What’s a humanitarian? Simply put, it is a human helping other humans. In times like today, it can be easy to be absorbed in your own problems. It’s important to remember actions of kindness, even if small, go even farther than usual during hard times. Many people in the Pittsburgh community, and beyond, are looking for support. On August 19, join Made in PGH by celebrating World Humanitarian Day through helping others. Not sure how to? Here are six organizations, some locally founded, to inspire your own acts of human kindness. 

world humanitarian day
Image via: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Literacy Pittsburgh

Photo provided by Literacy Pittsburgh

Literacy Pittsburgh helps equip adults in the Pittsburgh region with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Through small classes and one-on-one tutoring, the organization gives adults the opportunity to gain writing, reading, math, work, and language skills. Reaching 5,100 adults yearly, Literacy Pittsburgh has a profound impact on helping people reach their American Dream. In their work with families, Literacy Pittsburgh helps children develop English language skills that are crucial to school related success. 

Literacy Pittsburgh is fueled by volunteers, with over 700 volunteers lending their time last year. As a tutor, volunteers help adults get GED diploma or high school credential, learn English, improve language skills, or brush up on math knowledge. Volunteers do not need any teaching experience. Literacy Pittsburgh staff trains all volunteers, and the commitment is a few hours a week. Explore volunteer opportunities today.

Wild and Free Foundation 

Photo provided by Wild and Free

Founded by Pittsburgher Matt Bracken, Wild and Free Foundation works to protect Rhinos in Africa through uplifting marginalized communities living next to wildlife reserves. After visiting South Africa in 2011, Bracken saw a need to address the rampant poaching problem. Working through a few different models, the Wild and Free Foundation of today came to fruition in 2016. Working with the communities, Bracken created the Rhino Cup Champions League to create a solution to the “why” behind poaching: boredom, poverty, and idleness. This soccer league has created 60 jobs in the community, involves over 600 community members as players, and brings in thousands of local spectors. As a result of the league, a 90% decrease in poaching arrests and deaths has occurred in the region. 

Learn more about how you can support the Wild and Free Foundation. 

Barber National Institute

Photo provided by Barber National Institute

The Barber National Institute has been part of the Pittsburgh community for more than 20 years, providing services to adults with autism, intellectual disabilities and behavioral health challenges.Their services include residential group homes in suburban Pittsburgh neighborhoods, day programs to help adults build skills and access resources in our community, and supported employment to provide assistance with locating and landing jobs with local businesses. 

To provide high quality services, the Barber National Institute looks for the best employees – enthusiastic, self-directed men and women who really want to make a difference in someone’s life.  In this positive environment staff find the support they need to develop personally and professionally. Interested? Learn more about employment opportunities. 

Diabetes Life Solutions

Photo provided by Diabetes Life Solutions

Founded in 2012, Diabetes Life Solutions works to make finding insurance for diabetics easy. Matt Schmidt was astonished by how difficult finding a good carrier was for his father, Robert, after his diabetes diagnosis. The Schmidts realized that most insurance agents are typically untrained or misinformed about the coverage available for people struggling with diabetes. Working to alleviate the problem, the Schmidt’s founded Diabetes Life Solutions. The organization has licensed agents in forty-nine states, Pennsylvania included, to help make sure that no diabetic goes through the same struggle. Over 25% of all commissions are donated to a charity of the clients choice (such as those listed above) to help better the local community. Do you know a diabetic struggling to find insurance or want to learn more? Learn more about Diabetes Life Solutions history and support methods online.

Cheryl Kay Foundation 

Photo provided by Cheryl Kay Foundation

The Cheryl Kay Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission for all seniors to age with honor, dignity, and grace in their own home, as long as possible. In addition to supporting seniors, the organization works with breast cancer patients to provide comfort and assistance in their own home while enduring treatments. The organization was founded in honor of Cheryl Kay Stawovy, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2013.

The Cheryl Kay Foundation works towards their mission by funding professional in-home care through state licensed home care agencies. Caregivers provide those individuals the compassionate assistance needed for an enjoyable “second act” of life.  Learn more about how to support the Cheryl Kay Foundation by visiting the website at www.cherylkayfoundation.org

Animal Friends

Photo provided by Animal Friends

For more than 75 years, Animal Friends has been saving, impacting, engaging, enriching and affecting the lives of the pets and people of the Pittsburgh region. Animal Friends has continued to support the pets and people of Pittsburgh who need them the most during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite facing their own financial difficulties due to limited operations and canceled fundraising events, they’re still helping more struggling pet owners than ever before 

Their Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank donates pet food to food pantries and other organizations around the city. It has distributed nearly 30,000 pounds of food since April. Animal Friends has surpassed 1,000 adoptions for the year – nearly half of which have taken place since the start of the pandemic (adoptions have been by appointment only since March).

Their on-site Retail Store is open for shopping! NEWS FLASH! They’ve launched an online store which has plenty of Animal Friends merchandise you can order from the safety of home – 100% of the proceeds support our lifesaving mission.

Need a vaccine? Spay/Neuter?  Animal Wellness Center, is operating by appointment only and new health and safety procedures are presenting challenges, but still helping as many animals as possible! 

Learn more about Animal Friends and consider supporting their lifesaving work at ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org. http://www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org

Community Kitchen

Photo provided by Community Kitchen

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh (CKP) is a nonprofit workforce development program that operates several foodservice-based business lines, and workforce training. 

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh prepares people with employment barriers (such as formerly or currently incarcerated, no work history, addiction, homelessness, severe trauma, poverty, etc) for meaningful jobs through culinary training diploma program and transitional employment program.

As well as job training, they address the issue of food insecurity through summer and after school meals to low income children, severe weather shelter meals, and meals going to other nonprofits serving vulnerable clientele.

During this pandemic with the related closures and job losses, Community Kitchen Pittsburgh stepped up to provide emergency food services. From mid-March to the end of June, they have prepared and delivered 125,000 meals to our community and plan to continue these services into the fall with food services to kids out of school, shelter residents, and community members in need of meals. This meal production also provides transitional employment positions for adults looking to transition into the workforce after a period of chronic unemployment.Community Kitchen has shifted their popular Thursday Showcase meals to carry-out only with a different menu every week.

Order online www.ckpgh.org or https://www.facebook.com/CommunityKitchenPittsburgh/ and pick up between 4&5pm on Thursdays

Allegheny Aquatic Alliance

Photo provided by Allegheny Aquatic Alliance

A love of nature? Help support the Allegheny Aquatic Alliance. The organization strives to restore the waters of Western Pennsylvania to their natural state. Organizing clean-ups around the area, the organization combats pollution and works toward reinstating the organic environment. Educational programming works to  empower and encourage public action for watershed preservation

In just the Connoquenessing Creek, over 500,000 pounds of trash have been removed through clean-up efforts of the Allegheny Aquatic organization. Although this seems like alot, there is still more trash to be removed from the creek. Join the efforts joining volunteer efforts on Saturday, Aug. 29 and/or Saturday, Sept. 12. Learn more by contacting Mike Handley via email or phone (724-371-0416). Made possible by Diehl Toyota.

On August 19, Made in PGH encourages you to get involved with one of the above organizations or elsewhere. In times like these, support goes a longer way than you think – even if it’s just writing a check or a few hours of your time. 

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

A Virginia native, Katherine moved to Pittsburgh in 2016 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. After earning her B.A. in Media and Professional Communications in December 2019, Katherine began working as a Marketing Intern and Public Relations for two different Pittsburgh-based organizations. She loves to travel, read ( big Carnegie Library fan), and explore Pittsburgh during her free time! All while fueled by an unnecessary amount of caffeine, of course.

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