Neighborhood Story: Minette Vaccariello

“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.