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When It Comes To Volunteerism, Pittsburgh Leads By Example


Whether it’s participating in a match program to socialize with immigrant families or lending a helping hand at a soup kitchen, Pittsburghers are volunteering at a nationally recognized rate. Nearly 38 percent of local residents volunteer, placing the city in seventh place nationally for its collective rate of volunteerism.

Two leaders in that realm say they recognize the trend:

  • Sloane Davidson is the founder and CEO of Hello Neighbor, which was inspired by sharing her holiday table with a recently resettled family from Syria. Today, Hello Neighbor pairs volunteers with the newly resettled to participate in social activities and outings. Davidson says the volunteers help create a sense of community for refugee families.

  • Riley Baker, director of theRetired Senior Volunteer Program through Pittsburgh Cares, explores the cross-sections of Pittsburgh taking part in this volunteerism. RSVP caters to participants ages 55 and older, offerning resources for volunteering, including information about opportunities and assistance with background checks and travel costs. Baker says the identity of volunteerism in Pittsburgh has roots in neighborhood churches, but is evolving thanks to generational—and techonological—changes.
Credit Courtesy of Jayne Miller / Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Elsewhere in the program, Jayne Miller talks about her goals as the newly installed president and CEO of thePittsburgh Parks Conservancy. Miller moved to Pittsburgh after leading the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to multiple No. 1 rankings. As more people choose to live in urban areas, she says neighborhood parks become more important as a source for higher quality of life.

And the Northside Youth Athletic Association's football teams and cheering squads boast more than 300 kids. Association president Gene Goodwine tells WESA’s Elaine Effort that the organization teaches kids a lesson he wishes he had learned as a young person—the importance of being a student first and athlete second. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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