Community Ownership Awardees: Kevin Alton (The Way Organization) & Martel Hedge (Daddy’s Hands)
The Community Ownership Award is given to those who actively support residents, small business owners, community organizations and institutions–serving as active participants and key decision-makers in neighborhood revitalization projects. They support local residents and leaders harness the capacity and community power to create positive change and shape the future of their neighborhood.
As active, contributing members of Neighborhood Allies’ Grassroots Grantmaking Committee (GGC), Martel Hedge and Kevin Alton have gone above and beyond in their roles, volunteering 4+ hours every week throughout April-June to interview residents seeking a Love My Neighbor! Grant in addition to spearheading their own initiative to hand out meals to children and senior citizens in their South Hilltop communities during COVID-19. Oftentimes, Martel and Kevin were both just returning home from their day of feeding the community only to log on and interview an aspiring Love My Neighbor! Grantee. They truly create community by supporting and connecting with neighbors and helping to co-power residents to become active players in making their neighborhood better in all that they do.
In addition, Kevin and Martel both run their own successful youth-focused organizations in the Hilltop. Kevin Alton’s organization, The Way Organization, creates positive change and shapes the future of youth within the Hilltop. Kevin is a mentor for young boys in the community while raising his own children. He coaches football and engages youth who may otherwise have been caught up in prevalent gang violence, and encourages them to instead expend their energy in excelling in the sport. Martel Hedge’s organization, Daddy’s Hands, also focuses on creating positive experiences for youth . Martel encourages dads to take a more active role as a parent and provides a space for relationships to build so that children can find a mentor in their father. Both men are clear leaders and are actively helping to improve conditions for the youth in the Hilltop.
Watch Kevin and Martel’s Awardee Video!
Check out Kevin and Martel’s individual stories, too!
Thanks to our partners at Pittsburgh Tech Council for interviewing Kevin and Martel!
You can listen here by clicking on the player below!
Kevin’s Organization, The Way Organization, focuses on teaching youth that there are many different paths you can take to be GREAT. Kevin creates positive change and shapes the future of Hilltop Youth by serving as a role model and mentor for kids in the community while raising his own children. His work with The Way Organization also compliments his position as a Behavior Specialist at Pittsburgh Brashear High School, allowing him to connect with students in and out of a school setting.
Martel’s Organization, Daddy’s Hands encourages dads to take a more active role as a parent and provides a space for relationships to build so that children can find a mentor in their father. He’s put on annual events such as a Daddy Daughter Dance and a father & son cookout and kickball game! This endeavor started out as Martel simply getting together with some other friends with kids to do kid-friendly activities, but the response was so great that he had to make them annual events!
Kevin and Martel coach a youth football team in the Hilltop called the South Side Bears!
Kevin and Martel are also part of Neighborhood Allies’ Grassroots Grantmaking Committee. Kevin has been part of the GGC for three years and just recruited Martel to join in 2020. They have gone above and beyond in their roles, volunteering 4+ hours every week throughout April-June to interview residents seeking a Love My Neighbor! Grant in addition to spearheading their own initiative to hand out meals to children and senior citizens in their South Hilltop communities during COVID-19. You can read their GGC bios here.
Amid COVID-19, Kevin and Martel jumped into action the DAY schools shut down to hand out lunches to kids in the neighborhood. As soon as they heard the news of the initial 2-week quarantine, they knew many students that relied on school for some of their meals would be in need. And today, they’re still handing out lunches in collaboration with PPS. Check out this article from earlier in the pandemic to learn how it all got started.