“The biggest impact was the way PULSE planted and nurtured in me a love for a particular neighborhood, a particular city and a civic identity…Embedded in that love was a sense that I could have a real, lasting impact on the places I love. “-Chad Martin, ’98-’99 Alumnus
Chad Martin is a 1998-1999 PULSE alumnus. Although Chad did not grow up in Pittsburgh, his year in PULSE fostered a healthy sense of urban citizenship and awakened a love of city life. He quickly came to view Pittsburgh as his home, serving at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG). The position at MCG offered him the opportunity to combine his skills as a ceramic artist with his concern for community benefit.
How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?
Wow. Lots of ways. I met my wife through PULSE. PULSE helped me craft a vocation as an arts educator. I met life-long friends through PULSE.
But I think the biggest impact was the way PULSE planted and nurtured in me a love for a particular neighborhood, a particular city and a civic identity. The neighborhoods around the PULSE house became my home for almost ten years, and I think I left a piece of my heart there when I moved away. Embedded in that love was a sense that I could have a real, lasting impact on the places I love.
What was the best part of your PULSE experience?
Nonprofit Partnership at MCG.
What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?
I applied to several similar organizations as a senior in college. At that time in my life I would have said “yes” to whichever one offered me the job that best fit my skills and vocational interests. PULSE offered a nonprofit partnership at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild which was an ideal fit for me. It offered me the opportunity to combine my skills as a ceramic artist with my concern for community benefit.
Little did I realize I was stepping into a nationally recognized organization that would be deeply formative to me. At the time, I’m not sure I realized how formative it would be for me to work for a deeply multicultural organization managed by persons of color. In retrospect that was a rare and valuable experience to have early in my career.
What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?
PULSE was really my introduction to urban life. I had always loved cities, but grew up in a small town and had little daily experience in urban neighborhoods. PULSE fostered a healthy sense of urban citizenship and awakened my love of city life. Maybe that sounds trite or privileged, but it was really big for me. I have spent all of my adult life living and working in two Pennsylvania cities. It’s what I know and it has become who I am. PULSE was the context where that all started.
How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?
I can draw so many connections. I am currently on the board of an organization in Lancaster that is creating a similar program to PULSE called The Shalom Project. I got to take a van-load of Mennonite pastors to visit PULSE a few years ago. That visit was a pivotal moment in opening up new ideas for our board about how to do service learning in ways that maximize the experience for the participant — not just for the service they bring to a community. We came away newly inspired to create a program that puts the participants’ experience at the center of the organization’s mission.
But there are so many ways PULSE helped prepare me for the work I do now. I continue to strive to be as deeply rooted in the place I live — my neighborhood, my city — as I can be. I bring those sensibilities to my work as a pastor, striving to be as integrated in my congregation’s neighborhood as possible. But these sensibilities permeate the life choices of my family.
What kind of work do you do now?
Story by PULSE. Read more Alumni Stories.