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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

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

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

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.

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.

LINCOLN-LEMINGTON

L. Denise Edwards

Lincoln-Lemington

What makes your community so special?
The people that live in the Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood make it a special place to live. My family purchased our family home and moved to the east side when I was 10 years old. I remember a time when neighbors were accessible and crime was few and far between. Over the years things changed as things often do, and the neighborhood I remember so fondly morphed into a different place. Today however, the community is vital and families are optimistic about the future of lincoln lemington.
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
Grassroots grantmaking is a powerful tool used to impact communities in real and tangible ways.
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
The grantmaking process for LMN is an opportunity to engage in true democracy. It is vital for neighborhoods to grow in ways that involve community residents and encourage action. Engaging with community organizations throughout the city fortifies my commitment to the health of my neighborhood and the health of all neighborhoods in our city.
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?
The Lincoln-Lemington Neighborhood Revitalization Group, of which I am co-founder and VP, is a grassroots non profit organization dedicated to economic growth of the Lincoln-Lemington area through redevelopment and housing sustainability. Through collaboration and strategic planning we will be instrumental in rebuilding the Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood brick by brick.

MILLVALE

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!

Donna Pearson

Millvale

What makes your community so special?
What inspires you to be a part of the Grassroots Grantmaking Committee?
What does Love My Neighbor! mean to you?
What have you worked on and what are you currently working on in your community?

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.

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.