1 Winter 2009 Economic Downturn Leads to Increase in Need In December, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured North Hills Community Outreach in a front-page story about the area s new needy people seeking help for the first time (you can read the article at The trend is continuing and NHCO is seeing more and more new families in hardship and crisis. From July 1 through December 31, 2008, 778 new families sought help at NHCO; an additional 1,848 continuing families received our assistance. The graphic below depicts the major issues these 2,626 families needed help addressing. We have seen a 12% increase in the number of families who need to use our food pantries, and they are coming to the pantry 15% more often than they did last year. To prevent utility shut-offs or restore service, we have paid more than twice the amount we did in We spent $58,445 in direct financial assistance for emergency and crisis help from July through December 2008, compared with $39,967 in the same time period of That s a 46% increase and doesn t even include the value of in-kind goods provided (e.g., food, coats, holiday gifts, etc.), which was also higher. To ensure that NHCO can provide for the basic human needs of local families in hardship and crisis this winter, please use the form on the back of this newsletter and send a donation today. Thank you! Medical/Legal 6% Why People Came for Help July - December 2008 Housing 6% Transportation 9% Employment 7% Hunger 28% Utilities 20% Financial Hardship 24% Wade Cupcheck earned his Eagle Award by preparing land for NHCO s organic garden on property donated by Teresa Amelio. Garden Will Help to Feed Families Avonworth High School senior Wade Cupcheck recently completed an Eagle Scout service project that will directly benefit local families in need through North Hills Community Outreach s new community garden. A plot of land in Bellevue was generously donated to NHCO by Teresa Amelio, who requested that the property be used for an organic garden and that the produce be given to families in need through NHCO s two food pantries. Attorneys Bob Amelio and Alan Shuckrow donated their legal expertise on the project. Cupcheck recruited and supervised volunteers to clear and remove weeds, brush, trees, and thousands of pounds of bricks, rusted metal, broken glass and other debris that had accumulated over the past two decades. The cleared land was tilled and raked to be ready for the spring 2009 planting season. He also built a picnic table to be used by garden volunteers. Most of the volunteer labor (346 hours) came from Boy Scout Troop 321, chartered by Mt. Nebo Presbyterian in Sewickley. Volunteers are needed to plant, tend and glean, beginning this spring. Donations of seed and tools are welcome. To get involved with the Rosalinda Sirianni Community Garden (named in honor of Ms. Amelio s mother), please contact Abigail Middleton at , option 2, x3208, or
2 The Connector is published three times per year and mailed to 13,500 local addresses. You can help us save postage and printing costs by signing up to receive the newsletter electronically. Also, please let us know if you are receiving more than one copy by sending an to LOCATIONS: Hampton 1975 Ferguson Road Allison Park, PA , option 1 Millvale Millvale Community Center, 2nd Floor 416 Lincoln Avenue Pittsburgh, PA , option 2 North Boroughs Allegheny General Hospital, Suburban Campus (Bellevue) 100 South Jackson Avenue, 2 South Pittsburgh, PA O Hara Lighthouse Pointe 500 Chapel Harbor Drive Pittsburgh, PA Office Hours Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 4 PM (Other times by appointment) website: Mission: North Hills Community Outreach addresses the spiritual, emotional, physical and material needs of local individuals and families in crisis, hardship and poverty. Vision: Northern Allegheny County is a community where everyone shares with their neighbors in hardship and no one is cold, hungry or forgotten. Fay Morgan, Executive Director Wendy Gordon, Editor 2 Building Generations of Savers Since NHCO began offering the Family Savings Accounts (FSA) program in 2002, 83 low-income savers have seen their savings matched dollar for dollar. They used their savings and matched funds to start or enhance businesses, buy first homes, make necessary repairs and improvements to homes, purchase vehicles needed for transportation to work or school, or to fund college or vocational educations for themselves or their children. Once a saver has graduated from the FSA program and received the matched amount (funded by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development), a second household member may participate in the program; however, they have to save for an asset goal that is different from the previous family member s asset goal. The highest amount of matching funds a saver may receive is $2,000; the highest amount a single household may receive is $4,000. We now have six youth in the program whose parents also participated and received their matching funds. Three of the youth are saving for a car; their parents saved for their own or their children s upcoming college expenses. The other three are saving for their own college education; their parents saved to purchase cars or for home improvements. The FSA program is designed to help lower-income families improve their financial stability and develop better methods for managing their finances. The financial literacy portion of the FSA program is fulfilled by attending money management workshops. The teens are also matched with an FSA Savings Coach volunteer who provides one-on-one financial expertise and support. To learn more about FSA or if you d like to volunteer as a Savings Coach, contact Harriet Gibbs at , option 2, x3217, or Volunteer Orientations ¾February 12, 10 AM, North Boroughs ¾March 12, 10 AM, Allison Park ¾April 7, 10 AM, Millvale ¾May 7, 10 AM, Allison Park ¾June 11, 10 AM, North Boroughs Volunteer Opportunities Contact: Abigail Middleton , option 2 ¾March 6-8: Unload, sort and deliver fruit for annual Citrus Sale. ¾April 21-22: Help us raise much needed funds by assisting with the spring appeal bulk mailing. ¾Faith in Action volunteer caregivers are needed to provide nonmedical assistance for older adults and those with physical disabilities; Free Rides for Seniors drivers and dispatchers needed. FIA and FRFS trainings are offered every month; for a schedule, visit ¾Family Savings Accounts coaches
3 Whoever had the idea to have a volunteer help participants in the FSA program by coaching them should be highly commended. Being able to voice my problem areas and questions about finances was wonderful. Chad was professional, kind, caring, patient and humorous. I feel I have now really gotten on track. Shaler FSA participant High School Leaders Wanted NHCO is hiring up to five Youth Leadership Coordinators from local high schools. These youth leaders will be involved with recruiting other youth volunteers and youth groups to expand several programs that benefit low-income families in NHCO s North Boroughs service area. Applicants must be a full-time high school junior or senior in NHCO s North Boroughs Satellite service area (Avonworth, Northgate, Quaker Valley and North Hills school districts; Sewickley Academy). This project is made possible by a $50,000 grant from The Grable Foundation. For a complete job description and application instructions, visit or contact Susan Rohm at , option 1, x 3120, or The positions will remain open until all slots are filled. Thumbs Up for Extra Special Efforts So many individuals and groups do wonderful things to help their neighbors in need through NHCO. Here are just a few ways people have made a difference. ¾Spirit of Christmas, led by Judy Green, donated toys for 84 families. ¾For the third consecutive year, Pine-Richland Middle School students, teachers and staff organized an extraordinary Adopt-a-Family effort. This year, 30 children were adopted by the school for the holidays. ¾Hampton Banquet Hall hosted a free holiday party for 100 NHCO families. Festivities included a DJ, catered lunch, door prizes, gifts and a visit from Santa (top photo). ¾Shaler Area Marching Band students and their parents donated $200 from running the Primanti s concession at Heinz Field during this year s football games. ¾The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) donates scrap paper for our offices on a weekly basis. ¾Lead volunteer Rozanne McCall and her assistant Jan Harrison coordinated the efforts of 160 volunteers, who gave 528 hours in 13 days of gift wrapping for donations at the Shoppes at Northway. ¾UPMC Passavant generously sponsored the printing of our Annual Report, which can be downloaded at ¾Mt. Royal VFW #9199 member and PPG retiree Ann Karaica wrote a successful grant request to her former employer for $500. ¾North Catholic High students hosted a holiday party and provided sporting gifts, grocery store gift cards and free haircut certificates for 20 youth from families in need (bottom photo). ¾Thanks to everyone who checked Save Postage! on their donation forms in By not mailing acknowledgment letters for 879 financial gifts received, we saved $466 in printing and postage! ¾Shaler Area Middle School students, led by teacher Jay Hellinger, collected $4,250 in food. A Steelers jersey donated by Dave Spell was raffled off; students bought raffle tickets with food donations. Congrats to student Taylor Newell for winning the jersey! ¾Volunteer Karen Donnelly took charge of the Salvation Army bellringing project at Shoppers Choice, coordinating 46 NHCO volunteers who filled 56 2-hour shifts. 3
4 Seasonal Sharing Projects Keep Volunteers Busy Our seasonal sharing projects, whereby items are donated by caring individuals and groups and then distributed to families in need, keep NHCO volunteers extremely busy during the fall and winter. We held three Free Winter Coat Shops this year, providing 435 families with 1,482 gently worn or new coats. An additional 2,136 coats were given to other agencies for distribution. Special thanks to lead volunteer Jo Stone and Vincentian Collaborative System, Shaler Upper Elementary, Oxford Athletic Club and Bank of New York Mellon for their great coat collections. Next up was Turkey on Every Table, our Thanksgiving project that provided a complete and nourishing dinner for 577 low-income families. Thanks to lead volunteers Jean Kirk and Jean Fitzgerald, as well as St. Paul s UMC and the North Pittsburgh Corvette Club for their outstanding collections. Thanks also to Eichenlaub for making a substantial contribution to this project every year in lieu of gifts for their clients. More than $20,000 in food and gift certificates was distributed for Thanksgiving this year! Sharing Holiday Warmth provided utility credits and grocery store gift cards to 515 families, who were then able to budget some of their funds to purchase presents for their family members. Thanks to lead volunteer Jean Muth, the Sylvia & Martin Snow Charitable Foundation for providing $10,000 for the project and to the Villa of North Park, whose residents make a significant donation to Sharing Holiday Warmth year after year. This was the second year for Sports Share, and 103 youth received 298 gifts of sporting and physical activity equipment. The Holiday Toy Shop was once again led by Karen Boujoukos. Thanks to Choice Chiropractic, Shaler Area Middle School and Morreale Chiropractic for their outstanding donations, which helped provide 685 children with toys, gifts, books and stocking stuffers. ReMAX/North donated two enormous baskets of food for Thanksgiving. Pictured here are Greg Higbee, Barbara Slade and Susan Formhals. For the second year in a row, cheerleaders from rival high schools North Hills and North Allegheny have held a friendly competition to collect coats for our Free Winter Coat Shop. Together, they collected 748 coats! 4 Spread a Little Sunshine with Spring Share NHCO is now collecting grocery store certificates, candy, baskets and clothing store gift cards to be distributed through Spring Share, our next seasonal sharing project. Please drop off your donation at NHCO s Allison Park, Millvale or North Boroughs office by March 20. For more information, contact Helen Michael at , option 2, x 3211, or Thank you for helping to brighten spring for local families in need!
5 Millvale Mom on Her Way to a Better Life Sandra, a 36-year-old Millvale resident and mother of two children ages two and fifteen, came to NHCO for help last summer when she separated from her husband. We immediately enrolled her in our comprehensive case management program, funded in part by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and designed to move families toward economic self-sufficiency over time; signed her up for Duquesne Light s Customer Assistance Program; provided diapers, school supplies, winter coats, Thanksgiving dinner and holiday gifts; referred her to mental health and counseling programs to help her deal with her separation and likely divorce; and guided her in making goals and creating and maintaining a budget. In addition, to help Sandra get settled in her new apartment, NHCO provided a grocery store gift card and a payment on her previous gas bill so that she could get her utilities turned on. Sandra has made great strides in a short time. Her cleaning business is growing; she is sticking to her budget and spending more quality time with her kids. Like many of our service recipients who are struggling day to day, Sandra still has a ways to go, but NHCO promises to walk alongside her during her journey towards self-sufficiency. We were the recipients of your generous and gracious giving this holiday season. The supply of food, grocery gift cards and energy bill credit were very much appreciated. We have been blessed abundantly by your kindness and caring. Thank you for being a channel of God s love and provision. McCandless Donors and Volunteers Make Christmas Merry for Local Senior Citizens Fifty-two Faith in Action care recipients had a very merry Christmas thanks to the generosity of St. Alexis in Wexford and the volunteer efforts of Shalom Pittsburgh, part of the United Jewish Federation. Members of the church donated $2,260 worth of gifts, candy and grocery store gift cards, which were hand-delivered on Christmas day by the volunteers for their Mitzvah Day project. Each volunteer group visited with about six households of elderly individuals as well as adults with physical disabilities. An elderly couple from West View wrote, WOW! So many gifts! Thank you so very much. It s so comforting not being forgotten. When kindness is extended our way it s always a pleasant surprise. We don t know our Angels by name, but we thank you ever so much for your generosity. Shuttle is a Lifesaver for Blawnox Senior Ted is 65 years old and lives alone in an apartment at a Blawnox senior high-rise. A friendly, cheerful and caring man, Ted has become great friends with the volunteers and riders of Free Rides for Seniors (FRFS), which he has used since its inception in May The only other transportation available to Ted and the other residents of the apartment complex is to wait for a Port Authority bus after climbing a steep hill to Freeport Road. Ted mainly uses the shuttle to get his prescriptions filled or to buy groceries. He also meets friends on a regular basis for lunch and sometimes just takes the shuttle to socialize and spend time with the volunteers and other riders. Last year, Ted took the shuttle to UPMC St. Margaret s, where many of the FRFS riders go for doctors appointments, lab work and physical therapy. To everyone s dismay, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. For six weeks, Ted took the FRFS shuttle every weekday to and from his radiation treatments at St. Margaret s. The regular riders and volunteers were all aware of Ted s treatment schedule and kept an eye on him throughout. They waited for test results with Ted and celebrated when his treatments were completed. Ted recently told us the fantastic news that he is now cancer-free and is looking forward to riding the bus daily for years to come. He gives FRFS a good deal of credit for his cancer-free status, because without the shuttle, he would not have had dependable, daily transportation to and from his treatments. Ted s story is just one of many. FRFS offers a lifeline to the outside world for many older residents of Blawnox, Aspinwall, O Hara and Sharpsburg. The shuttle, which operates out of donated space at Lighthouse Pointe in O Hara, averages 40 rides a day, but has been known to provide upwards of 67 rides in one day. To volunteer as a driver or onboard dispatcher, contact Kerry Keegan Mulhern at or 5
6 Food Pantry Demand, Donations Increase During the Holidays Every month, more than 400 families in need utilize one of our two food pantries. Approximately 95% of what we give to them has been donated to us. We appreciate every donation of food and wish we could list every donor. We always see a spike in need around the holidays; here are just a few recent examples of People Helping People, making it possible for NHCO to help. ¾Fox Chapel High School student Elaina Bianchini collected $400 worth of food from her neighbors. ¾Cheryl Redmond of Ross hosted a Christmas Tea and collected $1,200 in food from her friends. ¾Assumption School third and fourth-graders collected enough coins to purchase 170 pies, which they donated to our food pantry located at Allegheny General Hospital, Suburban Campus. ¾Business support is crucial to our work, and we appreciate every donation. Thanks to Omega Federal Credit Union, Pettinato Chiropractic and Print King for their recent food collections. ¾Kathryn Kuenzi passed the basket at the Steeple Chase neighborhood Christmas party, raising $70 on the spot. ¾St. Vincent de Paul at Assumption in Bellevue donated $3,500 worth of food. ¾Treesdale Neighborhood Association collected nearly two and a half tons of food! ¾Wexford Dance Academy and Wexford Acting Studio collected $450 in food at their holiday performance. Families are hungry all year long. To organize a food drive with your congregation, school, business or civic group, contact Brandi Rukovena at , option 1, x3144, or Now is the perfect time to help: in March and April all food donations (and financial donations earmarked for the pantry) will help us obtain our proportionate share of $1 million from the Feinstein Foundation s campaign to end hunger. Marshall Middle School student Will Munson collected food from his neighbors for a Family Consumer Science project. National Honor Society students at Eden Christian Academy s Mt. Nebo campus collected a van full of food. Unloading the van are Emily and Valerie Hengelsberg and Patrick Kasbee. 6 Thank you for your help in getting our water bill paid. We really appreciate your help and kindness. It s nice to know that there are still organizations out there to help people in need. Tarentum Members of Girl Scout Troop 283 at St. Alexis sort donated Thanksgiving food.
7 Something for Everyone! For registration or ticket information on any of the following events and fundraisers, please visit ¾Depending on when you receive this newsletter, there might still be time to place an order for our Citrus Sale. If you would like to order fruit before the deadline of February 13, download the form at If you missed the deadline, we often have extra fruit. To be placed on our list to purchase extra fruit, your name and phone number to Jennifer Drayton at ¾We are selling Enjoy the City-Pittsburgh coupon books through March 31. The cost per book is $20; NHCO receives $8. Contact Vicki Burstynowicz at , option 1, x3111, or or pick one up at any NHCO location. ¾Millvale Spaghetti Dinner on April 17 from 4-7 PM at the Millvale Community Center. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 day of the event and include pasta, salad, bread, soft drinks, dessert and entertainment. To volunteer in the kitchen, contact Maria Christina at , option 2, x3209, or ¾Mini-Masters Miniature Golf Tournament on May 14 at 5 PM at RMU Island Sports Center (Neville Island). Tickets range from $30-$175 and include a round of miniature golf, buffet dinner, silent and live auction and prizes. May 1 deadline. Corporate sponsorships available. For more information or to donate to the auction, contact lead volunteer Althea Worthy at or ¾Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community on May 30. Because Highmark underwrites the entire cost of the walk, NHCO receives 100% of the money raised by our walkers. Online registration is underway. ¾Dessert Theatre on June at St. Paul s UMC. The St. Paul s Players will present Neil Simon s The Odd Couple-Female Version. To donate a dessert or auction item, contact Vicki Burstynowicz at , option 1, x3111, or Check Out Our New Video Visit to watch NHCO s new video, which was produced and donated by Mind Over Media. The video can also be viewed (and rated) on YouTube. Thanks to owner Joe Wittkofski and producer Pat Boston for their generosity, creativity and vision. Single Dad Makes Great Progress John is a 46-year-old single father from Hampton who came to NHCO last year struggling with health and employment issues. He was also facing eviction. He enrolled in NHCO s case management program in November, determined to turn his life around. We gave John bus passes to get to job interviews and helped him obtain appropriate work clothes. He uses the food pantry and benefitted from many of our recent seasonal sharing projects, such as Free Winter Coat Shop, Turkey on Every Table, Holiday Toy Shop and Sharing Holiday Warmth. In just two months with NHCO s help, John has secured a fulltime job, found a better place to live and made great strides in his relationship with his teenage son. Like many people who receive help at NHCO, John plans to give back by volunteering at NHCO. Donate Your Vehicle, Help Others If you are in the market for a new car, NHCO s partner organization Community Auto would love to take your old one off your hands. We will do our best to match your donation with a family who needs a car; however, not all vehicles are suitable for a lowincome family to maintain, and those cars will either be scrapped or sold at auction with proceeds used to fix suitable vehicles. Community Auto provides a better tax advantage than other car donation programs. Because Community Auto is a transportation program, IRS regulations allow that no matter what becomes of your donation, you may deduct the fair market value (a.k.a. Kelley Blue Book) of your vehicle. With other donation programs (e.g., radio stations, other nonprofits), you only receive a tax deduction equal to the amount realized by those charities when they dispose of your vehicle. For example, if your car's Blue Book value is $1,500, but the nontransportation charity is only able to get $600 for it at auction, you will receive a tax deduction of only $600. If you donate your car to Community Auto, you will receive the full $1,500 tax deduction. To donate your car or to see if you qualify to purchase one, please call , or visit
8 Yes, I want to help! Make your gift work twice as hard! Many employers have matching gift programs; please check with your human resources department to obtain the necessary forms. Name Address Wish List Priorities NHCO Copy paper (white, color) High capacity paper shredder Floor mats for under desk chairs 9x12 mailing envelopes Community Auto Windshield washer fluid Coolant Gas cards Fire-proof locking file cabinet Phone (in case of questions) Gift Amount/Payment For a complete wish list, visit To donate, contact Vicki Burstynowicz at , option 1, x3111, or $35 $50 $100 $250 Other $ Check enclosed. MasterCard # Visa # Expires Signature Optional Save postage! Please don t send a thank you letter. I wish to remain anonymous. Please contact me about volunteering (be sure to include your phone number above). Please contact me about including NHCO in my will and/or other planned giving opportunities. This gift is: in honor of in memory of in Thanksgiving for Please notify about my commemorative gift: Point Park University School of Communications students joined forces with NHCO to provide a day of service in Millvale. Teams of students helped out by sorting donated books for the Millvale Library located at the Millvale Community Center (pictured here) and by organizing food for the Millvale Food Cupboard at Christ Lutheran. If your group would like to volunteer, contact Jennifer Drayton at , option 2, x3210, or NHCO is an IRS-approved 501(c)3 organization. Your donation qualifies as a charitable deduction. W09NEWS NORTH HILLS COMMUNITY OUTREACH 1975 Ferguson Road Allison Park, PA ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Pittsburgh, PA Permit #5046