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Western Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of neighborhood, personal and community commitment. Our pride in pulling together goes far beyond supporting our deep-rooted sports teams. 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference honors the individuals that are making a difference in people's lives on the ground level and reminding us we are all truly a part of each other's lives.This special series, supported by UPMC, will highlight, honor and celebrate Western Pennsylvanians who are unsung heroes daring to make a difference to others in our community.00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770c8000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770ca000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cc000090.5 WESA PA listening area counties:Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, Armstrong, Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cd0000This project is made possible by a generous contribution from UPMC.

Father And Daughter Team Up To Help South Hills Food Pantry

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South Hills Interfaith Movement
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Every Monday and Friday Marisa Niwa spends time with her father volunteering at the South Hills Interfaith Movement, or SHIM, food pantry.

“I volunteer and keep things neat and organized," said Niwa's father, Joe Murray. 

Murray said he, his wife and their daughter have a long history of doing volunteer work for people with intellectual disabilities, but when the opportunity at SHIM came up, they thought they would give it a try.

“It’s a great opportunity for Marisa,” said Murray, who works alongside his adopted daughter as she sorts donations and stock shelves. “She gets to problem solve. She gets to figure things out. She works well with all the other volunteers.”

Along with her volunteer work at SHIM, Niwa, who lives at the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, works 16 hours a week at Giant Eagle and assists her father who helps organize the Special Olympics.

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Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA
Marisa Niwa helps to stock shelves and sort through donations with her father at the food pantry.

“Each athlete basically is in four events and we get an index card with their event and the time of the event … so there are four labels on each card and Marisa puts the labels on each card,” Murray said. 

Niwa, who has Down syndrome, is also a participant in the Special Olympics competing in golf and bocce.