After tracking attendance patterns at several local low-income elementary schools, workers at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank discovered that many students who arrived late had not eaten at home and missed cafeteria breakfast at school. To prevent the consequences of inadequate food intake, such as learning and development issues, the organization established a breakfast-bags program that provides students who miss their school’s cafeteria breakfast with healthy, protein-laden food. Each breakfast bag contains at least four stomach-filling items, such as a cereal box, fruit cup, applesauce, and peanut butter and crackers.
Nearly two decades ago, a group of 14 religious communities founded Sisters Place, Inc. to provide housing and support services to single-parent families. To ensure the families settled into a larger community, the organization purchased 16 apartments in the 450-unit Century Townhomes complex. Today, Sisters Place works to empower 32 families to escape the cycle of poverty by completing education and securing employment. After receiving a recommendation from a social-service agency, families who have been victims of abuse, lived with a mental illness, or struggled with addiction can move into housing and take part in support programs. Single parents with physical or mental disabilities or substance-abuse issues can live in permanent housing, whereas young parents between the ages of 18 and 35 can live in rent-assisted housing for up to two years. While in the housing, families benefit from support services including childcare, transportation, cultural opportunities, and case management to get them on the path to self-sufficiency.
At Pittsburgh Improv, comics lure laughs from bellies in the hopes of following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv club stages. The calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-comers who tickle funny bones with fresh material, abundant energy, and feathered reflex hammers. Audience members munch on their choice of a savory appetizer, such as spinach-and-artichoke dip or buffalo wings, while sipping a cocktail to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Mud. Mud everywhere. That's what awaits participants in the April Fool’s Challenge. The race stretches across more than four miles of obstacles, forcing runners to scale walls and pass through the frigid waters of Deer Creek. After finishing their muddy trek, runners arrive back at the starting point, Founders Field, home of Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby. Here, they can take a much-needed shower, wind down at the afterparty, and celebrate the fact that they've just done a bit of good—proceeds from the challenge benefit the Pittsburgh Harlequins Youth Rugby Mentoring Program, which uses rugby to teach underprivileged youth accountability, responsibility, and teamwork.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) was founded in 1970 by a team of local seminary students to distribute breakfast to children who were going to school without meals. Today, the organization combines the goodwill of more than 40 congregations, local businesses, and volunteers to run a trio of programs dedicated to alleviating hunger, providing housing, and serving youth in the community. Its Meals on Wheels program, emergency food pantry, and soup kitchen distribute warm lunches and fresh groceries to an average of 400 people every day. Individuals experiencing homelessness can rest in the onsite shelter, which houses more than 40 men every night and provides access to social services. EECM further seeks to end the cycle of poverty with a series of in-school and afterschool programs that engage youth on vital issues including drug-use prevention and sustainability.