Part one in a two-part series on adult social services.
With the local unemployment rate at 7.9 percent and 20 percent of Pittsburghers living below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau, many Northside adults struggle to make ends meet.
But whether you are a single mother working two jobs to send your children to school, a middle class family having trouble paying for a home repair or a young adult trying to pay your bills, there is an organization willing to help.
Two of these that are dedicated to making life easier for adults in need on the Northside are the Pittsburgh Project of Beverly Heights Presbyterian and Bountiful Blessings of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
The Pittsburgh Project
For more than 25 years the Pittsburgh Project has been working to ensure that the Northside’s most vulnerable residents are given a helping hand through services such as free home repair, a subsidized farmers market and other social services meant to instill a sense of self-worth in Northside residents.
Pittsburgh Project Executive Director Elizabeth Rosemeyer coordinates the organization’s many services and its more than 900 volunteers that work to make the Northside a more livable place.
The organization offers free home repairs for Northsiders who otherwise cannot afford to pay for them, and collaborates with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to run the Charles Street Farmers Market.
Unlike most farmers markets, the Charles Street Market accepts several different forms of government nutrition assistance subsidies, like food stamps and vouchers from the Woman, Infants and Children program.
“Many people on the Northside don’t get to enjoy locally sourced fruits and vegetables,” Rosemeyer said. “The food stand makes it easier for those people to have access to fresh produce.”
The market is open every Thursday from June to November, 2 to 6 p.m.
For more information about services or for information of how to volunteer, call 412-321-1678.
Since January 2001, Terry and Ron Orendi have been providing non-food items such as cleaning supplies, toothpaste and shampoo through their Mechanicsburg-based organization, Bountiful Blessings.
The organization, which has a Northside location at St. Mathew’s Lutheran Church on North Avenue, is a faith-based organization built on the fundamental Biblical principle, “I am thy brother’s keeper,” according to its website.
The organization is run solely by volunteers, and is made possible by donations from supporters, civic groups, corporate donations and grants.
In exchange for the non-food items, the recipient of the goods is asked to return the favor by volunteering their own time at the store in the future. All that is needed to receive Bountiful Blessings’ services is a valid form of identification.
“There are eight core items, which we call the Wish List, that we are always asking that people donate,” Ron said. “Toothpaste, shampoo, bath soap, paper towels, toilet paper, dish detergent, cleaning items and trash bags.”
The Northside branch, one of 16 across Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, is open every first and third Sunday of the month from noon to 2 p.m., except during the winter, when the store is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information on Bountiful Blessings, call 717-802-1222.
Ethan G. Cohen graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and interned with The Northside Chronicle.