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25 resident-led projects, nine neighborhoods, over $47,000 of direct investment into communities!

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Love My Neighbor! invests in the ingenuity, talent, creativity, and hope in our communities by supporting resident-led projects that aim to improve neighborhoods and engage neighbors.

We’re happy to introduce the 2017 Love My Neighbor! Grantees! Here’s a sneak peek at 25 resident-led projects from nine neighborhoods totaling over $47,000 of direct investment into their communities!

HILLTOP

Children’s Playtime | Jessica Price | Allentown

Led by Jessica Price and James Halttunen, Children’s Playtime is a new space created at the Hill Top United Methodist Church for young children and their families to come together on a regular basis to develop social connections among neighbors across Hilltop communities. After launching in March of this year, Children’s Playtime has provided a much-needed social outlet for parents and children. It has played a powerful role helping stay at home mothers escape social isolation by connecting themselves and their children to other families on a regular basis. The Love My Neighbor! grant will be used toward arts and crafts, baby/toddler supplies, and food for the weekly Thursday Playtimes at the Church. The program has been fun for the little ones, but even more than that, it has become a network of support and friendship for the parents involved.

Barrier & Bridges Workforce Programs | Sam Wright | Beltzhoover

The program, led by Samuel Wright, provides affordable landscaping services to the elderly and disabled community of homeowners across the Beltzhoover neighborhood for the past four years. The Love My Neighbor! grant funds the purchase of a snow blower, shovels, and supplies that will enable Sam and his team to provide these much needed services to this population. Sam will also employ young people in order to teach them how to use heavy equipment and machinery so as to build their skills and knowledge in blight remediation and community improvement strategies. The services also minimize the presence of wildlife in near people’s homes and yards. Overall, Sam’s work aims to restore pride of being a homeowner in Beltzhoover and his and his team’s efforts not only improve the physical appearance of the community but also improve the lives existing residents – young people, the elderly, and disabled populations – by increasing safety and well-bring across the neighborhood.

Phat Man Dee Productions: Tune It! | Mandy Delfaver | Allentown

Photo Credit: Phat Man Dee Facebook Page

“Tune It! Is a jazz inspired jam session led by Mandy and the Pittsburgh Cultural District that is open to all ages, genres, and creative spirits and will occur monthly at the Black Forge Coffeehouse on the third Tuesday night for one year starting in September. A jam session is a place musicians of vary levels of skill come together, work out new material and develop and grow as artists. The goal of the sessions is to expose the community to live jazz and the creation of jazz music first hand. Mandy and partner musical artists will create a space for people to come together and sit in with professional level musicians. In addition to providing a valuable learning experience for the musicians, this experience helps develop an audience of fans and patrons for the artists and live music in general. Through this work, Mandy aims to bring awareness of the Allentown and Hilltop communities to networks of fellow professional musicians and fans by creating new this musical destination.

The LEADERS Project | Anthony Morris | Beltzhoover

As a team member with The LEADERS Project, programs exist to support the educational and vocational aspirations of the ity’s youth. This project pairs high school leaders with elementary students to teach fundamentals about growing plants and flowers called ‘Our Babies’ Bushels’. The current model gives elementary participants an opportunity to learn about and plant various types of vegetables, spices, and/or flowers. The funding from the Love My Neighbor! grant aims to support this work by covering the costs of fertilizer and other supplies associated with successful plant and herb germination.

Knoxville Community Block Party | Tabansi Obialo | Knoxville

The Knoxville Community Block Party will take place on June 24th at the beginning of summer vacation. Project leader Tabansi Obialo hopes that through the event, he can begin to build relationships and cultivate a platform for resident participation in community change efforts. After the event, Tabansi plans to maintain a network of residents willing to work together to improve their neighborhood and will start by cleaning up the neighborhood.

Academic Excellence Summit | Roy Blankenship | Knoxville

The Academic Excellence Summit is a program aimed to motivate youth and reward students for getting good grades. The initiative will engage students to improve their overall academic achievement. The summit includes a series of events over a period of time which focuses high quality student work and attendance. Each session is followed by a celebration with games, dancing and good. Prizes and rewards will be disseminated to students with Honor Roll, high Honor Roll, and perfect attendance records. The purpose of these events is to reward students and demonstrate support for those who work hard at the community level.

Let’s Grow Together | Ruby Williams | Knoxville

“Let’s Grow Together” is an event that allows people in the Knoxville community to get to know each other and network with one another to promote community safety. August 2017 will host the 5th “Let’s Grow Together” event. We connect neighbors together through group activities, games, music, and entertainment. By introducing everyone’s families to each other, we are working together to reduce crime and violence. By having conversations with policy, EMS, fireman and other officials, the event aims to help children learn how to respect these officials as well as help these officials learn to respect the people in the community.

HILL DISTRICT

Francis Street Community Day | Fancine Bibbens | Hill District

2017 Francis Street Community Day is an annual celebration that will take place on August 26th this year with residents and loved ones of the former Francis street community. Even though the buildings of Francis Street have been torn down, and many loved ones have moved on, former and current residents of the Hill District still look back fondly on the times shared there. The event will bring the neighborhood together, reconnect former residents of Francis Street with current Hill District residents, and raise awareness around the issues of community development projects. The project aims to show support and appreciation to many senior citizens that were influential to the community and honor the achievements of basketball legends from the former Francis Street community. The community building event aims to promote community involvement with Hill District residents to make a positive change, providing an annual event for current and former residents to look forward to.

Networking Seniors | Margaret Brown | Hill District

Project leader Margaret Brown realized that members of the senior community do not actively participate in the activities offered by the center. The purpose of the Networking Seniors Program is to increase the number of seniors who visit the Center, and to encourage all seniors who visit to feel that they can be responsible for providing activities that other seniors are more interested in. The Networking Seniors Program will add three activities to the Senior Center – crocheting, family history, and storytelling. The crocheting activity will enable members to create things to beautify their wardrobe and/or home. Family history participants will create their family tree through accessing the resource, Ancestry.com, and will share it with other residents of the community. Storytelling involves participants sharing memories about how the Hill District used to be.

AIM Initiative Summer Program | Jordan Morris| Hill District

AIM Initiative Summer Program is a six week summer program to educate youth in the Hill District about the importance of unity in their pursuit of education, within their families, and in the economics of the culture and everyday life. Project Leader Jordan Morris, has realized people living in neighborhoods are less open and willing to connect with one another. As a result, his project aims to bring youth from the Uptown, Lower, Middle, and Upper Hill District together and connect them in ways that help them identify and understand the similarities and differences they possess. He aims to help these young people build strong relationships across the geographic boundaries within the Hill to increase trust and openness across the neighborhood.

Our Hill, Our Stories | Amir Rashidd | Hill District

By training, experience and passion, Amir Rashidd is a griot who has been telling stories for more than forty years. At every opportunity and in every setting, he feels compelled to share stories that challenge listeners to think, make them to laugh and help them to understand the importance of the African oral tradition. This informs the event he created and will pursue with the help of the Love My Neighbor! grant:  “Our Hill, Our Stories”. This event will create a festive, interactive space where children in the Hill District, from ages 10 to 15 can be surrounded by voices, music and food that celebrate their heritage. During the event they will: learn about storytelling; hear culturally specific stories about the neighborhood and its people; write their own stories; eat food from represents the cultures of black people; listen to drummer who will create a connection to Africa and to ancestors; and write their own stories. The program will task place in August Wilson Park.

HOMEWOOD

Kenny’s Place | Demi Kolke | Homewood

Kenny’s Place, an effort led by Demi Kolke, Nisha Blackwell, and Marteen Garay, aims to offer residents and community members a platform for residents and creatives to showcase their talents and offerings. The funding from the Love My Neighbor! grant will be utilized for landscaping, materials and supplies for neighborhood-based activities at the site. The events scheduled at this site will reflect the residents’ vision for the site, including regular outdoor yoga classes, an art market, and a music showcase. There will also be annual signature events: a fundraiser, an open spoken word community day, and Cancers and Cookies – a summer birthday celebration. Bringing the residents’ vision to life and giving the neighborhood a positive, open atmosphere to promote health and wellness, arts and culture, and entrepreneurs and existing businesses will be a tremendous win for the community.

Perch on a Stone | Jordana Stephens | Homewood

Perch on a Stone aims to reconnect community pride to maintaining natural landscapes, gardening, community revitalization and preserving wildlife sanctuaries. The primary goal is to unify neighbors to beautify, sustain and support the unique cluster of streets located on the northwestern hillsides of Homewood. Integral to achieving this goal, is the clearing up of debris, consistently contacting the city for assistance with abandoned property, road repair, and overgrowth cleanup. This works builds on their previous efforts with the Mission Continues in removing debris and exposing blighted properties to ward off crime and with the American Red Cross in installing smoke detectors. Perch on a Stone will continue to develop partnerships with community organizations, create community gardens and support the local ecosystem.

Grandma’s Splash Party | Beverly Howell | Homewood

Grandma’s Splash Party/Play day is designed to instill pride within neighborhood children. The goal of the program is to get children involved in the improvement of their community so that they can become productive members of the community. The first phase of the program is to have a Splash Party for all the children in the neighborhood. Neighbors will help with the planning and implementation of activities, food, and entertainment for the event. After the Splash Party, the children will meet twice a month to help with cleaning up the neighborhood. During the summer months, Project Leader Beverly Howell or Grandma Bev will teach them how to grow and maintain a garden. Once the cleanup is finished, the children will complete arts and craft projects. In total, there will be 30 clean up/play days throughout the year. Each day will be capped off with Grandma Bev’s famous oatmeal cookie treats.

 

Harambee Ujima 50th Anniversary | Anita Drummond | Homewood

The Harambee Ujima is planning its 50th anniversary. The parade is on August 4th 2017 and starts the ceremony for the festival. The festival takes place on August 4th, 5th, and 6th of 2017. The goal of the parade is to bring attention to the idea that Black Lives Do Matter and Black Arts are beautiful and will feature homegrown talent through recruiting drill teams, high school bands, neighbors, and other local talent in the parade. The event provides impact and strength to neighbors and community by breathing live back into the disenfranchised and underserved minority neighborhoods.

Homewood Community Seniors | Roland Ford and Lynn Ford Adams | Homewood

Homewood Community Seniors is a project led by Roland Ford and Lynn Ford Adams is a series of six events that brings together seniors from across the Homewood community to get better acquainted with each other and enjoy each other’s company. Each event will have a catered meal with nutritious healthy food choices and will feature live entertainment with music, dance, and games as well as arts and crafts that the seniors can participate in. The purpose of the event is to bring together seniors who are isolated and do not have sufficient social interaction as a result of not venturing out due to concerns of safety in the area. The goal of this project is to provide activity in their immediate vicinity that seniors will feel comfortable taking part in. A variety of senior-friendly activities will engage participants to have fun, get exercise, experience team work and cooperation, and learn a new skill. Everyone will receive a nutritious meal and be given tips about healthy food choices and developing a healthier lifestyle.

LARIMER

African Healing Garden | Betty Lane | Larimer

The African Healing Garden is a space in the Larimer community on Meadow street. The effort to improve the vacant space is led by Ms. Betty Lane, Ben Ledewitz, Katy DeMent, Mary Martin, Pat Buddemeyer, and Ian Lipsky. In addition to their current work to create a space for the community this is calm and tranquil, they aim to a new space specifically dedicated to children. The space will be designed to support programs that promote children’s understanding of healthy and sustainable ecosystems. Through information sessions, demonstrations, interactive events, and hands-on gardening, children will be encouraged to do a number of things such as grow, cook, and eat healthy vegetables, promote the health and sustainability of Larimer as an ecosystem, and understand the interconnections among plant, animal and human life.

LINCOLN-LEMINGTON

Eva P. Mitchell Patio Beautification | Pat Rouse | Lincoln-Lemington

The Patio beautification project led by Pat Rouse, Diane Sweeney, and Edith Walters, residents of the Eva P. Mitchell Senior Housing residence in Lincoln-Lemington, aims to beautify the back patio of their residences to better reflect the interests of the residents. Many of the residents, for example, are interested in gardening, cooking outdoors, and sharing time together. By improving this patio, the leaders of the project believe that their work will build faith, hope, and love in a community that is often forgotten and not spoken of with respect and honor. They hope to show pride as a community that is in unity and is trusting of each other. The project will give participants and residents a sense of worthiness and value and a feeling of looking to the future. After improvements are made, residents will be able to enjoy the wooded setting in the back, grow flowers and vegetables in the existing planting bed, and more easily plan social events among residents.

Eva P. Mitchell Community Garden | Alexis Murphy | Lincoln-Lemington

Alexis Murphy leads an effort to create a community garden at the Eva P. Mitchell Residences.  In the space, there will be an area for seating, multiple raised beds for herb and vegetable gardening, double raised beds for better access by my neighbors at the Eva P. Mitchell residence home, fruit and ornamental trees, and an area for compost will be included in the design. Members of the community would be educated on basic plant maintenance and care through a series of workshops hosted in the garden. After attending workshops and demonstrating interest, residents will be encouraged to “adopt a box” and care for its contents. Individuals assigned to beds will be guided and assisted throughout the growing season to better ensure a successful harvest. The main goal in this endeavor is to create a community space where residents feel welcomed and are able to learn a skill that not only benefits them but also the environment.

MILLVALE

Millvale Native Trees | David Yake | Millvale

Millvale Native Trees project will give residents the opportunity to interact with the native trees of Millvale. The leaders of the project, David Yake and  Matt Schmitt, will identify local tree species, label them, and produce a guide for public use. The goal of this project is to inform the local residents of native tree species and encourage the conservation of these natural resources to promote a healthy, ecological community. This project will help inform residents of local natural resources and help support Millvale’s ongoing sustainability efforts. Residents will be able to utilize the literature for self-guided tours of local trees. It will also be utilized by the Millvale Community Library for this summer’s programming. It will also help encourage local residents to appreciate and care for native trees.

Break Bad and Organize | Mandy Wolovich | Millvale

Break Bread and Organize is a community-based social club and neighbor-to-neighbor community organizing effort designed to raise the voice and increase quality of life for Millvale families and children with Autism and other developmental delays. Leaders of the effort, Mandy Wolovich, Marilou Gehringer, and Max Chis, will do this by creating a year-long series of social gatherings for special needs community to spend time together, make art, and a chance to get to know each other, and a 6-month long series of community organizing meetings to understand each other’s barriers to success in the community and create an advocacy agenda and action plan.

Youth Biking Initiative | Natalie Stewart | Millvale

Youth Biking Initiative is an effort to ensure that all children in Millvale have access to safe and healthy forms of play, particularly, bicycling. Project leaders Natalie Stewart, Zaheen Hussan, and Lisa Seel aim to preserve the age diversity of the community be creating important and new opportunities for children to freely play in their neighborhood. The Love My Neighbor! grant will fund bicycle helmets for children ages 5 to 17 in conjunction with offering bicycle safety education and healthy living practices into the already strong Millvale Community Library. Helmets will be celebrated and distributed at the summer kick-off event, a community-wide celebration of the Library’s summer programs.

WILKINSBURG

Wilkinsburg’s Appreciation Day Block Party | Linda Watkins | Wilkinsburg

Hilltop Block Watch is planning it’s 4th annual block party but this time, with a twist. This year the Block Watch has named their annual event, Wilkinsburg Appreciation Day Block Party. The goal is to thank and give back to the community. During last year’s block party, more families and children attended. This year, Project leaders Linda Atkins, Dorothy Washington, and Harriet Marshman lead the effort to host a wonderful party to thank everyone who has attended the block parties, past and present, and who have assisted the efforts in some way. The party is a ‘thanks’ to the neighborhood. By ‘community’, the team includes neighbors, business partners, Wilkinsburg departments such as the Policy, Borough Council, the Mayor, and grant and fiscal sponsors. The event incorporates the Block Watch’s goals of Unification, Beautification, and Safety and engages people of all ages.

Vacant Lot Reclamation | Jerry Gaudi | Wilkinsburg

Jerry Gaudi, Ron Walter and Brendan Renne are leading an effort to reclaim 718 North Avenue lot in Wilkinsburg. For many years, the lot sat vacant with a collapsed roof and contributed to blight in the neighborhood. Project leaders noticed the assets: the area surrounding the 700 block of North Avenue included a diverse mix of residents and many species of birds. Their Love My Neighbor! project aims to transform the blighted lot into a park and bird sanctuary. The park would feature over-sized birdhouses, decorative feeders and birdbaths, raised beds, and fruit trees. In addition, the newly remediated space with a fire pit and mural will be a community space for Wilkinsburg residents to gather and meet. This beautification project will simultaneously educate local youth in practices of vacant lot remediation and gardening.

Flower House | Naomi and Darnell Chambers, Nora Gilchrist, Terry Gibson | Wilkinsburg

Flower House is a new creative maker space and gallery created by artists aimed to cultivate creative learning, group-centered leadership, and cooperative economics for women and families within the Wilkinsburg region. The leaders of the project received the Love My Neighbor! grant and will use the funds to continue the weekly community arts workshops and classes that are completely free for the residents of Wilkinsburg and surrounding areas. This work engages and involves local residents to come and share their collective communal knowledge, host workshops, share a skill, and make money in the space through selling their work. The goal of the space is to be a self-sustaining operation in the neighborhood by involving residents on all levels. Flower House benefits the community through creating access to skills and new experiences that not only empower them but also allow them to explore creative ways to solve the problems facing their own community.

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