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!

Walker
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

Ruthie Walker walks the halls of the Student Achievement Center in Homewood, greeting students. She makes sure each has their eye on the ball, the ultimate goal—graduation.

James Rounds
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

 

People who need fitness training and the most help developing healthy habits are often the ones least likely to seek out assistance.

 

That's according to Pittsburgh fitness trainer James Rounds. In addition to operating a private gym, Rounds maintains community-based fitness programs for those who need them most.

HDAT 1
Eric A. Smith / Hill Dance Academy Theatre

 

A number of well-known cultural icons have emerged from the Hill District—August Wilson, George Benson and Mary Lou Williams, to name a few. But when it comes to the art of dance in recent years, one company comes to mind.

Flint
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Following a personal experience with the challenges of seeking expert medical care for her son, Staci Flint of Garfield created Kyle's Hope. The organization advocates for other families and helps them secure quality care for their loved ones.

Rudiak SSCC
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Whether it's the middle of the day—or the middle of the night—Pittsburgh’s South Side is bustling with activity in and around its coffee shops, bars, shops and restaurants. The South Side Community Council is a volunteer group that acts as the glue that holds together the neighborhood’s homeowners and businesses and advocates on behalf of its residents.

 

Joyce Meggerson-Moore, of Stanton Heights, has led New Horizon Theater for more than two decades as chair of its Board of Directors, and, over the years, she has filled several other roles with the organization, such as company cook and chauffeur.

Grossman
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Imagine you are out and about around Pittsburgh, and you stumble upon a hand-knitted heart along with a message that brightens your day.

 

Spreading kindness through creativity is the mission of the PGH Handmade Hearts initiative. According to Barbara Grossman, the ingredients that go into it are a combination of creative expression and love.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

 

While building trails in Mt. Washington’s Emerald View Park several years ago, Nathaniel Broadus noticed some of his fellow African-American colleagues working in the park, but rarely using and enjoying its scenic trails.

 

The realization led him to organize monthly “Black-Packing Nature Excursions.”

 

CleanWays
Brian Cook / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Even on a wet February day, the gray skies and constant rain does not stop Allegheny CleanWays from doing what it does best. Volunteers are removing piles of trash from empty lots, alleyways and residences in Homewood.

Blackwell
Elaine Effort / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Lateresa Blackwell of Pittsburgh’s Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood is a university administrator by day. She also is the proprietor, along with her husband, of the Café on the Corner where, by night and on weekends, she runs a no-charge workforce development program for teens, focusing on hospitality and business.

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.

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