In the suburban communities of the South Hills, poverty has been on the rise. As many as 12% of the population—approximately 5,000 families—lives at or below the federal poverty level. South Hills Interfaith Ministries works to help these families regain their self-sufficiency. Along with two food pantries that provide emergency groceries, and a community clothing room, the organization runs utility assistance programs, coat drives, and family-support services such as teen mentoring and financial literacy programs. And the community impact is significant. In 2012 alone, the organization donated school supplies to 425 students, distributed more than 1,500 pounds of fresh produce, and provided $30,336 in utility assistance.
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The Salvation Army aims to raise funds for utility assistance for families facing financial difficulties this winter. The organization pays utility bills to help prevent heat shut-offs, which can severely endanger the safety of low-income residents during the winter months. For $100, The Salvation Army can heat a home for one month. In addition to covering heating costs, The Salvation Army provides the services of caseworkers who work with people to help identify the factors contributing to their financial crises and provide referrals, budget counseling, and emotional support.
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.
Guests take their seats inside the grandiose Carnegie Music Hall, a space lauded for providing superb acoustics for chamber music and a challenging venue for games of Marco Polo. The venue is tucked inside the same building as the dinosaur bones and European masterworks of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
RIF Pittsburgh annually gives 60,000 free books and motivational literacy activities to children in more than 100 schools, community centers, and public housing across the city. Increasing the number of books in low-income homes can directly affect how often children will read on their own or with their families, which helps strengthen their essential literacy skills. Through RIF Pittsburgh’s programs, students can select their own stories or books to take home to keep and peruse with their families, sparking their desire to read in a positive environment.
The 42nd annual Mexican War Streets Society House & Garden Tour guides patrons through Victorian-style homes and gardens, raising funds to preserve the historic north-side neighborhood. Paired patrons stroll through the federally designated historic district, taking in late-19th-century architecture, commenting on flowering and waterfalling gardens, and ducking their top hats beneath doorframes. Character-filled homes open up to show their modern renovations and restorations of chandeliers, hardwood floors, fireplaces, and carved trim and crown molding. Guests can direct questions to knowledgeable domicile docents, stop in at an array of refreshment areas and local-art exhibits, and get advice from restoration specialists on their own historic renovation projects, such as repairing the stained glass in an antique doghouse.