The great thing about the annual Public Allies RISE ChangeMaker Awards is that the winners are chosen by the community, says Misti McKeehen, site director of
Public Allies Pittsburgh
. During two weeks of voting last month, she says, "the community was able to go in and select who they felt was really making change."
Winners announced at the annual ceremony on Nov. 13 were:
- Organizational RISE ChangeMaker: North Hills Community Outreach, whose programs include a pair of food pantries that annually distribute 4,500 pounds of vegetables from their organic garden, utility and emergency financial assistance, employment services, legal consultations, college scholarships for older students, services for seniors and others. In 2011, 1,314 volunteers (including 365 young people) contributed 44,507 hours of service to NHCO.
- Individual RISE ChangeMaker: Matt Arch, who is program manager for regional community initiatives at the UPMC Center for Inclusion. He is also very active in the community as a member of the board of directors of the Delta Foundation, Addison Behavioral Care and the Advisory Committee for Equality Pennsylvania.
- Alumni RISE ChangeMaker: LaTrenda Leonard, a member of the 2009-2010 class of Public Allies Pittsburgh who has been a student coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh's Investing Now program, community youth organizer for Focus on Renewal, and on the board of directors for the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation.
The awards ceremony included a keynote address by John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, outlining how Public Allies' core values inspired work in Braddock and beyond.
McKeehen sees the awards as a way for the winners to draw more attention to their good community works -- and a push for others to aspire to similar notice.
"We're working on getting young people engaged in community leadership," she notes, adding that Public Allies plans to continue to work with the awardees on creating and furthering service projects in the area. Public Allies' main program in Pittsburgh places young people, mostly 18-30, in a 10-month apprenticeship with local nonprofits through AmeriCorps, partnering with Coro Pittsburgh.
"Change, not charity" is the motto, and working with young people is one of the hallmarks, of the Three Rivers Community Foundation. Get involved here
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Misti McKeehen, Public Allies Pittsburgh