Photo by Justin Criado
Over 650 people attended Buhl Foundation’s One Northside celebration Wednesday, Dec. 2 at Heinz Field. The event highlighted the initiatives progress and outlined future plans.
By Justin Criado
The Buhl Foundation hosted the One Northside celebration Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Heinz Field to recognize the initiative’s progress over the past 18 months, and announce future strategies and programs.
“This has really been about working with residents on the Northside to shape what we want to do,” foundation vice president Diana Bucco said during the program.
The initiative started with a general census asking Northside residents what areas they feel needs most improved throughout Northside neighborhoods. From the census information, three key areas were defined; education, employment and quality of place.
“When we began this journey about 18 months a lot of people thought we were crazy because it was impossible to get the Northside to work together,” foundation president Fred Thieman said. “The last 18 months and in particular the last eight months have proven that the investment we made so far and the investment we’re going to make has worked so far.”
Strategy and action teams compromised of community leaders and members started holding open discussions with the foundation and other community outreach programs to form missions and goals regarding the three areas of interest.
“We learned that Northsiders were passionate,” Thieman said. “Diversity on the Northside is embraced and celebrated. It’s considered an asset.”
Steelers chairman and lifelong Northsider Dan Rooney and his wife, Patricia, attended the celebration and spoke of their affinity for the area they’ve called home for all their lives.
“I’m certainly honored and we both are to be part of the celebration,” Patricia said. “I remember growing up and Lake Elizabeth was a swimming pool. We went to school at St. Peter’s school…Thank you for all the work you’re doing in your neighborhood and I want to thank all the people who I’ve had the privilege of working with.”
Dan added: “It’s great and I just want to say that we really love the Northside. Trisha and I grew up here and it was fun all the time.”
Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald recalled a tour the Rooneys gave him of Manchester and surrounding areas.
“He actually took me on a tour one day and I don’t know if he has more pride in the Northside than that other thing he does (with the Steelers),” Fitzgerald said. “It’s really great to see the energy. I know what’s talked about are the challenges, but what overwhelms them are the opportunities. There’s so many opportunities and so many great things that are happening on the Northside.”
Thieman announced the next phase of the initiative at the celebration. Three separate pockets of money will be made available to help communities fund and implement programs, including $50,000 for each action team, $10,000 for each of the 18 Northside neighborhoods, and $70,000 in individual grants, which will range from $250-1,000.
“We want to thank you for showing us what it is to be a Northsider,” Thieman said to the over 650 audience members.
The Sprout Fund and GTECH will help the foundation with the grants and implementation of community programs.