool, we get to partay!” Pete piped up.
“That’s not unless we don’t get trampled by the panic of people.” reasoned Joe.
“But here’s the real question,” Andy said, “Where are our weapons?”
“Check your pockets?” Patrick asked.
“Yep” Pete replied.
“I guess we’re weaponless.” said Joe, “Let’s just get back on Youngblood.”
“Where is Youngblood?” Patrick asked.
“Lemme handle it,” Pete replied, like an expert. He whistled.It was so high and piercing you could barely hear it. They heard a loud “Caaaawwww!” Youngblood landed in front of them.

It was so high and piercing you could barely hear it. They heard a loud “Caaaawwww!” Youngblood landed in front of them.“Dude, that was awesome.” Joe said, clapping Pete on the back. They mounted the phoenix.

“Dude, that was awesome.” Joe said, clapping Pete on the back. They mounted the phoenix.
They stopped when they heard someone singing, “I love her anyway” and a lot of screaming.
“This must be the panic at the disco” said Patrick.
“Duh.” Pete chided.
“Let’s be nice,” Joe said teasingly. “And Youngblood land here, Pete’ll call ya.” Youngblood burst into flames.
“Woah!” Andy exclaimed, stumbling backwards.
“What happened?!” exclaimed Patrick. Pete sighed, “Don’t you guys remember in Chamber of Secrets? Fawks, Dumbledore’s phoenix burns occasionally, then rises again.”
“Ohhh,” Joe said.
“I fell asleep on it.” Andy mumbled.
“Me too!” Patrick yelled. Andy and Patrick highfived and laughed hysterically.
“Let’s just go inside.” Pete grumbled. The guys walked into the disco, and it was a mass hysteria. A man ran up to Joe and grabbed his shoulders.
“Get out! Get out!”
“AAAHHH!”, Joe screamed as he pushed the man off of him. As the crowd parted, they saw the only person that wasn’t going crazy. He had jet black hair that was shaved on the sides with the middle gelled down, a gold suit jacket with black slacks, and a smile so bright it was blinding.
“Is is that…” Andy started.
“Brendon?” Patrick finished. They walked over to the stage.
“Hey Brendon.” Pete said. Brendon looked up surprised.
“Oh hey guys!”
“How did you get here?” Joe asked.
“Well,” Brendon said “I borrowed Andy’s drums one day. They started glowing, I got sucked in, and voila!”
“That same thing happened to us!” Andy said, excited. “And how did you get my drums?”
“Oh Ryan gave them to me. Usually when people come into my club I burst their eardrums or drive them insane with my highpitched voice. But, since you are friends you may pass. Also, be careful around the brides. They eat souls.” Brendon explained.
“Yeah we know,” Patrick whimpered. “Thanks man see ya soon” The back of the club opened and the band slipped into a dark cave.
“You are in our territory,” hissed a voice.
“Now we shall eat you,” hissed another. They could barely see the three women in flowing black clothes, with black veils covering their faces. The third bride came up to Pete.
“You look like the groom that left me at the alter.”
“Well I’m not him.” Pete snapped. He reached his hand in his pocket and out came his dagger. He stabbed into the woman’s heart.
“Oooohhhh!” she shrieked as she turned into black dust.
“You killed our sister!” they yelled in unison. They went for Pete. The other Blue Sushi band members pulled out their weapons. “Not today!” Joe cried as he sliced the first bride’s head off and she too turned to dust. The last one that remained turned to Joe.
“I will bite your heart out!” she screamed.
“Don’t touch my bro!” Andy yelled as he jumped up and cut the bride in half. She dissolved too.
“That was exhausting.” Patrick said wiping his brow.
“You didn’t even do anything.” Pete scoffed
“Exccccellent” a voice whispered
“Who’s there?!” Joe yelled.
“I am the Riddler.”
“Oh we heard about you, give us a riddle.” said Andy cockily.
“Assss you wish,” the Riddler said.
“What is born in the night Dies in the morning and feeds on sticks?” There was a pregnant pause. Then Andy spoke up, “A fire! You make a fire at night. It burns out in the day, and you give it sticks
to keep it going.” The Riddler gave a huge grin.
“That is correct. Since you answered my question correctly, I will point you in the right direction. You need to go left.”
“Thanks!” Patrick said. He walked to the left, then Pete yelled “Stop!”
“What?” Joe asked.
“We can’t go left, remember what Iridessa said. She said that the Riddler wanted to trick us,” Andy informed them. Patrick blushed.
“Oh… yeah. I forgot.” Then Pete went up to the Riddler.
“We would like to go to the right. We know you’re trying to trick us.”
“Now we need to get by,” Joe finished.
“Nice,” Andy whispered.
“Asssss you wish,” The Riddler hissed. “It’s your decision.”Blue Sushi marched to the right and they walked into a beautiful lair. A woman in a chair spun around. She had shoulder length black and blue hair and freckles that dotted her face.

Blue Sushi marched to the right and they walked into a beautiful lair. A woman in a chair spun around. She had shoulder length black and blue hair and freckles that dotted her face.“Welcome, you must be the Kings of

“Welcome, you must be the Kings of Mytholica.” she said in a soft voice.
“Yeah, you gotta problem with that?” Pete asked defensively.
“Oh, no problem with that.” Mad Hatter said, “I want to congratulate you on your test. You have passed.”
“What?” Joe asked. Mad Hatter sighed.
“I mean that we wanted to see if you were the true kings and you were. When this is over you have no memory of this.”
“Really?” Andy asked.
“Really,” Mad Hatter said. “Ciao! And be sure to look for a glowing drum”
“Woah,” Pete said, getting up from the garage floor. “I had this weird dream. We were in this weird land and we had to save it from this weird lady, Mad Hatter, something like that.”
“I had that same dream too.” Joe said.
“Yeah same,” Andy agreed.
“Totally.” Patrick said.
“But, it was just a dream.”
“Or was it?” Joe asked.