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Do you have your act together? Pittsburgh parents make creating a will easier and more affordable

This past January, Andrew Fisher--a physician living in Friendship--was driving on an icy Turnpike when he found himself part of a 12-car pileup. As he climbed out of his vehicle to check on the condition of others, he was struck from behind, killed instantly. He was 35 years old.
 
Unfortunately, the Fisher family had not drawn up a will or gotten other formal paperwork in order. They aren't alone in this--according to a 2013 poll from Rocket Lawyer, only 39 percent of Americans have a will, let alone power of attorney, a living will or life insurance.
 
As Andrew's wife, Elly, faces her grief over losing her husband, she also has to spend thousands of dollars and navigate probate court in order to settle her husband's estate. "We're facing the possibility that the state of Pennsylvania will make me segregate some of our savings for the children," she says.
 
Obstacles to Organization

A lot of us are uncomfortable about the idea of this sort of paperwork. It's morbid and unpleasant. Nobody wants to sit down and think about who would take care of our children in the event of a tragedy.
 
Even when people do realize the importance of getting their act together, many couples are deterred by the cost. Drawing up this paperwork with a lawyer costs about $800, depending on the complexity of a couple's estate.
 
"We had looked into doing it before, actually met with a lawyer and spent an hour and a half discussing all of this paperwork," says Nadine Champsi Carl (of Pittsburgh Mommy Blog). "When we found out that filing with that law firm would cost nearly $1,000, we realized we just couldn't afford to do it at that time."
 
There are DIY options for folks who are unable to afford a lawyer. Numerous books and websites offer templates for wills, living wills, and power of attorney. But young families are often tripped up by the logistics of the DIY option.
 
Many of these documents require three witnesses not named in the document in addition to a stamp from a licensed notary. Carl, like most parents with young children, felt overwhelmed by the idea of coordinating childcare in addition to a time when she, her husband and any potential witnesses they needed would all be available at the same time.

The Answer: Family-friendly signing events

This past January, the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library hosted a Get Your Act Together event.
 
Four mobile notaries set up shop at tables in the front of the play space and families brought prepared paperwork they'd downloaded from legal sites or library books. They signed and served as one another's witnesses while their children all played together in a safe space.
 
Shaken by the death of Andrew Fisher just weeks before, many young couples in the area jumped at the opportunity to attend. The event reached capacity within hours of the announcement.
 
Elly Fisher agrees such events are important for young families. She says: "I think that anyone who's been upset about Andrew's death should at least make sure to have a conversation with their partner. After the death of a spouse, there is so much grief that it would be a gift to your partner and loved ones to leave a document that details your wishes so they don't have to make those decisions."

Families interested in a Get Your Act Together event can come to the next signing on April 28 at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library (5401 Centre Ave, Shadyside) Bring completed documents to have them signed and notarized at the event. Registration costs $31.20 per person and includes 3 notary stamps plus the notary travel fee. The event is limited to 20 people; click here to reserve a space.
 
Also, you can find checklists and necessary forms here and here.

Free gender neutral sewing workshop dispels stereotypes, promotes economic stability

In an attempt to demystify the sewing machine and dispel gender stereotypes in crafts, a free gender neutral sewing class will be held at the Mattress Factory Art Museum tomorrow from 6:30PM to 8:30PM

Jenn Gooch, a local artist, started the class last year in her former studio space in Lawrenceville called WERK. Since closing the studio earlier this year, Gooch has been able to continue her Gender Neutral Learn-to-Sew workshop with the help of a Seed Award grant from the Sprout Fund. She plans on holding the workshop monthly at different locations throughout the city.

“When I decided to close the WERK storefront, I really wanted to continue Gender-Neutral Learn-to-Sew as a pop-up event,” says Gooch. “Last year the class was BYO-Sewing Machine, but thanks in part to this Seed Award from Sprout, I was able to mobilize the class and purchase five sewing machines for attendants to work on if they are unable to bring their own machine. I also provide material, thread and other supplies at the classes.”

Gooch decided to make the class gender neutral to help promote and encourage individuals of any sex to embrace crafting.
“There are some ridiculous gender stereotypes in many crafts in the U.S. and fibers suffers some of the worst of these stereotypes,” says Gooch. “I wanted to create an open environment where anyone interested in learning how a sewing machine works can feel welcome.”

Through the workshop, Gooch helps to promote home economics, survival and economic sustainability.

“Clothing and shelter are basic needs and require sewing,” she says. “A few sewing skills can help an individual have control over their wardrobe, home furnishings and so much more. Everyone like's to feel like a million bucks, but being able to go to a thrift store, tailor something and get that feeling for five bucks and 30 minutes labor is priceless.”

Good says sewing was a skill she was taught as a child. She was brought up in a conservative Pentecostal community with churchwomen who would sew their own long skirts and other apparel. Her grandmother was also a seamstress and taught Gooch many of her sewing skills. 

“I come from people that made what they couldn't afford,” she says. “Manipulating the earth and its material with tools, be it sewing, woodworking, et cetera, not only gives you the power to be able to create and repair your own goods, but it's what makes us human.”

Click here for the WERK facebook page where you can find more information about the workshop and Gooch's other free or low-cost classes.

Writer: Liz Miles
Sources: Jenn Gooch, WERK

Free for nonprofits: services of talented Point Park communications students

The free marketing and design services that Point Park University (PPU) students have been providing for local nonprofits is going big-time this fall, expanding to students from more disciplines and offering an expanded list of services to more nonprofits.
 
Now dubbed Wood Street Communications after PPU's location downtown, the program has been running unofficially for many years among students in the senior capstone course for public relations and advertising in the School of Communication. Each year they have been picking a nonprofit for whom to devise an integrated marketing campaign.
 
But when Wood Street director Heather Starr Fiedler was teaching a design class last year how to do fake logos for Disney World and fictitious brochures for Apple, she realized "we had to find a way to get our non-journalism students that real-world feel like our news students."
 
And, Fiedler says, "we could connect people in the nonprofit world with real world help. We have students who could act as skilled volunteers. One of our missions is to serve the community and it's a real great experience for our students."
 
The new student-run organization, officially debuting in the fall, will offer help with public relations and advertising, graphic and web design, photography and videography, event planning, social media and branding, and publication writing and design.
 
Pittsburgh Cares has already been connecting PPU to such clients as Sojourner House, for whom students did a montage video about their work for a fundraiser. They've also helped Dress for Success, and this semester are focusing on the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
 
In the past, 20-40 students have been involved, but with the expansion to photo, video, PR, graphic design and other classes, Wood Street should include 100 students, Fiedler says.
 
"Everybody is going to get involved," she says. "I want them to get professional, real-world experience so they have something to add to their portfolio." And she hopes "that the students get a sense of how good it feels to serve their community. The students so far have really ended up getting so much out of it, really falling in love with the nonprofits…"
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Heather Starr Fiedler, Point Park University

Spring Redd Up set to collect 300 tons of trash

A dozen years ago, Boris Weinstein's began a personal campaign to clean up litter in Shadyside. That campaign has transformed into bi-annual Redd Ups that collect 300 tons of trash in 300 communities throughout Allegheny and the surrounding counties of Beaver, Butler and Washington.

"Redd up" means to clear or to tidy in Pittsburghese.
 
"This works," Weinstein says of his organization, Citizens Against Litter, "because I was able to organize a network of leaders in all the neighborhoods – I call them 'Clean Pittsburgh Stewards' – and it's through them that we're able to have successful Redd Ups."
 
Now about 55 volunteers on average per community participate in the fall and spring Redd Ups. The spring version runs through May.
 
"I felt that if I could demonstrate the effectiveness of a volunteer organization on one neighborhood," he adds, "it could be replicated."
           
Litter comes from four main causes, Weinstein says: everyday carelessness; illegal dump sites that attract major collections; business owners who don't clean up their properties regularly; and too few waste containers at businesses and apartments, causing them to overflow. "That's where you get flyaway litter," he says.
 
This year's volunteer contingent includes several hundred Duquesne University students working on the South Side flats and slopes, Uptown and the Hill District on April 12.
 
To volunteer and find a neighborhood group with which to connect, call 412-688-9120 or e-mail Weinstein here.
 
As he concludes: "I always say, people who care must pick up for people who don't care."  
 
Writer: Marty Levine 
Source: Boris Weinstein, Citizens Against Litter

Local volunteer is a finalist fo the Alliance for Community Trees Volunteer of the Year Award

The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association (NMRWA) has a finalist for the Alliance for Community Trees 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award: Larry Patchel.
 
Patchel is a volunteer for many local organizations. He has promoted the value of urban trees and helped dig planting holes with kids at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the Boys and Girls Club of Wilkinsburg. As a member of  the American Chestnut Foundation, Patchel helps to hybridize Chinese and American chestnuts, taking care of seedlings until they become trees. To benefit the Men’s Garden Club of Pittsburgh, he sharpens pruners and other tools annually in a tent at the Phipps Conservatory plant sale, and has attended all the tree plantings for the 500 Tree Initiative in Wilkinsburg, a program of the NMRWA.

The Alliance for Community Trees is a national organization dedicated to supporting urban forestry. Each year they give an award to an outstanding volunteer working to improve their community and neighborhood with trees.
 
The NMRWA was created in 2001 to restore and protect the area of Nine Mile Run that flows through the East End, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and Swissvale. Much of the stream is underground, but 2.2 miles runs through Frick Park, and the group touts its recovery efforts there as “one of the largest and most successful urban stream and wetlands restorations in the United States,” which was completed in 2006.
 
Patchel, who has been part of the NMRWA since its beginning, is credited with many volunteer events for the group each year, particularly garden and tree plantings. The group also cites “his horticultural knowledge and vast range of experience to teach other volunteers about proper tree planting and pruning techniques, soil composition, plant taxonomy, and proper tool usage and safety.”
 
Patchel says he is most proud of helping with tree plantings along Penn Avenue, and says working with the Boys and Girls Club has been the most enjoyable.
 
“It is fun to see the kids just learning to use a shovel, rake or some other hand tool,” he says. Of the many kids he’s introduced to the environmental cause throughout the years, Patchel adds, “I hope they would get involved in any way that would help improve the only earth like planet we know of.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Larry Patchell, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

To Kill a Mockingbird (and cook it in a nice sauce) may win you a prize

The sixth annual Edible Book Fest, to be put on by University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library on April 10, is bound to attract some odd, creative and tasty entries, says Ashley Cox, who is in charge of the contest.
 
Cox, by day a conservation technician with Pitt’s University Library System, brought the contest with her when she moved here half a dozen years ago from Denton, Texas, where she worked at the University of Northern Texas. There the entries included a few old-school jello recipes that featured meat.
 
In Pittsburgh, last year’s winners included desserts from the Harry Potter cookbook and an homage to Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast: Fancy Feast cat food molded in the shape of a car.
 
The Pittsburgh branch of the contest is open to anyone willing to design an (ideally) edible creation based on a favorite book or its cover, characters or scenes. Contestants will be dropping off their entries from 9 to 11:30AM next Thursday at Hillman’s Cup and Chaucer café, after which the creations will be voted overall favorite; best interpretation of a cover or scene; best visual representation of a cover, topic, story, or theme; and most creative interpretation of a title or the book’s contents.
 
At 2PM, the books will be eaten – the ones not made of catfood, that is. (Food is the required material, but the results need not be actually edible, and contestants are asked to list all their ingredients.)
 
The festival has a serious purpose too: it’s a chance for Pitt librarians to talk about the work of the preservation department and its archival material. But mostly it’s about literary-inspired food.
 
 “We tend to get dioramas made from cake,” Cox recalls. Other entries have included a mango creation inspired by House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a block of cheese carved into a monkey (after The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kid), the black-and-white cover of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern rendered in multi-tiered vanilla and chocolate pastry, and the kitchen-science book How to Read a French Fry as, well, just a whole mess o’ fries.
 
“You can be pretty literal and pretty creative,” she says.
 
The contest is still waiting for its first meat dish; no one has actually killed a mockingbird for the contest.
 
“Not yet,” Cox laughs. “Hopefully not at all.”
 
RSVP for a spot in the contest to Cox here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Ashley Cox, Pitt

Every Child to bring upwards of 500 non-profits to Pittsburgh this fall

Every Child is about to bring up to 500 nonprofits to town this fall for a national conference – and is also prepping for another conference next month that will help local kids in foster care.
 
“Our services are focused on family permanency,” says Jada Shirriel, director of marketing and development for the nonprofit.That includes child abuse and neglect prevention, pregnancy support, help with foster care and adoption and assistance caring for medically fragile children. It also runs special programs, such as one in an East Pittsburgh public housing community to help residents “understand more productive ways of working with their children and being a better example for generations to come,” Shirriel explains.
 
All the nonprofit’s services are delivered in clients’ homes. “We go to where our families are, where they are comfortable,” she says. In 2012, it began working with the local Persad Center to make sure Every Child staff members knew how best to help families with a member identifying as LGBT.
 
The national conference, the 2014 gathering of the Alliance for Children and Families, will take place here in Pittsburgh, Oct 15-17, just a month after Every Child’s gala Sept. 19, hosted by Ramon Foster of the Steelers. On April 26, the group will hold its “LIVING in Care” youth conference (LIVING stands for “Let’s invest in values intended to nurture growth”), for which Every Child received a Heinz Endowment youth philanthropy grant. LIVING will be a health education conference for youth in foster care, focusing on “My mind, my body, my relationships,” for kids 10-15 and will also offer a training track for foster parents.
 
Source: Jada Shirriel and Rachel Rodgers; Every Child

Service Summit: just like an 'activity fair for service'

The Pittsburgh Service Summit is back for its fifth year with an expanded list of speakers and award winners on a day “designed to educate and inform leaders and emerging leaders,” says founder Tom Baker, a county councilman, “of the incredible opportunities that exist in our region to serve others and make a positive difference.”
 
This year’s event, March 25 at Carlow University’s Saint Agnes Center, features talks from Aradhna Oliphant, head of Leadership Pittsburgh; City Councilman Dan Gilman; Jim Hunt, founder and CEO of Amazing Cities; and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
 
According to Baker, the four “will focus on their personal journeys and also share with the group about how we can all do more in our lives to give back and help others.” The event attracted more than 400 people last year. “We always need more civic leaders in our region and this event is focused on ensuring that we have more lifelong learners and dedicated volunteers,” Baker says. “I saw a need, especially for young professionals very early in their careers, to learn about the myriad of opportunities that exist to keep the momentum going after college.” He describes the evening as “a mini ... activity fair that you might see for students on a college campus, but geared in a way that makes sense for young professionals and lifelong leaders.”
 
Awards given at the annual event are:
2014 Western PA Rising Stars: Laura Amster, Becca Burns, Kayla Bowyer, Megan Carlton, John Cordier, Brandi Cox, Doug Foster, Maggie Gabos, Jackie Hunter, Joe Kleppick, Paul Matthews, Kyshira Moffett, Krish Mohan, Laura Pollanen, Jonathan Raso, Leah Scott, Ryan Scott, Lindsey Smith, Kate Stoltzfus, Quincy Swatson, Julie Wadlinger, and J. Wester.
 
Get Involved! Man of the Year: Todd Owens
 
Get Involved! Woman of the Year: Candi Castleberry-Singleton
 
Get Involved! Male Emerging Leader Award: Mike Church
 
Get Involved! Female Emerging Leader Award: Meghan Dillie
 
Dr. Tom Baker Community Leader Award 2014 Honoree: Commander Scott Schubert
 
Patty Verostko Award for Child Advocacy: Stephanie Tecza
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Tom Baker

Pittsburgh Funded: Love Your Block deadline extended

The city has extended its deadline to March 7 for this spring's Love Your Block grants – the grants that give micro-managing a good name.
 
Love Your Block gives local nonprofits $2,000 to buy equipment and supplies to bring neighbors together for an improvement project on a single city block.That's $1,000 more than the last time these grants were offered.
 
The $2,000, in the form of Home Depot gift cards from The Home Depot Foundation, also comes with aid from city departments for such things as graffiti removal and trash pick-up.
 
Nonprofits qualify if they have can produce "a detailed and realistic action plan," bring together 20 neighborhood volunteers from mid-April through mid-June, attend a grant orientation workshop, and secure permission to make their proposed changes from local property owners.
 
Priority will be given to projects on blocks with a large number of military veterans as residents and/or volunteers and projects that collaborate with a community group or bring other donations to bear on their projects.
 
The two top proposals will get an added $3,000 Home Depot gift card for a future project. Love Your Block is also supported by the Corporation for National Community Service and AmeriCorps VISTA program.
 
More than 290 block projects have been approved to date by Love Your Block, which the city says has collected more than 37,000 pounds of trash, created 197 green spaces, added almost $161,000 in donations and involved more than 3,300 volunteers. Spring 2014 winners will be notified by mid-March.

Writer: Marty Levine

Coro wants South Pittsburgh known for peace and cooperation

The South Side and its South Pittsburgh neighbors have great community leaders, but they’re all vying for the same bucks and volunteers, says Robert Young, director of development for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, Pittsburgh. The Coro NEXT Leaders Project aims to fix that, answering the question “How can we bring together community leaders in the south of Pittsburgh to better collaborate on the common issues?” at this year’s NEXT Leaders Project opening event on March 6 at  St Paul's Retreat Center on the South Side.
 
Young, who is part of the NEXT Leaders program, says the group has already had a number of strategy sessions and dialog with leaders, both seasoned and emerging, in preparation for this event. The issues they’ll be concentrating on include youth engagement – “How to start almost from the cradle … to engage youth as the next generation of leaders,” he says.
 
Those issues also include street-level blight – better cleanup, raising the quality of the housing stock—as well as public safety, which can involve building a better block watch program, and educating the neighborhood groups on how to obtain grants.
 
All of this will move the groups toward a one-day summit in late summer, where Young says the effort will continue to create partnerships, to share innovative projects already underway in their communities, to learn from one another and to gain a better understanding of how to cooperate.
 
To RSVP for the March 6 event, click here.


Pittsburgh Funded: Youth funding youth at Teens 4 Change

Three Rivers Community Foundation takes a chance on non-traditional groups looking for funding,” says Sydney Olberg, who heads TRCF’s Teens 4 Change. And Teens 4 Change has an even bolder vision – it takes a new group of about 15 high-school teens each year and teaches them how to make smart grants to other youth-led or youth-driven organizations that offer services to youth as well.  “So that the youth voice is incorporated into the project,” Olberg explains. “It’s also about the future of grant making and hoping that social justice becomes a part of it.”
 
TRCF focuses its giving on social-justice groups – “changing the inequalities in the system,” Olberg says – so the teens also learn about local social-justice issues before they choose the recipients of their $500 to $2,000 grants.
 
Teens 4 Change’s last round of six grants funded such causes as Educating Teens HIV/AID, Inc. and the PRYSE Academy, a Pitt student summer program for refugee youth  that teaches skills for navigating in society and for appreciating other cultures.
 
This year’s Teens 4 Change program has the help of a past member, now in college. The kids are learning how to write their own Request For Proposals, do outreach to applicants, even design graphics for program advertising.  “It’s good practice for youth to be reaching out to each other and seeing each other as a network,” Olberg notes.
 
TRCF has just received reports from two of last year’s awardees, she says; PRYSE, for one, has doubled its refugee contacts, thanks to the grant.
 
The deadline for groups to apply is April 4 at 5 p.m.  The application is online at the TRCF site, or you can contact Olberg at  (612) 886- 5268 or email here.
 
“It is an empowering experience to apply to youth and to be funded by youth,” she concludes. “We’re a starting point for taking a chance on these youth-led programs.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine (forgood@popcitymedia.com)
Source: Sydney Olberg, Teens 4 Change

'Housing options' offers creative housing solutions for those with disabilities

Among people with disabilities such as autism in Pennsylvania, there's a 17,000-person waiting list seeking community housing funds, says Linda Marino, resource coordinator at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (www.jfcspgh.org) (JF&CS).
 
That’s why JF&CS and Jewish Residential Services, which focuses its support work on families of individuals with special needs, will present “Housing options for individuals with disabilities” on March 4 at Rodef Shalom in Oakland.
 
Local disability housing advocates appearing to speak and answer questions include Deborah Friedman, executive director of Jewish Residential Services, who will talk about current residential programs and plans for housing in Squirrel Hill; Mary Hartley, a consultant for the United Way of Allegheny County’s 21andAble Initiative, discussing innovative housing models for adults with disabilities; Elliot Frank, president of Autism Housing Development Corporation of Pittsburgh, who will speak on The Heidelberg Apartment project for autism spectrum adults and typical adults living together; Nancy Murray, head of the ARC of Greater Pittsburgh and ACHIEVA, will talk on ACHIEVA’s “A Home of My Own” program that combines a family's private resources with government funding and natural supports to help people with disabilities to live safely in a home of their choice; and Robert Garber, an attorney, landlord, court-appointed co-guardian and family member of an individual with special needs, whose topic is privately arranging residential services for a family member with special needs.
 
The event, Marino says, “isn’t a step-by-step approach to getting housing. Some people are doing some very creative things to get housing for their loved ones,” and the event will highlight “how housing can be provided by thinking outside the box,” such as creating housing with other parents of adult children with disabilities, or directly with a social services agency.
 
She points to The Heidelberg Apartment project as a great example of community housing possibilities. “We want them all to live in the community together – that’s what inclusion is all about,” she says of adults with disabilities, although there are various degrees of independence. “A lot of people can live in the community with support. Everybody’s different, so everybodys needs are at a different level. The preference is for folks to live in a community. My son’s group home is in a community and he’s a part of the community.”
 
The presentation is free and open to the community and includes a light kosher meal at 6 p.m. Registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Marino at 412-422-7200 or email here.
 
 “I think this is a good start for a lot of people looking for adults to live in their community and not in their [family] houses,” she says.
 
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Linda Marino, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Women candidates and campaigners get one-day primer

“Ready to Run Campaign Training for Women” – both campaign workers and candidates – is set once again for Jan. 25 from the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.
 
“It’s bi-partisan, of course,” says the center's executive director, Dana Brown. “And it's one day, which is certainly a bit of a challenge.”
 
That's because the event covers navigating the political party structure, running for judge, media training, fundraising, public speaking and developing a campaign plan. Trainers include Deb Scofield, president of Executive Speech & Presentations Coaching, and Nancy Bocskor, author of Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors: A Practical Guide to Fundraising.
 
The keynote will be given by Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, who will talk about her experience and what women candidates need to know before embarking on their own campaigns.
 
“Even though I do this every year I always take away new things myself,” says Brown.
 
Fewer than 25 percent of state legislative offices are held by women, she points out, and the state has never had a female senator or governor. There are several barriers to entering politics, she acknowledges.
 
No one likes the lack of privacy that candidates endure, and the negativity in campaigns. For women, the political party structure can throw up barriers as well, Brown says: "It's a little less friendly to women ... It was created by men, so any time they’re expanding they tend to pull from their networks.”
 
Women are also more affected by the work/life imbalance of a political career, since women still tend to be primary caretakers of children and aging parents.
 
While this event has greater attendance in odd-numbered years – when local political races happen – campaigning is still a desired skill, she says. “While a lot of folks actually are down [on politics] because of what we see in Congress or federally, locally there does seem to be consistent interest. My job is to get women off the fence.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dana Brown, Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics

Coro's MLK winners exemplify 'values-based leadership'

"Values-based leadership," says Greg Crowley, president and CEO of the local Coro Center for Civic Leadership, is all about "aligning your leadership with a higher purpose. It's a kind of leadership that we seek to inspire in people – and that is also inspired by the leadership of Martin Luther King."
 
That's why Coro is presenting its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards on Jan. 24, 2014 at the New Hazlett Theater. The awards honor two individuals in the community (one of whom is a Coro alumnus) and an organization, chosen from among this year's 22 nominees. All of the nominees and winners will have a moment to speak about their work at the ceremony.

"Anybody can be great because anybody can serve," Crowley says King memorably told a Pittsburgh crowd during a visit here in 1966. Values-based leadership is thus not about how competitive the institutions in our region can be with each other or nationally, it's about how the organizations and individuals serve the whole community of people.
 
The Distinguished Individual Leadership winner this year is Dean Williams, director of the Formerly Convicted Citizens Project. The Project recognizes the huge barriers to employment, housing, even voting – to full citizenship – faced by those once incarcerated, as well as by their families.
 
Williams began holding workshops for hundreds of people trying to seek a better future after prison by aiming for pardons and expungement of their records. "Those people see him as an inspiration," Crowley says. His "Ban the Box" initiative, looking to eliminate the "Have you ever been convicted?" question from job applications, has been successful so far in changing Pittsburgh's employment forms.
 
The Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award will go to Tom Baker. "He's a young professional who has been a real inspiration to other young professionals," says Crowley. Baker runs the Pittsburgh Service Summit for those young professionals, as well as college students and leaders in the community, to connect with community organizations offering service opportunities, and he runs the local non-profit organization, Get Involved!, Inc. He is also serving on the North Hills School Board and has written several books.
 
Gaining Distinguished Organizational Leadership Award this year the Assemble maker learning space for kids in Garfield, run by Nina Barbuto. "Obviously, we have this challenge about how to inspire and teach kids about the arts," Crowley notes. "The committee really liked their catalytic ideas for the community."
 
"I want people to believe that their leadership is important in making a difference in the direction of our community – not just symbolically, but really," he concludes. "It's possible to have a real impact," especially realizing that most people and groups "started out small, without a lot of advantages. These small organizations and individuals are having an impact and their impact hasn't been fully realized yet.
 
"The great things we see happening in the community … these things that we feel so good about are occurring because of people who are making things happen on a small scale," he adds. "We want people to walk away thinking 'Maybe I can do more.'"
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Greg Crowley, Coro

Happy hours for globally minded people

"We call it happy hour for globally minded people," says Thomas Buell, Jr., director of marketing and the Study Pittsburgh initiative for GlobalPittsburgh.
 
He's talking about GlobalPittsburgh First Thursdays, held next on Dec. 5 at Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille in the Strip District from 5:30 to 8 p.m., then in February and following (after skipping January) at Steel Cactus in Shadyside.
 
About 150 people from across the globe and the city usually attend, from 37 countries and speaking 27 languages. The crowd, Buell says, includes "a lot of internationals – professionals, students and ex-pats – but also a lot of local people who are interested in learning about the world… They have travelled or they are interested in seeing how global Pittsburgh has become.
           
"It seems like it's really unlike a lot of networking, where people know each other," he adds. "This one, you can walk up to any table and introduce yourself. It's really friendly and welcoming.
           
Through this "citizen diplomacy," Buell says, the confluence of people can do things "the diplomats in Washington can't really achieve."
 
A hundred years ago, he notes, 33 percent of Pittsburghers were born outside the U.S. In recent years, that has fallen as low as four percent. Currently, it is around 10 percent. "This is a way to make Pittsburgh more welcoming and inclusive for people who live here, not just for newcomers," he says. "The visitors who come in learn from Pittsburgh but we want to make sure that Pittsburgh … learns from the people we bring in.
 
Register here for the event, which is free for GlobalPittsburgh members and $5 for others, and includes complimentary appetizers, prize drawings and more.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Thomas Buell, Jr., GlobalPittsburgh
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