Partner Story: Northside Leadership Conference

Northside Leadership Conference squareOur PULSErs have had such a great impact to our organization and the Northside as a whole.

The Northside Leadership Conference is a coalition of Northside community-based organizations, committed to addressing mutual concerns through a united approach in order to promote and enhance the vitality, quality of life and image of Pittsburgh’s Northside.

 

 

Cody Walters is the Main Street Manager of the Northside Leadership Conference. In the following interview he talks about the experience of partnering with PULSE.

CC: Why did your organization decide to work with PULSE?

CW: Originally we decided to work with PULSE when they announced they would be bringing their program to the Northside. We had a bike/ped committee that needed some administrative help that the volunteers couldn’t quite fulfill on their own. It was perfect timing.

CC: What is the most rewarding part of working with PULSE?

CW: The most rewarding part of the partnership is actually getting to know each individual PULSEr and watching them grow and learn as their service year progresses.

CC: How has your partnership with PULSE impacted your organization?

CW: Our PULSErs have had such a great impact to our organization and the Northside as a whole. To highlight a few though, our PULSErs have created a map that was followed when installing bike lanes in the Northside, helped get the city to fund numerous bike racks, helped organize events such as Northside Mardi Gras and Northside Sandwich Week, and organized the making of a promotional video for the Deutschtown neighborhood

CC: What do you like most about your current PULSE fellow and/or other fellows you’ve worked with?

CW: I have had the privilege of working with three different PULSE fellows. Each one has had their own unique skill set and demeanor.
Abe Stucky was amazingly self-motivated and the perfect Bike/Ped advocate. Jackson Bush was a very diligent worker and a fast learner.
Equiana Brown is a joy to be around in the office and eager to learn more about the Northside and in turn teach others as well.

CC: What would you tell other Pittsburgh nonprofits about PULSE?

CW: Our partnership with PULSE has been very rewarding over the last three years. Each fellow is unique. They are all very eager to learn and grow with their organization. They are an amazing addition to our organization, our neighborhood, the Northside, and Pittsburgh as a whole. PULSE’s staff is very easy to work with and they run an amazing program. I would highly recommend working with them.

Check out more great Partner Stories.

This is part of a series of posts about the Nonprofit Partner experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about a Nonprofit Partnership, please visit our Partner Page.

Neighborhood Story: Leslie Thyberg

Leslie Thyberg

“The impact PULSE has isn’t really quantifiable, at least not for me. Each fellow who comes through is working with an area organization and making a difference in our community. The ones who stay in the area and continue to contribute are certainly a blessing to this immediate area…I’ve been increasingly impressed by the depth, breadth and substance that PULSE fellows bring to Pittsburgh.”

 

 

Leslie Thyberg, an educator, has lived in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of East Liberty for 28 years. She was introduced to PULSE through Chris Cooke, PULSE Executive Director. Chris lived with Leslie’s family when he was fresh out of college and, as Leslie puts it, “he’s a gem of a person. So, of course, when he got involved with PULSE we were eager to be connected.”

Her friendship with Chris was only the beginning of her love for PULSE. Since being introduced to the program, Leslie has gotten to know many of the PULSE fellows. She has been a big fan of PULSE and its work for many years.

Leslie spoke with current second-year PULSE fellow Rebecca Dyck about feral cats, Chris “Cookie” Cooke, and the impact she’s seen PULSE have on East Liberty.

RD: How are you involved in your neighborhood?
LT: Lots of different ways! We’ve lived here as a family for close to 30 years. Part of the reason we moved here was not to gentrify the neighborhood, but simply to live in an intentional way that helped bring about a positive presence and some stability. We have also helped to start a block watch and share extra Community Supported Agriculture crates with our neighbors.

Another way that we’ve been involved is with the local animal shelter and their Trap, Neuter, Release program. In the past year we’ve caught 17 feral cats in an effort to help stabilize the very out-of-control feral cat situation in our area. This is an odd way to go about community building, for sure, but surprisingly effective at the same time.

RD: How have you experienced PULSE participants in your neighborhood?
LT: When our kids started college it became apparent that we needed some extra hands on deck to care for our exuberantly out-of-control yard. I contacted Chris and asked him if we could hire some PULSE fellows to help us with our garden beds. To my delight, each year a few PULSE fellows help us keep our urban homestead somewhat under control. It’s a blessing to get to know these extraordinarily gifted individuals.

The fact that they help us with our home and garden is great – but more significantly, as I’ve gotten to know them, I’ve been increasingly impressed by the depth, breadth and substance that PULSE fellows bring to Pittsburgh. Quite impressive!

RD: What impact have you seen PULSE have on your neighborhood?
LT: One of the things PULSE does that I’m so very grateful for is a clean-up day. It’s so encouraging and helpful to us as longtime residents. There’s a “speak-easy” just around the corner from where we live. The sheer volume of discarded beer cans that I collect on a day-to-day basis can be pretty discouraging. Having the PULSE fellows pass through with such zeal and energy and enthusiasm is a real boost!

The impact PULSE has isn’t really quantifiable, at least not for me. Each fellow who comes through is working with an area organization and making a difference in our community. The ones who stay in the area and continue to contribute are certainly a blessing to this immediate area. Likewise, the ones who continue on to graduate school or further afield are taking all that skill and community building that they have learned from PULSE and spreading the joy far and wide!

RD: Anything else you would like to add?
LT: I’m a zealous fan of PULSE – being as fond of Chris “Cookie” Cooke as I am has a great deal to do with it. That dear sweet soul bought me the box set of Mr. Bean’s entire TV series for my 50th birthday (quite possibly one of my all-time favorite presents!).

Story by PULSE Fellow Rebecca Dyck.

Read more stories about PULSE neighbors!  If you want to learn more about PULSE, visit our About Us page.

Neighborhood Story: Minette Vaccariello

Minette Vaccariello

 

little free library garfield (2) photo cred Lydia Yoder

Kincaid Street Community Garden. Photo Cred: Lydia Yoder.

“PULSE is an asset to Garfield. They are good neighbors and are motivated to get involved in the neighborhood.”

– Minette Vaccariello, Garfield resident and GCAT member

 

 

Minette Vaccariello understands the power of community. She has lived in the Garfield neighborhood for 8 years and has seen a lot of change take place during that time. Minette’s day job is as a Design Strategist at UPMC Technology Development Center, however she also spends much of her time volunteering as a member of the Garfield Community Action Team (GCAT). GCAT is a resident lead effort to improve the physical environment of the Garfield neighborhood through the creation of community projects that inspire civic participation.

Minette has been a key player in getting many projects off the ground in Garfield. Just a few examples are Love Your Block garden projects, Green + Screen projects along Penn Avenue, Kincaid Street Community Garden (through a partnership with PULSE), and many fun community events.

The GCAT/PULSE partnership for the Kincaid Street Community Garden gave Minette the opportunity to work with PULSE and get to know PULSE participants. She has seen firsthand the positive impact that PULSE has had on Garfield. Minette spoke with current PULSEr Rebecca Dyck about her experience with PULSE in Garfield.

RD: What is your connection to PULSE?

MV: GCAT and PULSE collaborated to establish Garfield’s resident community garden, Kincaid Street Community Garden, at 5412 Kincaid Street. PULSE has been a fantastic partner in this project. Since the Garfield PULSE house is adjacent to the garden, PULSE fellows have connected with nearby residents and children and have engaged them in gardening. They also have been sensitive and respectful to neighbors, always communicating with them about what is happening at the garden. This transparency has been important and has been the reason so many neighbors support the garden and feel a sense of ownership of it.

RD: How have you experienced PULSE participants in your neighborhood?

MV: PULSE fellows always bring enthusiasm and dedication to the projects that we do at the garden. They are always willing to help and outreach to nearby neighbors and the children in Garfield. They volunteer countless hours helping out and maintaining the garden.

RD: What impact have you seen PULSE have on your neighborhood?

MV: The garden has helped many residents be able to grow their own vegetables and has transformed that part of Kincaid Street. This part of Kincaid Street was once considered a rather violent area that had experienced a few fatal shootings. It is now a welcoming and safe place to go.

RD: Do you have any great stories about your interactions with PULSE participants?

MV: There’s too many …

RD: Anything else you would like to add?

MV: PULSE is an asset to Garfield. They are good neighbors and are motivated to get involved in the neighborhood. Lydia Yoder, a PULSE alumna, received this testimonial from Felisa Preston, a gardener at Kincaid Street Community Garden: “The Kincaid Garden is an important part of the Garfield neighborhood. Because there hasn’t been a grocery store within walking distance, it’s important residents have access to fresh vegetables. What better way than to grow vegetables yourself. With the help of the volunteers, I have learned how to grow fresh food. The volunteers are easily accessible if you need help and make other gardeners get together each Wednesday. Many children can be found in the garden, learning that they too can grow their own food. As I sit here and watch a program about food stamps, it’s important that these children learn how to eat healthy. Going to corner stores getting soda, chips and candy isn’t an option. I can’t wait until summer returns so my family and I can continue to grow fresh vegetables.”

Story by PULSE Fellow Rebecca Dyck.

Read more stories about PULSE neighbors!  If you want to learn more about PULSE, visit our About Us page.

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