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Love My Neighbor! Grantees Persevere through 2020

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While COVID-19 caused many of our 2020 Love My Neighbor! grantees to postpone their community projects, some grantees were able to pivot their work to adapt to or even directly address the pandemic. We want to highlight all of the great projects that did take place in 2020, and give a sneak peek at all of the projects that will take place over the coming months!

Check out some of the great Love My Neighbor! projects that happened in 2020:

Wilkinsburg Community Ministry Food Pantry Expansion

Courtesy of WCM’s Facebook Page.

Wilkinsburg Community Ministry (WCM) was awarded a $2,500 Love My Neighbor grant to aid them in building a longhouse that would allow them to grow fresh food through the winter. While the longhouse is still in development, they redirected a portion of their funds to address the increased need for fresh food in their community. They supported local farmers and urban gardens while increasing production. They even installed a wind turbine to assist in meeting the increased demand. In combination with one of our $10,000 COVID Accelerated Relief Effort (CARE) Fund grants, WCM was able to adjust to community needs and serve up to 500 families a week from March through May. In November, WCM was still serving 550 families per month. Read more.


Meshwork Press Youth Arts & Printmaking in Wilkinsburg

The finished mural in Wilkinsburg.

When artist and Meshwork Press founder and co-owner, Haylee Ebersole, applied for a Love My Neighbor! grant in March, she planned to purchase iPads and other materials to hold in-person summer workshops for youth in Wilkinsburg. However, with the need to adapt to COVID-19 safety precautions, she successfully pivoted to a completely virtual youth arts experience. Instead of in-person workshops, youth from the Wilkinsburg Youth Project (WYP) and the Braddock Youth Project (BYP) collaborated with Meshwork Press on two great art projects – a zine project and new mural in Wilkinsburg! Haylee even had enough funds from her grant to purchase a new printer, which will help share future zine projects and plan for additional murals. Read more.


Beltzhoover United Positive Effect Garden

Miss Natalie talking to students at her garden on Pitt Make a Difference Day in 2019.

Natalie Thomas, owner of the United Positive Effect Garden, applied for a 2020 Love My Neighbor grant to help with caring for the garden space, including installing a new brick pathway. She’s been part of our Love My Neighbor! network for a few years now, and she continues to show the love she has for her community. You can learn more about her and her garden in this podcast, which is part of a series done by The Gardener’s Report.


Veteran Banner Project in the Hill District

Eric Howze, founder of No Hero Left Behind, was awarded a Love My Neighbor! grant to display 35 banners of Black veterans in the Hill District last year. His organization’s mission is to to end Veteran homelessness and reduce Veteran suicide by helping, honoring, & housing our Nation’s Heroes and Underserved. You can read more about the project here. Follow No Hero Left Behind on Facebook to stay tuned for information about 2021 banners – including how to sponsor one!

“…and there’s no Black veterans represented, it’s almost as if Black Veterans never served…so that was our goal to change that narrative.”


Ladies Night Out in the Hill District

Some of the ladies at the event.

Rhonda Lockett planned a night out for women of color in the Hill District. The goal was to provide a space for women in the community to network, share stories, and build relationships with each other. It also served as a space for African American men in the community to show their appreciation for and to honor African American women in the neighborhood for their resilience and support of families.


Youth Speaks Storytelling Project in the Hilltop

The finished mural at the Frick Museum.

Luqmon Abdus-Salaam, in collaboration with PULSE Fellow Lucy Friedman-Bell, applied for a Love My Neighbor! grant to carry out a youth storytelling project in the Hilltop. They created an art piece in collaboration with South Hilltop youth and the nonprofit organization, Voices Against Violence, that would be exhibited on the grounds of the Frick Museum. The project allowed the 9 participating young people to express themselves in relation to the overall theme of “Black is Beautiful.” The collective multi-media visual arts piece was adapted from performance based spoken word.

 

 


Street Sounds: A Living Portrait | Wilkinsburg Light Project

Street Sounds is a public artwork that will live on the one thousand black of Wood Street in Wilkinsburg. In a building that runs nearly the entire length of the street, its windows will illuminate in response to the sounds around it, making it a living embodiment of the place – and the people – surrounding it. The work will be created by a knowledgeable team including internationally exhibiting artist Adam Frelin.


Please note that, in an effort to support our 2020 grantees who had to postpone their projects, we will not be awarding grants to any new Love My Neighbor! projects in 2021.

While we may not be awarding any new grants, we are celebrating the postponed projects that have yet to take place! Over the next few months, we will feature a host of projects. Here are some to look forward to:

  • A youth program in Millvale originally planned to host monthly neighborhood youth dances, but is now taking youth from Millvale to Erie!
  • A recurring Sacred Spaces tour in Wilkinsburg will now have a new, socially distanced spin with a self directed, GPS virtual tour of the spaces. When you enter the surrounding perimeter of the Sacred Space, an oral story of the history will play!
  • Watershed and growing education to help residents reclaim the greenspace along Chalfont Run in Wilkinsburg,
  • Stop the Violence Block Party in the Hill District by I Am So Hill, which will help to educate and empower youth against gun violence and domestic violence,
  • A podcast series documenting youth experiences in Homewood by HYPE Media,
  • and more!

Stay tuned to learn how you can get involved in these projects and to see the amazing impact they have in our communities! If you would like to make a donation to support an upcoming Love My Neighbor! project in 2022 please contact Tamara Cartwright at tamara@neighborhoodallies.org. 

We are proud of our grantees for finding a way to make their projects impactful during a tough year. We are also looking forward to the next several months as even more projects take place. We are honored to play a part in helping our residents achieve their goals for their communities!

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