90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories

90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories is a weekly series of radio and online stories celebrating people who make the place they live a better place to live. 

We invite you to nominate someone you know who is making a difference in his or her neighborhood for possible inclusion in our series. Please use the form below to share how your nominee is making a difference. The story could be about helping others;  it could be about improving the neighborhood itself. 

All nominations will be considered, but we expect many nominees per neighborhood—so not every suggestion will result in a broadcast story.

Thanks for sharing!

JaQuay Carter
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 


 

Like many areas in Pittsburgh, renovations and major structural changes are taking place in the city’s Hazelwood neighborhood. It is with that in mind that JaQuay Edward Carter says he started the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society in 2018 with an eye toward “restoring neighborhood pride and preserving the pillars of our community’s past.”

 

Jamie Upshaw
Dayna Delgado / Courtesy Jamie Upshaw


Jamie Upshaw of Hazelwood says it was hard to get a proper autism diagnosis for her youngest son. She says it was even more difficult to find the proper resources her family needed when the diagnosis was ultimately made. Upshaw has since started her own support group, called Autism Urban Connections.

SETpoint
Courtesy Photo / SETpoint

 


 

SETpoint is a Pittsburgh-based group offering specialized self-defense training for those who experience the threat of gender-based violence, serving groups both nationwide and here at home.

 

Rivers
Courtesy Jason Rivers / AR3 Foundation

 

 

It's been more than a decade since a Stanton Heights man—along with his family—created the AR3 Celebration of Life Foundation to honor the brother he lost to gun violence. AR3 organizes basketball tournaments and other youth activities to honor the memory of Anthony Rivers, who was murdered in 2008.

 

Griffin-EL
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Nosakhere Griffin-EL, founder of the Young Dreamers Book Club, is an advocate of literacy, especially among urban youth. His organization challenges young people to strive for greatness while learning, and brings families together for fellowship over books.

 

Gomez
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

Nearly a decade ago, Keysha Gomez and her husband opened the doors of their home to a few local kids in their neighborhood. What started as a somewhat informal after-school program for area youth has since expanded in both size and scope, from a solely youth-oriented focus to one that offers intergenerational enrichment.

CAPTURED::PITTSBURGH
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Since its creation two years ago, CAPTURED::PITTSBURGH has become a driving force behind an emerging community of aspiring photographers.

Nikkia Ingram
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

Nikkia Ingram’s responsibilities at Pittsburgh Brashear High School have outgrown her job title of school security officer. That's because what began as informal mentoring sessions during lunch breaks and weekends has grown to include the creation of a local nonprofit called Cultivating Resilient Youth.

Brewer
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

Homewood fiber artist Tina Williams Brewer recently received the 2018 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Artist of the Year. Brewer spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort for our series 90.5 WESA Celebrates: 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories about the quilting technique Brewer has shared for decades with seniors, students, and other artists.

 

Below are excerpts of their discussion.

 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

 

Marien Lien
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

Marian Lien says Squirrel Hill’s strength is its people.

goodwine
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Nearly 300 boys and girls are enrolled in the Northside Youth Athletic Association's football teams and cheering squads.

Vernard Alexander
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Businessman Vernard Alexander of Homewood is known in his neighborhood as the "Connecting King,” because he uses online platforms to share information about jobs, housing and funding sources to help others in his community.

LFG Owners
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

 

From "Madden NFL Football" to “Fortnite” and “Forza Motorsport," to “World of Warcraft” and "Call of Duty,” the virtual worlds of online gaming have ballooned in recent years.

 

 

 

As gaming culture has moved online, though, the face-to-face social atmosphere of the arcade heyday has become a thing of the past. John Lange finds that unfortunate. 

 

Minor Spencer
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Sheraden resident Terri Minor Spencer started West End P.O.W.E.R. (Providing Opportunities with Effective Resources) three years ago. The organization aims to redefine and rebuild community in Pittsburgh's West End through the facilitation of multiple neighborhood support initiatives. 

Minor Spencer spoke about P.O.W.E.R.'s origins with 90.5 WESA's Elaine Effort, as well as where she sees the organization moving forward.

German in Rainey's
Ricco JL Martello / Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company

Vanessa German's passion is rooted in her imagination, which has led her to build elaborate sculptures and write and perform stage plays. It has also been the vehicle she has used to help ensure the tools of creativity are accessible to the residents in her community.

After growing up in Los Angeles and Cincinnati, German came to Pittsburgh to live with her parents nearly two decades ago. She says she began creating art by using materials she found during her travels.

Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Drafting Dreams is a Homewood-based program that teaches Pittsburgh-area K-12 students the principles of architecture and urban design.

Morris and Duffey
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 


Removed from the bustle of the city’s busier neighborhoods, Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood is a bit off the beaten path. Looking out from the hillside is a breathtaking view of the Downtown skyline. Its streets are dotted by family businesses and mid-sized dwellings. 

pierre
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 


 

North Side Pittsburgh Chef Claudy Pierre is focused on teaching community members to prepare fresh food that is both nutritious and affordable. In fact, that’s the mission of the community program he has run the past four years called E.A.T., which stands for Empowerment, Awareness and Training.

Arrington
Courtesy Devin Arrington / Musicians with a Mission

 

For Pittsburgher Devin Arrington, the theory behind his organization Musicians with a Mission has been that. Whether it’s classical, bluegrass, country or jazz, music is a universal language that contributes to the growth and maturation of the mind.

Lane
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Three years ago, a group of volunteers in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood decided to do something about an empty, overgrown lot that had become an eyesore in their community. Where that vacant lot once was now sits the African Healing Garden, which serves both as a tool education and relaxation for Larimer residents.  

The group of volunteers behind the Healing Garden was led by longtime community organizer Betty Lane.

Danforth
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

Sarah Danforth begins her daily routine, stacking boxes of clean syringes and unpacking the tools she needs to help those in search of a clean start.

“I feel as though I am a conduit,” she said. “I help other people save lives.”

 

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with a trio of mothers in Bellevue who put together a farmer’s market in seriously speedy fashion; Dorothy Antonelli, who works to maintain Neville Island's environment; and Steven Sadvary, a Stowe Township resident and artists who specializes in mosaics.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

Boatwright
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to eliminate barriers to accessing mental health care, West End social worker Julius Boatwright engages people in street conversations about mental health wellness in the communities in and around Pittsburgh.  Boatwright is the founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit Steel Smiling, a mental health resource provider.

Below are excerpts from his conversation with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort for our series 90.5 WESA Celebrates: 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories.

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Gary Cirrincione, an architect who’s volunteered his skills to rehab housing in Garfield; Siggy Pehel, who helped restore a 50-acre lake in Butler County; and Shannon Merenstein,  the founder of the Hatch Art Studio, a place for children and families to gather and make art in Point Breeze.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

Charles Bonner
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

Flanked by children as he walks the perimeter of the Ammons Community Recreation Center in the Hill District, Charles Bonner makes his way to the Olympic-size swimming pool. He unlocks security gates, checks chlorine levels and proceeds to greet enthusiastic attendees of his summer swimming program.

The 28-year-old Bonner serves as head lifeguard at Ammons, a job he said he’s been preparing for since he was a teenager.

“Starting back in 2005, I was a program counselor,” Bonner said. “One of the positions I had to have was lifeguarding. It was actually my first job."

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Amy Kline, who helped revamp a park in Carrick; Steve Root of the South Side Community Council, who decided to make use of street art instead of painting over it; and Dave Breingan of the non-profit Lawrenceville United, who is trying to bridge the gap between educators and community.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

flournoy
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Army veteran Michael Flournoy has made helping other veterans his life's mission. Even though Flournoy retired from his job as a therapist for the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospital a few years ago, the 80-year-old resident of Pittsburgh's Chartiers City neighborhood tells 90.5 WESA's Elaine Effort that does not mean his work with veterans has ended. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

ELAINE EFFORT: What made working with veterans so meaningful for you?

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with Aubrey Plesh, who connects displaced people to essential services on the South Side; Sue Otto, who helps provide food and clothing to the needy in Ambridge at the faith-based non-profit Center for Hope; and Kristee Cammack, who helped turn an old school building into a family shelter in Allentown.

90.5 WESA Celebrates 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories, is sponsored by UPMC.

The 90 Neighborhoods, 90 Good Stories Podcast introduces you to people in the Pittsburgh area, who are striving to make their community a better place to live.

This episode, we speak with the Union Project's Jeffrey Dorsey, who is bringing people together through ceramics and other crafts in Highland Park; volunteers with the Pitt Pantry, a group working to make sure that poor nutrition isn’t part of the college experience for any student; and Caitlin McNulty, a co-founder of the Brookline Teen Outreach Center.

Emmai Alaquiva
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

Emmai Alaquiva is a Pittsburgh-based Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and youth mentor who was recently appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. 90.5 WESA contributor Elaine Effort recently spoke with Alaquiva about Hip Hop on L.O.C.K, an arts education program he created more than a decade ago.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

ELAINE EFFORT: Why did you find it important to give back and to do Hip Hop on L.O.C.K.?

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