The Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) has hosted Weeding Wednesdays since 2016, teaming up with the community to clean up greenspaces around the neighborhood.

The Chicago Park District usually provides seasonal workers to help with the efforts, but due to the public health crisis, no such help was available this year.

However, BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero said, local residents, local first responders, and staff from the 19th Ward Office stepped up to make this year’s clean-up a success.

Parks and train stations remained clean thanks to that response, and BAPA was able to keep the program thriving.

“As far as BAPA is concerned, beautification is a major part of what we do,” Viero said. “We do plant trees. We do weeding. It’s just something that we are constantly focused on.”

Viero teamed up with former BAPA Executive Director Margot Holland to begin the program four years ago. Volunteers work at numerous local parks, from Graver to Kennedy, as well as Metra train stations.

Some spots received multiple makeovers this year.

Many families came out during the spring and summer, Viero said, along with local business owners and officers from the 22nd District of the Chicago Police Department.

The 19th Ward Office sent at least two staff members every week, and Viero said she is grateful to 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea for the help.

“It was great,” Viero said, “because they kind of had a little bit more manpower than we had.”

The 19th Ward has also provided assistance in years past, O’Shea said, and he gave credit to BAPA for its leadership.

“Certainly since the pandemic, the Chicago Park District has really cut back on the amount of manpower they have out addressing these issues,” O’Shea said. “We know that our Metra stations get very little help, so we’re always looking for partnerships where organizations want to help out. BAPA’s taken the ball on this. Mary Jo’s doing a great job.”

The Chicago Parks Foundation is partnering with the park district to lead a citywide “Pitch In for the Parks” volunteer initiative through October, although Viero said she was disappointed with the appearance of some parks. She hopes visitors dispose of litter properly.

“We found trash at all the parks, which is unfortunate,” Viero said. “I think people should learn to clean up after themselves. It makes me mad.”

Weeding Wednesdays will resume in the spring, Viero said, and volunteers are welcome. She said it is a great way to meet neighbors.

Help is welcome in any form.

“If you can come, come,” Viero said. “If you can’t, it’s OK. It’s just a great way to give back to your community.”