Central Northside charity hosts NGO representatives for G20 summit

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A nondescript warehouse on a quiet backstreet in the Central Northside will transform into the noisy communications headquarters for nearly 50 representatives of non-governmental organizations this week during the G20.

The warehouse’s owner, Brother’s Brother Foundation, offered it as a workspace to fellow member groups of InterAction, a trade group that advocates in Washington, D.C. for an alliance of 150 humanitarian groups.

As the only member of InterAction with headquarters in Pittsburgh, global charity Brother’s Brother,  naturally began receiving phone calls about hosting various NGOs’ representatives during the economic summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week.

“They wanted a location where their media people could set up their laptops and set up a printer, said Karen Dempsey, vice-president of development and administration for Brother’s Brother. “The [mainstream] media had the Igloo, the Mellon Arena, but the NGO community didn’t have a hub.”

Dempsey and Brother’s Brother staff have hustled over the past few weeks, readying the confines of the warehouse at 1200 Galveston Avenue and dealing with the logistics of accommodating 47 representatives of the NGO community.

Members of many well-known NGOs that are apart of InterAction, like Oxfam, Transparency International and World Vision, will have representatives at the G20 to observe the summit and lobby world leaders. These representatives will communicate summit news and their personal advocacy work with their colleagues back at the warehouse. The representatives hunkered down in the warehouse are then tasked with writing the press releases and web content to send to their particular group’s headquarters.

Last week Brother’s Brother was busy arranging the warehouse to suit the needs of its guests. A pallet full of brand new extension cords and drop cloths sat next to an all-in-one copy/fax/printer rented for the week.

Two staff members set up tables in seven temporary cubicles where guest representatives could put their laptops and other gear.

Dempsey said because her staff would be so busy catering to the guests’ technical and personal needs, she was relying on two interns from Duquesne University to help fill the time slots when staff members wouldn’t be around.

The warehouse will be open to the guests from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but Dempsey’s staff will be working before and after those times, taxiing the guests to and from their various hotels in Greentree and along Banksville Road.

Additionally, the Slovak-American Association and the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh volunteered to provide lunch for the members of the NGOs.

Because representatives will be entering and leaving the warehouse constantly, Dempsey set up a badge system to recognize members.

She said all Brother’s Brother asks for is a donation from each group to cover expenses. Beside that, President Luke Hingson said he’s just glad that Brother’s Brother is able to help out.

A warehouse typically used to stock textbooks and medicine for those in need will, for two days, be communication central for groups seeking to get their message to those in power.

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