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 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.