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Meet the GGC

Grassroots Grantmaking Committee (GGC)

Each of the neighbors on the GGC were selected to be on the committee because of they are budding stewards and weavers.

STEWARD: A neighbor that knows and believes that their neighbors have valuable and untapped ideas, skills, and knowledge. Stewards work to support and grow these assets with resources, connections, and information. They realize that the work of building communities is bigger than themselves and believe that the way to make positive and effective changes is by building upon what’s working, what neighbors are already doing.

WEAVER: A neighbor learns about new learnings, ideas, resources, and opportunities and shares—or weaves—them with the relevant people and associations in their neighborhoods.

By engaging with a curriculum prior to their grantmaking experience, GGC members are eager to learn new and different ways to strategically invest and solve challenging problems in communities.

HILL DISTRICT

Kevin McNair

Hill District

What makes your community so special?
I am passionate about my community because I feel like a symbol of hope to the younger generation to show them how their dreams can become a reality through hard work and dedication. What makes my community so special is the rich history and human capital that hill district residents hold.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I am inspired to be apart of the GGC because it allows me to co-power with community members to provide them with resources they could use to help them create the change they want to see in their community.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
The Love My Neighbor! grant program means a lot to me because as a previous winner I know how vital the resources and support can be to make your community vision a reality.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am currently working on a series of community engagement events that will create awareness of local leaders, entrepreneurs, and other community assets while shining lights on our areas of concerns so we can turn them into opportunities of growth.

Sharnay Hearn Davis

Hill District

What makes your community so special?
The Hill District community leaders raised me and invested in me, it is my responsibility to use my time and talent to do the same for others. The Hill District has a historical legacy that transcends across the world.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
Often times individuals talk about what is wrong with a specific neighborhood, being apart of the GCC is an opportunity to highlight the assets and help the individuals who are maintaing these assets increase their capacity.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
Empowering community members to invest in the communities that they love.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am currently enrolled in Duquesne University Ed.D in Educational Leadership Program. I serve as a board member for Ujamma Collective. Formerly, served as the Director of Workforce Development for the Hill House Association First Source Center.

HILLTOP

Jolie Valentine

Allentown

What makes your community so special?
I am passionate about my community, because it has such a vibrant youth population and I want the youth to thrive in their own neighborhood. There is so much opportunity for creative and positive spaces in Allentown and I am so excited to be a part of a community that is working towards a healthier community for their community by the community.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
As someone currently working on a small grassroots project in my own community, I understand just how far a small grant like Love My Neighbor! can go. It is truly these types of grassroots grants that help community members contribute in such a positive way to their neighborhood. It is an exciting and inspiring opportunity to hear about projects that are going on in other communities and I am truly honored to have the chance to be part of the process.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
Love My Neighbor! is an opportunity for individuals to make real change within their own environment for the betterment of their entire community. It gives people the chance to make their ideas and projects a reality, and in turn, bringing their community closer in a positive way.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
My husband and I are currently working on a small public greenspace on the main street of Allentown. There is currently an empty lot on Warrington, and we are working with the owner of the lot to re-purpose the space into a small parklet that is open for the public to enjoy. We are hoping to include some kind of public art piece within the space and eventually benches and other areas for the community to use and enjoy a small outdoor space on the main street.

Kevin Alton

Beltzhoover

What makes your community so special?
My community was a great place when I was growing up and it slowly started taking a turn for the worse due to schools closing, violence, the closing of businesses, people moving away, houses getting torn down. I want to help it get back to what it was at one point in time. That’s where my passion comes in. I LOVE MY NEIGHBORHOOD.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
Everything that Love My Neighbor! represents is everything that drives me to continue to do the work that I do to uplift my community to be great again.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
This program gives people with ideas an avenue to bring those ideas to life.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I’m currently the President of the Youth Football and Cheerleading program and I’m also the co-director for our Summer camp for children in K-8th grade I’m also the Founder of The Way Organization a Mentoring program for young males in 9th-12th grade.

Ruby Williams

Knoxville

What makes your community so special?
The abundance of children in my area .I love the family and sense of communal pride.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
Helping people to help and inspire others to help people.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
It means we have the ability to help make wonderful ideas happen.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am currently working on the Halloween prince and princess party. In the past I have coordinated multiple events to network families together.

HOMEWOOD

Brettney Faith Duck

Homewood

What makes your community so special?
As a person who believes in the importance of family foundation, I’ve always admired the huge family presence in Homewood. Not only have I lived in Homewood and attended Homewood schools, 3 generations of my family have done the same. Being in a community that is able to be family focused even while facing challenges such as lack of resources shows the strengths of the community. I have always been passionate about helping others, so to be able to serve a community so rich in strength and culture, is an honor and privilege for me.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I have always been interested in community development. But, to have an opportunity to serve on a committee that not only shares the same passion for their communities as I do for mine, but to be able to meet change makers from other communities means so much to me. I am passionate about people, and by that I mean anything that involves supporting people is what I love to do. I believe in making your passion your purpose.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
The Love my neighbor grant means that I get to be a part of something so awesome! The program is a resident lead, resident driven program that speaks volumes to me. To be able to witness the residents (from not only my community but surrounding communities) utilize their strengths, gifts, and talents to better their community is such a blessing.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am currently working on developing the “On your mark, get set, G.O (O.G.G.) strength building” program. The O.G.G. program is a learning Marketplace Bootcamp which increases the skills, abilities and confidence of youth to combat teenage lifestyle stressors, and to become leaders in their communities. This will focus on teen girls ages 12-18 from low-income neighborhoods, including Homewood.

As a previous grantee of the Love My Neighbor grant, I recently completed a Homewood community project. This project was a compilation of several scenes, each scene tackled the issues and concerns of teens and residents in Homewood. This community project created a safe environment for teens to express themselves as well as an artistic outlet to communicate their inner struggles. The goal of the play was to bridge the communication gap between the youth and their caregivers, while also improving Homewood and engaging fellow neighbors.

Jordana Stephens

Homewood

What makes your community so special?
I am a Pittsburgher, an Alumni of the University of Pittsburgh, I married and raised my family here and I’ve worked in various capacities within the for-profit and nonprofit industries. For most of my life, I have lived on the east side of Pittsburgh and I have called the communities of Homewood, East Liberty, Morningside and Blackridge home.
I grew up in the Homewood community and as a child growing into a young adult I loved it! I remember a community where at least 80% of my extended family lived so there was always cousins, love, warmth and laughter. I remember the Black Arts Festival, Saturday nights at the Coliseum, my grandmother getting her medicine at Kinley’s Drug Store, church on Sunday, the YMCA taking kids to the baseball games, Westinghouse High School band marching down Frankstown Avenue and 1001 other wonderful memories. When I was eight, my family moved to the top of Perchment Street at the end of Homewood which is a secluded bedroom neighborhood with one way streets nestled by trees. This little community has it’s own beauty and is perfect for those who love nature, quiet and the feeling of belonging that is generated in a quaint community.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
My experience with grantmaking began with Mini-grants to Teachers and grew into providing grants for capital campaigns, programs for women, education and arts programs. Grassroots grantmaking is an effective investment tool which positively impacts lives, supports homegrown leadership and stabilizes communities. Grassroots grantmaking ignites the democratic process by giving everyone a voice in the shape of their community which improves the relationships, outcomes and health of the neighborhood. A healthy neighborhood, supports a healthy community and healthy communities support a healthy city.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
There are a number of unsung hero’s and leaders within all of our communities. Grassroots grant making allows those leaders to emerge and address current as well as long-term issues. Implicit in the awarding of grants to individuals is the trust and belief that they have the wherewithal to affect positive change. The collaborative proposal development process and the implementation of the awarded project allows for the utilization of many community talents and creates another layer of positive bonding among neighbors.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
Perch on a Stone Community Association is a portal intertwining traditional African American community pride with preserving and enhancing our natural landscapes alongside community revitalization.
Our primary goal is to beautify and enhance the natural terrain to sustain and support our unique cluster of homes located on the northwestern hillsides of Homewood and to ensure that this healthy eco-friendly environment is available for families and wildlife species for generations to come.
Integral to achieving our goal, is supporting the environmental and ecological clearing up of debris, redirect the constant flow of water along Standard Avenue, supporting neighbors with consistently contacting the city for assistance with abandoned property, road repair, and overgrowth cleanup. Perch on a Stone, will also develop partnerships with a wide range of community organizations to improve the ecosystem, create learning and leadership opportunities and develop community gardens.

Erica R. Winstead

Homewood

What makes your community so special?
I’m passionate about my community because I know that I can make a difference. The concern is letting others know that they can as well. Homewood has hidden treasures that have yet to be discovered and promise when it comes to our youth. They can thrive with the right resources.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
What inspires me is that this program gives people the opportunity to make a thought become a reality. I will enjoy providing that knowledge to others.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
LMN grant program means that programs to help uplift our go unities and mend broken relationships can be goes from people who can not only benefit from the community, but it’s by them as well.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I currently am a female mentor with Women On A Mission through CCAC, I am a Parent Ambassasor with Buzzword, I volunteer with the (HBFSC) Homewood Brushton Family Support Center, I am a member of (PAEYC), Pennsylvania Association for Education of Young Children, I serve on the Parent Council at PGH Crescent and I am a Daycare Provider for children in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

LARIMER

Riley Arnold

Larimer

What makes your community so special?
What makes me passionate is that I’m a member and a shareholder of my community and I would feel similar no matter what community I live in.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
Ms. Betty, the leader of another group I’m involved in recommended that I look into it and that I’d be a good fit, and I trust her judgement
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
I hope to see improvements in my community and communities such as mine from the ground up.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I’m involved in the Neighborhood Block watch and block cleanup, Property Owners Association of Larimer, and I hope to to ensure that people who live in this community get a say in the new development that is coming to Larimar, or in some cases  that is already here.

Donna Marie Jackson

Larimer

What makes your community so special?
I finally received an opportunity for me to live out my passion, I became involved with a person that had a vision for change in the Larimer neighborhood. As like-minded individual, began strategic plan engaging the community around green sustainable development.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I am inspired to help people that may not have opportunities to share their ideas.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
Sharing concepts and ideas with other visionaries forming others vision and ideas.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
Currently LCG is working on Phase II of our choice grant land has been cleared and development is starting for mixed income housing. Along with our partner we’ve chosen our Phase 3/4 sites. Incorporating Historic site in our project for housing.

LINCOLN-LEMINGTON

Jarmil Anderson

Lincoln-Lemington

What makes your community so special?
My family moved to this community in the late 60’s. That was a good time for up and coming neighborhoods. In this community I was able to walk to Westinghouse High School, and would go door to door picking up my classmates on the way. I also held my first job here in the Lincoln Lemington Community. During those times you felt safe and could walk to the local drugstore or convenience store. We were also able to make a short trip to Homewood Avenue where all of the necessary businesses were located. I would very much love to see the Lincoln Lemington Community restored once again to the very viable and contributing community it has been in the past.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I am inspired by the fact that I can become a participant and not just a spectator in helping to restore and transform this community back to a viable contributing community for the City of Pittsburgh, while also making it a safe place for our seniors and children to both live and grow.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
It means giving the residents of this neighborhood a chance to contribute to the rebuilding of their community and also seeing the visions that they may have come to life. It means once again allowing people the ability to become a participant and not just a spectator in what happens in their life.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am an active member with the Lincoln Lemington Community Consensus Group which serves to rebuild and renew our community back into the once viable, safe and contributing community it once was.

MILLVALE

Denise Rudar

Millvale

What makes your community so special?
Millvale has seen many positive changes over the last 10 years- from a borough with empty main street buildings and homes to being an active growing community. These changes are a result of residents, businesses and the Borough joining together to make a difference. Care is taken to listen to residents through community meetings and our community groups have a great working relationship with our borough government. What makes Millvale special (besides the people!) is our ecodistrict plan. With all these changes, we are remaining focused on food, water, energy, air, diversity and mobility issues. By staying centered with our plan we create a healthier, diverse and resilient community. I am passionate about Millvale because of the wonderful people who live and work here and who volunteer their time to make this a great place to live.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
After seeing the changes that a group of people could make happen in Millvale, I was excited to join this group to see what was happening in other neighborhoods and to share my experiences. That was my main reason for applying. Now, after being on the GGC for the last year, I was so moved by the many people I met and their passion for there own neighborhoods that I can’t wait for this next year!
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
This grant program is accessible, and meant for residents working together to inspire change within their communities. I love this program because it helps individuals who have a great idea for their neighbohood acheive thier goal.  It helps build confidence and develops relationships within and between commnities.  There is always supportive help to fill in the grant application which is another great aspect of the grassroots grant!
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
Presently I am a co-chair of the Gardens of Millvale which is a multi lot community garden and is a project of our community volunteer group- the Millvale Community Development Corporation. There is nowhere in Millvale to buy  fresh fruit or vegetables so our garden is vital in our ecodistrict plan. This year our goal is to have a weekly market with low cost produce . We are also working with local businesses to provide fresh local produce. The garden is the largest greenspace in Millvale  where everyone is welcome.

Katherine Schuler

Millvale

What makes your community so special?
Millvale is an incredibly special community because of the friendships among community members fueling and intertwining each individual’s projects. Projects that begin separately quickly cross collaborate with other individuals, businesses and the borough – then wham the project’s a success! Millvale is a small community of excited, hardworking individuals and the camaraderie throughout the borough puts serious power behind our endeavors. To boot, that power is emboldening and lets you know that the community is behind you if you wish to do something great.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
Just like friendships making our community stronger, friendships across our city will make it stronger. Working alongside members from different communities is inspiring as we learn from each part of town. Understanding each’s advantages and disadvantages then learning from what they did to dial-in on the best of their community, will make all of us wiser. Working with all the team members in the GGC from differing Pittsburgh communities will be able to help each community’s productivity exponentially.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
Love My Neighbor! grant program is an opportunity for an ongoing community of support throughout Pittsburgh internally backed by each neighborhood.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
As the MCDC Bike-Ped Chairperson, I’m helping Millvale’s new 40/28 initiative to create a safer intersection from Millvale to the Riverfront trail head and to the 40th Street Bridge. My business, Rolling Pepperoni, helped students of Northern Westmoreland Technical Center build and install a bike fix-it station suitable for public use in Millvale’s GAPP Park. Bike and pedestrian accessibility is an issue I’m always keen on to promote equal accessibility for all.

Justin LeWinter

Millvale

What makes your community so special?
Millvale has a real genuine neighborhood feel to it. There are folks who have lived there for years but it’s welcoming of change and has a keen eye on the future. The great work being done by residents and businesses is helping to keep the community connected to the past while staying ahead of the curve.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I look forward to helping nurture promising ideas and support the great work that is being proposed by community residents. When I think about the work we’ll do as the GGC Margaret Mead’s quote resonates with me…”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
The Love My Neighbor! grant program inspires me with hope that with a support network and funding, visionary ideas can come to fruition. To be able to be a part of helping to shape what our community does next is extremely inspiring. The recipients of the grants are those who have a vested interest in seeing our community thrive in the future. This program gives me hope that where we live will continue to be a wonderful place for residents now and for future generations.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I work for a non-profit that raises awareness for a rare neurological speech disorder, Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), our office is currently in Millvale. As the Director of Fundraising I work with volunteers across the country to organize events that bring together their communities to support children impacted by the disorder. We celebrate and acknowledge these hardworking children who are in therapy to help them find their voice through walk-a-thons that are family fun days. Having only just recently moved to Millvale I’m looking for ways to get involved with other projects. I look forward to learning about other things taking place in my community and how I can use my talents to support the good work taking place here!

WILKINSBURG

Jerry Gaudi

Wilkinsburg

What makes your community so special?
I am passionate about Wilkinsburg because I see the potential and the opportunity for the borough to be an up & coming area. The history that surrounds the buildings, the proximity to Pittsburgh, and the ease of access via public transportation and vehicle allow for a great place to live, work, and play.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I am very active in the Wilkinsburg community as a member of the Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce, attend as many Borough meetings possible, and involved with beautification projects throughout the year. Becoming involved with Neighborhood Allies allows me to help my community further through the GGC.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
The Love My Neighbor grant gives the power back to the people that want to do something good in their neighborhood.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am working on revitalizing Wilkinsburg through acquisitions of vacant and blighted properties to rehabilitate and return to the market. Residential “vacant to vibrant” projects 14, 15, and 16 are underway with 6 more being negotiated and planned. The second level offices at 900 Wood Street are now open and home to the Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce and other SBD orgs to create a small business resource center. Plans for a coffee shop that focuses on barista training will enhance the street level retail in the same building. Since 2013, 20 buildings have been acquired for redevelopment along with multiple beautification projects including the North Avenue Bird Habitat and Pollination Garden that was installed summer 2017 with members of the local Sierra Club, Audubon Society, community, and neighbors.

Jody Guy

Wilkinsburg

What makes your community so special?
Wilkinsburg has a wonderful history, rich with great people, and a village-like community. One of Wilkinsburg’s greatest assets is its transportation. Located on the Penn Lincoln Highway which connects communities across the nation, the borough is also situated on main train and bus lines. In fact many professionals find Wilkinsburg to be a convenient location with close proximity to downtown. That part of history can be seen if you look closely but now Wilkinsburg is re-envisioning the culture and identity that reflects the community today. This is an extremely challenging and exciting process to be involved in. I am honored to try and do what I can to support this growth process.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I think all of the communities involved in the GGC are in a growth period so that you see a lot of people trying to make a difference in their communities. The ideas and the civic pride that are revealed through the Love thy neighbor grant proposals is inspiring and informative. We are all trying to figure it out and one good idea leads to another. We all benefit from the creative ways that we strive to spark innovation.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
Love My Neighbor is an example of what it means to live and work in a democratic society that values diversity, tolerance, justice and civic duty.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am working to launch a new non profit, The Center for Civic Arts, with the vision to create social impact, and inspire civic engagement through the arts and humanities.  The Center for Civic Arts values citizens as the creators of culture, and stewards of their environment.  CCA will expand opportunities for people to connect through arts education, culture and heritage preservation, public arts and creative place-making.  We value the arts as the thread that defines who we are, and the light that empowers communities.

Civic Art is one of the highest art forms.  It is what makes great cities unique and special.  Civic art is the sum total of the architecture, public spaces, monuments, urban design, and landscape of a city, but it is far more than the sum of the parts. Civic art is place making into art that creates timeless civic values and helps define cultures. We believe that community revitalization has to include more than bricks and mortar – that community revitalization must also include the revitalization of human capital, nurtured through the arts.

My family home has been in Wilkinsburg since 1916.  But I moved away and returned to Wilkinsburg in 2013 when I joined the Wilkinsburg Community Arts and Civic Design Commission, becoming Chair in 2014.  I met a lot of great people who were supportive and found despite appearances, there is an opportunity to make a difference in the Borough.  My passion for the arts and arts education has found new focus and I am excited to see if I can make a difference in my hometown.

Frank TIllman III

Wilkinsburg

What makes your community so special?
I am passionate about Wilkinsburg because I see its potential and progress in becoming a vibrant neighborhood and borough. Wilkinsburg is special in that it has been maintained as its own separate borough within the city of Pittsburgh despite the many challenges faced over the decades.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
I am inspired to be a part of the Love My Neighbor! GGC to empower residents to make powerful positive changes in their communities.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
The Love My Neighbor! grant program means hope and empowerment to residents that they can make a difference and an impact in their communities.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
I am currently working with the Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project in efforts to end youth violence in our community. In the last four years, we have created a chaplain’s ministry, an Art and Talent Show for Peace, a Community Block Party for Peace, a summer jobs program and an emergency medical training.

As well, to provide a safe, fun, and educational environment as an alternative to the streets, I direct two youth programs: Joseph’s Basketball & Bible Camp and Codename S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y. (Simply teAching The yoUth moRal Decent vAlues todaY), which provide sports and game activities, complete meals, and teachings on moral values; serving ages five through eighteen – all free of charge.

Previously, I have trained in Coro Pittsburgh’s “Next Neighborhood Leaders”, and worked with a team of community leaders in developing provisions for Wilkinsburg students attending Westinghouse Academy to have access to scholarship assistance towards post-secondary education. Our work lead to the inclusion of Wilkinsburg students into the Pittsburgh Promise.

In 2006-2012, I served as a teaching assistant with Wilkinsburg School District in special education and behavioral health / emotional support classrooms.