Saturday Diary / Evicted with children; it’s got to stop

March 9, 2013 12:19 am
By Dan Simpson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

One of my sons and his wife bought a modest starter house. Next door to them was a woman with two of her children, 14 and 8, living in a similar house.

She had a job and, fleeing domestic violence, had bought the house with a subprime mortgage at a price above its market value. My son and his wife knew her and the two children. One child was gifted and in a magnet boarding school. The other had learning problems and a nice personality. Absent a father, he liked it when my son came out to throw a football with him.

A few weeks ago, my son told me that the mother and her family had been evicted…

Read the article >

Jerry Drozynski Elected as Chairperson for Homeless Advisory Board

Jerry Drozynski, HEARTH’s board president, was elected the Chairperson of the Allegheny County Homeless Alliance Advisory Board for 2008-2010. The Homeless Alliance Advisory Board is a public/private partnership formed to assist Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, the City of McKeesport and the Municipality of Penn Hills in reviewing public policy, programs, activities, data and all other efforts that will eliminate homelessness and improve the well being of homeless persons and families. Membership is now by appointment of the Allegheny County Director of the Department of Human Services and is comprised of 31 representatives from a broad spectrum, including the foundation, academic and business communities and the homeless provider community. The Board has two primary responsibilities: 1) execution of the 10-yr plan to end chronic homelessness or “unsheltered”, and 2) oversee/advise the completion of our annual HUD Continuum of Care (CoC) application. While this is a different homeless population from the women and children that HEARTH serves, the HUD CoC application consolidates the requests of 38 homeless service providers which HEARTH is one of. In recent years, HUD has provided about $140,000, or 1/3 of our budget, to HEARTH.

Norwin Show Choir

For more than a decade, the Norwin Show Choir has been performing for HEARTH and our families under the direction of Cheryl Walter. On May 23rd, an era came to an end. Not only was it the choirs last performance at Benedictine Place, it was the last time Mrs. Walter would conduct the choir. At the end of the school year, she retired. HEARTH would like to thank Mrs. Walter for her hard work and dedication to the agency and for putting on such wonderful Christmas productions and “Un-Birthday” Party productions for our families. You’ve inspired many with your songs. more


HEARTH Participates in Highmark Walk

HEARTH participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community for the first time on May 21 and raised nearly $2,000. Thank you to everyone who walked for us and everyone who donated to our walkers! It was a beautiful day, and everyone enjoyed a relaxing stroll through town, as well as the live music and refreshments.

Congratulations to our award winners:
Biggest Team of Walkers: Henry’s Handlers
Top Fundraiser (adult): Cindy Patterson
Top Fundraiser (child): James Gill
Most Creative Team Name: Henry’s Handlers – Team Captain Vicky Gill

We’d like to extend a special thank you to the girls of the North Allegheny Z Club for helping us out this year!

The Homeless Children’s Education Fund and Citizen’s Bank makes donation for children

On Monday, August 17th, The Homeless Children’s Education Fund along with some volunteers came to HEARTH in a school bus to drop off wonderful backpacks and boxes that contained school supplies such as notebooks, folder, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, glue sticks, scissors, pencil boxes, loose paper etc. to our children. We received approximately 60 backpacks for elementary aged children and 10 backpacks for our teens. HCEF, in conjunction with Citizen’s Bank, donated all of the backpacks and goodies to fill them. Our families were so thrilled to receive this donation. It helped immensely to offset the costs of purchasing back to school supplies for their children. We thank HCEF and Citizen’s Bank for providing us with such a great need for our families.


New PRIDE Program’s First Participant

HEARTH’s PRIDE Program, a second step for HOMES (formerly Benedictine Place) program participants, began in July 2009. To be considered for participation in the program, the women must have lived at Benedictine Place and have a mental health or physical disability. Prior to their moving from Benedictine Place, new Case Manager Meghan Labiaux works with them to find housing in apartments or houses in the community. She then provides ongoing case management services to them in their homes, as well as coordinates monthly group life skills training. Mary Beth and her 3 children are our first participants.

Read Mary Beth’s story

Non-profits helping other non-profits

In these financially hard times it was nice to see other non-profit organizations helping HEARTH. In true holiday spirit many of our local non-profit organizations did not hesitate to make this holiday season extra special for the families of Benedictine Place.

• The McCandless Rotary brings together businesses and professional leaders for humanitarian work. This past holiday season the McCandless Rotary decided to take-part in HEARTH’s Angel Tree sponsorship. McCandless Rotary has been donating to HEARTH since 1997.

• The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (GPCFB) is an organization that collects and distributes food through a large network in 11 counties within the southwestern Pennsylvania area. The GPCFB is also a member of Feeding America, which is formerly known as America’s Second Harvest. This year for the holidays the GPCFB in association with KDKA TV’s Turkey Campaign donated 15 Giant Eagle gift cards worth $15 each to HEARTH.

• North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO) is dedicated to helping those in need. They offer several services to the community; food pantries, utility assistance, emergency financial help, college scholarships for non-traditional adult students, and support groups along with other services. The NHCO donated 15 Giant Eagle gift cards that were each worth $25 to HEARTH this past holiday.

• The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera (CLO) is very prestigious organization that puts on musical theater and showcases local talent. The organization has paved the way for many talented artists in the industry. As a special gift to the families at Benedictine Place the Pittsburgh CLO donated eight tickets to A Musical Christmas Carol.

• The Wexford Christian Center is a drop-in day care and preschool designed to help families of the surrounding communities. This last holiday the 4-year-old classes made candy treats, which were delivered to HEARTH for the families of Benedictine Place to enjoy.

• The Woodlands Foundation is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The Woodlands Foundation donated six $25 Giant Eagle gift cards to the families of Benedictine Place.

• Community Care Behavioral is an organization that manages and continuously improves the delivery of behavioral health services. They provide this service throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In spirit of the holiday season employees on the Children’s team went and picked up Christmas trees and then delivered them to HEARTH for the families in the program to enjoy.

The families of Benedictine Place were given a wonderful holiday season because of the kindness and generosity of the non-profit organizations that donated to HEARTH this past holiday. Thanks to the non-profit organizations the families participating in Benedictine Place were blessed with gift cards for food, delicious treats and holiday cheer essentials. HEARTH could not appreciate its fellow non-profit organizations’ help more.