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.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes opened The Little Gym based on his new take on physical education. His curriculum emphasized motivating children to achieve instead of pressuring them to win. As a result, The Little Gym became a noncompetitive, positive, nurturing environment where young ones could develop physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Since then, Little Gyms have sprouted up across the country. Enter Kevin and Page Helmick. Kevin and Page's passion for working with children stirred the duo to open their own Little Gym locations in Liberty Township and Mason. Parents of two young boys, Kevin and Page captain a talented staff of childcare professionals and instructors that is as passionate about childhood development as they are. The programs and classes they teach aim to help kids develop skills such as rhythm and coordination, and kids camps during winter, spring, and summer breaks prevent children from creating finger paintings that express the existential ennui they feel when school is out of session. The gym's classes, camps, and childcare programs have earned this location the Best Children's Play award from Cincinnati Family Magazine.
Hazelbaker's equips river riders of all skill sets with the necessary gear to leisurely float down the scenic Youghiogheny River. Bring a friend, a loved one, or a newborn clone, and embark on a three- to four-hour expedition from the bowels of a canoe or two-person kayak. Each trek begins in Dawson and ventures along 8 miles of riverbank, snaking past lush forestry, vibrant wildlife, and baby Class I flat-water currents. The easy-to-navigate flow of the river and lack of overzealous bow captains allow neophyte rowers to keep up with more experienced paddlers and more experienced paddlers to keep up with paddlefish. Each excursion ends in Layton, where new-fangled river farers can ditch their vessels and head to town to swap stories of river life with the local historian.
The treadmills, exercise bikes, and ellipticals never turn off at Snap Fitness. Gym members have 24-hour access, 365 days a year, to more than 1,400 locations across America, Narnia, and other parts of the world. Free weights, dumbbells, and various cardio and strength machines help keep exercisers in shape. Additionally, instructors at each location lead group fitness classes.
Named "Best Deli" by Pittsburgh City Paper and "Best in City" by Pittsburgh Magazine, Carson Street Deli owns up to its accolades with a menu full of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. New York-style sandwiches ($6–$8) throw plenty of elbows alongside more mild-mannered sides ($1–$3.50), salads ($4–$7), and conversational lunch-goers (free after administering a low-five handslap). Ramp up meat locker training efforts with help from the Balboa—piles of sopressata, imported Di Lusso Genoa salami, prosciutto, spicy capicola and hard salami on a French baguette ($8)—or the slightly spicier diversion, Montezuma's revenge, which melds grilled buffalo chicken breast, green and red peppers, onions, melted cheeses and hot sauce into a warm pita ($7). Vegetarians appease appetites with buffalo mozzarella layered within the handheld veggie Roma ($6).
Canonsburg's Iceoplex at Southpointe isn't just a free-skating haven—it's the practice spot for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Participants can twirl and spin on the same surface as the Steel City's three-time Stanley Cup winners, building skating skills or simply body-checking casual acquaintances. In addition to the celebrated rink, a large sports arena hosts rousing matches of football, indoor soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, or basketball during league times or lessons. After working up an appetite, players can head to Jay's Sports Bar and Restaurant where a menu of classic American fare and drink specials fuels post-skating revelry.