“All of us, at some time or other, need help,” said Mr. Rogers. “Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” 

A good community cannot be successful without neighbors’ willingness to offer a helping hand. This can range from a simple cup of sugar to donating food to a family in need. But no matter how big or small the task, helping is what makes a place feel like a healthy and happy environment. Below are a few nonprofits in Pittsburgh helping uplift the local community. Want to get involved? Many of the nonprofits are looking for new faces to add to their teams.

St. Vincent De Paul

Vincentians, also known as the volunteers at The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, see those they help not as clients but as “friends in need.” With four stores in the Pittsburgh area and one in Butler, the nonprofit reaches far into the communities across six counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania to help assist individuals and households in need of necessities, such as food, housing, utilities, and transportation. In a year, they provided a total of $2,293,957 in the form of rent, food, utilities, transportation, medical support, and others to more than 60,000 friends in need.

To do so, they rely on their storefront locations, which are like the cornerstone of the organization. They provide clothing and household goods to friends in need and value-priced merchandise to anybody looking to save money, and some of their thrift stores are located at economically disadvantaged localities, helping serve the community’s needs by offering quality goods at low prices and by offering employment opportunities. (Currently, there are open positions at Coraopolis, Castle Shannon, and Penn Hills.) The funds from those sales are used to help assist in food, housing, and more. 

Without the help of donations, whether it is clothing and furniture at a store or a cash contribution online, Vincentians would not be able to provide the necessities to community members who cannot do it for themselves. St. Vincent De Paul estimates that annually, their thrift stores prevent roughly 12 million pounds of clothing from entering a landfill. (And that is without counting housewares, toys, books, and many other donations that are sold at thrift stores, provided to necessitated neighbors or recycled.)

If your heart received the call to help people in need, then St. Vincent de Paul could be the place for you to answer that call. They are always looking for more volunteers at the local neighborhood level. 

North Hills Community Outreach

This nonprofit provides more than twenty free services and programs to help those in need in northern Allegheny Country, including a food pantry, services for seniors, transportation assistance, and more.

Through NHCO’s three pantries in Northern Allegheny County—including Allison Park, Millvale and Avalon—nearly 700 families are provided food each month. For older adults, services such as home safety checks, yard work, shoveling snow, friendly home visits, telephone reassurance calls and rides on NHCO Free Rides for Seniors Shuttle help them live healthy and safe with dignity at home. From back-to-school supplies, holiday toys and winter coats, NHCO holds various collections throughout the year, then distributes the donated goods to those in need. With their transportation service, NHCO offers several ways to help local people in need meet and overcome transportation challenges. Whether it’s work, school, or medical appointments, they need a way to get there.

To find out more about NHCO and the multiple services they offer, visit https://www.nhco.org/

Minority Veterans of America

Minority Veterans of America has three chapters—one in Atlanta, one in Richmond, and one in Pittsburgh. MVA encourages innovative programs that empower the ability to address the most significant challenges in each community; therefore, each location has its own set of needs. MVA’s Pittsburgh Chapter mission is to “create belonging and advance equity in minority veterans, veterans of color, women, LGBTQ, religious and non-religious minorities, and allies.”

Their events and programming focus on building the local community, combating food insecurity, and bringing members into a space where it is safe to be their authentic self. The Pittsburgh chapter believes in connecting with members in unique ways and meeting them where they live.

Nathan Porter is the current Pittsburgh Chapter leader. He has served under and deployed in support of almost every global military operation since 2010, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel,  and Operation Inherent Resolve. Want to join Porter and MVA? The local chapter is currently looking for 4-5 volunteer team leaders.

Family House 

For patients and their families in Pittsburgh seeking medical treatment, Family House is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that provides a unique “home away from home” by offering clean, convenient, safe and affordable temporary housing in a home-like environment. This is made possible thanks to local corporations, foundations, and donors whose continued support was highly crucial in 2020, as Family House remained open the entire year.

Its robust volunteer program also supports family House; house volunteers are essential to delivering their mission. Family House’s volunteers work directly with the housing managers to assist with guest check-ins, tours of the house, guest room preparation, and an overall sense of hospitality! They are always looking to add more smiling faces to their group. 

Don’t have time to volunteer? Another way to support Family House is having catered meals delivered to a house for guests to enjoy or to help stock Family House’s communal pantry. If a guest needs a food item or toiletry, Family House can provide for them from the donations.

The Blessing Board

In 2010, The Blessing Board started serving families in need across Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. This volunteer-based, Christian, furniture bank is a non-profit organization “existing to provide donated household furnishings to those in need at no cost, in response to what God has done for us.” Each month, The Blessing Board receives over 500 phone calls from families who have lost everything due to fire or flood, mothers and children escaping domestic violence, veterans, recovering addicts and others experiencing tragic circumstances. With the help of generous donors and loving volunteers, they furnish the homes of over 100 families each month.

Families in need can call The Blessing Board at (412) 828-1055 to request an appointment. A family receiving an appointment must be able to provide a truck to transport the furniture and household items they receive. When the family arrives at The Blessing Board they are greeted by volunteers, who help them through their Day of Blessing. An ambassador walks with them through the showroom, where they can choose from a variety of beds, dressers, dining room tables, couches, chairs, small appliances, home goods and more. Volunteer carriers load the furniture the family choses onto their truck for the trip home. It is a time where volunteers and donors are able to experience the impact their donations and time have on families in need. 

The Blessing Board averaged over 15,800 volunteer hours per year over the last three years. The volunteers do 95% of everything done at The Blessing Board. You can hear about the volunteer experience directly from some of the volunteers on The Blessing Board’s YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/TBBVolunteerEvie

Since 2019, people in our communities have donated over 34,900 pieces of gently-used furniture (which can be dropped off or picked up by TBB drivers) and helped The Blessing Board in its efforts to be an eco-conscious organization. All of those items are treasured by a family in need and kept out of local land-fills. You can learn more about the mission of The Blessing Board at their website at www.theblessingboard.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBBTheBlessingBoard/ or Instagram, www.instagram.com/theblessingboard/.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Jordan Snowden

Jordan Snowden is a Pittsburgh transplant who loves all things literature and music-related. She runs @jord_reads_books, a thriving bookstagram (book Instagram) account where she shares her love for reading and connects with other bookworms. You can usually find her at a concert, nose-deep in a book, or hula hooping.

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