90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories

90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories is a weekly series of radio and online stories celebrating people who make the place they live a better place to live. 

We invite you to nominate someone you know who is making a difference in his or her neighborhood for possible inclusion in our series. Please use the form below to share how your nominee is making a difference. The story could be about helping others;  it could be about improving the neighborhood itself. 

All nominations will be considered, but we expect many nominees per neighborhood—so not every suggestion will result in a broadcast story.

Thanks for sharing!

Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Drafting Dreams is a Homewood-based program that teaches Pittsburgh-area K-12 students the principles of architecture and urban design.

Morris and Duffey
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 


Removed from the bustle of the city’s busier neighborhoods, Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood is a bit off the beaten path. Looking out from the hillside is a breathtaking view of the Downtown skyline. Its streets are dotted by family businesses and mid-sized dwellings. 

pierre
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 


 

North Side Pittsburgh Chef Claudy Pierre is focused on teaching community members to prepare fresh food that is both nutritious and affordable. In fact, that’s the mission of the community program he has run the past four years called E.A.T., which stands for Empowerment, Awareness and Training.

Arrington
Courtesy Devin Arrington / Musicians with a Mission

 

For Pittsburgher Devin Arrington, the theory behind his organization Musicians with a Mission has been that. Whether it’s classical, bluegrass, country or jazz, music is a universal language that contributes to the growth and maturation of the mind.

Lane
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Three years ago, a group of volunteers in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood decided to do something about an empty, overgrown lot that had become an eyesore in their community. Where that vacant lot once was now sits the African Healing Garden, which serves both as a tool education and relaxation for Larimer residents.  

The group of volunteers behind the Healing Garden was led by longtime community organizer Betty Lane.

Danforth
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

Sarah Danforth begins her daily routine, stacking boxes of clean syringes and unpacking the tools she needs to help those in search of a clean start.

“I feel as though I am a conduit,” she said. “I help other people save lives.”

 

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with a trio of mothers in Bellevue who put together a farmer’s market in seriously speedy fashion; Dorothy Antonelli, who works to maintain Neville Island's environment; and Steven Sadvary, a Stowe Township resident and artists who specializes in mosaics.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

Boatwright
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to eliminate barriers to accessing mental health care, West End social worker Julius Boatwright engages people in street conversations about mental health wellness in the communities in and around Pittsburgh.  Boatwright is the founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit Steel Smiling, a mental health resource provider.

Below are excerpts from his conversation with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort for our series 90.5 WESA Celebrates: 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories.

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Gary Cirrincione, an architect who’s volunteered his skills to rehab housing in Garfield; Siggy Pehel, who helped restore a 50-acre lake in Butler County; and Shannon Merenstein,  the founder of the Hatch Art Studio, a place for children and families to gather and make art in Point Breeze.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

Charles Bonner
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

Flanked by children as he walks the perimeter of the Ammons Community Recreation Center in the Hill District, Charles Bonner makes his way to the Olympic-size swimming pool. He unlocks security gates, checks chlorine levels and proceeds to greet enthusiastic attendees of his summer swimming program.

The 28-year-old Bonner serves as head lifeguard at Ammons, a job he said he’s been preparing for since he was a teenager.

“Starting back in 2005, I was a program counselor,” Bonner said. “One of the positions I had to have was lifeguarding. It was actually my first job."

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Amy Kline, who helped revamp a park in Carrick; Steve Root of the South Side Community Council, who decided to make use of street art instead of painting over it; and Dave Breingan of the non-profit Lawrenceville United, who is trying to bridge the gap between educators and community.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

flournoy
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Army veteran Michael Flournoy has made helping other veterans his life's mission. Even though Flournoy retired from his job as a therapist for the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospital a few years ago, the 80-year-old resident of Pittsburgh's Chartiers City neighborhood tells 90.5 WESA's Elaine Effort that does not mean his work with veterans has ended. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

ELAINE EFFORT: What made working with veterans so meaningful for you?

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Aubrey Plesh, who connects displaced people to essential services on the South Side; Sue Otto, who helps provide food and clothing to the needy in Ambridge at the faith-based non-profit Center for Hope; and Kristee Cammack, who helped turn an old school building into a family shelter in Allentown.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with the Union Project's Jeffrey Dorsey, who is bringing people together through ceramics and other crafts in Highland Park; volunteers with the Pitt Pantry, a group working to make sure that poor nutrition isn’t part of the college experience for any student; and Caitlin McNulty, a co-founder of the Brookline Teen Outreach Center.

Emmai Alaquiva
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Emmai Alaquiva is a Pittsburgh-based Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and youth mentor who was recently appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. 90.5 WESA contributor Elaine Effort recently spoke with Alaquiva about Hip Hop on L.O.C.K, an arts education program he created more than a decade ago.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

ELAINE EFFORT: Why did you find it important to give back and to do Hip Hop on L.O.C.K.?

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Brian Oswald, a board member of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and a resident expert on the community’s many steps; Diana Ames, a Friendship resident who helped develop the neighborhood’s Baum Grove Parklet; and Brittany Reno, who is working to make sure that future changes in Sharpsburg benefit all residents equitably.

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

andre samuel
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

One of the few community bio-medical labs in the nation is located in Pittsburgh's Hill District. 

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This week, we speak with Gia Braafhart, a North Side resident and a native of Curacao who speaks five languages and volunteers her time with people from around the world who’ve made Pittsburgh their new home; Jill Evans, who volunteers with the non-profit Voices against Violence in Beltzhoover; and Pat Dirienzo, an organizer with a long-running 5k tradition in Regent Square.

Clare Ansberry-Smith

When her daughter Jessie died at age 23 in 2013, Clare Ansberry-Smith knew right away that she wanted to do something to commemorate her life. But she didn't want it to be a typical charity event.

"There's a lot of wonderful events out there like walks and runs and dinners, and each parish has a fair, but we wanted something where it was games and just having fun -- sort of an Olympic theme, if you want," Ansberry-Smith said. "Kids love to do that."

Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

At its peak, 14,000 residents lived in the Larimer neighborhood of Pittsburgh. According to the 2010 census, the neighborhood is down to just 1,700 people. 

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Dr. Allen Lane of the Homewood Children’s Village, who is helping Homewood kids from cradle to career; Kelly Day, who is revitalizing a corner of Brighton Heights; and Zaheen Hussain, who is working on sustainability issues in Millvale.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle

Ngozi Doreen Tibbs is the co-founder and leader of the Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle in the Strip District. 90.5 WESA's Noah Brode spoke with Tibbs about helping black moms learn the hows and whys of breastfeeding.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

NOAH BRODE: So, I'd like to start off by going over some of the benefits of breastfeeding, and why new moms are often encouraged to breastfeed.

Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 Around six months ago, during a West End community meeting hosted by Black Women for Positive Change, Pittsburgh chapter president Diane Powell heard a frustration she knew how to tackle. 

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

It’s a muggy afternoon, and Mark Oleniacz is walking through the tall grass of "Frazier Farms" -- a small community garden adjoining a baseball diamond in the heart of South Oakland. He stops by his own plot, near the back fence.

“I had some garlic left over from last year, ‘cause actually I transplanted it, ‘cause I had that bed -- long story,” he says.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Bethany Ruhe was born and raised in the hilly south Pittsburgh neighborhood of Beechview. 

Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Last year, local journalist Ervin Dyer created American Heroes: The Homewood Project, in an effort to bring positive attention to African-American men doing good work in their neighborhood.

Dyer spoke with 90.5 WESA contributor Elaine Effort about the project and how he hopes to move it forward.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

ELAINE EFFORT: What is the Homewood Heroes project?

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

It’s a sunny Monday morning in Washington, Pa., and about 20 people are chatting over donuts and coffee in the cafeteria of Washington Christian Outreach. After breakfast, they’ll stay for the morning sermon, and later they’ll be joined by as many as 200 more for the daily free lunch.

Jeanne Allender is sitting in a small office just nextdoor. At 83 years old, she doesn’t come in to volunteer every day anymore, but she still puts in three days a week at the organization she founded 40 years ago this month.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Jennifer Cario is unloading big bins of food in a small storage room adjoining the gym of Bentworth Elementary School in Bentleyville, Washington County, about an hour south of Pittsburgh.

Pages