Pitt People Pitch in During Day of Caring

Issue Date: 
October 15, 2007

Volunteers and others assemble photos at Lemington Community Services. From left, LCS Executive Director Joy Starzl; Brenda Vaughn of Equipoise and Pitt’s Office of Facilities Management; Lincoln-Larimer resident Almyra McFadden; Scott Evans, TIAA-CREF executive vice president for asset management; and Pinkie Fox, Lincoln-Larimer resident.

More than 400 Pitt faculty and staff members worked on community service projects Sept. 28 as the University marked its 17th annual United Way Day of Caring.

Fifteen events took Pitt people to neighborhoods throughout the city, including Point Breeze, Lemington, East Liberty, and Highland Park, as well as Oakland.

In addition to providing valuable public services each year, the Day of Caring helps promote the University’s United Way Campaign. This year’s campaign began on Oct. 11 and continues through Nov. 30.

According to Pitt’s Office of Institutional Advancement, the University’s United Way collection is among the largest workplace campaigns in Allegheny County. Last year, 2,300 Pitt faculty, staff, and retirees pledged more than $553,000 to United Way.

This year’s Day of Caring borrowed the slogan “For The Greater Good” from TIAA-CREF, a nonprofit retirement planning and investment manager for University faculty and staff that oversees Pitt’s defined contribution retirement plan.

Steve Zupcic, assistant director of Pitt’s Office of Community Relations, said TIAA-CREF sponsored two Day of Caring projects: the upgrade of a computer system at Lemington Community Services (LCS) Senior Center and the transformation of a vacant lot in South Oakland into a parklet.

The latter project was completed in cooperation with Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC).
Also with assistance from OPDC, Pitt volunteers worked on beautification projects in Oak Hill and Oakland Square.
In addition, Pitt’s Equipoise, an association of Black faculty, staff, administrators, and students, helped with four of the projects, including the transfer of furniture, cubicle dividers, and other donated office equipment into the LCS building.

Founded in 1882, LCS provides home care, meals, education, health information and referrals, and other programs to elderly residents in Pittsburgh’s East End.

In addition, Pitt Day of Caring volunteers rolled up their sleeves to clean and landscape the former Union Baptist Church near the corner of Stanton and Negley avenues in East Liberty.

Once abandoned, the sanctuary and grounds of the circa-1903 church are being transformed into a community center serving East Liberty, Highland Park, and neighboring areas with space for artists, entrepreneurs, and cultural and educational events. The Union Project also houses “Glass Action,” which offers classes in stained-glass restoration while repairing and restoring stained-glass windows for churches, homes, and other customers.

Other Day of Caring events included a “fix-it day” at Family House, which provides lodging in Oakland for the families of patients at local hospitals; and cleaning and maintenance at Roselia Center, which offers counseling and education for pregnant women in Oakland, and at Gwen’s Girls, an educational and mentoring program for girls in Point Breeze.

Pitt volunteers also helped package medical supplies for shipment to local and international clinics at Global Links in Point Breeze; taught job interviewing skills to youth at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center in East Liberty; helped clients at United Cerebral Palsy in North Oakland practice life skills; and read to students at the Urban League Charter School in East Liberty.

In addition, volunteers worked with the Oakland Business Improvement District to train local business owners for a new United Way campaign and provided interior maintenance and cleaning help at People’s Oakland.

Above, Steve Zupcic, assistant director of Pitt’s Office of Community Relations, LCS Executive Director Joy Starzl, and John Wilds, Pitt’s associate vice chancellor for community and governmental relations, with a new sign created for LCS.

Above top, unidentified volunteers help clean an empty area of the former Union Baptist church building; above middle, a volunteer cleans a stained-glass window while another (bottom photo) spruces up the landscaping outside the Union Project.