Lori Bilewicz is the president of the Celebrate Milton Advisory Board, and has been involved with the organization for the past eight years. She took a few moments away from her preparations for the annual townwide festival to speak with columnist Julie Fay about the organization and its work, and why celebrating diversity is important.

First of all, when is this year’s Celebrate Milton event?
It’s Sunday, October 2 from noon – 4:00 p.m., rain or shine. If the weather is nice, we’ll be outdoors in front of the high school, but if it rains we’ll be inside at Collicot/Cunningham, using the two gymnasiums and the cafeteria.

We’re having more than 70 exhibitors, including dance studios, Milton Lacrosse, the Milton Early Childhood Alliance with its great information for families, Citizens for a Diverse Milton, groups from Milton High School such as the gay-straight alliance group and the sewing club, as well as political organizations like the Milton Republican Committee. The majority of our exhibitors are non-profits, and it’s a great way to find out more about what’s going on in Milton. We’re a relatively small town without a lot of businesses, but there is so much going on all the time.

What is your role?
I put together the program guide, line up sponsors and exhibitors and provide the publicity. Then on October 3, I collapse onto the ground (laughs).

What else does the organization do?
We give out grants to individuals and organizations that plan events to bring diverse groups together, or shares information about other cultures or other ways of thinking. The schools come to us the most with ideas; this year, we awarded grants to bring Mexican woodcutting artists to all the elementary schools, and the Rachel’s Challenge program to Pierce and the high school. We aim to give away about $5,000 each year. (The Celebrate Milton event on Sunday is the group’s main fundraiser to support the grant program.)

How did you get involved?
I originally got involved as a member of Church of our Saviour, when the Interfaith Clergy Association had a table (at the event) from all the different houses of worship in town. I was then invited to a working group meeting. I stay involved because diversity is important to me, as someone whose children are children of color, as an adoptive parent and as a working parent, which is different from a stay-at-home parent. Diversity is such a positive thing, that I want to keep it going and be sure people don’t forget that.

How does Celebrate Milton make our part of the world a better place?
On the surface, the event itself makes Milton a better place because it exposes residents to the many different people living in town. We are committed to diversity of any aspect – not just racial, ethnic or religious diversity, although those are all important. Diversity of ideas, of culture, of ways of thinking – the event is a way to bring the town together.

For more information about ¡Celebrate Milton! and the town-wide event on Sunday, email Lori Bilewicz at loribilewicz@yahoo.com.

By Julie Fay.  Published in milton.patch.com on September 26, 2011.

About this column: This weekly series highlights the people in Milton who are making a difference.