As a devoted seamstress for more than a quarter-century, it goes without saying that Tameka Reed was jarred to discover the local schools had removed sewing from their home-economics curricula. Finding opportunity in her dismay, Reed opened Urban Stitches to introduce sewing to people of all ages and to create a community for avid sewers. Classes help guests of all ages hone their skills, and studio time allows visitors to rent out the shop's sewing machines for their own projects.
Three Rivers Fencing Center’s head coach Iana Dakova, a national champion fencer, and her foil-wielding staff enable deft swordplay during Wednesday-evening fencing lessons. Coaches outfit fencers in modern safety gear before covering basic footwork and blade work, such as parries, ripostes, and using sabers to skewer fresh vegetables. En garde students reap the additional benefit of included instruction in the noble history, safety rules, and health benefits of fencing. In the event of classes reaching capacity, alternates should check back often for additional classes and advice on how to appear more swashbuckling.
The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts acts as both the patron and the glittering stage for the local arts community, raising awareness of Pittsburgh's visionaries-in-residence with a host of educational programs and exhibitions. Its members scamper freely through galleries stuffed with canvases and sculptures by local artists such as Brian Dean Richmond and Gregory Witt. Prospective Picassos and vicarious Velazquezes, meanwhile, can pour their inner outsider artist into bright and bold Plexiglass prints, hand-hammered metal jewelry, and subtle Chinese brush paintings during a day of three hour-long studio sessions at an Arts Crash Course. If you're still suffering from excess inspiration afterward, burn off the rest before it curdles into images of poker-playing dogs with a $25 member discount to sign up for ongoing classes in watercolor painting, ceramics, and other crafts. Admission to the galleries at local cinema and media center Pittsburgh Filmmakers is also included with your membership benefits, as well as a 10% discount on colorful blown glass vases and funky jewelry in the gift shop and assorted discounts on art supplies at three area stores.
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.
At the Martier Music Academy, kids can nurture discipline, commitment, and confidence while benefiting from the expert instruction of a professional staff of deft-fingered musicians, such as Joe Grushecky, Pete Hewlett, and the Grammy-nominated percussionist Ron Beitle. Private lessons allow kids between seven and 14 years old to attend weekly half-hour ($100 per month) or one-hour ($180 per month) instructional sessions, and are available for piano, guitar, drums, voice, and performance. Kindermusik classes help boost the development of children ages seven or younger while offering several different programs, including Young Child, designed for kids between five and seven years old ($90 per month for four months).
Sorin Achim is a master of robotics. After gaining a degree in electrical engineering from the Romanian Department of Defense, he served as a robotics research engineer at Carnegie Mellon University and received the Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence for his contributions to the design of mobile robots.
With these accomplishments in hand, Achim founded Instant Robotics with one mission—"to translate robotics language into plain English." He teaches adults how to implement robotics into a variety of fields ranging from industry to the military. His advice touches on using medical automated systems in health care, blending robots with artistic media, preventing the robots from taking control, and engaging with robotics as a teaching tool in schools.
For a more hands-on environment, Instant Robotics' summer camps bring robotics lessons to children. In one-week sessions, students can build their own robots or create their own animated films using Legos. The camps conclude with a mini movie festival or a robotic battle for the last can of WD-40.
Retiring as the Executive Director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit after spending more than 40 years in education, Dr. Joseph Lagana couldn't resign himself to just wile away his new excess of free time. With firsthand knowledge of the effects of homelessness on the region's schools, Joe funneled his passion and efforts into creating the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, a nonprofit committed to the advocacy, education, and direct assistance of children experiencing homelessness in Allegheny County. Since its beginning as a humble learning center—just three computers in a closet—Homeless Children’s Education Fund has grown to include 11 facilities where children and their parents can access the Internet as well as find much-needed support through emergency shelters and transitional housing.