“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.