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Volunteer Spotlight – 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.”

12th Annual Cranksgiving St. Louis – Sunday, November 5, 2017 – Starting from The Tap Room

The 12th Annual Cranksgiving on Sunday, November 5

Twelve years ago, BWorks volunteers envisioned an annual event that would give back to the same St. Louis community that supports our work with area youth. A canned food drive seemed like a good idea given the time of year ­– near Thanksgiving.

Since then, the event – known as Cranksgiving – has steadily grown. In 2006 we collected 200 food items, and in 2016 more than 900 participants collected over 18,000 food items, riding from grocery store to grocery store and purchasing food items to be donated. All told, over the years, participants have collected more than 80,000 items.

Won’t you join us for the 2017 version? It’s set for Sunday, Nov. 5. The fun begins that morning at The Tap Room and will benefit Food Outreach.

Links to The 12 Annual St. Louis Cranksgiving Routes!

Please visit our Facebook page for up to the minute details!  Registration is free – click here for complete details.

Volunteer spotlight: Meet 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.

BWorks, BBQ & Bluegrass – Saturday, August 5 from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM

BWorks, BBQ & Bluegrass – Saturday, August 5 from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM

If you like bikes, brews, BBQ, and music, mark your calendar for Saturday, August 5, 6 – 9 p.m. for the BWorks’ BBQ and Bluegrass event that includes a silent auction to benefit St. Louis BWorks at Mad Art Gallery in Soulard. Music during the event will be performed by Susan Marting and Cat’s Away Bluegrass Band.

Tickets are $25/person in advance (ends on July 31) or $35 at the door (½ price for kids age 12-18, free for kids under age 12) and include’s entrance, one beverage, and BBQ (a vegetarian option is available when you select your ticket).

Purchase tickets online by July 31 through Eventbrite. Mad Art is located at 2727 South 12th St., 63118.

Proceeds from the door and silent auction will help support this nearly 30-year-old 501(c)3 organization that helps children and youth in St. Louis discover their potential through bicycles (Bicycle Works), books (Book Works) and bytes (Byte Works).

Last year’s event raised more than $6,000 for BWorks and the donations helped provide much needed new classroom furniture and more.

Silent auction items currently include gift certificates to Yemanja Brasil, Savor Saint Louis Food Tours, O’Fallon Brewery tour and tasting for 10, a Tom Jones custom suit and more.

Entertainment:

Susan Marting: Native St Louisan Susan Marting is new to the singer-songwriter scene. Her sweet lyrics and simple melodies will grab you and her clever hooks won’t let you go.

The Cat’s Away Bluegrass Band covers many of your favorite Americana bands, from Ozark Mountain Daredevils to CCR, Gillian Welch to Johnny Cash, Steve Earle to Elvis and more.

Some of the Silent Auction Items Include:

  • 2 Pair of Green for the Aug. 24 Cardinals game, including parking and unlimited food and beverage
  • 2 front-row-center Fox Theater tickets to a Broadway production
  • Tom James Custom Suit
  • Yemanja Brasil Gift Cards
  • O’Fallon Brewery Gift Cards
  • Retro Image Apparel Jerseys
  • Saint Louis Food Tours
  • Tune 4 U Piano Services
  • Blo-Poke
  • McGurks Gift Cards
  • Bristol’s Gift Cards
  • Trainwreck Saloon Gift Cards