By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
Bill grew up in an inner city neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A high school art teacher and a revolving mound of clay on potter’s wheel changed his life. He went on to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in American history and foreign relations. For the past 40+ years, his work as head of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation has helped make the impossible possible in his hometown.
Manchester Bidwell operates two subsidiaries. The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) serves as a national model for providing hope and educating young people. The MCG Youth & Arts program and the MCG Jazz program serve nearly 4,000 young people each year through classes and workshops in ceramics, photography, digital imaging and design art. The Bidwell Training Center offers Associate Degrees and diplomas in the fields of culinary arts, chemical laboratory technologies, health care, horticulture and office technology.
Despite not having a degree in education, Bill is nationally recognized as a visionary in the field. What he has, is much more valuable, he says – a degree in common sense.
In recognition of his contributions to the arts and the community, Bill has been honored with the coveted MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award.
Here are a few of his insights that caught my attention:
A visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, helped inspire Bill. One of the results is that the MCG building is flooded with sunlight.
The MCG building is located in an inner city neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Artwork appraised at $200,000 is on display. The building has no security cameras and no metal detectors. There is no theft or graffiti.
Bill worked as a pilot for Braniff Airlines in the early 1980s, flying 747s. Great job, wrong airline.
We have fresh flowers in the school every day. You don’t need a task force to figure out how to provide fresh flowers. He launched a horticultural program.
We do not serve students “fast food.” Instead, students dine on gourmet foods courtesy of the culinary arts program.
Our country is graduating kids from high school that can’t read the diplomas they receive.
People on welfare are liabilities; we are working to convert them into assets.
Building partnership with businesses is essential. The focus has to be on what you can do for business, not on what you need.
One of the ways we know that our program is starting to take effect is when we see that the students are pulling their pants up. We know they are hooked when they put on a belt.
With Bill’s success in making the impossible possible in Pittsburgh, he is now working to change our planet by developing similar centers in other locations inside and outside the United States.
For more information on Bill,
“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”